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Friday, December 5, 2014

Chuck Wagon Cookie - Chapter 2

The next morning Cookie got up to find Maria was already hooking the team up to the wagon.

He said, “Let’s get some coffee from the cook’s shed and we’ll be on our way. Did you soak the beans like I said,” and she said a simple “Yes.”

He had already discovered she didn’t waste words unless she was angry and then she had a lot to say. They didn’t need to fix breakfast this morning for the hands would eat at the cook shack before they left for the roundup.

The ranch was large and it was going to be a chore to round up all the cattle for branding. The foreman had picked out three places where he wanted the chuck wagon set up while the roundup was taking place.

They had to have two meals ready each day with some jerky for the hands to take with them for during the day.

They had a water wagon that Maria drove and she was also responsible for keeping it full when near water. While rounding up the cattle there was always water near but once on the trail water could become scarce.

They needed enough water for the hands and a drink for the horses.  Only the working horses got water while the Remuda had to wait till they came to a stream.

There wasn’t much sleep to be had once they hit the trail. They were either cooking or moving to the next stop. Up early and as soon as the night herd guys were fed it was move up the trail and fix the supper.

It was a chore keeping up with the herd.  One of the hands named Joe rode alongside the chuck wagon and said I want some chili tonight instead of just plain beans and put a little fire in it. Cookie said alright that is no problem I’ll get right on it as soon as we stop for the night.

Some Like Chili Hot
An hour later he reached the stopping place and Maria got a fire started. She put on a large pot of beans that had been soaked overnight and put in a lot of chili powder and some cayenne also. As they were cooking she went and started to make some biscuits for supper.

Cookie came along not knowing she had already seasoned the beans and put some more chili powder and a lot of cayenne in them. He said if Joe wants hot then hot is what he is going to get.

After two hours they were ready just about the time the hands showed up yelling for some chili and biscuits. Joe was first in line and got a big plateful. About the third mouthful it hit him. He yelled out saying he never had anything this hot not even in Mexico.

Cookie said he fixed it like he always had and it was just his imagination. All the hands ate it because they were hungry but it almost seared their throat.

The foreman was the last one to taste it and he got on Cookie for making it so spicy. He quickly fried up some side meat and made some fresh biscuits for the foremen, Maria, and himself.

The next day all the hands were complaining about not being able to sit in their saddle for they were too sore from the Chili.

As they were nearing the end of the trail there hadn’t been any incidents with Maria for she kept her distance as much as possible.

She did a lot more washing of herself than the men did. Cookie figured women needed more cleaning then men do. The guys would have a good cleaning when they came to a stream and got the cattle settled in.

After dark Marie would slip down and have a bath by herself. Cookie would keep guard so she could have privacy. It wasn’t so much he thought she needed it but if the men saw her undressed it would stir up feelings better left alone.

The month was drawing to the end and so was the drive to the rail head. After the big payday it was get ready for the winter.  For some of the hands that weren’t needed until spring so for them, it was riding the grub line.
To be Continued

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