Julie Carter is a New Mexico writer and author whose column appears weekly on Rio Grande Digital.
Sam Thompson was the most inconsiderate human that ever lived and could go further on a nickel than anyone in my recall.
He owned a big, very remote, spread in the Texas Panhandle that was a half-day’s drive from the nearest civilized settlement. Same lived in that little town so as to keep an eye on his numerous other investments that included a partnership in a nearby feed yard and pasture cattle scattered around the landscape.
When it was cattle working time, he’d round up a crew from his neighborhood to help with the job.
He had a foreman residing at the ranch that handily had a wife who would cook a meal for any crew Sam brought to the ranch. But that didn’t include breakfast.
The collected cowboy crew would load up their horses and head up to the ranch the night before the cattle working, utilizing a ramshackle camp trailer to roll their bedrolls out for a few hours of shut-eye.
Long before daylight they’d rise and breakfast was usually something as substantial as a candy bar. One time the candy bars had been forgotten, so after a head count, the package of Honey Buns was shared. Each cowboy got one and a quarter Honey Buns for breakfast along with some instant coffee.
Still in the dark of the morning, they’d head to the backside and start gathering pairs. About lunch time they were back at headquarters with the cattle. The foreman’s wife was up to her elbows in getting lunch ready to set out when Sam says to his foreman, “Think we ought to take these cattle on to the hill pasture before lunch?”
With the smell of brisket, beans and fresh bread out of the oven wafting through the air and homemade pies waiting on the counter, the foreman begrudgingly agreed they could move the cows now, be done for the day and then eat.
One of the cowboys on his first trip to Sam’s place thought this pasture was probably not far off and likely his grumbling stomach would survive a little longer.
They drove the cows, drove the cows and drove the cows, crossed a creek, drove them down the creek bed and finally got them up the other side and continued driving them.
It was several hours later before they finally arrived where they were going, settled the cattle and started back. Sam decided to take another route on the return to headquarters and the new cowboy was thinking, “If there’s a shorter way back, how come we didn’t bring the cows that way?”
As it turned out, the route home was longer and no one really knew why Sam decided on that route except likely out of pure meanness.
It was near on 5 o’clock when they finally got back to headquarters, took care of their horses and at last, got to eat. The honey bun and a fourth was more than long gone.
The foreman’s wife fed the crew “pretty darn good” and there was plenty of it. However, it became abundantly clear why there were always new faces at the table every time Sam brought a crew to work. The new cowboy on this trip determined he had made his last trip.
Ranch hospitality is legendary, second only to Southern hospitality. It just sometimes takes a little longer to get to the place where one can enjoy it.
Julie can be reached for comment at email@example.com. Visit her website at http://julie-carter.com/