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Monday, January 27, 2014

IT DON’T MATTER Chapter 20 Treat People Fair

Ready for Business
courtesy free clip art
It has been over three months since we went to the big city and signed the agreement for our new locker and butchering plant.  Tomorrow it will be completed and we will be open for business.  We don’t expect to do a lot of butchering for most ranchers do their own. 

Our trade will come from people who have a small place and raise one or two beefs for their own meat.  

We look forward to the slaughter of a number of pigs though. Seemed like the whole town wanted to see the new facility.

The lockers were being rented as fast as we could fill out the papers. Between the Ice house, the butcher shop, and the lockers we had the cold storage business sewn up. 

Jake’s older girls, Mae and June wanted to return to our town and work in the new business; they had enough of the smelly oil fields and the smelly guys.  The chaps made a lot of money but most were uncouth, hard drinking and bad mouthed.  Their women were treated very badly and they didn’t want to end up like that.

One other reason for coming back was grandma and grandpa.  They didn’t like not being able to see them.  The girls moved in with grandma for the house they lived in was plenty big for all of them.  They made grandpa feel special and he ate it up. 

Elle’s husband George was in charge of the shop and he was straight forward with the girls and said family or not you must do your job in a business manner.

It would be a shame if I had to tell your dad you were trying to take advantage of the fact you are family and not measuring up.  They said they understood and all they needed was some instruction and they would do their job.

He said, “Good, remember you are representing the family and all of us will be judged by how you conduct yourselves.  It takes a life time to build a good reputation and only a few mistakes to destroy it.”

I could see that George was a good choice for the manager’s job for he knew his business.

I received a call from the ranch foreman and he said there was some trouble on the ranch and perhaps I should come out before they took it upon themselves to handle it. 

Matt wanted to go with me and I said okay but he would have to lock the dogs up because they would be fighting the dogs on the ranch and I didn’t have time for that.

For some reason they didn’t like each other and had been fighting since they were pups. 

When Matt and I arrived at the ranch house the foreman’s wife gave us a cold drink which was welcomed and the foreman’s wife entertained Matt while I looked into the problem they were having.

We went out on the ranch and found where one of our young cows had been killed and partially taken for the meat leaving most of it to rot.  The thief only took what they could eat before it would start to decay and not be fit to eat.

To me this was extremely serious for the animal was worth a lot more for breeding purposes than for meat and to be wasted like that caused anger to rise up in me.

My ranch hands all wore side arms and I always carried the small but effective pistol inside my coat.  We tracked the rustler back to a share croppers place and called him out. 
Share Cropper
courtesy photobucket
He came out with a shotgun and said what do you want, get off my property.

The hands moved over to the side of the man with their hands on their guns. It was obvious that this was a show down and shot gun or not we weren’t going to back down.

I told the man not to raise his gun or he would be shot before he could aim it.

Then I told him to put it away before his family lost their father.  He laid his weapon down and then wanted to know why we were there. 

I told him to stop his foolish talk for he knew why we were there.  That cow he slaughtered was worth more than he would earn all year and now I wanted to know how he intended to pay for it. 

His wife and five or six bare footed kids came out on the porch and looked like they were hungry.  It was a pitiful sight but I still wanted to know how he justified killing an expensive animal.

He said I had to feed my family for they were without anything to eat for days.  He went on saying the farm’s owner was taking most of the earnings from the place and not leaving enough for them to live on.

After looking at his wife and kids I decided something needed to be done for it looked like he was hard working yet was about to starve.  I told him to hitch up his wagon and meet me in town at the feed store and bring his wife and kids.  Later that day they showed up and I had some food ready for them to eat.

Nan was there so I told her to take them down to the church and get the children some used clothes that would fit them.  Then we loaded up enough food for them to get by for a month.  I said don’t waste this and make it stretch as far as it will.  I haven’t taken you on to raise and this is just a little charity.

I also told him to leave my cattle alone or the consequences wouldn’t be pleasant. 

As they left with clothes and food I told him I would see if I could get him a better deal with the owner of the farm. 

In the past I had met the farmer who owned the farm and instinctively didn’t like him.  He had several properties and treated all his share croppers the same way.  He would be off on vacation trips enjoying himself while his workers were having to do without the bare necessities.

Something occurred to me that he being gone most of the time he might be negligent in keeping up his taxes and I was right.  His properties should have been sold for taxes long ago. 

When I questioned the assessor he said the owner was good for the back taxes and when he got around to paying them he would do it.  I went and brought Judge Larson down and he asked why these properties hadn’t been sold according to the law. 

I told the Judge you should be put in jail for your neglect of your duties.

Judge Larson said these properties are for sale to the first bidder as of now.

I thanked the Judge and invited him over for Sunday dinner.  I said I want all of the delinquent properties right now and gave him a check for the full amount.  He gave me a temporary deed until they were registered to me and new deeds drawn. 

The next few days I went to each of the farms and introduced myself as the new owner.  After talking to each of them I said there was a new deal in the offing and from here on they would get two thirds instead if the less than a quarter of the earnings.

I told each of them they were not getting the most out of the farms for there was greater potential there. 

I had a successful share cropper on one of my places to show them how they could increase their crops output without any more labor. 

I knew that when the former owner heard he had lost his properties he would have to be dealt with. 

He came in to see me with a myriad of threats.  I stood nose to nose with him and asked, “How would you want to fight this, in the courts or right here and now?” 

He looked as if he wanted to hit me but didn’t try it.

I was a little disappointed for I would have liked to whup him for the way he was treating his workers but he decided he didn’t want any part of a beating now or in court.

Normally Jake would have handled something like this but he had taught me enough for me to deal with it properly.

Some might say “It don’t matter” how he treated his people but I say it does matter.


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