Ranching, Sport and Travel
by Thomas Carson
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While on the subject of railroad accidents it has been my misfortune to have been in many of them, caused by collisions, spreading of rails, open switches, etc., etc., but I will only detail one or two. Once when travelling to Amarillo from a Convention at Fort Worth the train was very crowded and I occupied an upper berth in the Pullman. As American trains are always doing, trying to make up lost time, we were going at a pretty good lick when I felt the coach begin to sway. It swayed twice and then turned completely over and rolled down a high embankment. Outside was pitch dark and raining. There was a babel of yells and screams and callings for help. I had practically no clothes on, no shoes, and of course could find nothing. Everything inside, mattresses, bedding, curtains, baggage, clothing, babies, women and men were mixed up in an extraordinary way. Above me I noticed a broken window, through which I managed to scramble, and on finding out how things were returned to the coach to help other passengers. Underneath me seemed to be a dying man. He was in a dreadful condition and at his last gasp, etc., and he made more row than the rest put together. Reaching down and removing mattresses, he grasped my hand, jumped up and thanked me profusely for saving his life. He was not hurt a bit, indeed was the only man in the lot who escaped serious injury. The men behaved much worse than the women. However we soon had everybody out and the injured laid on blankets. Meantime a relief train had arrived with the doctor, etc. He examined us all, asked me if I was all right, to which I replied that I was, as I really felt so at the time. But in half an hour I was myself lying on a stretcher and unable to move, with a sprained back and bruised side, etc., and a claim for damages against the railway company.

Another time, when riding in the caboose (the rear car) of a long freight train, with the conductor and brakeman, the train in going down a grade broke in three. The engine and a few cars went right on and left us; the centre part rushed down the hill, our section followed and crashed into it, and some seven or eight cars were completely telescoped. I had been seated beside the stove, my arm stretched round it, when, noticing our great speed, I drew the conductor's attention to it. He opened the side door to look out. Just then the shock came and he got a frightful lick on the side of the head, and myself was thrown on top of the hot stove; but none of us were seriously hurt.

Again, once when making a trip to Kansas City and back, the whole Pullman train went off the track and down the embankment; and on the return journey we ran into an open switch and were derailed and one man killed. Both might have been very serious affairs.

With the closing out of the Mortgage Company's interests of course my salaried employment came to an end. But before closing this chapter it should be mentioned that I had in the meantime suffered a nasty accident by a pony falling back on me and fracturing one leg. It occurred at the round-up, and I was driven some thirty miles, the leg not even splinted or put in a box, to my ranch. I sent off a mounted man to Las Vegas, 130 miles, for a surgeon, but it was a week before he got down to me and the leg was then in a pretty bad shape. He hinted at removing it, but finally decided to set it and put it in plaster, which he did. He then left me. The leg gave me little trouble, but unfortunately peritonitis set in. The agony then suffered will not soon be forgotten. There was a particularly ignorant woman, my foreman's wife, in the house; but I had practically no nursing, no medicine of any kind, and the diet was hardly suited for a patient. The pain became so great that I was not able to open my mouth, dared not move a muscle, and was reduced to a mere skeleton. Then it occurred to my "guardians" to send once more for the doctor. Another week went by, and when he came I had just succeeded in passing the critical stage and was on the mend. In after years this attack led to serious complications and a most interesting operation, which left me, in my doctor's words, "practically without a stomach"; and without a stomach I have jogged on comfortably for nearly ten years. How a little thing may lead to serious consequences! I had previously, and have since, had more or less serious physical troubles, but a good sound constitution has always pulled me through safely. Among minor injuries may be mentioned a broken rib, a knee-cap damaged at polo, and another slightly-fractured leg, caused again by a pony just purchased, and being tried, falling back on me; not to mention the sigillum diavoli (don't be alarmed or shocked) which occasionally develops, and always at the same spot.

While the round-up and turnover of the Company's cattle was proceeding, I thought it well to keep lots of whisky on hand to show hospitality (the only way) to whomsoever it was due. On receiving a large keg of it I put it in my buggy and drove out of camp seven or eight miles to some rough ground, and having, in Baden-Powell way, made myself sure no one was in view and no one spying on my movements I placed it amongst some rocks and brush in such a way that no ordinary wanderer could possibly see it. From this store it was my intention to fill a bottle every other day and so always have a stock on hand. But Kronje or De Wett was too "slim" for me; a few days afterwards on my going there, like a thief in the night—and indeed it was at night—I found the keg gone. Someone must have loaded up on it, someone who had deliberately watched me, and his joy can be easily pictured. So someone was greatly comforted, but not a hint ever came to me as to who the culprit was.

My intercourse with M—— provided some of the closest "calls" I ever had (a call means a position of danger); still not so close as on a certain occasion, at my summer camp in Arizona, when one of the men and myself were playing cards together. We were alone. The man was our best "hand," and a capital fellow, though a fugitive from justice, like some of the others. It became apparent to me that he was cheating, and I was rash enough to let him understand that I knew it, without however absolutely accusing him of it. At once he pulled out his gun, leant over, and pointed it at me. What can one do in such a case? He had the "drop" on me; and demanded that I should take back what I had said. Well, I wriggled out of it somehow, told him he was very foolish to make such a "break" as that, and talked to him till he cooled down. It was an anxious few minutes, and I am very proud to think he did not "phase" me very much, as he afterwards admitted. Peace was secured with honour.

I was lucky to be able to leave the West and the cattle business with a hide free from perforations and punctures of any kind.



Summer Round-up Notes—Night Guarding—Stampedes—Bronco Busting—Cattle Branding, etc.

Round-up and trail work had many agreeable aspects, and though it was at times very hard work, still I look back to it all with fond memories. The hours were long—breakfast was already cooked and "chuck" called long before sunrise; horses were changed, the night horses turned loose and a fresh mount for the morning's work caught out of the ramuda. By the time breakfast was over it was generally just light enough to see dimly the features of the country. The boss then gave his orders to the riders as to where to go and what country to round-up, also the round-up place at noon. He started the day-herd off grazing towards the same place, and finally saw the wagon with its four mules loaded up and despatched. There was generally a "circus" every morning on the men starting out to their work. On a cold morning a cow-horse does not like to be very tightly cinched or girthed up. He resents it by at once beginning to buck furiously as soon as his rider gets into his saddle.

Even staid old horses will do it on a very cold morning. But the "young uns," the broncos, are then perfect fiends. Thus there is nearly always some sport to begin the day with. By noon the round-up has been completed and a large herd of cattle collected. Separating begins at once, first cows and calves, then steers and "dry" cattle, the property of the different owners represented. Dinner is ready by twelve, horses changed again and the day-herd is watered, and then the branding of the calves begins. But wait. Such a dinner! With few appliances it is really wonderful how a mess-wagon cook feeds the crowd so well. His fuel is "chips" (bois des vaches); with a spade he excavates a sunken fireplace, and over this erects an iron rod on which to hang pots, etc. He will make the loveliest fresh bread and rolls at least once a day, often twice; make most excellent coffee (and what a huge coffee-pot is needed for twenty or thirty thirsty cowpunchers), serve potatoes, stewed or fried meat, baked beans and stewed dried fruit, etc. Everything was good, so cleanly served and served so quickly. True, any kind of a mess tastes well to the hungry man, but I think that even a dyspeptic's appetite would become keen when he approached the cattleman's chuck wagon. Dinner over the wagon is again loaded up, the twenty or more beds thrown in, the team hitched and started for the night camping-ground, some place where there is lots of good grass for the cattle and saddle horses, and at the same time far enough away from all the other herds. The saddle horses in charge of the horse "wrangler" accompany the wagon. The men are either grazing and drifting the day-herd towards the camp, or branding morning calves, not in a corral but on the open prairie. The calves, and probably some grown cattle to be branded, must be caught with the rope, and here is where the roper's skill is shown to most advantage. At sundown all the men have got together again, night horses are selected, supper disposed of, beds prepared and a quiet smoke enjoyed.

If a horse-hair rope be laid on the ground around one's bed no snake will ever cross it. But during work the beds are seldom made down till after sunset, by which time rattlesnakes have all retired into holes or amongst brush, and so there is little danger from them.

First "guard" goes out to take charge of the herd. The herd has already been "bedded" down carefully at convenient distance from the wagon. Bedding down means bunching them together very closely, just leaving them enough room to lie down comfortably. They, if they have been well grazed and watered, will soon all be lying resting, chewing their cuds and at peace with the world. Each night-guard consists of two to four men according to the size of the herd, and "stands" two to four hours. The horse herd is also guarded by "reliefs." In fine weather it is no great hardship to be called out at any hour of the night, but if it should be late in autumn and snow falling, or, what is worse still, if there be a cold rain and a bitter wind it is very trying to be compelled to leave your warm bed at twelve or three in the morning, get on to your poor shivering horse and stand guard for three hours.

It should be explained that "standing" means not absolute inaction but slowly riding round and round the herd. Yes, it is trying, especially in bad weather and after working hard all day long from before sun-up. How well one gets to know the stars and their positions! The poor night-herders know that a certain star will set or be in such and such a position at the time for the next relief. Often when dead tired, sleepy and cold, how eagerly have I watched my own star's apparently very slow movement. The standard watch is at the wagon, and must not be "monkeyed" with, a trick sometimes played on tenderfeet. Immediately time for relief is up the next is called, and woe betide them if they delay complying with the summons. Of course the owner or manager does not have to take part in night-herding, but the boys think more of him if he does, and certainly the man he relieves appreciates it.

In continued wet and cold weather such as we were liable to have late in October or November, when it might rain and drizzle for a week or two at a time, our beds would get very wet and there would be no sun to dry them.

Consequently we practically slept in wet, not damp, blankets for days at a time; and to return from your guard about two in the morning and get into such an uninviting couch was trying to one's temper, of course. Even one's "goose haar piller," as the boys called their feather pillow, might be sodden. To make your bed in snow or be snowed over is not nearly so bad.

No tents were ever seen on the round-up. Everyone slept on the open bare ground. But for use during my long drives across country I got to using a small Sibley tent, nine feet by nine feet, which had a canvas floor attached to the walls, and could be closed up at night so as to effectually prevent the entrance of skunks and other vermin. This tent had no centre pole whatever. You simply drove in the four corner stake-pins, raised the two light rods over it triangularwise, and by a pulley and rope hoist up the peak. The two rods were very thin, light and jointed; and in taking the tent down you simply loosed the rope, knocked out the stake-pins, and that was all.

During these long guarding spells you practically just sit in your saddle for four hours at a stretch. You cannot take exercise and you dare not get down to walk or you will stampede the cattle. But, yes, you may gallop to camp if you know the direction, and drink a cup of hot strong coffee, which in bad weather is kept on the fire all night, re-light your pipe and return to "sing" to the cattle.

Then the quiet of these huge animals is impressive. About midnight they will get a bit restless, many will get on their feet, have a stretch and a yawn, puff, cough and blow and in other ways relieve themselves, and if allowed will start out grazing; but they are easily driven back and will soon be once more resting quietly.

The stampeding of the herd on such a night is almost a relief. It at once effectually wakes you up, gets you warm, and keeps you interested for the rest of your spell, even if it does not keep you out for the rest of the night.

I should explain that "singing" to the cattle refers to the habit cowboys have, while on night-guard, of singing (generally a sing-song refrain) as they slowly ride round the herd. It relieves the monotony, keeps the cattle quiet and seems to give them confidence, for they certainly appear to rest quieter while they know that men are guarding them, and are not so liable to stampede.

Stampeding is indeed a very remarkable bovine characteristic. Suppose a herd of cattle, say 2000 steers, to be quietly and peacefully lying down under night-guard. The air is calm and clear. It may be bright moonlight, or it may be quite dark; nothing else is moving. Apparently there is nothing whatever to frighten them or even disturb them; most of them are probably sound asleep, when suddenly like a shot they, the whole herd, are on their feet and gone—gone off at a more or less furious gallop. All go together. The guard are of course at once all action; the men asleep in camp are waked by the loud drumming of the thousands of hoofs on the hard ground and at once rush for their horses to assist. The stampede must be stopped and there is only one way to do it—to get up to the lead animals and try to swing them round with the object of getting them to move in a circle, to "mill" as we called it. But the poor beasts meantime are frantic with fear and excitement and you must ride hard at your level best, and look out you don't get knocked over and perhaps fatally trampled on. You must know your business and work on one plan with your fellow-herders. On a pitch dark night in a rough country it is very dangerous indeed. The cattle may run only a short distance or they may run ten miles, and after being quieted again may once more stampede. Indeed, I took a herd once to Amarillo and they stampeded the first night on the trail and kept it up pretty near every night during the drive. But, as said before, the remarkable part of the performance is the instantaneous nature of the shock or whatever it is that goes through the slumbering herd, and the quickness of their getting off the bed-ground. Cow and calf herds are not so liable to stampede, but horses are distinctly bad and will run for miles at terrific speed. Then you must just try and stay with them and bring them back when they stop, as you can hardly expect to outrun them. Still, I do not think that stampeded horses are quite so crazy as cattle, and they get over their fright quicker.

Let me try to illustrate a little better an actual stampede. The night was calm, clear, but very dark—no moon, and the stars dimmed by fleecy cloud strata. The herd of some 2000 steers was bedded down, and had so far given no trouble. Supper was over and the first guard on duty, the rest of the men lying on their beds chatting and smoking. Each man while not on duty has his saddled horse staked close by. Soon everyone has turned in for the night. A couple of hours later the first guard come in, their spell being over, and the second relief takes their place. The cattle are quiet; not a sound breaks the silence except the low crooning of some of the boys on duty. But suddenly, what is that noise?—like the distant rumbling of guns on the march, or of a heavy train crossing a wooden bridge! To one with his head on the ground the earth seems almost to tremble. Oh, we know it well! It is the beating of 8000 hoofs on the hard ground. The cowboy recognizes the dreaded sound instantly: it wakens him quicker than anything else. The boss is already in his saddle, has summoned the other men, and is off at full gallop. The cook gets up, re-trims his lamp, and hangs it as high on the wagon top as he can, to be visible as far as possible. It is good two miles before we catch up on the stampeded herd, still going at a mad gallop. The men are on flank trying to swing them round. But someone seems to be in front, as we soon can hear pistol-shots fired in a desperate endeavour to stop the lead steers. But even that is no avail, and indeed is liable to split the herd in two and so double the work. So the thundering race continues, and it is only after many miles have been covered that the cattle have run themselves out and we finally get them quietened down and turned homewards. Someone is sent out scouting round to try to get a view of the cook's lantern and so know our whereabouts. But have we got all the cattle? The men are questioned. Where's Pete? and where's Red? There must be cattle gone and these two men are staying with them. Well, we'll take the herd on anyway, bed them down again, get fresh horses, and then hunt up the missing bunch. So, the cattle once more "bedded," and every spare hand left with them, as they are liable to run again, two of us start out to find if possible the missing men. We first take a careful note of the position of any stars that may be visible, then start out at an easy lope or canter. It is so dark that it seems a hopeless task to find them. Good luck alone may guide us right; and good luck serves us well, for after having come some eight or nine miles we hear a man "hollering" to us. He had heard our horses' tread, and was no doubt mightily relieved at our coming, as of course he was completely lost in the darkness and had wisely not made any attempt to find his way. But there he was, good fellow, Red! with his little bunch of 200 steers. Yes, the herd had split, that's how it was. But where is Pete? Oh! he doesn't know; last saw him heading the stampede; never saw him since. Can he be lost and still wandering round? That is not likely, and we begin to suspect trouble. The small herd is directed campwards, and some of us again scout round, halloing and shouting, but keeping our eyes well "skinned" for anything on the ground. At last, by the merest chance, we come on something; no doubt what it is—the body of a man. "Hallo, Pete! What's the matter?" He stirs. "Are you badly hurt?" "Dog-gone it, fellows, glad to see you! My horse fell and some cattle ran over me. No! I ain't badly hurt; but I guess you'll have to carry me home." The poor fellow had several ribs broken, was dreadfully bruised, and his left cheek was nearly sliced off. There we had to leave him till morning, one of us staying by. Happily Pete got all right again.

Breaking young colts was a somewhat crude process. Not being of the same value as better bred stock they were rather roughly treated. If you have a number to break you will hire a professional "bronco-buster"; for some five dollars a head he will turn them back to you in a remarkably short time, bridle-wise, accustomed to the saddle and fairly gentle. But he does not guarantee against pitching. Some colts never pitch at all during the process, do not seem to know how; but the majority do know, and know well! The colt is roped in a corral by the forefeet, jerked down, and his head held till bridled; or he is roped round the neck, snubbed to a post and so held till he chokes himself by straining on the running loop. As soon as he falls a man jumps on to his head and holds it firmly in such a way that he cannot get up, and someone slips on the Hackamore bridle. Thus you will see that a horse lying on its side requires his muzzle as a lever to get him on his feet. Then he is allowed to rise and to find, though he may not then realize it, that his wild freedom is gone from him for ever. He is trembling with fright and excitement, and sweating from every pore. To get the saddle on him he is next blindfolded. A strong man grasps the left ear and another man slowly approaches and, after quietly and kindly rubbing and patting him, gently puts the saddle blanket in place; then the huge and heavy saddle with all its loose strings and straps is carefully hoisted and adjusted, and the cinch drawn up. In placing the blanket and the saddle there will likely be several failures. He will be a poor-spirited horse that does not resent it. Now take off the blinders and let him pitch till he is tired. Then comes the mounting. He is blinded again, again seized by the ear, the cinch pulled very tight, and the rider mounts into the saddle. It may be best first to lead him outside the corral, so that he can run right off with his man if he wants to. But he won't run far, as he soon exhausts himself in his rage and with his tremendous efforts to dismount his rider. A real bad one will squeal like a pig, fall back, roll over, kick and apparently tie himself into knots. If mastered the first time it is a great advantage gained. But should he throw his rider once, twice or several times he never forgets that the thing is at least possible, and so he may repeat his capers for a long time to come. All cow-horses have ever afterwards a holy dread of the rope, never forgetting its power and effect experienced during the breaking process. Thus, in roping a broken horse on the open or in a corral, if your rope simply lies over his neck, and yet not be round it, he will probably stop running and resign himself to capture. Even the commonly-used single rope corral, held up by men at the corners, they will not try to break through. Bronco-busters only last a few years, the hard jarring affects their lungs and other organs so disastrously.

One of our men, with the kindest consideration, much appreciated, confidentially showed me a simple method of tying up a bronco's head with a piece of thin rope, adjusted in a particular way, which made pitching or bucking almost, but not always, an impossibility. He was perhaps a little shamefaced in doing so, but such sensibility was not for me; anything to save one from the horrible shaking up and jarring of a pitching horse! And yet there was always the inclination to fix the string surreptitiously. Much better that the boys should not see it.

It may be said here that a horse has a lightning knowledge as to whether his rider be afraid of him or not, and acts accordingly. In branding my method was to simply tie up one forefoot and blindfold the colt, when a small and properly-hot stamp-iron can be quickly and effectively applied before he quite knows what is hurting him.

In early days we used only Spanish Mexican broncos for cow-ponies. They were broken bridle-wise, and perhaps had been ridden a few times. Bands of them were driven north to our country, and for about fifteen dollars apiece you might make a selection of the number wanted, say twenty to fifty head. Some of these ponies would turn out very well, some of little use. You took your chances, and in distributing them amongst the men very critical eyes were cast over them, you may be sure, as the boys had to ride them no matter what their natures might turn out to be. Such ponies were hardy, intelligent, active, and stood a tremendous amount of work. Later a larger stamp of cow-horse came into use, even horses with perhaps a distant and minute drop of Diomede's blood in them—Diomede, who won the first Derby stakes, run for in the Isle of Man by the way, and who was sold to America to become the father of United States thoroughbreds and progenitor of the great Lexington. But such "improved" horses could never do the cow work so well as the old original Spanish cayuse.

In a properly-organized cattle country all cattle brands must be recorded at the County seat. Because of the prodigious number and variety of brands of almost every conceivable pattern and device it is difficult to adopt a quite new and safe one that does not conflict in some way with others. This for the honest man; the crooked man, the thief, the brand-burner is not so troubled. He will select a brand such as others already in use may be easily changed into. To give a very few instances. If his own brand be 96 and another's 91 the conversion is easy. If it be [**#] and another's [**-II-] it is equally easy; or if it be [**3—E], as was one of our own brands, the conversion of it into [**d—B] is too temptingly simple. It was only after much consideration that I adopted for my own personal brand [**U]—a mule shoe on the left hip and jaw. It was small and did not damage the hide too much, was easily stamped on, looked well and was pretty safe. Among brands I have seen was HELL in large letters covering the animal's whole side.

With a band of horses a bell-mare (madrina) is sometimes used. The mare is gentle, helps to keep the lot together, and the bell lets you know on a dark night where they are. With a lot of mules a madrina is always used, as her charges will never leave her.

All the grooming cow-ponies get is self-administered. After a long ride, on pulling the saddle off, the pony is turned loose, when he at once proceeds to roll himself from one side to another, finishing up with a "shake" before he goes off grazing. If he has been overridden he may not succeed in rolling completely over. This is regarded as a sure sign that he has been overridden, and you know that he will take some days, or even maybe weeks, to recover from it. I have seen horses brought in absolutely staggering and trembling and so turned loose. A favourite mount is seldom so mistreated; and if the boss is present the rider knows he will take a note of it. One can imagine how delightful and refreshing this roll and shake must be, quite as refreshing as a cold bath (would be) to the tired and perspiring rider. Alas! cold or hot baths are not obtainable by the cattleman for possibly months at a time. The face and hands alone can receive attention. The new and modern idea of bodily self-cleansing is here effectually put in force and apparently with good health results. The rivers when in flood are extremely muddy; when not they are very shallow, and the water is usually alkaline and undrinkable, as well as quite useless for bathing purposes.

Cow-ponies generally have sound feet and durable hoofs, but in very sandy countries the hoofs will spread out in a most astonishing way and need constant trimming.

In droughty countries like Arizona and New Mexico we were frequently reduced to serious straits to find decent drinking-water. On many occasions I have drunk, and drunk with relief and satisfaction, such filthy, slimy, greenish-looking stuff as would disgust a frog and give the Lancet a fit, though that discriminating journal would probably call it soup. Sometimes even water, and I well remember the places, that was absolutely a struggling mass of small red creatures that yet really tasted not at all badly. Anyway it was better than the green slime. Thirst is a sensation that must be satisfied at any cost. Once when travelling in the South Arizona country, we being all strung out in Indian file, over a dozen of us, the lead man came on a most enticing-looking pool of pure water. Of course he at once jumped off, took a hearty draught, spat it out and probably made a face, but saying nothing rode quietly on. The next man did the same, and so it went on till our predecessors had each and all the satisfaction of knowing that he was not the only man fooled. The water was so hot, though showing no sign of it, that it was quite undrinkable—a very hot spring.

In the alkali district on the Pecos River the dust raised at a round-up is so dense that the herd cannot even be seen at 200 yards distance. This dust is most irritating to the eyes; and many of the men, including myself, were sometimes so badly affected that they had to stop work for weeks at a time.

In circuses and Wild-West shows one frequently sees cowgirls on the bill. Of course, on actual work on the range there is no such thing as a cowgirl. At least I never saw one.



Locating—Plans—Prairie Fires and Guards—Bulls—Trading—Successful Methods—Loco-weed—Sale of Ranch.

A year before selling out the Company's cattle I had started a small ranch for myself. Seeing that it was quite hopeless to run cattle profitably on the open-range system, and having longing eyes on a certain part of the plains which was covered with very fine grass and already fenced on one side by the Texas line—knowing also quite well that fencing of public land in New Mexico was strictly against the law (land in the territories is the property of the Federal Government, which will neither lease it nor sell it, but holds it for home-steading)—I yet went to work, bought a lot of wire and posts, gave a contract to a fence-builder and boldly ran a line over thirty miles long enclosing something like 100,000 acres. The location was part of the country where our stock horses used to run with the mustangs, and so I knew every foot of it pretty well. There was practically no limit to the acreage I might have enclosed; and I had then the choice of all sorts of country—country with lots of natural shelter for cattle, and even country where water in abundance could be got close to the surface. In my selected territory I knew quite well that it was very deep to water and that it would cost a lot of money in the shape of deep wells and powerful windmills to get it out; yet it was for this very reason that I so selected it. Would not the country in a few years swarm with settlers ("nesters" as we called small farmers), and would they not of course first select the land where water was shallow? They could not afford to put in expensive wells and windmills. Thus I argued, and thus it turned out exactly as anticipated. The rest of the country became settled up by these nesters, but I was left alone for some eight years absolutely undisturbed and in complete control of this considerable block of land. More than that the County Assessor and collector actually missed me for two years, not even knowing of my existence; and for the whole period of eight years I never paid one cent for rent. On my windmill locations I put "Scrip" in blocks of forty acres. Otherwise I owned or rented not a foot.

Just a line or two here. I happen to have known the man who invented barbed wire and who had his abundant reward. Blessings on him! though one is sometimes inclined to add cursings too. It is dangerous stuff to handle. Heavy gloves should always be worn. The flesh is so torn by the ragged barb that the wound is most irritating and hard to heal. When my fence was first erected it was a common thing to find antelope hung up in it, tangled in it, and cut to pieces. Once we found a mustang horse with its head practically cut completely off. The poor brutes had a hard experience in learning the nature of this strange, almost invisible, death-trap stretched across what was before their own free, open and boundless territory. And what frightful wounds some of the ponies would occasionally suffer by perhaps trying to jump over such a fence or even force their way through it; ponies from the far south, equally ignorant with the antelope of the dangers of the innocent-looking slender wire. In another way these fences were sometimes the cause of loss of beast life, as for instance when some of my cattle drifted against the fence during a thunder and rain storm and a dozen of them were killed by one stroke of lightning.

Into this preserve my cattle-breeding stock were put: very few in number to begin with, yet as many as my means afforded. My Company job and salary would soon be a thing of the past and my future must depend entirely on the success of this undertaking. Once before I had boldly, perhaps rashly, taken a lease of a celebrated steer pasture in Carson County, Texas, and gone to Europe to try and float a company, the proposition being to use the pasture, then, and still, the very best in Texas, for wintering yearling steers. No sounder proposition or more promising one could have been put forward. But all my efforts to get the capital needed failed and it was fortunate for me that at the end of one year I succeeded in getting a cancellation of the lease. On first securing the lease the season was well advanced and it became an anxiety to me as to where I should get cattle to put in the pasture, if only enough to pay the year's rent—some 7000 dollars. One man, a canny Scotsman, had been holding and grazing a large herd of 4000 two-year-old steers, all in one straight brand, on the free range just outside. He knew I wanted cattle and I knew he wanted grass, as he could not find a buyer and the season was late. We both played "coon," but I must say I began to feel a bit uncomfortable. At last greatly to my relief and joy, he approached me, and after a few minutes' dickering I had the satisfaction of counting into pasture this immense herd of 4000 cattle. Meantime, I had also been corresponding with another party and very soon afterwards closed a deal with him for some 3700 more two-year-old steers. Thus with 7700 head the pasture was nearly fully stocked, the rent for the first year was assured, and I prepared to go to the Old Country to form the company before mentioned. But before going I found it necessary to throw in a hundred or so old cows to keep the steers quiet. The steers had persisted in walking the fences, travelling in great strings round and round the pasture. They had lots of grass, water and salt, but something else was evidently lacking. Immediately the cows were turned loose all the uneasiness and dissatisfaction ceased. No more fence walking and no more danger (for me) of them breaking out. The family life seemed complete. The suddenness of the effect was very remarkable. This pasture has ever since been used solely for my proposed purpose and every year has been a tremendous success.

First of all a word about my house and home. Built on what may be called the Spanish plan, of adobes (sun-dried bricks), the walls were 2-1/2 feet thick, and there was a courtyard in the centre. Particular attention was paid to the roof, which was first boarded over, then on the boards three inches of mud, and over that sheets of corrugated iron. The whole idea of the adobes and the mud being to secure a cool temperature in summer and warmth in winter. No other materials are so effective.

As explained before, there were no trees or shrubs of any kind within a radius of many miles. So to adorn this country seat I cut and threw into my buggy one day a young shoot of cotton-wood tree, hauled it fifty miles to the ranch, and stuck it in the centre of the court. Water was never too plentiful; so why not make use of the soap-suddy washings which the boys and all of us habitually threw out there? When the tree did grow up, and it thrived amazingly, its shade became the recognized lounging-place. With a few flowering shrubs added the patio assumed quite a pretty aspect. Another feature of the house was that the foundations were laid so deep, and of rock, that skunks could not burrow underneath, which is quite a consideration. Under my winter cottage at the Meadows Ranch in Arizona skunks always denned and lay up during the cold weather, selecting a point immediately under the warm hearthstone. There, as one sat reading over the fire, these delightful animals, within a foot of you, would carry on their family wrangles and in their excitement give evidence of their own nature; but happily the offence was generally a very mild one and evidently not maliciously intended.

Around the house was planted a small orchard and attempts were made at vegetable-growing. But water was too scarce to do the plants justice. Everything must be sacrificed to the cattle. One lesson it taught me, however, and that is that no matter how much water you irrigate with, one good downpour from Nature's fertilizing watering-can is worth more than weeks of irrigation. Rain water has a quality of its own which well or tank water cannot supply. Plants respond to it at once by adopting a cheery, healthy aspect. It had another equally valuable character in that it destroyed the overwhelming bugs. How it destroyed them I don't know: perhaps it drowned them; anyway they disappeared at once.

In my own pasture in New Mexico I for various reasons decided to "breed," instead of simply handle steers. Steers were certainly safer and surer, and the life was an easy one. But there appeared to me greater possibilities in breeding if the cows were handled right and taken proper care of. It will be seen by-and-by that my anticipations were more than justified, so that the success of this little ranch has been a source of pride to me.

The ranch was called "Running Water," because situated on Running Water Draw, a creek that never to my knowledge "ran" except after a very heavy rain. Prairie fires were the greatest danger in this level range country, there being no rivers, canons, or even roads to check their advance. Lightning might set the grass afire; a match carelessly dropped by the cigarette-smoker; a camp fire not properly put out; or any mischievously-inclined individual might set the whole country ablaze. Indeed, the greatest prairie fire I have record of was maliciously started to windward of my ranch by an ill-disposed neighbour (one of the men whose cattle the Scotch Company had closed out and who ever after had a grudge against me) purposely to burn me out. He did not quite succeed, as by hard fighting all night we managed to save half the grass; but the fire extended 130 miles into Texas, burning out a strip from thirty to sixty miles wide. On account of a very high wind blowing that fire jumped my "guard," a term which needs explanation. All round my pasture, on the outside of the fence, for a distance of over forty miles was ploughed a fire-guard thus: two or three ploughed furrows and, 100 feet apart, other two or three ploughed furrows, there being thus a strip of land forty miles long and 100 feet wide. Between these furrows we burnt the grass, an operation that required great care and yet must be done as expeditiously as possible to save time, labour and expense. A certain amount of wind must be blowing so as to insure a clean and rapid burn; but a high gusty wind is most dangerous, as the flames are pretty sure to jump the furrows, enter the pasture, and get away from you. The excitement at such a critical time is of course very great. In such cases it was at first our practice to catch and kill a yearling, split it open and hitch ropes to the hind feet, when two of us mounted men would drag the entire carcass over the line of fire. It was effective but an expensive and cumbrous method. Later I adopted a device called a "drag," composed of iron chains, in the nature of a harrow, covered by a raw hide for smothering purposes. This could be dragged quite rapidly and sometimes had to be used over miles and miles of encroaching fire. The horses might get badly burnt, and in very rank grass where the fierce flames were six to eight feet high it was useless. Sometimes we worked all night, and no doubt it formed a picturesque spectacle and a scene worthy of an artist's brush. Across the centre of the pasture for further safety, as also around the bull and horse pasture, was a similar fire-guard, so that I had in all some fifty-five miles of guard to plough and burn. It is such critical and dangerous, yet necessary, work that I always took care to be present myself and personally boss the operation. Without such a fire-guard one is never free from anxiety. Many other ranchers who were careless in this matter paid dearly for it. These fires were dangerous in other ways. A dear old friend of mine was caught by and burnt to death in one. Another man, a near neighbour, when driving a team of mules, got caught likewise, and very nearly lost his life. He was badly burnt and lost his team.

Hitherto it had been the universal custom of cattlemen to use "grade" bulls, many of them, alas! mere "scrubs" of no breeding at all. No one used pure-bred registered bulls except to raise "grade" bulls with. I determined to use "registered" pure-bred bulls alone, and no others, to raise steers with, and was the first man to my knowledge to do so. Neighbours ridiculed the idea, saying that they would not get many calves, that they could not or would not "rustle"—that is, they would not get about with the cows—that they would need nursing and feeding and would not stand the climate. Well, I went east, selected and bought at very reasonable figures the number needed, all very high bred, indeed some of them fashionably so, and took them to the ranch. By the way, bulls were not called bulls in "polite" society: you must call them "males." Very shortly afterwards there was a rise in value of cattle, a strong demand for such bulls, and prices went "out of sight." Thus the bulls that cost me some 100 dollars apiece in a little while were worth 200 or even 300 dollars. The young bulls "rustled" splendidly, and as next spring came along there was much interest felt as to results. To my great delight almost every cow had a calf, and nearly every calf was alike red body and white face, etc. (Hereford). I kept and used these same bulls six or seven seasons; every year got the highest calf-brand or crop amongst all my neighbours; and soon, with prudent culling of the cows, my small herd (some 2000) was the best in the country; and my young steers topped the market, beating even the crack herds that had been established for twenty years and had great reputations.

To give an instance: my principle was to work with little or no borrowed money. Thus my position was such that I did not always have to market my steers to pay running expenses; and as I hate trading and dickering, as it is called, my independence gave me a strong position. Well, once when travelling to the ranch I met on the train two "feeders" from the north, who told me they wanted to buy two or three hundred choice two-year-old, high-bred, even, well-coloured and well-shaped steers. Having by chance some photos in my pocket of my steers (as yearlings taken the year before) I produced them. They seemed pleased with them and asked the price, which I told them; but they said no ranch cattle were worth that money and ridiculed the idea of my asking it. "Oh," I said, "it is nothing to me; that is the price of the cattle," but I carefully also told them how to get to my place and invited them to come and see me. Oh, no! they said it was too ridiculous! We travelled on to Amarillo and I at once went out to Running Water. Only two days afterwards, on coming in to dinner, I found my two gentlemen seated on the porch waiting for me. After dinner we saddled up and went out to see the steers. The dealers were evidently surprised and made a long and careful inspection. Evidently they were well pleased, and on returning to the house it was also evident that they were going to adopt the usual tactics of whittling a small piece of wood (a seemingly necessary accompaniment to a trade) and "dickering"; so I again told them my terms, same as before, and hinted that they might take or leave them as they liked. The deal was closed without further ado, some money put up, and next day I started for England, leaving to the foreman the duty and responsibility of delivering the steers at the date specified. These men, like most other operators, were dealing with borrowed money got from commission houses in Kansas City. I learnt afterwards that their Kansas City friends, on hearing of the trade, refused to supply the funds till they had sent a man out specially to see the two-year-old steers that could possibly be worth so much money. He came out, saw them, and reported them to be well worth the price; and they were acknowledged to be the finest small bunch of steers ever shipped out of the south-west country. This was very gratifying indeed.

Another revolution in ranch practice was the keeping up of my bulls in winter-time and not putting them out with the cows till the middle of July. This also met with the ridicule of all the "old-timers"; but it was entirely successful! The calf crop was not only a very large one but the calves were dropped all about the same time, were thus of an even age (an important matter for dealers), and they "came" when their mothers were strong and had lots of milk.

Young cows and heifers having their first calves had to be watched very closely, and we had often to help them in delivery. It may also be mentioned here that the sight of a green, freshly-skinned hide, or a freshly-skinned carcass, will frequently cause cows to "slink" their calves. The smell of blood too creates a tremendous commotion amongst the cattle generally; why, is not quite known.

I also made a practice in early spring of taking up weak or poor cows that looked like needing it, putting them in a separate pasture and feeding them on just two pounds of cotton-seed meal once a day; no hay, only the dry, wild grass in the small pasture. The good effect of even such a pittance of meal was simply astounding. Thereafter I do not think I ever lost a single cow from poverty or weakness. This use of meal on a range ranch was in its way also a novelty. Afterwards it became general and prices of cotton-seed and cotton-seed meal doubled and more.

When a very large number of range cattle, say 2000 or so, required feeding on account of poverty, hay in our country not being obtainable, cotton-seed (whole) would be fed to them by the simple and effective method of loading a large wagon with it, driving it over the pasture, and scattering thinly, not dumping, the seed on to the grass sod. The cattle would soon get so fond of it that they would come running as soon as the wagon appeared and follow it up in a long string, the strongest and greediest closest to the wagon, the poor emaciated, poverty-stricken ones tailing off in the rear. But not one single seed was wasted, everyone being gleaned and picked up in a very short time. It is the best, easiest and most effective way: indeed, the only possible way with such a large number of claimants. And as said before, the recuperating effect of this cotton-seed is simply astonishing. It may be noted, however, that if fed in bulk and to excess the animals will sometimes go blind, which must be guarded against.

In the matter of salt it had become the common practice to use sacked stuff (pulverized) for cattle. There was a strong prejudice against rock salt; so much so that when I decided to buy a carload or two it had to be specially ordered. Another laugh was raised at my proposed use of it. The cattle would get sore tongues, or they would spend so long a time licking it they would have no time to graze, etc., etc. Meantime I had lost some cows by their too quick lapping of the pulverized stuff. Thereafter I never lost one from such a cause and the cattle throve splendidly. Besides, the rock salt was much easier handled and considerably more economical.

My wells were deep, none less than 250 feet, the iron casing 10-inch diameter, the pipe 6-inch or 8-inch, and the mill-wheels 20 feet in diameter; this huge wind power being necessary to pump up from such a depth a sufficiency of water. The water was pumped directly into very large shallow drinking wooden tubs, thence into big reserve earthen tanks (fenced in), and thence again led by pipe to other large drinking-tubs outside and below the tanks, supplied with floating stop-valves. This arrangement, arrived at after much deliberation, worked very well indeed; no water was wasted, and it was always clean; and in very cold weather the cattle always got warm, freshly-pumped well water in the upper tub, an important matter and one reason why my cattle always did so well. But oh, dear! the trouble and work we often had with these wells! Perhaps in zero temperature something would go wrong with the pump valve or the piston leather would wear out, or in a new well the quicksand would work in. Neither myself, foreman nor boy was an expert or had any mechanical knowledge; though continued troubles, much hard work, accompanied by, alas! harder language, was a capital apprenticeship. In bitter cold freezing weather I well remember we once had to pull out the rods and the piping three times in succession before we got the damned thing into shape, and then we did not know what had been the matter. To pull up first 250 feet of heavy rod, disjoint it, and lay it carefully aside; then pull up 250 feet of 6-inch or 8-inch iron piping, in 20-feet lengths, clamp and disjoint it, and put it carefully aside; then to use the sand-bucket to get the sand out of the well if necessary; repair and put into proper shape the valve and cylinder, etc.; then (and these are all parts of one operation), re-lower and connect the 250 feet of heavy piping, the equally long rods, and attach to the mill itself—oh, what anxiety to know if it was going to work or not! On this particular occasion, as stated, we—self, foreman and one boy—actually had to go through this tedious and dangerous performance three times in succession! To pull out the piping great power is needed, and we at first used a capstan made on the ranch and worked by hand. But it was slow work, very slow, and very hard work too; afterwards we used a stout, steady team of horses, with double tackle, and found it to work much more expeditiously. But there was always a great and ever-present danger of the pipe slipping, or a clamp, a bolt, or a hook, or even the rope breaking with disastrous results.

These wells and mills afforded any disgruntled cowhand or "friendly" neighbour a simple and convenient opportunity of "getting even," as a single small nail dropped down a pipe at once clogged the valve and rendered the tedious operation necessary. I had altogether five of such wells.

A little more "brag," if it may be called so, and I shall have done. But it will need some telling, and perhaps credulity on the reader's part. A certain wild plant called "loco" grows profusely in many parts of the Western States; but nowhere more profusely than it did in my pasture. Indeed it looked like this particular spot must have been its place of origin and its stronghold in time of adversity. Certainly, although it was common all over the plains, I never saw in any place such a dense and vigorous growth of it, covering like an alfalfa field solid blocks of hundreds of acres. This is no exaggeration. It had killed a few of our cattle in Arizona and ruined some of our best horses. The Scotch Company lost many hundreds of cattle by it, and also some horses. The plant seems to flourish in cycles of about seven years; that is, though some of it may be present every year it only comes in abundance, overwhelming abundance, once in the period stated. The peculiarity about it, too, is that it grows in the winter months and has flowered and seeded and died down by midsummer. Thus it is the only green and succulent-looking plant to be seen in winter-time on the brown plains. It is very conspicuous and in appearance much resembles clover or alfalfa. Cattle as a rule will avoid it, but for some unknown reason the time comes when you hear the expression the "cattle are eating loco." If so they will continue to eat it, to eat nothing else, till it is all gone; and those eating it will set the example to others, and all that have eaten it will go stark staring mad and the majority of them die. Horses are even more liable to take to it, and are affected exactly in the same way; they go quite crazy, refuse to drink water, cannot be led, and have a dazed, stupid appearance and a tottering gait, till finally they decline and die for want of nourishment. I have seen locoed horses taken up and fed on grain, when some of them recovered and quite got over the habit even of eating the weed; but these were exceptions. Most locoed horses remained too stupid to do anything with and were never of much value. There is one strange fact, however, about them; saddle horses, slightly locoed, just so bad that they cannot be led, and therefore useless as saddlers, do, when hitched up to a wagon or buggy, though never driven before, make splendid work horses. They go like automatons; will trot if allowed till they fall down, and never balk. The worst outlaw horse we ever had, one that had thrown all the great riders of the country and had never been mastered, this absolute devilish beast got a pretty bad dose of the weed; and, to experiment, we hitched him up in a wagon, when lo! he went off like any old steady team horse. This is all very interesting; but that is enough as to its effect on live stock.

At the request of the Department of Agriculture I sent to Washington some specimens of a grub which, when the plant reaches its greatest exuberance and abundance, infests it, eating out its heart and so killing it. It destroys the plant, but alas! generally too late to prevent the seed maturing and falling to earth. The plant itself has been several times carefully examined, its juices tested and experimentally administered to various animals. But no absolutely satisfactory explanation of its effects has been given out; and certainly no antidote or cure of its effects suggested.

Well, in a certain year the seven years' cycle came round; faithfully the loco plant cropped up all over the plains, the seed that had lain dormant for many years germinated and developed everywhere. As winter approached (in October) my fall round-up was due. Calves had to be branded, some old cows sold, and some steers delivered. I had sold nothing that year. On rounding-up the horses many of them showed signs of the weed. The neighbours flocked in and the work began. Only one round-up was made, when the idea seized me that if these cattle were "worked" in the usual way—that is, jammed round, chased about and "milled" for several hours—they would get tired and hungry, and on being turned loose would be inclined to eat whatever was nearest to them—probably the loco plant. It seemed so reasonable a fear, and I was so anxious about the cattle, that I ordered the foreman there and then to turn the herd quietly loose, explained to the neighbours my reasons for doing so, but allowed them to cut out what few cattle they had in the herd: and the year's work was thus at once abandoned. All that winter was a very anxious time. Reports came in from neighbouring ranches that their cattle were dying in hundreds. On driving through their pastures the loco appeared eaten to the ground; all the cattle were after it, and poor, staggering, crazy animals were met on the road without sense enough to get out of your way. By the end of next spring some of my neighbours had few cattle left to round-up. One neighbour, the largest cattle-ranch in the world, owning some 200,000 head, was estimated to have lost at least 20,000. And meantime how were affairs going in my little place? It will seem incredible, but what is here written is absolute truth. The loco was belly high; the self-weaned calves could be seen wading through it; but ne'er a nibbled or eaten plant could be found. I often searched carefully for such dreaded signs but happily always failed: and I did not lose a single cow, calf or steer, nor were any found showing the slightest signs of being affected.

Many reasons were advanced for the miraculous escape of these cattle; people from a hundred miles away came to see and learn the reason. No satisfactory explanation was suggested, and finally they were compelled to accept my own one, and agree that leaving the cattle undisturbed by abandoning the fall round-up was the real solution of the problem. The only work my men did that winter was to keep the fences up and in good shape, and whenever they saw stray cattle in my pasture to turn them out at once, fearing the danger of bad example. Next winter, the loco being still very bad, the same tactics were adopted and only one solitary yearling of mine was affected. So ended the worst loco visitation probably ever experienced in the West; not perhaps that the plant was more abundant than at some other periods, though I think it was, but for some unknown reason the cattle ate it more freely.

The temperature on these plains sometimes went so low as 20 deg. below zero, with wind blowing. There was no natural shelter, literally nothing as big as your hat in the pasture, and several men advised the building of sheds, wind-breaks, etc. But experience told me just the opposite. I had seen cattle (well fed and carefully tended) freeze to death inside sheds and barns. Also I had seen whole bunches of cattle standing shivering behind open sheds and wind-breaks till they practically froze to death or became so emaciated as to eventually die of poverty. If you give cattle shelter they will be always hanging around it. So I built no sheds or anything else. When a blizzard came my cattle had to travel, and the continued travelling backwards and forwards kept the blood in circulation. There were a few cases of horns, feet, ears and mammae frozen off, but I never had a cow frozen to death and never lost any directly from the severity of the weather. More than that, I never fed a pound of hay.

Our name for calves that had lost their mothers, and therefore the nourishment obtained from milk, was "dogies." These dogies were ever afterwards unmistakable in appearance, and remained stunted, "runty" little animals of no value. Yet, if taken up early enough and fed on nourishing diet, they would develop into as large and well-grown cattle as their more fortunate fellows.[2]

[Footnote 2: Appendix, Note III.]

My foreman was an ordinary cowboy, but he was a thorough cattleman, had already been in my employ for seven years, and his "little peculiarities" were pretty well known to me. He became desperately jealous of his position (as foreman), resenting interference. It is a good characteristic, this desire for independence, if also accompanied by no fear of responsibility; and on these lines my ranch was run. I allowed him great independence, never interfered so long as he carried out general orders and "ran straight"; but I also put on him full responsibility. More than that, I allowed him to run his own small bunch of cattle, some hundred head, in my pasture, and gave him the use of my bulls; his grass, salt and water cost him nothing. This was a very unusual policy to adopt. But the idea was that it would thus be as much his interest as mine to see the fences kept up and in good repair, to see that the windmills and wells were kept in order, that the cattle had salt, were not stolen, etc., and prairie fires guarded against. Well, it all turned out right. My presence at the ranch during a year would not perhaps amount to a month of days; I could live in Denver, San Francisco or Mexico, and only come to the place at round-ups and branding-times. I do not think that a calf was ever stolen from me. The fact was I knew cattle in general and my own cattle in particular so well (and he knew it) that he had no opportunity, and perhaps was afraid to take advantage of me.

It must be here mentioned that on selling out, and in tallying my cattle over to the buyer, the count was disappointingly short; not nearly so short as the Scotch Company's cattle, it is true, but still, considering that my cattle were inside a good fence, were well looked after, the huge calf crop and apparently small death loss, there was a shortage. Then there is no wonder at the greater shortage of the Company's cattle, where almost no care could be taken of them, where the calf tallies were in the hands of, and returned by, the foremen of other outfits, where the range was overstocked, the boggy rivers a death-trap, where wolves and thieves had free range, and where blackleg, mismothering of calves and loco made a big hole in the number of yearlings. In my pasture were also wolves and blackleg; and the loss in calves by these, difficult to detect, is invariably greater than suspected.

Only one case of cattle-thieving occurred at my own ranch and I lost nothing by it. Two men stopped in for supper one day; they were strangers, but of course received every attention. They rode on afterwards, coolly picked up some thirty head of my cattle, drove them all night into Texas and sold them to a farmer there. Of course they were not missed out of so many cattle; but someone in Texas had seen them at their new home, noticed my brand and sent word to me. On going after them I found they had been sold to an innocent man who had paid cash for them and taken no bill of sale. It was not a pleasant duty to demand the cattle back from such a man, but he ought to have known better.

Some rustlers in Arizona once detached from a train at a small station a couple of carloads of beef cattle, ran them back down the track to the corral, there unloaded the cattle and drove them off. This very smart trick of course was done during the night and while the crew were at supper.

For all these reasons it will be seen why my small ranch was such a success and such a profitable and money-making institution. But alas! it was to be short-lived! As explained before, I was paying no rent and my fences were illegal. "Kind" friends, and I had lots of them, reported the fences to Washington; a special agent was sent out to inspect, ordered the fence down and went away again. I disregarded the order. To take the fence down meant my getting out of the business or the ruin of the herd. Next year another agent came out, said my fence was an enclosure and must come down. Seeing still some daylight I took down some few miles of it, so that it could not be defined as an enclosure, but only a drift-fence. During the winter, however, I could not resist closing the gap again. Next season once more appeared a Government agent, who in a rage ordered the fence down under pains and penalties which could not well be longer disregarded. Cattle were up in price; a neighbour had long been anxious to buy me out; he was somewhat of a "smart Alick" and thought he could keep the fence up; he knew all the circumstances; so I went over and saw him, made a proposition, and in a few minutes the ranch, cattle, fences and mills were his. Poor man! in six months his fence was down and the cattle scattered all over the country. He eventually lost heavily by the deal; but being a man of substance I got my money all right. So closed my cattle-ranching experiences some eight years ago (1902).

It may be noted that experience showed that polled black bulls were no good for ranch purposes. They get few calves, are lazy, and have not the "rustling" spirit. Durhams or Shorthorns also compared poorly in these respects with Herefords, and besides are not nearly so hardy. The white face is therefore king of the range. And bulls with red rings round the eyes by preference, as they can stand the bright glare of these hot, dry countries better. It used to be my keen delight to attend the annual cattle shows and auction sales of pure-bred bulls, and I would feel their hides and criticize their points till I almost began to imagine myself as competent as the ring judges.

The ranch was in the heart of the great buffalo range. (Indeed the Comanche Indians, and even some white men, used to believe firmly that the buffaloes each spring came up out of the ground like ants somewhere on these Staked Plains, and from thence made their annual pilgrimage north.) It seems these animals were not loco eaters.

On my first coming to New Mexico there were still some buffaloes on the plain, the last remnant of the uncountable, inconceivable numbers that not long before had swarmed over the country. Even when the first railroads were built trains were sometimes held up for hours to let the herds pass. As late as 1871 Colonel Dodge relates that he rode for twenty-five miles directly through an immense herd, the whole country around him and in view being like a solid mass of buffaloes, all moving north. In fact, during these years the migrating herd was declared to have a front of thirty to forty miles wide, while the length or depth was unknown. An old buffalo hunter loves nothing better than to talk of the wonderful old times. One of the oldest living ranchmen still has a private herd near Amarillo and has made many experiments in breeding the bulls to domestic Galloway cows. The progeny, which he calls cattalo, make excellent beef, and he gets a very big price for the hides as robes.



The "Staked Plains"—High Winds—Lobo Wolves—Branding—Cows—Black Jack—Lightning and Hail—Classing Cattle—Conventions—"Cutting" versus Polo—Bull-Fight—Prize-Fights—River and Sea Fishing—Sharks.

More odds and ends! and more apologies for the disconnected character of this chapter. It must be remembered that these notes are only jotted down as they have occurred to me. Of their irrelativeness one to another I am quite conscious, but the art of bringing them together in more proper order is beyond my capacity. Possibly it might not be advisable anyway.

In my pasture of some 100,000 acres there was not a tree, a bush, or a shrub, or object of any nature bigger than a jack-rabbit; yet no sight was so gladsome to the eyes, no scenery (save the mark!) so beautiful as the range when clothed in green, the grass heading out, the lakes filled with water and the cattle fat, sleek and contented. Yet in after years, when passing through this same country by the newly-built railway in winter-time, it came as a wonder to me how one could have possibly passed so many years of his life in such a dreary, desolate, uninteresting-looking region. To-day the whole district, even my own old and familiar ranch, is desecrated (in the cattleman's eyes) by little nesters' (settlers) cottages, and fences so thick and close together as to resemble a Boer entanglement. I had done a bit of farming and some years raised good crops of Milo maize, Kafir corn, sorghum, rye, and even Indian corn. But severe droughts come on, when, as a nester once told me, for two years nothing was raised, not even umbrellas!

These plains are, it may be safely said, the windiest place on earth, especially in early spring, when the measured velocity sometimes shows eighty miles per hour. When the big circular tumble weeds are bounding over the plains then is the time to look out for prairie fires; and woe betide the man caught in a blizzard in these lonely regions.

Once when driving from a certain ranch to another, a distance of fifty miles, my directions were to "follow the main road." Fifty miles was no great distance and my team was a good one. I knew there were no houses between the two points. After driving what long experience told me was more than fifty miles, and still no ranch, I became a bit anxious; but there was nothing for it but to keep going. Black clouds in the north warned me of danger. I pushed the team along till they were wet with sweat; some snow fell; it grew dark as night; and a regular blizzard set in and I was in despair. I had a good bed in the buggy, so would myself probably have got through the night all right, but my horses were bound to freeze to death if staked out or tied up. As a last resource I threw the reins down and left it to the team to go wherever they pleased. For some time they kept on the road, but soon the jolting told me that they had left it and we began to go down a hill; in a little while great was my joy to see a light and to find ourselves soon in the hospitable shelter of a Mexican sheep-herder's hut. The Mexican unhitched the team and put them in a warm shed. For myself, he soon had hot coffee and tortillas on the table. I never felt so thankful in my life for such accommodation and such humble fare. The horses had never been in that part of the country before, that I knew; it was pitch dark, and yet they must have known in some mysterious way that in that direction was shelter and safety, as when I threw the lines down they even then continued to face the storm.

It may be noted here that buffaloes always face the storm and travel against it; cattle and horses never.

Before entirely leaving the cattle business a few more notes may be of interest.

Plagues of grasshoppers and locusts sometimes did awful damage to the range.

When visiting at a neighbour's one must not dismount till invited to do so; also in saluting anyone the gloves must be removed before shaking hands. This is cowboy etiquette and must be duly regarded.

At public or semi-private dances there is always a master of ceremonies, who is also prompter and calls out all the movements. He will announce a "quardreele," or maybe a "shorteesche," and keeps the company going with his "Get your partners!" "Balance all!" "Swing your partners!" "Hands across!" "How do you do?" and "How are you?" "Swing somewhere," and "Don't forget the bronco-buster," etc. etc., as someone has described it. The Mexicans are always most graceful dancers; cowboys, with their enormously high heels, and probably spurs, are a bit clumsy. At purely Mexican dances (Bailies) the two sexes do not speak, each retiring at the end of a dance to its own side of the room.

Most cowboys have the peculiar faculty of "humming," produced by shaping the mouth and tongue in a certain way. The "hum" can be made to exactly represent the bagpipes; no one else did I ever hear do it but cowpunchers. I have tried for hours but never quite succeeded in the art.

Besides coyotes, which are everywhere common, the plains were infested by lobo wolves, a very large and powerful species; they denned in the breaks of the plains and it was then easiest to destroy them. They did such enormous damage amongst cattle that a reward of as high as thirty dollars per scalp was frequently offered for them, something less for the pups. The finding of a nest with a litter of perhaps six to eight young ones meant considerable money to the scalp-hunter. The wolves were plentiful and hunted in packs; and I have seen the interesting sight of a small bunch of mixed cattle rounded up and surrounded by a dozen of them, sitting coolly on their haunches till some unwary yearling left the protecting horns of its elders. Every time, when riding the range, that we spotted a lobo ropes were down at once and a more or less long chase ensued, the result depending much whether Mr Wolf had dined lately or not. But they were more addicted to horse and donkey flesh if obtainable. For purposes of poisoning them I used to buy donkeys at a dollar apiece and cut them up for bait. With hounds they gave good sport in a suitable country. But it is expensive work, as many dogs get killed, and no dog of any breed, unless maybe the greyhound, can or will singly and twice tackle a lobo wolf.

In the springtime, when the calves are dropping pretty thick, it is exceedingly interesting to note the protective habits of the mother cows. For instance, when riding you will frequently come on a two or three days' old baby snugly hidden in a bunch of long grass while the mother has gone to water. When calves get a little older you may find at mid-day, out on the prairie, some mile or two from water, a bunch of maybe forty calves. Their mammies have gone to drink; but not all of them! No, never all of them at the same time. One cow is always left to guard the helpless calves, and carries out her trust faithfully until relieved. This was and is still a complete mystery to me. Does this individual cow select and appoint herself to the office; or is she balloted for, or how otherwise is the selection made?

This might be another picture subject—the gallant cow on the defensive, even threatening and aggressive, and the many small helpless calves gathering hastily around her for protection. Her! The self-appointed mother of the brood.

When branding calves, suppose you have 400 cows and calves in the corral. First all calves are separated into a smaller pen. Then the branding begins. But what an uproar of bellows and "baas" takes place! My calves were all so very like one another in colour and markings that one was hardly distinguishable from another. The mothers can only recognize their hopeful offspring by their scent and by their "baa," although amongst 400 it must be rather a nice art to do so—400 different and distinct scents and 400 differently-pitched baas.

Among these notes I should not forget to mention a brush plant that grows on the southern plains. It is well named the "wait-a-bit" thorn. Its hooks or claws are sharper than a cat's, very strong and recurve on the stems: so that a man afoot cannot possibly advance through it, and even on a horse it will tear the trousers off you in a very few minutes. Is the name not appropriate?

Nothing so far has been said on the subject of "hold-ups." Railway train hold-ups were a frequent occurrence, and were only undertaken by the most desperate of men. One celebrated gang, headed by the famous outlaw, Black Jack, operated mostly on a railway to the north of us and another railway to the south, the distance between being about 400 miles. Their line of travel between these two points was through Fort Sumner; and in our immediate neighbourhood they sometimes rested for a week or two, hiding out as it were, resting horses and laying plans. No doubt they cost us some calves for beef, though they were not the worst offenders. What annoyed me most was that Black Jack himself, when evading pursuit, raided my horse pasture one night, caught up the very best horse I ever owned, rode him fifty miles, and cut his throat.

In New Mexico, where at first it seemed everybody's hand was against me, I was gratified to find that I had got a reputation as a fist-fighter, and as I never practised boxing in my life, never had the gloves on, never had a very serious fist fight with anyone, the idea of having such a reputation was too funny; but why should one voluntarily repudiate it? It was useful. The men had also somehow heard that I could hold a six-shooter pretty straight. Such a reputation was even more useful. I was not surprised therefore that a plan should be hatched to test my powers in that line. It came at the round-up dinner-hour on the Company's range (New Mexico). A small piece of board was nailed to a fence post and the boys began shooting at it. In a casual way someone asked me to try my hand. Knowing how much depended on it I got out my faithful old 45 deg. six-shooter that I had carried for fifteen years, and taking quick aim, as much to my own surprise as to others', actually hit the centre of the mark! It was an extraordinarily good shot (could not do it again perhaps in twenty trials) but it saved my reputation. Of course no pressure could have persuaded me to fire again. That reminds me of another such occasion.

Once when camped alone on the Reservation in Arizona, a party of officers from Camp Apache turned up. They had a bite to eat with me and the subject of shooting came up. Someone stuck an empty can in a tree at a considerable distance from us and they began shooting at it with carbines. When my turn came I pulled out the old 45 deg. pistol and by lucky chance knocked the bottom out at the first shot. My visitors were amazed that a six-shooter had such power and could be used with such accuracy at that distance. In this case it was also a lucky shot; but constant practice at rabbits, prairie dogs and targets had made me fairly proficient. In New Mexico I had a cowboy working for me who was a perfect marvel, a "born" marksman such as now and then appears in the West. With a carbine he could keep a tin can rolling along the ground by hitting, never the can, but just immediately behind and under it with the greatest accuracy. If one tossed nickel pieces (size of a shilling) in succession in front of him he would hit almost without fail every one of them with his carbine—a bullet not shot! He left me to give exhibition shooting at the Chicago Exposition.

On my ranch, at Running Water Draw, was unearthed during damming operations, a vast quantity of bones of prehistoric age; which calls for the remark that not only the horse but also the camel was at one time indigenous to North America.

Nothing has been said yet about hail or lightning storms. Some of the latter were indescribably grand, when at night the whole firmament would be absolutely ablaze with flashes, sheets and waves so continuous as to be without interval. Once when lying on my bed on the open prairie such a storm came on. It opened with loud thunder and some brilliant flashes, then the rain came down and deluged us, the water running two inches deep over the grass; and when the rain ceased the wonderful electric storm as described continued for an hour longer. The danger was over; but the sight was awe-inspiring in the extreme. Night-herding too during such a storm was a strange experience. No difficulty to see the cattle; the whole herd stood with tails to the wind; the men lined out in front, each well covered by his oilskin slicker, and his horse's tail likewise turned to the storm; the whole outfit in review order so to speak, the sole object of the riders being to prevent the cattle from "drifting." This book contains no fiction or exaggeration; yet it will be hardly believed when I state that hail actually riddled the corrugated iron roof of my ranch house—new iron, not old or rusty stuff. The roof was afterwards absolutely useless as a protection against rain.

Mirages in the hot dry weather were a daily occurrence. We did not see imaginary castles and cities turned upside down and all that sort of thing, but apparent lakes of water were often seen, so deceptive as to puzzle even the oldest plainsman. Cattle appeared as big as houses and mounted men as tall as church steeples.

In all the vicious little cow-towns scattered about the country, whose attractions were gambling and "tarantula juice," there was always to be found a Jew trader running the chief and probably only store in the place. I have known such a man arrive in the country with a pack on his back who in comparatively few years would own half the county.

What a remarkable people the Jews are! We find them all over the world (barring Scotland) successful in almost everything they undertake, a prolific race, and good citizens, yet carrying with them in very many cases the characteristics of selfishness, greed and ostentation.

Something should be said about "classing" cattle. "Classing" means separating or counting the steers or she cattle of a herd into their ages as yearlings, "twos," "threes," etc. It used to be done in old days by simply stringing the herd out on the open plain and calling out and counting each animal as it passed a certain point. But later it became the custom to corral the herd and run them through a chute, where each individual could be carefully inspected and its age agreed on by both parties. Even that might not prove quite satisfactory, as will be shown in the following instance. I had sold to a certain gentleman (a Scotchman again), manager for two large cattle companies, a string of some 1000 steers, one, two and three years old. I drove them to his ranch, some 300 miles, and we began classing them on the prairie, cutting each class separately. It is difficult in many cases to judge a range steer's age. Generally it is or should be a case of give-and-take. But my gentleman was not satisfied and expressed his dissatisfaction in not very polite language. So to satisfy him I agreed to put them through the chute and "tooth" them, the teeth being an infallible test (or at least the accepted test) of an animal's age. To my surprise this man, the confident, trusted manager of long years' experience, could not tell a yearling from a "two" or a "two" from a "three," but sat on the fence and cussed, and allowed his foreman to do the classing for him.

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