My Adventures in the West
by Joseph Wegley 1867 - 1946
One ranch consisted of buildings, and an agreed number of creeks which the ranchman called his range. There were, at that time, about twenty ranches in this territory. They were called the upper and lower ranges which meant the ranchmen on the lower range would also look after the cattle on the upper range, and visa versa.
The spring general round-up would start at a certain point, and all the ranches on that part of the range would be there at a certain time. This meant about ten outfits or about twelve men, each consisting of a cook, two horse wranglers who would take care of all the cowboys’ saddle horses, and the work horses. Each man usually had six or seven saddle horses. The horse wranglers would build a rope corral at each place the outfit camped by tying a rope out some fifty feet to points making the opening about fifty feet. They put up stakes with guy lines, then ran them out about fifty feet farther, leaving an opening at the end about twenty fee wide to put the horses through. The ropes would be about thirty inches high. The horse learned to regard this as a corral, where the boys roped their mounts.
Now the round-up starts. The foreman from all outfits meet and name one man as general boss. He gives all orders. The boys catch their wildest horses on the morning they start on the round-up as the hardest riding is in the afternoon. Well, some of those mornings would make a rodeo look tame. The boss would send men out as he saw fit to gather and move all cattle to a named spot. As the next camp boys generally rode in, the cooks and horse wranglers would catch the work teams up and move the cook or mess wagons to the camp along with all the saddle horses.
Each man had a bed which he rolled up and put in the right wagon and took along. Each outfit usually had a tent. When the outfit set up a new camp, the wranglers would drag up wood and cut it to cook with. The wranglers put up the tents. The cooks did the cooking.
The cowboys usually got to camp about noon, coming from all directions. They threw the cattle together, got to camp, turned their horses loose, and ate dinner. Then the wranglers would take the saddle horses in the rope corral. The boys then caught their cow or cutting horse and got to the herd. The boss would station a certain number of men to hold the herd, and then send two or three more into the herd to find and cut out the cattle that belonged to the ranch that claimed this certain range. Then he left some men to hold the cut, (which means the cattle), that had been cut out of the main herd.
When this operation is complete, the boss sends some men to herd the main herd, until the rest of the boys brand the calves. This meant the building of a branding fire, and heating the irons, while the one man drags the calves to the fire, brand, ear mark, and then to trim the calves. Then they turn the calves loose. Sometimes a good, big calf makes things interesting when turned loose.
When this operation is completed, the boys take this herd to where the ranchman of this certain range tells them to, and then turns them loose. This is called taking the cattle and leaving them on their home range. This is a daily occurrence until the whole range has been worked. This takes about six weeks.
After those cattle were turned loose each day, the boys would have horse races, foot races, or anything for fun the rest of the day.
In the evening, the boss would name men to take what they called first guard which meant herding for two hours. He would name more for second guard, and so on until morning. Each guard would wake the next guard, We always caught our gentlest horses for night horses. We saddle and picketed them handy. Of course, occasionally, the main herd would stampede which meant all hands on duty until it was over.
When the range had been worked, each outfit went home.
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