Gender: Male Age: 72 Location: N/A
|Introduction: To the reader; this is the second part in the series of The Bell Mare; we are still in the background and buildup stages of the story. In this part Jake grows from adolescents into adulthood; to the point where he finally takes control of the ranches and finds he is close to being in over his head. In Part, 3; Dan comes back into Jake's life with a bang. If you missed Part, 1; it was posted on 05-17-2013, you may want to go back and read the first part. DB|
The Bell Mare
(Jake’s School Years)
Grandpa John was a very large man in size; I would guess him to be about six feet one or two in his stocking feet, and when he was wearing his cowboy boots, he looked to be six feet six. He probably weighed around two hundred and forty to two hundred fifty pounds. His arms were as large around as most men’s thighs; I don’t believe he had an ounce of fat on his body. His face and arms were dark from the sun, steel gray eyes, well-pronounced cheekbones, and square chin made his features stand out even more. I never remembered seeing his face not clean-shaven even when he was herding cows; he always took the time to shave every morning before he ate.
Grandpa John held his temper well, only once do I remember him loosing it. I was fifteen years old at the time and Grandpa John went up to Cow Camp for a week. I took his hunting rifle down from its place in the living room without his permission; it was a special order Winchester model 1886 in .45-90 caliber. I took it with me to the Deer Rock intending to bag a big 4X4 mule deer I had been watching all summer. I dropped his rifle and it slid down the rock face skinning up the stock and putting a scratch on the receiver. I hung the rifle carefully back in its place. When Grandpa John came home, it must have screamed at him. He looked up at his rifle then at me, without saying a word; he had me by my shoulder with his big hand as he sat down in a chair pulling me over his lap. This was the first and last time he ever laid the wood to me. It was also the only time I ever remember seeing Grandpa John cry. I was standing in front of him holding my burning backside with both hands; he looked up and motioned for me to leave the room. I don’t believe he ever mentioned the subject again.
Although in his early seventies, Grandpa John was in good physical shape. His hair had turned from black to white. Some said his mother was full blood Cherokee and his father was a full-blooded German. No one really knew for sure and he never spoke about them.
In his business dealings, anyone who knew Grandpa John knew him to be a fair man. All anyone needed was his word or a handshake. I never heard anyone say Grandpa John ever backed out of a deal even if he came out on the short end of the stick. When he gave praise to anyone it was not an idle thing with him, you earned every bit of it.
In all the years, I knew Grandpa John I can say I never knew him to hold ill feelings against anyone except for the owner of the ranch to the east of the Home Ranch. There have always been hard feelings between him and Mr. Olmstead as far back as anyone in the county can ever remember. Even the old timers just seem to shrug it off when ask if they can remember why; if they do answer all they will say is, it was an old feud that has been ongoing for a long time.
I remember asking Mom about Mr. Olmstead. Mom said when she asked Grandma about him all she would say was he is a crotchety old bachelor who built that big house on the knoll just to antagonize your father. Mom said Mr. Olmstead bought a place in Deming, he moved there about four years after I was born but he still owns the ranch.
Grandpa John always called me Son. If he referred to me by my name, (Jake), you could bet my ass was grass and Grandpa John was the lawn mower.
Grandpa John called me into the ranch office one Saturday morning just before I graduated from high school. I was on a weekend visit to the ranch. He said, “Sit down Son; we have a lot to talk about.”
I took a seat at his desk in the chair across from him. He said, “If you would like to take over my place when I die. I will pay for your college education; provided you will apply yourself and prove to me you are worth your salt.”
Grandpa John took me by surprise; he was not one to beat around the bush on any subject especially when it came to his ranch.
He said, “Times are changing son; my ways may not be the ways of the future. It will be up to you some day to run the ranches.”
I noticed there was an (s), at the end of the word ranch. He said, “I made an agreement to buy the old Bailey Ranch. You knew Jeb took sick this spring. Well it looks like he will not be with us much longer, his doctor said about six months to a year at best. Jeb bought four of those reconditioned GMC logging trucks and outfitted them with cattle trailers; he hauled his cows up to Cow Camp this year. We will not be banding the cattle from the high country this year as we have done in the past. Those days are gone too; there are just too many automobiles on the road these days. Jeb believes those trucks will pay for themselves by not losing so many calves along the way. These Cowboys are just going to have to learn how to drive those trucks, the ones who do will have the first shot at the year round jobs and the rest will be seasonal workers.”
Grandpa John told me he had hired some new hands for the summer. He said, “I want you to spend the summer up at Cow Camp; you need to learn to run things when I’m gone. You need to think about what I said; we will talk again after you graduate from high school. Take your bedroll over to the bunkhouse; I will not be treating you any different than any other hired hand on the ranch.”
I did as he said, I moved my things into the bunkhouse; I picked a bunk close to the door. The bunkhouse was large enough to handle about twenty men I settled my things into my space and looked around at the other men, I noticed there was a big man with a long handlebar mustache standing at the other end of the room. He played with his mustache a lot and no one seemed to be bothering him. He had come in from Texas off one of the bigger ranches; although he was quiet, he did not seem to be the type to trifle with.
I had just finished settling in when Grandpa John came through the bunkhouse door. He stood there looking around at all of us then introduced himself. He explained to the men what he expected of them for the rest of the summer; then he looked at the man from Texas and I saw his eyes narrow. For some reason the Texan seemed to irritate him. Grandpa John walked down to where the big Texan was standing pointing his finger at him and said, “Tex, you are my hired hand and I am your boss. If you disagree with me, we can settle things out in the corral.
The big Texan must have taken Grandpa John serious, he said, “No old man can talk to me that-a-way and get by with it boss or no boss.”
Grandpa John said, “Tex, I’ll wager three months pay, I can whip any damned Texan who can stand on two feet, if I win you will do as I say and give me a good day’s work for a good day’s pay with no more back talk.”
Grandpa John pointed his finger back in the Texan’s face again and said, “One other thing Tex, you will shave that damned mustache off too.”
Folding money came out of every cowboy’s pockets and wagers made. I watched Grandpa John turn around; he headed for the corral with Tex close on his heels. I would say Tex was half the age of Grandpa John although they were well matched in size. I had never seen this side of Grandpa John before; he took me completely by surprise with his actions.
The men gathered around the corral to watch them but the fight was over in less than a few minutes with the big Texan sprawled out face down in the corral dirt.
Grandpa John leaned over Tex and offered his hand to help him up onto his feet as he said, “Tex, go and get cleaned up we’re going to town.”
As they drove off toward town, I figured that was the end of the big Texan around here.
About one or two in the morning I woke up to quite a commotion, Grandpa John came through the bunkhouse door half carrying the big Texan and dropped him on an empty bunk then left for the big house without saying a word.
The next morning most of the Cowboys were in the cook shack eating breakfast when Grandpa John came in. He took a cup of black coffee and put his foot on the seat of one of the tables. He looked slowly around the room and said, “Where is that damned Texan?”
Just then, Tex came through the cook shack door. Tex just stood there for a moment before he walked over to Grandpa John, extended his hand, and shook Grandpa John’s hand. He said, “That was one hell of a night John.”
Grandpa John replied, “I see you shaved that damned mustache off this morning.”
Grandpa John sat his coffee cup down on the table, and as he walked through the door he stopped and turned around, he said, “Tex, I want to see you in my office after your finished eating.”
Grandpa John turned looking at me and said, “You too.”
When Tex finished his breakfast, he stood up and started for the cook shack door. I figured I had better get my butt over to the office too. I walked behind Tex following him into Grandpa John’s office shutting the door behind me.
Grandpa John said, “You boys have a seat.”
He went over to his liquor cabinet and came back with three glasses and a fresh bottle of his best. When he poured the whisky, he handed a glass to Tex then one to me. Grandpa John picked up his glass turning towards me as he held his glass up, he said, “Jake, to good whiskey and good friends.”
He then turned toward Tex holding his glass up again and said, “To a long and lasting relationship Tex.”
The three of us held our glasses up and took a sip.
Grandpa John called him Tex; it wasn’t his name but from that day on everyone on the ranch knew him as Tex.
Grandpa John told Tex, “I bought the old Bailey Ranch. If you are willing to Forman, it for me you can move into the main house and I will double your monthly pay. Things will be done my way and I want you to take Jake under your wing and teach him how to run a ranch, agreed?”
Tex agreed to what Grandpa John said and they shook hands.
By then my mouth must have been hanging open. Tex put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Jake, close your mouth and get your gear in the truck we have a new home.”
Another year went by while I attended my first year of college. I came back to the ranch after classes let out to find Tex and Grandpa John doing a good job with the Bailey Ranch. They were producing most of the hay needed for the two ranches.
The old Sorensen Ranch came up for sale two weeks after I returned from school. Grandpa John asked Tex and me if we were up to more work.
Tex said, “It would be a good investment John. We could run more cattle on the Sorensen Ranch, it would ease some of the pressure we put on the Bailey Ranch and let it produce only feed we will badly need for the winter months. The grazing rights would be worth part of the investment, we could run more cattle out of Cow Camp.”
Grandpa John said, “Speaking of Cow Camp, we need to improve that mess too. Look into a main house, barn, cook shack, and a bunkhouse for about twenty men. Tex, you and that shadow of yours had better start packing; I have a new foreman for the Bailey Ranch his name is Jack Snow. You two head on up to Cow Camp and get things going. I will take care of the details of the Sorensen Ranch sale. When you two get back and settled in at the Sorensen Ranch, I want a mechanic shop built so we can work on those damned-screaming GMCs. I don’t want them over here. I still enjoy my peace and quiet.”
Things were happening faster than I was ready for but Tex just took it all in stride. As Tex and I were getting into his pickup, he looked at me and said, “All we need now is to buy the Old Olmsted Ranch then we would have that federal land sewed up and be able to put more beef in them thar hills. We have more damn cows now than we can move.”
I asked Tex that evening while we were eating supper, “Would it be price effective to move some of our excess beef this fall by rail rather than holding so many and hoping to sell to the local businesses?”
He thought about it for a minute or two then said, “We have a lot of cows we won’t need to hold over during the winter because the locals don’t have the needed sales. We could sell a few hundred or so, increase our cash flow, and cut some of the overhead. I’ll speak to John about it Jake.”
Tex took over the Sorensen Ranch and I went back for my second year of college.
Mom called me to let me know Grandma had died. Mom said she would be buried the next day in the Home Ranch cemetery. I could not make it in time for her funeral although I wanted to be there.
My second year was a snap for me; my grades were up giving me some free time to do other things. I took up hockey one evening a week and Saturday. I would drink one or two too many sometimes and end up into a brawl. On one of those occasions, I broke my left arm slowing me down a little. I still enjoyed my drinking while sitting on the sideline cheering my teammates on.
I met LeAnn in the bowling alley lounge one Friday night and we started dating, she didn’t enjoy the drinking scene, which gave me an excuse to quit. We enjoyed each other’s company, dinner, movies, and late evening walks although nothing ever went any further than a good night kiss in front of her dorm. She eventually moved on with her life and I put my nose back into my books.
When I went back to the ranch after school let out. Grandpa John sent me over to the Bailey Ranch to help and learn about growing hay. Jack Snow kept me busy moving irrigation pipes and working on the equipment. When haying time rolled around, I was in the field from day light until after dark. Old Jack showed me no mercy; sometimes I was too tired to eat supper. I would lay down on my bunk in my work clothes and go to sleep then be up in the morning doing it all over again.
I was glad when the haying slowed down, Grandpa John sent me up to Cow Camp for the rest of the summer. Bob Young was the Forman. He was a stocky man about five feet eleven, weighing around two-hundred pounds, and in his late thirties. He had sandy blonde hair, blue eyes, and a ruddy complexion, which made his dark brown mustache stand out. Bob kept it neatly trimmed and was pointed at the ends although quite short.
I thought Jack Snow kept me busy, Bob made sure I was in the saddle twelve to fourteen hours a day checking on something. My backside was probably as tired as my horse. Sometimes when I came back to camp, I could hardly walk after I dismounted. I still had to take care of my horse and tack before I could go eat. My bedroll was my best friend. I found out that summer a cowboy earned his keep.
Bob Young and I became good friends that summer. Bob was dating Martha Davidson in Mason; she was working as a waitress at the hotel. When Bob finally asked her to marry him, she accepted. Grandpa John and Tex must have liked Bob too. Grandpa John threw them a first class wedding at the Home Ranch and gave him two weeks off for their honeymoon with pay of course.
Bob did himself proud, Martha is a beautiful woman in her mid thirties; tall about five feet eight, around one hundred and thirty pounds, full hips and well developed breasts. She had Dark brown hair, hazel eyes, and her complexion was the color of fresh cream.
While Bob and Martha went on their honeymoon, Grandpa John took his bedroll to Cow Camp for one of those weeks and Tex filled in for the next week. The men and I were glad when Bob came back to work, we all could relax. I would be glad when it was time to head back to college for a well-deserved rest.
My third year of college, much to my dismay was the hardest for me; I had to keep my nose in the books and didn’t have much time to socialize. I met Lena in the library while I was studying late one night; I invited her to accompany me for a late supper. Her plans for her future were to become a doctor in a foreign country. We enjoyed each other when we had time off from our studies, we would go for coffee or a soda pop and talk about what our futures held for us. On our last date we were talking over supper, it was the weekend before college let out for the summer. I asked Lena, “What about us next year?”
Lena Laughed and said, “Jake, you know we are just friends, I am sorry but I can’t see a place in my future for a broken-down bowlegged Cowboy.”
We laughed and kissed each other goodbye Lena would be going to a larger college next year to fulfill her dreams. When summer break came, I went to visit Mom and Dad for a week before I went back to the ranch for the summer.
Grandpa John put me with Tex for the summer, things didn’t change one damn bit. Tex worked my butt off, when he went to check on Bob up at the Cow Camp he always had room in his pickup for me to tag along. I enjoyed my time with Tex and Bob, every thing was laid back, and we spent our time in Bob’s office talking or we took some time chatting about the ranches while we ate or sat around drinking coffee in the cook shack.
By the end of summer, Tex told me he hated to see me go back to college, he said Jake, “I have enjoyed having you work with me.”
We shook hands, I said, “Tex, it was a good summer, lets do it again next year.”
I spent a day with Grandpa John; it was a pleasant time for both of us. I believe he liked my company too, he said, “I am looking forward to you finishing college and coming back to the ranch for good.”
He stood up and put his hand out to shake my hand; I broke out into tears and gave him a big hug, I said, “I’ll see you when I graduate Grandpa.”
As I was leaving the Home Ranch, Grandpa John waved goodbye, I drove over to the Bailey Ranch for a few minutes to tell Jack Snow I would see him next year. He extended his hand then put his arm around my shoulder and said, “I enjoyed working with you Jake, drive careful on your way back.”
It was a long drive back to college and I was glad to get settled in when I arrived
My final year of college, I breezed through my classes and graduated with an A minus average. I was glad it was over.
When I came back to the Home Ranch, Grandpa John looked like he had aged ten years. After Grandpa John and I had our supper, I saddled a horse and headed for the Sorensen Ranch to have a good long talk with Tex about Grandpa John’s condition. I stayed the night, we talked about the future and the plans he, and Grandpa John had up their sleeves. I told Tex I was home and hoped to take some of the pressure off him and Grandpa John.
Then I looked at Tex and said, “If you think I am getting too big for my britches take me out to the corral.”
Tex started laughing so loud it was a wonder he didn’t wake the whole ranch. He said, “Damn it Jake, I never had my ass kicked as fast and hard as that day and he never caught me with my pants down, I took the first swing. I haven’t grown that mustache back either I was afraid he’d want to do it again.”
I said, “Tex, “I think you are Grandpa John’s best friend and probably you could get away with more than anyone else in the county.”
Grandpa John started going down hill that winter and come June he went to bed and never woke up. I called Tex at the Sorensen Ranch and told him what had happened.
Tex said he would call the County Coroner to come over to the Home Ranch and take care of things.
Tex showed up about twenty minutes later. We sat down over a pot of coffee while we waited for the authorities to show up. They took Grandpa John to the mortuary in Mason,
Tex and I made the arrangements for Grandpa John together. We would lay him to rest next to Grandma at the Home Ranch the following Saturday morning at ten o’clock.
Every one pitched in for Grandpa John’s funeral. Some of the cowboys rounded up a nice steer and butchered it. They dug a large pit to barbecue the beef in and set up the tables from the cook shack.
Tex and I, along with most of the county people showed up to say our fair wells to Grandpa John.
The following week, Tuesday I believe, Tex called me into the ranch office and said, “Jake, we have a lot to talk about. Why don’t you have a seat?”
I sat down while Tex poured us a drink from the liquor cabinet. He reached into one of the desk drawers and handed me an envelope with my name wrote on it. He said, “Grandpa John wanted you to read this after he was gone.”
It started out.
If you are reading this letter, it is because I have left this old earth. I know you are not ready to fill my boots right now that is why I selected Tex to teach you what you will need to know about ranching.
He is a good man, pay attention to him. You have the education and a good head on your shoulders for business.
You are the sole owner of everything I have just as I promised you the summer before you graduated from high school.
Tex assured me he would stay on until you are ready to take over my place, it is my hopes you and Tex will get along as well as Tex and I have these past years.
Both you and Tex will have to contact Dave Mosley in Deming, he has in his possession my will and description of all my property.
It was signed A. J. Russell
Tex and I made an appointment with Dave Mosley for the next week, Tuesday at ten. Grandpa John made provisions for Tex in his will, it was financially sufficient to last Tex the rest of his life and the remainder was willed to me. Grandpa John ended his life as he lived it, with no strings attached.
Tex became my best friend; he was so much like Grandpa John. Tex worked me harder than Grandpa John ever did, shuffling me from one part of the ranches to the other until I was able to fill any position and make any final decisions on my own. I relied on Tex to keep things going just as he did when Grandpa John was still alive. If a final decision was needed, Tex and I worked it out together.
I had the best foremen anyone could ask for. Tex ran the show and the Sorensen Ranch. Jack Snow ran the Bailey Ranch and Bob Young Cow Camp. When I wasn’t running my butt off, I took care of the Home Ranch and the office.
About a month after Grandpa John died, it was on a Monday. Tex called me and said, “I need to talk to you Jake, it’s kind of personal.”
I asked, “Will it be alright if I come by and pick you up, we can go to town for supper. Will five o’clock be alright for you?”
He said, “That will be fine Jake.”
When I arrived, Tex was ready to go to town; we drove to the hotel and went in to eat supper, then moved to the hotel bar where we could talk without any interruptions. Tex was acting a little uneasy as we sat down. I asked him, “What is the problem Tex?”
Tex said, “I have no family I know of and I am worried if something should happen to me. Jake, will you see my affairs are taken care of when my time comes?”
I said, “Tex, you were Grandpa John’s best friend and now you are mine. You will always have a place to live and when you finally give it up you will go to rest right next to your best friend back at the Home Ranch.”
What I said seemed to ease his mind a little. He said, “Jake, thank you for your kindness.”
I replied, “Tex, your family.”
Tex smiled and said, “I sure miss that old man.”
I said, “So do I Tex.”
Things were going well with the ranches. Bob Young, the foreman at Cow Camp had the cattle back to the Sorensen Ranch by late October. Jack Snow the foreman of the Bailey Ranch had most of the hay put away by the last of November. He was in the process of getting things ready for the approaching winter months.
I called Tex to see if he needed any extra hands to get the cattle down to the railhead. He said, “I can use four more cowboys if you have them to spare.
“I’ll send you four of mine.”
A couple of days later Tex called to say he had shipped the cows to Denver and my boys should be back in a week or so.
Tex came over to the Home Ranch so we could go over the ranch books. I said, “How many hands will you need to keep over the winter months?”
He gave me a list of who he thought should stay, and then said, “I am going to lay off the rest for the season.”
I agreed with him and said, “Give each one of the men a hundred dollar bonus, I think they earned it. Tell them start up time around here is March 1st if they want to come back to work for us.”
Tex agreed about the bonuses. I said, “I want all of the crew back next spring, perhaps they will remember that long.”
Tex laughed at my reasoning and said, “I sure hope so.”
I said, “Tex, you will get $1000.00. Jack Snow and Bob Young will each get $500.00; I don’t want any of you running off either.”
Tex said, “That is more than fair Jake.”
The last of November I called Tex. I said, “Send two of your best rifle shots to town and have them get licenses and elk tags. Have them meet me at the Home Ranch Friday morning about eight. We are going up to Cow Camp and secure everything, maybe if we’re lucky we will bring home a little change of diet.”
This pleased Tex, he said, “I will have them there Friday by eight.”
Friday morning the two hands were right on time, we took off in my 4 by 4 pulling a two-axle trailer hopefully to bring back some fresh elk meat. We were back home Sunday afternoon, I sent the boys back to the Bailey Ranch to have the meat processed and told them Tex would bring my rig back on Monday as we had a meeting to attend in Deming.
Tex met me Monday morning at the Home Ranch; we went over some legal papers and then we drove over to Deming to meet with Lawyer Mosley at his office. After our meeting, we went over to the hotel for a good lunch.
I dropped Tex off at the Sorensen Ranch on my way back home. The rest of the winter went by quietly.
On the first day of March, Tex and I were sitting at my desk discussing what we were going to do this spring when the yard started to fill up with cars and pickups. Tex walked out on the front porch and looked around, and then he came back into the office saying, “It looks like the whole damn crew is out there.
I said, “Go back out there and hire them, tell them to go back to the ranches they were on last fall, and be sure you tell them their time started yesterday. They can take the day to settle in and be ready to work in the morning at six.”
Now things were getting back to normal around here.
I asked Tex, “Will we be ready to start hauling the cows up to Cow Camp by the fifteenth?”
He said, “The first loads will be on the way that morning.”
“I’ll send some of my boys on ahead to get things ready, do we have a cook and kitchen help hired yet?”
Tex smiled and said, “Jake, I have it all under control, just leave it all to me.”
“Ok Tex it’s all yours.”
Every thing went smooth that summer until the fifth of September when my phone rang, I said, “Home Ranch.
An excited voice on the other end said, “This is Billy at the Sorensen Ranch, there has been a terrible accident, Tex is dead.”
“How did it happen?”
Billy said, “Tex was breaking a horse out in the corral and got thrown off, he landed on his head and we think he broke his neck.”
“Billy, don’t move him. Cover Tex with a blanket and as soon as I can, I will be there. I need to call Sheriff Harris first.”
I called Jack Snow and said, “Jack, Tex was thrown from a horse he was breaking and broke his neck, Billy, said he is dead. Can you get right over there and quiet things down until I can get there. I have to notify the sheriff, and then I’ll be right there.”
Jack said, “I am on my way Jake.”
I called the Sheriff’s office explaining what had happened and told them to bring the County Coroner. The dispatch said, “We will send someone your way in about ten minutes.”
I hung up the phone and went out to my pickup I drove over to the Sorensen Ranch as I pulled in the yard I saw the Sheriff’s car and the County Coroner’s station wagon was already there. They had already checked the accident scene out and determined it was an accidental death.
I made the funeral arrangements for my best friend and we buried him just as I told him he would be. I had Tex buried right next to Grandpa John. Grandma was on Grandpa John’s left and Tex on his right. I said my fair wells but things did not seem the same after his death.
I walked over to where Jack Snow and his wife, Sally were standing under the big oak tree. I said, “Jack, this is a bad time for all of us but I need to know do you want to take over the job at the Sorensen Ranch?”
Jack said, “Jake, I know farming but, I think what you need is a good cowman to foreman the ranch. Bob Young would be a better choice for the job, what do you think about him?”
I said, “I needed to hear that from you Jack, you were next in line for the job and I wouldn’t have felt right if I didn’t offer it to you first. Will you excuse me Jack, Sally, I need to go and talk to Bob.
I walked over to Bob Young. He had come down from Cow Camp to attend the funeral. Bob’s wife, Martha had come in from Mason to be here and was standing beside Bob. I shook Bob’s hand and greeted Martha.
“Bob, I know this isn’t the best time to talk business. I asked Jack if he wanted to take over the Sorensen Ranch but he said he was a farmer and not a cowman. He suggested I ask you if you would take the job, your next in line for it.”
“You are going to need a replacement for me at Cow Camp; do you have anyone in mind?”
“No, who would you recommend Bob?
“Jim Johnson might be a good choice; I’ll look into it and get back with you Jake.”
I replied, “Thank you Bob. You too Martha I appreciate you being here for the funeral.”
Two weeks later the headstone arrived for Tex, I helped to set it in place and stood back to read what was written on the stone. It read.
Edward (Tex) Randle
Son of Elmore and Melody Randle
Born Jan. 3, 1912 Died Sept. 5, 1960
Died doing what he loved best
Breaking a Horse
After Tex died, I was at a total loss for sometime. I spent a lot of my time in the Home Ranch office attempting to sort things out.
I finally pulled things together and called a meeting of my foremen to discuss the ranch’s financial condition. It was important to have their input.
At the meeting I told them, “Men, this is not about me, it is about us. Our future, can we hold things together and make a profit or should we give it all up? I am depending on your help if you decide we should stay we have a lot of work ahead of us but if you think we should give it up I can sell out.”
Jack said, “I believe we can put the ranches on a paying basis and I am ready to take the chance.”
Bob said, “I feel the same way as Jack but we might have to expand to do it.”
I said, “Then it is settled, we stay. Until we figure things out it is going to be rough on all of us. Bob would you go up to Cow Camp and talk to Jim Johnson about what we decided this morning, he is as much a part of this as we are. Ask him if he wants to take on the extra work, we will need his input. It will be the four of us when it comes down to decisions.”
“I think Jim would like to be a part of this, I’ll let you know when I get back.”
Jack said, “What do you two think about the four of us sitting down next week for a discussion by that time we can have some time to think.”
I said, “How about next Friday, we can all go into town and have supper at the hotel. Have Jim meet us here, say four o’clock will that be alright with the two of you?”
Every one agreed to meet here on Friday.
In addition to my regular ranch chores during the day I was spending a lot of time in the office going through books in an attempt to make an overview of the ranches financial situation some times past midnight before I finally caved into getting some sleep. It was one of those evenings; I had just made a fresh pot of coffee and was taking a break. I was standing out on the porch drinking my coffee about nine-thirty watching a vehicle on the road as it slowed down and turned into the lane. I thought to myself, now what is wrong. I could hear the sound of the exhaust as it picked up speed, I knew then it was Bob’s old pickup truck. When he stopped in front of the office and got out, Bob walked up to me and put his hand out, we shook hands. He said, “I couldn’t sleep and figured you were still in the office, do you have any of that coffee left?”
I laughed and said, “It is a fresh pot I’ll get you a cup.”
I sat my cup down on the porch railing. When I returned I brought the pot out for us and offered him a seat. Bob said, “I was worried you were working to hard and thought a little company wouldn’t hurt.”
“It is nice to have your company; I have been butting my head up against a stone wall trying to get things put together for Friday.”
“Can I help you in any way?”
I laughed and said, “Just you being here has helped already; I was just thinking, what I have needed was to talk to someone and here you are. Can you read minds?”
Bob smiled and said, “No, but the coffee sure hits the spot. I have been jotting down some things to bring up at the meeting.”
We finished off the pot; I asked him if I should make another. He said, “It is going on eleven perhaps we should get some sleep.”
Bob stood up and we shook hands, I said, “You are right we have a lot of work to do tomorrow, thanks for coming by Bob.”
Friday Jack, Bob, and Jim showed up right on time. I asked Bob if he would like to drive, I think he likes to drive the old Buick. We stopped in front of the hotel and went in. Supper was as good as it gets actually it was superb. We talked until eight-thirty, exchanging ideas and possibilities. I gave each of them a copy of my overview and told them to review it; we should get back together Tuesday noon for lunch. It was agreed upon; Bob drove us back to the Home Ranch.
Tuesday we met at the cook shack, we were able to put some short and long-term plans together along with a few alternatives. Overall, it was a constructive meeting.
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