Growing Up on a Ranch by Margaret Slaugh
GROWING UP ON A RANCH
Ranch life was hardly ever boring and if you complained there was always work to be done so we learned never to say we were bored. By the time I was in first grade mom started working at the Rangely hospital 30 miles from the ranch. Life became much freer without mom to keep a constant eye on us. Dad had his rules so as long as we abided by his rules we were okay. Joy and I could now go with dad and Les which Mom wouldn't let us before. We played just about anywhere we wanted. We road in the back of the truck with the dogs sometimes riding on the tailgate or on top of the loose hay on the hay wagon going down the highway.
There was a hay stack with baled hay by the house and we decided to build rooms and play house in the hay. My brother, Lester had the rooms organized and while we were playing house the whole hay stack fell down on us.. Poor Les had to restack that whole haystack.
There was this one incident where we thought we were following the rules but turned out we weren't according to dad. We ate lunch and dad lay down for his daily nap. Rule #1: Never wake dad from a nap. We went outside to play having a friend, Bill Shelton over to stay. We played in the corral, then in the wash, which lead us to crawling through the can under the highway up the wash and onto the top of the hill. My brother, Lester heard dad yelling, honking the horn and trying to get our attention. We took off running for the ranch house. By the time we got home dad was as mad as I have ever seen him. He had a quirt (like a bull whip) in his hand and proceeded to give Joy and I one quirt each and told us to go do the dishes. Lester being the oldest, "He should have known better," so Dad quirted Les once and was going to give him another one, two or three. Les being afraid of dad as we all where took off running up the road. Dad had on his rubber six buckle up over boots on and didn't have them buckled up and couldn't catch Les. He told Bill and Les to go clean the barn. Later at supper discussing the incident Bill told us his feelings were hurt cause he didn't get quirted. We all thought he was nuttier that a fruitcake.
My Dad's brother, Uncle Sherrill and his son Ricky would trade off helping Dad and Lester put up the hay. So this one summer our recently acquired neighbors, Charles and Glenda Richardon's son Randy spent a lot of the summer at our house as did my cousin Ricky. We would float the river after the work was done for the day. My cousin, Ricky has a very slow way of talking. Someone had the bright idea to have a metal coffee can full of gas and have it lit on fire. Ricky had it between two willow sticks and he said, "Look I'm a fire God!" The wind caught the fire and it came up out of the can and singed Ricky's eyebrows and hair. I still laugh every time I think of that wind catching the fire and singing Ricky's hair.
We had a calf that two female cows had claimed their calf. Our truck had a wooden stalk rack on the back of the bed of the truck. We took the truck down to the field to get the cow that the calf didn't belong separated from the calf and up to the corral. Dad was swing the rope and hitting the cow on the flanks trying to get her to move. She whirled, saw Lester and made a MAD dash for him while Joy and I were in the cab of the truck safe. Les started picking up those size 12 feet running for the truck and just making it. I swear he jumped over that rack without even touching it. I still smile and laugh to myself about that one too.
That reminds me of a cancer eyed cow we had. Dad and Uncle Bob had the cancer eyed cow in the corral and were trying to get her into the loading chute to take her to the vet. I am sure she was in some pain and feeling ornery. She turned on Uncle Bob and started after him and he did jump over a 5 foot fence.
Speaking of being ornery we were in thr field in our 1957, GMC, 4 wheel drive truck with a stick shift. This truck was like a tank and what us three younger kids learned to drive in the fields. Dad was trying to get the horses into the corral with the truck. The horses weren't particularly cooperative that day. Dad being Dad got mad and was driving about 60 miles an hour in the fields chasing the horses. I was so scared and not sure how we cleared all the ditches. But that was my dad for you.
One last story, our Uncle Bob had this brown and white Shetland pony named Eagle that he brought to the ranch for us to keep as we had a couple of other Shetlands. If you have ever been around Shetlands they have minds of their own and it doesn't include doing anything you want them to do. Eagle liked to buck. We had a little saddle and would saddle Eagle up and take turns riding him. My cousin Terry was afraid to ride him so he would tell Joy, who was 4 to 5 years older than him, "Ride him one more time Joy and then I will." I don't think he ever rode Eagle and Terry won't remember it that was but that was the way it all happened. Give or take a few lies.