Monday, September 13, 2010

MEMOIR--"Daughters of the Shadow Men" Chapter 25 When I killed a heifer pushing cattle upon Sinking Water Bench

Connie did this great title header as well as the cowgirl. She understands country.


Chapter twenty five

During my last winter at home for 8 years, when I was twelve, Daddy deemed me experienced on a horse enough to promote me to some long distance jobs of cow punching. A heavy snow fell during the early winter and that night he did some thinking. The next morning he asked me if I wanted to take a ride down to Kings Bench. He said that he wanted to put some cattle upon a little bench called Sinking Water because the cattle would be able to eat snow for water and could browse the good feed up there. He and my Grandpa King and some of those other Boulder cattle ranchers were probably the only men in the world who thought of such errands. I argued with him. I did. I was a little nervous about being his helper and as it turned out I was right to be concerned.
Once Daddy had an idea concerning the well being of his cattle, he could not be deterred. So we set off for Kings Bench at quite a fast clip. Apparently there was water on Kings Bench although now I wonder about the water on all those benches where they used to run their cattle. By this time, the winter range had been divided so Daddy and Cecil, Grandpa's hired man wouldn't have to camp out together any more. Ever since Daddy took away some of Cecil's precious upper pasture which really belonged to Grandpa his resentment could not be contained. He did see to it that he and Grandpa got the best winter range, Bounds Bench, further down, but Daddy agreed as he had gotten to hating those long rides down to their benches.
Once we got on Kings Bench, Daddy started rounding up a herd of cattle including an old cow or two he said he been up to Sinking Water before. He told me when we got to where the cattle were going to have to go up this trail that wasn't really visible at all I was going to have to push the herd while he led the old cows up there. Well, the first time I was too timid to push them Daddy said and the cattle broke away from me and scattered again. Daddy was pretty good natured about my ineptness that time, but the second time they broke away, he did let out some pretty good curses. We had not come all that way for nothing, so I knew I better settle down and follow his directions better or we would be there all day.
When he yelled, “Push 'em, push 'em!” the third time I rode up on my horse determined not to let one critter turn back. I saw the cattle push that heifer to the edge, but I couldn't believe it when she tumbled off into what sounded like a bottomless canyon. You could hear her beller all the way down. I kept on pushing at Daddy's command and we got all but her up on Sinking Water at least, but I could see Daddy was mighty disgruntled over what had happened to that heifer.
He was so disgruntled he cussed practically all the way home. I remember he said once that that heifer's death just wiped out all the profit of him and me coming down there and boosting those cattle up on Sinking Water to get that good feed.
He was mad enough that I did not dare argue with him. I did hope it would be quite a while before he thought up something else for him and me to do. Cow punching was harder than it looked.


DB said...

Good story Gerry. Poor heifer.

Paula said...

Beautiful header! We don't know the half of hard work with cattle do we? said...

I never went to Sinking Water Bench. I did go to King's Bench. I can certainly see why a heifer could fall to her death. I can imagne the cussing..I can just hear him! I was happy to be alive after some of my trips.

Anonymous said...

I'm sort of spooked a little around cattle if we are talking large amounts. I do appreciate the story.


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