My Adventures in the West
by Joseph Wegley 1867 - 1946
We slept pretty good under the circumstances. The next morning, we got breakfast, and he ate with us, but wasn’t very friendly. We washed the dishes and he moved on. I have often wondered what that Swede thought, as he evidently wasn’t accustomed to ranch life.
When we got home, Nick said, “Joe, we will take a day off and catch up on some of our lost sleep.”
Shortly afterward, Nick said to me one morning, “Joe, let’s catch our best long range horse this morning. We are going around the head of Redwater.” This was about sixty miles straight through. I caught a big half broke horse, and we started.
We rode until noon and had no dinner except a biscuit that I had in my saddle pouch. I presumed it would be a long trip. At noon we stopped to let our horses rest. We were unsaddling, up on a big divide, when he pulled his strap. It struck my horse under the belly. I had my saddle off, but not the bridle. My horse jumped and away he went, going at a very fast rate of speed. By the time Nick got saddled up, the horse was a mile off and was still going. Nick took after him and they both went out of sight. Imagine me, sitting on a hill thirty-five miles from the closest ranch, across the hills at that. If he had run his horse down, he would have been afoot, also. I didn’t know what to do. Nick might come back, and then again he might not come back, besides, starting to walk thirty-five miles across the hills hungry, dry, and with a pair of riding boots on almost meant suicide. So I sat down. Finally Nick came back leading my horse. Well, I never was twice as glad to see a man in my life.
We saddled up and started on. We hadn’t had a drink since morning, and neither of us knew this particular range so we could find spring, or other water.
We hadn’t gone a mile when we came to a nice big spring called Monumental Springs. It was in sand stones cut out like walls. We drank and let our horses drink. I soaked my biscuit and divided it with Nick. It tasted wonderful.
We went on, but we didn’t find any horses that day. We came to a sheep camp in the evening. It was different from our last experience. We put our horses away for the day. Anyway, it was a long ride.
The next morning, we found a few horses and went home. It was almost time to start to North Dakota to sell our herd. We usually left about May 10.
We gathered a herd of about 200 to take east. We picked out the wildest, and oldest mares to take to Dakota to sell and trade off. When the time came to start, we rigged up a mess wagon and cut out some good, gentle, saddle horses as we must have horses on such a trip that could be depended upon at all times. When we left the ranch with those wild mares, we would have to run them for the first twelve or fifteen miles to get them off the home range. One would go ahead of them, two on each side, and one behind until we got accustomed to the trail. The first day we went to Glendive, Montana, thirty-five miles. We corralled them at night to be sure we would have them the next morning.
After we got started on the second day, three of the men started back to the ranch.
We heard that day, from the mail driver from Glendive to Buford, that one of my best friends in Glendive (whose name was Newcomer, a liveryman) had shot and killed himself.
We usually took three days from Glendive to Buford, selling and trading horses on the way. There were, however, three places which were stopping places for the stage and passengers. Sidney and Fairview were just log ranch houses. We got to the ferry at Buford. It was some place to handle wild horses.
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