Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the tag “Rustlers”

Riding for the Brand

In the Old West, the phrase “riding for the brand” referred to loyalty to the ranch where a cowboy was employed.   Their identity was tied to the name of the ranch, which often described the brand that marked their livestock, such as the “Lazy T.”  When trouble came, it was good to know someone “had your back,” literally, a reference to gun fighting.  The boys of the Lazy T would not put up with rustlers and banded together to protect the herd and each other.  That is what riding for the brand meant.

During these modern times, loyalty is not out of style.  We should be loyal to family, friends, employer, team, school, and country.

My wife and I watched the movie “42” about Jackie Robinson becoming the first Negro player in Major League Baseball.   His own teammates were won over from loyalty to race to loyalty to him as a member of the team (who was being abused due his race).

It was heart-warming to see the change, especially when a white player told off the opposing white manager who was verbally taunting Jackie for being black.  The teammate walked over to the other dugout and threatened that racist manager.  He had Jackie’s back.  Jackie and he were on the same team, riding for the Brooklyn Dodger brand.

We all treasure the feeling that someone has our back.  Then we don’t feel alone, but part of a group that values us and protects us.

That is a good feeling.

Rustlers

Some of you reading this might not have had the experience of living in the ranch country of the American West and might not believe all of the stories I write about, such as seeing buffaloes and pronghorns or killing rattlesnakes.  I want to assure you that all the blogs I have written so far are all true.  Today’s story is no exception.   

Today is June 30, 2012.  Miss Sugar and I had planned to go up to Cheyenne, Wyoming for the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) event known as Hell on Wheels.  That adventure was going to be the subject of today’s blog, but it will have to wait until tomorrow because I want to first write about what just happened when we got home.

So as we drove up the lane, we noticed a pickup truck with a  stock trailer backed up against a gate by the barn.   That is not an unusual sight.  We have a pickup and we have a stock trailer.  The trouble was, this particular pickup was not ours and this particular stock trailer was not ours but the barn and the gate are definitely ours. 

So the question that Miss Sugar articulated with her Texan candor concerned her suspicion that persons unknown might be up to no good.  Rustlers!  Rustlers?  That’s a hangin offense around these parts.

There were two cowboy types in our pen by the barn trying to convince a calf to join his friends in the trailer backed up to the gate.  Apparently, this calf was not that close of a friend in that he was very reluctant to join the other calves. 

You are probably wondering, “Was it your calf being rustled by badmen?  Did you shoot them per the Code of the West?  Did you use the Colt .45s you have for the SASS competition?”  Those are excellent questions, which I will answer for you.

No, it was not our calf, so, no, I thought it would not be proper to shoot them.

However, the question remains, why were the cowboys, calf, truck and trailer in our barnyard?

So I drove down to ask the cowboys that very question.

A young feller came over and introduced himself as Brad Hall.   Then Brad offered an explanation.  He said that he and this other feller, Ken, were hauling cattle when something happened to a tire on their trailer right in front of our place, which caused them to stop and unload the bunch in our pen.  He said that they knocked on our door but no one was home.  That was because we were up in Cheyenne at Hell on Wheels, which, like I said already, I will write about tomorrow.

Miss Sugar said, “Your trailer looks o.k. to me.”  Which it did.

So Brad said, “Oh, it ain’t this trailer.  After we unloaded, we took the other trailer with the bum tire to our place and came back with this one.  We got all the critters loaded in this trailer except this last stinker.  We been trying to get him in for more than an hour.  If I had a .45, I’d shoot him right here and give you the meat.”

I know what you are thinking, gentle reader.  You are thinking, “Al, didn’t you just say you have two Colt .45 pistols for your SASS competition?”  

No, I did not offer Brad the use of one of my .45 sixshooters.

Instead, we offered to help him load the calf.

I wish I could say our help was valuable.  It was not.  That dang calf got around Ken (not me) and took off out of the pen into the pasture.

I know what you are thinking.  “Didn’t you write in Where the Deer and the Antelope Play that your buckskin gelding, Woody, is perhaps the fastest land animal in North America?  And didn’t you write in Wonder Horses that Scamp is a real smart trick horse like Trigger?  Wouldn’t Roy Rogers use Trigger to chase that calf right into the trailer?  Or would you just rope him and drag him?  Didn’t you say you have participated in roundups and cattle drives and brandings?”

We four were not mounted on cowhorses.  We just chased the calf on foot into a different pen, our stud pen, which is six feet high and made of pipe and cable.  It is a good thing it was available.  (Remember, Woody used to be a stallion, but no more.) 

So Brad go out a rope and roped the little calf in our stud pen.  Ken helped him hold the calf while Brad tied the calf’s hind legs.  Then they dragged him to the trailer and lifted him into it and that was that.   

They thanked us and left.

Miss Sugar and I walked from the barn to the house.  There we found a note taped for us in case we came home and wondered about our new calves before Brad and Ken returned.  It said, “Dear Folks, Sorry about the issue at hand but we were forced to unload these calves.  (Two phone numbers were next).  Please give us a call.  We will return ASAP.  Going to Middle Cherokee Park.  Thanks, Brad.”

What a fine young man!  I’m glad I didn’t shoot first and ask questions later.

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