Thursday’s: Shakey Start – Solid Finish

4:30 – Tweety is GOING TO TOWN right outside the bedroom door that leads to our back yard. He must have been on my frequency though due to the steady breathing of my lovely bride. She lay at peace as my subtle little reminder from Him that my alarm was about to blast us to reality was being whistled just outside.

Still the alarm caught me laying there when 5:00 rolled around and the day was rolling.

The truck and trailer were waiting for me right where I had hooked up last night. So, after everything in the barn and outside stalls were fed, it was time to go get my roping calves. Trailers are not the most fun to back in the dark. Especially without trailer lights. Those of you who know me know that this is no surprise. Anyway, no mishaps this morning thank goodness. One stronger black calf had to stay for a second session of being a roping calve but the other santa gertrudis calves were loaded on the trailer and I was headed for Quincy.

Branding some yearling fillies was to compose most of the day today, but the morning started off with a bit of worry. My Grandfather, John Morgan O’Brien, also known as J.M. by some, Pop by even fewer, and PoPo to me, had been sick. We got an early call while feeding requesting us to come by the main house and see PoPo.

I was worried. Dad, however, knew what this meant. It was time to convince a man who’d seen 83 years of South Texas ranch life and still works the crowd pen that he needed to go to the doctor. And Mary Kathryn was drafting some help.

What ensued I can only describe as Love. This is an Irish Catholic family. So when I say we can get worked up, I mean we can get WORKED UP. 😉

But, today was not one of those days. No convincing. No persuasion. Nothing. They just cared. We are blessed to have a close family friend that is a Doc in Victoria. We visited with J.M. a while and then my uncles, Mick and Dick gave him a call. The normal pleasantries followed and then a couple of quick questions about PoPo. Dad lined up a visit with the physician in the nearest town and that was it. A couple of them loaded up with John Morgan and off they went.

We stayed. Foaling mares still have to be fed by somebody. And the two’s can’t ride themselves. The branding, though, was off.

The day wasn’t empty though. Any rancher knows that being bored, unfortunately, is not ever a problem. You adapt, change plans and accomplish new things. Morgan and I sorted a group of calves at the Murphy and dropped off the old set from my house. The Murphy also had a dozer operator that we needed to check on.

A group of three twos were caught up this morning and so they got worked this afternoon as well. There’s a black in particular that I’m very excited about. Nice colt.

Well, PoPo got his report and it was a good one. We spent most of the morning and some of the afternoon visiting with him. After we wrapped the twos and I got loaded up to head north, we stopped back by the house. My time with him today was a great chance for a couple of stories. So here they are:
We were chatting about pasture work making for nicer horses down the road when an event my grandfather had attended, no doubt as a careless youngster, made itself present at the forefront of his mind.

Me and Richard Walker went to a ropin one time out in the middle of the pasture. Great big arena. And there wasn’t a fence on one side. The momma cows were over there. So they pulled the calves that day. Penned them and then turned ’em out headed straight back for momma’s milk.

Well we had our calf horses there but they couldn’t catch ’em fast enough to do any good. Needless to say, nobody else was catchin’ ’em either.

Oh and Chic Alexander was with us too. Man, he could tie one faster than anybody I knew. That was if he could catch one though. Tied good, but didn’t catch many.

Well Richard and this fella from whoever’s place that was were buddies. And that friend of Richard’s had a race horse. So Richard talked him into lettin us borrow him.

“I never have roped on him, ” he said.

Hell, we didn’t care. We just needed to get close fast. That’s it.

And you know we backed that runner into the box blind folded. And when we nodded and took that blindfold off, you had better been screwed down. That booger was floatin.

We just had a ring snaffle on him and herded him by those calves. He never even saw ’em. And wouldn’t you know it. We won 1st, 2nd and 3rd on that thang that day.

Me and Chic and Richard. That Richard was a hellofa individual.

We were sitting there with old westerns playin on a tv that was probably made the same year that movie we were watchin was made when some poor man on the tv headed out into the rain horseback.

We haven’t had any good rain in a while so the comic relief and back-handed comments were flowin free when Dad remarked about how miserable that must be.

“I’ve been there, ” Popo remarked but didn’t sit up like he usually does before a story. Almost like he was feelin what he was talking about.

We were drivin a set to the Greeter, when I was just a little fella, comin from the Sarco. . .

That’s a 20 mile clip for those not familiar with the area. We don’t make drives like that anymore. I’m not sure if anyone does.

And we had one boil up over us and go to rainin. It hadn’t been going too long and lightning struck not to far from the herd throwing dirt WAY yonder into the air. Haven’t seen anything like it untill then. And hadn’t since.

You know there was something else I saw on that drive, too. Those sparks dancin on the tips of those cattle’s horns. not like the movies glowing and such, but dancing. Same as it does in the clouds, but from steer to steer. Damndest thang I ever saw.

We were out on that prairie country so it wasn’t like we were going to go anywhere or get out of it. Probably a good thing with the way that lightin was hittin. A tree bustin or fallin could of killed somebody.

Anyhow, we kept a ridin. Didn’t have much choice. Directly one of the hands come ridin up to me and says, “little boss, you need to climb down from that horse and unsaddle him. Cover yourself with that blanket ’cause we about to get some hail.”

And damned if we didn’t. Not even five minutes after he told me that we got the hell beat out of us. I’ll never forget that trip. I don’t know how he knew that about that hail.


Well, hopefully you got this far. If you didn’t, I understand. Since you did, I’m going to push my luck. 😉

Please say a quick prayer for all those who have seen the ways of life and freedom change before their eyes. Pray that we can adapt, overcome and persevere just as they did. Ask that they be given the strength and wisdom to continue guiding us through times that hopefully will mold us into the people that they already are.


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