Sunday, November 20, 2016


Modern day dirty jobs are quite different from days of old.  My grandfather came from the Isle of Man, an island just off the English coast.  He and some of his 11 siblings immigrated to the West Coast of Canada.  I have no idea why and back in those days no one spoke of where they came from.  It was like you needed to keep it a secret.

His name was William ... Bill for short ... and apparently he didn't like Canada.  Instead, he came all the way down towards Southern California, then headed to the high desert where land was cheap.  There he set up shop raising cattle.  After a couple years, he sent for his wife Jessie to join him.  They had two boys, William (Bill for short) (remember this because there are going to be a lot of Bills for short) on the left and James (Jimmy) my dad.  Yup, that's my dad.  Back in the old days, English men wore dresses and tights until they were five years old.
Unlike today, there was no place to buy feed for the herd.  You had to make your own without the help of big tractors to make quick work of plowing up the ground.  They used horses instead.  It took days to get through just one field and was a really dirty job.  That's my grandfather on the right.  This is where I was heading when I unceremoniously got stuck in the gate.
Once the soil was sufficiently softened, the Moline Seeder was attached to the horses.  Round and round they would go, dropping oat seeds into the soil.  There was no irrigation like you see today.  This was dry farming.  You did all that work, then prayed for rain.  LOTS of rain.  Church was an integral part of the week.  We all piled into the very small front seat of a 1950 Chevy pickup and drove to the tiny church, with room to seat about 20 people.  We did a little rain dance at the end of every service.  
If we were lucky and the rain fell, there were oats to cut and harvest to feed the cattle, that is if the locusts didn't get to it first.  Locust scared me.  When I heard they would eat everything, I thought that included me.  There were no big hay balers in those days where you drove along in an air conditioned cab and listened to Bon Jovi.  After the stalks were cut with a horse-drawn sickle, it was back breaking work to pitchfork the hay onto the horse drawn wagon, then pitch it again into the barn.      
There were no breaks or lunch hours, but there WAS a really big breakfast early in the morning before daylight, then another feeding at dinner .... steak and tea always being on the menu.  Remember, my grandfather was English.  Sometimes there was butter for the bread my mother made, depending on whether or not I had found a way onto the kitchen table.  

Not that we killed a cow, that never happened.  What DID happen is every time one died, for whatever reason, all work came to an immediate halt while it was cut and wrapped, then tossed in the freezer.  If by some chance they didn't catch it soon enough, it was left to the surrounding predators.  I never did find out what "soon enough" was, but I'm still alive, so I suppose they had good judgement.  

As you can tell, I was a go-getter.  There was no keeping me down on a blanket in the front yard.  Being an escape artist however, was hard work and sometimes got me in hot water.  Actually, MANY times got me in hot water!!
It's a beautiful Sunday morning, so I'm heading out to the Game Refuge to see what's up in the air and on the ground.  There should be lots of Sandhill Cranes and Geese flying around for my photographic endeavors.  


  1. We're going to have to abandon the Russian mail order groom,,,BUT!,, I think we have it all figured ,out, we're going to have to take up a collection and send you up to The farmer country in Montana for the summertime where Single men are real men and women are wellllll ,,,,,lets say there's not that many of them
    What's your thoughts about flannel, leather, chaps, and spurs,,, well maybe not in that order

    1. Hahaha you made me laugh out loud!!!! That would be GREAT, but they have to like traveling too!!