My Adventures in the West
by Joseph Wegley 1867 - 1946
Well, there were two yards in this corral. We put the badger in one corral. He put a saddle on him and wanted to take him out of the corral. I said, “No, I don’t care to lose a saddle.” He got on him, and about the second jump, Mr. Bad Boy landed on the top pole of the corral and rolled outside. I said, “Say, you did fine.” He said, “No horse has ever done that before.” I said, “This was probably the first one that ever bucked with you.”
We drifted through Rolla and east to Langdon where we sold out. Nick took the train for Glendive, Montana and told me to take the saddle horses back to the ranch, alone. I drifted back through the state. It was late in the fall when I got to Buford. Mush ice was floating on the river, and the ferry had pulled out. I stayed at Fred Figley’s place. He ran kind of a stopping place, and his wife was a wonderful cook.
Well, I loafed around a couple days. Prospects for getting across on the ice were not promising. The weather was mild, but the ferryman would not put his boat out again. The river was low, and it was not far across the channel of deep water. One day I got boneheaded and jumped the horses into the river and swam it. The water was like ice.
When I got across, I was soaked and chilled to the bone. I stayed with the ferryman that night, and then drifted on up the river to the ranch.
In the fall of 1893, I stuck around the ranch awhile. It seemed lonesome after being out and around, so I went to Glendive to spend the winter. I stayed in the hotel, and had my saddle horse in the livery barn.
Soon after, a gambler in Glendive who had a small bunch of good horses around Wibeaux, went broke. He came to me to sell me his horses. He had thirty head, and they were good big ones. I bought them for $840 and paid him the money. That night he gambled and won $2,000. The next morning he offered me $1,000 for the horses, but I didn’t sell them to him. I went back to Glendive and stayed there some time.
Early in the spring, Nick came in and said, “Joe, come out a while.” I said, “All right,” and we started out in his wagon, leading my horse.
On the road, one of his horses played out. I said, “Nick, we have never been stuck yet. We will drive my saddle horse.” My horse had never been driven before. We hitched him up and drove him to the ranch.
The next morning, Nick said, “Let’s go out and get a bunch of horses.” We did, and continued to do so every day. Not knowing what he was driving at, one day I said, “Nick, what is this all about? I came out here visiting you, and you have worked me every day. What does it mean?” He said, “You are working for me. You are going to Dakota in charge of the herd this summer.” I said, “That’s news to me. Possibly we had better make a deal.” He said, “The deal is made. I am paying you $70.00 per month.” The deal sounded good to me.
Nick said I could take my bunch along and sell them also, so I went on with the job. A little later, I went to round-up my bunch and bring them to the ranch to take along. I got them rounded up, and crossed them on the ferry at Glendive. I herded them until the next morning. Then I was going to take them to the ranch.
That afternoon, a bunch of black tail deer came out of the brush along the river and started for the hills. I took down my rope and ran into them. I threw my rope and caught a doe. I jerked her down and dragged her until she was limber. Then I cut her throat with my jackknife. A family by the name of Butler lived near there, so I went and told him to come and get the deer. He did.
The next day, I took my horses to the ranch, and I assisted in gathering and branding until the time came to start on the trail to Dakota. Nick went along the first day we started, to see that we got off all right. The next morning, I said, “Say Nick, this is quite an undertaking for a kid. I want your ideas as to what to expect to get out of these horses.” He said, Joe, take those horses and get out of here, and don’t bring any back. I never want to see them any more. You know a horse as well as I do. Go and sell them. Goodbye.” He went away without counting the horses. He doesn’t know yet just how many there were.
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