Ben Cumpean got married a couple of months ago. Those of you who know Ben are laughing. For those of you who don’t, he’s a 60+ Mexican man with what seems to be 70+ years of ranch life riding his bones. He’s lived with his new wife for around eighteen years and they were wed about six months ago.
Well, this morning Morgan and I got everything fed up and were headed to pick up an air compressor from the shop. We had to air up the tires on the mobile pens. They’ll hold 40 head of wild, fightin’ crossbred cows, but what they won’t hold is air. Go figure.
While we were at the shop Ben stopped by. He had pictures from the wedding. One for Dad, one for Mick and one for Dick. If I could only have heard the stories the group in that picture had been through. Ben was in the middle. He arrived at the O’Brien ranch when he was nineteen. He worked the Berclair country for years until he was moved to Quincy where he still lives with his wife.
To his right were Nick and Midnight Rivas. I knew Midnight from when I was a boy. He has since moved to town along with his brother Nick. But at one time they were both fighting the South Texas brush just like everybody else in that picture.
Then there was Fino. I’m pretty sure his proper name is Delphino, but I’m not certain. He wears his buckle on the left side of his pants and always has. Some say it’s because it pinches his belly, but Dad said he was a skinny youngster when he was working at the ranch and he wore it just like that back then as well. I don’t think he even knows why he does it.
And the twins. Los cuates was probably the more common terminology for them in this group. They’ll say that they call Mick and Dick that because it’s Spanish for twin, but I’m pretty sure they just can’t tell them apart at a glance. And “Hey cuate, …” gets the same quick result as actually knowing who they’re talking to. 😉
Albert Ramon was to Fino’s right. He is close kin to Richie, who has since passed on, but whose saddle I still use when I’m starting colts. I wish I could put it up on display and take care of it, but I need it. And they don’t make ’em like that anymore. Well this young Albert is also kin to another Albert Ramon my grandfather told me a new story on this Thursday. It goes like this.
I was visiting with Grandpa out at the Melon one day. That’s the place I was born ‘n raised up near Refugio. Well, I was raised right across the road from where we were but it’s all on the same place.
Anyhow, while we were standing there ol’ Albert got dusted off of one pretty good. (he was thrown from a bucking horse) Then he wandered around that trap for a minute and back on he got. She rode around for a second or two and then swallowed her head and let him have it again.
That’s when Grandpa told me to go help that boy catch her. See, he was off in that little trap there. Small enough I guess, but just big enough to have a hard time catchin’ a horse that didn’t want to get caught. [Especially when you’ve just been round housed twice. ;)]
Well, I was just a little fella. I didn’t know what the hell I was doin’. But when she came my way, I just threw my hands up and sent her the other way. Well, Albert got her caught. And by then Grandpa had sidled up along side the fence to try and find out what the hell was goin’ on.
Albert eased her around some more and then directly she let ‘er rip all over again. I’ll say this, she had some try to her. Well, this last time Albert wasn’t having it. He was determined to stay up there. And don’t get me wrong, he could ride the hell out of a bronc. But just about the time he got settled in up there she throwed him, the saddle and all.
There he sat in the dirt right in front of us. Square in the middle of the saddle with both feet still in the stirrups. He looked up and Grandpa and said, “Boss, I just don’t see how I can set her if she’s gonna throw saddle and all. You can fire me if you want to, but I ain’t gettin’ on that mare no more.”
With a half chuckle Grandpa told him, “Hell son I ain’t gonna fire you. If she can throw that saddle, I don’t see how you’re gonna stay up there.”
I just loved this story. I know everybody has plans in life. I also know that sometimes we don’t consult our Heavenly Father when we make those plans. I know I forget pretty regular. But even though we create circumstances we can’t possibly make it through due to our stubborn blindness, I gotta believe that He’s up there smiling when we have the guts it takes to “Ride the saddle to the ground”.
Know When to Say When