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Thursday, March 13, 2014

ELLIOTT JOHANSON STORY CHAPTER 5 Ranching

Round Up - photobucket
 
Since the ranch hands watched over the herds El and Mayfield were busy taking up the hay and soon it would be time to harvest the other crops necessary to keep the household running.
 
They had hired a couple of men to do most of the plowing and planting. Mayfield’s sister Lucy took care of the hogs and chickens along with helping with the canning and such.
 
El noticed Sid was taking an interest in Lucy and he would do small things like heat water for her bath.
 
Dog had really taken up with Clara and wouldn’t go with El anymore.  El tried to shame him but dog just ignored him and slept behind the cook stove where Clara had made him a pallet.
 
That bugged El a bit, but his horse Buck wanted to be with him all the time and that made up for dog’s neglect.  Buck didn’t like to be kept in the corral.
 
In a week it would be time for round up; always a lot of work, but also fun.
 
El had been working Buck out getting him in shape for cutting out the cattle for market and branding the new born calves.  Being in the corral he wasn’t getting the exercise like the ranch hands horses did.
 
The twelve to fourteen hour days were hard on both man and beast.  The first day both Buck and El were showing signs of being tired but after that they were fine.

It was an exciting time for the women also.  They had to supply the chuck wagon cook with plenty of food stuffs and also provide pies and cakes.
 
Several ranches would join together and the gals would fantasize about the young men with their muscles standing out.  

A couple of the young cow hands hired on for the round up and moving the cattle to the stock yards for shipping were looking at Mayfield’s girls.  The girls were noticing them also.  Clara said I guess a little flirting won’t do any harm so she didn’t say anything to them.
 
Mayfield wasn’t so sure about what was going on for he had memories of his own which made him uncomfortable.  He told El; keep an eye on those cowboys.  I don’t trust these young bucks.
 
El said, “Them gals are old enough to know how they ought to act although missy is still a little young and lacking some smarts.  Clarisse needs to protect her but you have to admit they both are enjoying the attention.
 
Nothing excites a young gal like the first time they are being noticed because they are female.  You might as well face it, before long young men will be coming from all over cause they ain’t hard to look at.”
 
Mayfield wasn’t satisfied with El’s figuring but he said, “I guess you’re right but it has to be done the right way.”
 
El said, “You have to remember we aren’t little kids any longer.  Clarisse will soon be fifteen and me and missy are almost thirteen.”
 
Mayfield said, ‘You’re as big as the these twenty year old hands we temporarily hired, but you may be as big as you’re going to get, some boys grow early.
 
El didn’t understand what caused him to say that for it didn’t seem to fit the conversation.
 
With the beefs on their way to market we netted a fair amount of money and were able to make some needed repairs to the out buildings as well as the ranch house.
 
El always kept his rifle with him all the time.  It was never farther than an arms length away at any time.  
 
Every so often he would get the six shooters out that they had taken from the men that killed his folks. He would oil them up and kept the hostlers oiled to keep them soft.

He had been practicing drawing the pistols from the hostlers over the last year until he was quite fast.  It seemed it was natural and he excelled at it. He also spent a lot of time target practicing.
 
A gun smith came by the ranch on his way to town and wanted to sell some of his wares to Mayfield who wasn’t interested.  El showed him his cache of pistols and asked if they were the best available.
 
Of course the guy said no but he could supply El with the best.  El checked the guns he said was the best and told the guy he was lying.

This made the man mad or he pretended to be.  El said the guns he already had was better than what he was trying to palm off on him.
 
The gunsmith asked how he knew so much about firearms.
 
El said, “From the gunsmith at the fort. He taught me all about weapons and gave me a book on old and new weapons.”
 
This made the man nervous because some of the hands were gathering around them.
 
El asked him about one of the newest six shooters in the catalog he had and the man said it was the best weapon made today.  He went on to say he had two of them but El couldn’t afford them.
 
El said he would trade all his six guns for one of the new colts and include the hostlers. The ranch hands kept getting closer to the man until he finally agreed to the deal.
 
El said, ‘This deal includes the best hostler also.”  
 
The guy said, “Yes.”
 
El said, “I would like to have the other one.”
 
The man said, “I guess you would.  What will you give me for it?”
 
El said, “I’ll shoot you for it.  I bet I can get off more shots in three seconds and hit the target better than you can.  I’ll let you have a chance to get your gun back if you can beat me with a rifle.”
 
The man said, “Okay but I don’t want you to get mad when I beat you.”
 
The gun dealer said, “I might as well tell you I was a sharp shooter in the war and just so as you know nobody can beat me at fifty yards.  You better be satisfied with the one gun for if you lose I don’t want anyone getting mad at me for I’ve warned you.”
 
They got their carbines and when El saw the man’s new gun he said, “That is one of the new models.  I have only seen a drawing of it.”
 
The man said now there is no backing out to which El said no, no backing out but I will bet my rifle against yours I will beat you.”
 
The man said, ‘That old thing of yours… well okay but I shouldn’t for I don’t know who would buy anything in that condition.”
 
Sid said, “We are ready so get ready on three and counted, three, two, one, fire.
 
A few seconds later they were walking to the targets. It was clear El beat him time wise.  The man admitted that but he said, “I gotcha in hitting the target.”
 
All the men gathered around the two targets and El clearly beat him.
 
The man couldn’t believe it; no one had ever out shot him.
 
El reached over and took his new rifle and said, “Let’s go get my new pistols.”
 
The man was still shaking his head as they walked back to his wagon.  “I don’t believe it.”
 
El said, “Don’t feel bad because you have the six guns you traded for and when you get to town you can sell them and get some of your money back and just to show you some good will you can have my old carbine; it still shoots good.”

He went on and said, “I’ll buy a case of shells for the pistols and the rifle for I plan to do a lot of shooting.”
 
As the man left he smiled and said, “This has been a great education.  When the word gets out that you beat me shooting everyone will want to try me and I’ll have my money back in no time.”
 
Sid said, “He is right.  It is hard to get the best of a peddler but many will want to try. What did you want with two guns you will only want to carry one because they are heavy?”
 
“I will keep it new and remember how I got it.  I have to check and see if the rifle is sighted in the way I want it.  I’m going to get Mayfield to make me a scabbard for the rifle.  You know he is really good at working with leather and it will be better than one I could buy.”

With the weather changing we had a lot of things to do.  There was a long valley with a cabin where we were going to winter the cattle for the weather will be milder there than on the plain.  We had to move enough hay there in case the valley got some snow.  One of the cow hands was going to spend the winter at the cabin watching over the herd and needed food for himself and hay for his horse.
 
Even though we were starting early we still had to hurry to get our wood cut before it snowed.  Mayfield said, “I hate to have to cut wood in freezing weather.”
 
The school would open in the spring.  Meanwhile the girls had their books to study until then.  
 
The cellar in the house was filled with canned goods and cured meat so we were going to eat well this winter.
 
We didn’t need all of the ranch hands, but we kept a couple more than we needed and a couple others went into town and tried to get a job for a place to bunk and food for the winter.
 
They were told they could come back to the ranch when winter was over. At present times are good.  We shall see what next year brings.
 
To be Continued.

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