My Adventures in the West
by Joseph Wegley 1867 - 1946
The round-up got under way. We started near Billings on the Yellowstone side down to Buford and back up the Missouri, up above Glasgow some distance, and then across to the starting point. I took two months for this trip.
Up near the Red Water Divide one night, we had a big herd. It was a stormy night, and I was to have second guard. The storm came up, and I woke up about the time they should have awakened me for my turn. There were no cowboys, and the cattle had drifted away with the boys. They didn’t get back until after daylight.
There were sixteen tents in this general round-up which meant sixteen outfits. Well, in the morning, every tent was blown down but ours, and even one end of it was down, but we got our night’s sleep. All went well with me on that trip, but I made a mistake on one saddle horse.
When I caught him, it was about like getting a rope on a panther; he was as quick as a flash. Of course, I thought I could ride anything, so I saddled and got on him and was going to let him buck. The boss said, “Joe, don’t let him buck unless you can’t help it. He is hard to ride.” I talked him out of it, in other words, compromised him. It was fine, as he was a real saddle horse.
One day afterwards, I was riding him again when he threw his head down and started to buck, backing up as he bucked, and he threw me. I was about twelve miles from camp. I called him a few pet names and said, “You can’t do it again,” but do you know that horse looked as big as a box car. He had thrown me so quickly that I thought he might do it again, so I got on him quietly.
One day afterwards, I was riding this same horse along with another boy. The horse took the same notion, but I was in better shape to start. Well, I lost my pipe, hat, and everything that was loose, but I stayed to the finish. We got back to the ranch and put up a little hay and laid around the ranch for some time.
Later we went out on the calf round-up which meant just our own home range to get calves that were missed in the general round-up, and to size things up generally. We found a number of big calves that were missed before as our outfit had been handicapped by several inexperienced men.
Well, with those large, rolicky calves and the poor help that we had, the work was hard. Two men that understood their work could throw and hold those calves with ease, while as it was, we had a hard job doing it.
One day on Clear creek at the N. Y. corral, we were branding a lot of big calves. It was very hot. There were really only three of us who really were familiar with this work. One man did the roping and I did the branding and knife work, with those “greenhorns” to help me wrestle the calves. We finally got through. I got very dry, so I went to the creek to get a drink. I was sick. I laid down in the shade of the corral for a while and felt a little better.
We didn’t move camp any more that day, but the next morning we went on. I didn’t feel just right all summer.
We finished the calf round-up and went back to the ranch until the time came for the beef round-up which was usually about September. We laid around the ranch until the beef round-up started as there was not much to do. We put up possibly twenty tons of hay which was just enough to winter one milk cow, a saddle horse, and any visitors that might come along.