My Adventures in the West
by Joseph Wegley 1867 - 1946
This boy would follow behind a rattle snake, pick it up by the tail, and snap its head off, so sometimes we called him rattle snake Jack.
Well, the next spring I went to work again for Nick Buttleman, the horse man, which by this time had built himself quite a ranch. He had a log house of four rooms.
In the spring, the cow outfits all sent a representative there to work, together, gathering all their saddle horses, because they would be mixed with Nick’s horses. There would be quite a mixture of cowboys and horse boys. Nick himself had about six or seven of the best hands on the range and had accumulated a splendid bunch of saddle horses. He claimed 40,000 head of horses at this time.
The horse round-up was different from a cattle round-up in that the animals were usually brought into the home ranch. We would bring in a bunch, brand the colts, cut out any horses we wanted for any purpose and turn the bunch loose. We had a big pasture into which we would turn the ones we cut out. Every day or so we would bring in another bunch.
That spring, there was a man at the ranch by the name of W. W. Pitts who said he was related to the Pitts Brothers in the old James gang. There was another by the name of Curry, related to the notorious Kid Curry. Another man, Tom Cody, claimed to be a cousin of Bill Cody of Buffalo Bill, and say, he was as wild as a fly. He would miss a meal to get to ride a bronco. Then there were two boys working on the ranch, one named Jim McPeak, whom I will refer to later, for he turned out to be a real character, and the other was Al Foster. No two men ever worked on a hose ranch that were any better cowboys. They were both good riders and ropers and knew their stuff from A to Z.
Work on a horse ranch was better than on a cow ranch in as much as there was scarcely ever any night hearing. Besides, it was faster work as one could bring in a bunch of those horses a long distance in a day, while with cattle you would have to follow the old cows and calves, which was a slow job.
Needless to say, things went smoothly that spring as all the men knew their stuff. After the cowboys got their saddle horses and went, Nick said, “Joe, tomorrow we are starting on an outside round-up.” That meant that we took a few saddle horses, no bed or no grub, and went on the upper range possibly 150 miles up into the foothills gathering strays such as would stray from our home range. This meant we had to find some place to eat and sleep. The horses we gathered we threw into our saddle horses bunch until we could get more. It also meant night herding each night, besides riding all day.
We accumulated possibly 300 head. In coming toward home, we came to a sheep ranch with a pasture, shack, and a hay stack. Nick said that there would be no night herding that night, so we turned the bunch into the pasture. Suddenly along came a big Swede out of the hills all excited and said, “You got to take them horses out of that pasture.” “No, Nick said, “we are staying all night.” The Swede said, “I’ll take them out.” Nick said, “No, you won’t”. “Those horses are going to be there all night.” The Swede, I suppose, thought that we were a pair of desperados. He went back to his herd, and we rode around the fence to see that the pasture was all right. We came back and turned our saddle horses in the hay corral and went into the shack and proceeded to get supper.
About the time supper was ready, in comes Mr. Swede. He seemed about half mad, but he ate supper with us, and we washed the dishes.
When it came bedtime, he had a small bed which he didn’t offer to share with us, so we took our sweaty saddle blankets for our bed and our saddles for pillows.
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