Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Cattle, Snakes and Fish

Sooooo ... the old lady in me has risen her snake filled head, causing much pain and back mayhem.  I finally wadded up a pillow, stuffed it under my back where the worst pain was, and tried to sleep.  It was a big surprise when I woke up actually in less pain than when I went to bed.  Until I tried to get OUT of bed.     Two trips to one chiropractor have resulted in no help.

I'm getting pretty darn tired of sitting on the couch all day watching TV.  Cooper isn't any happier either, since he doesn't get to play the ball game!  No, I didn't move any furniture yesterday, nor did I attempt any more frame construction.  You can imagine just how hard THAT was for me!!  

It will be a miracle if I get through BINGO tonight.  If I just stand up straight and tall like my mother used to tell me to do, I should survive, because the next morning I'm headed to ANOTHER chiropractor who has what I call a drop table.  Fingers crossed!!

So here's some more images of the cow camp.  This hill goes down to a small creek, maybe 2 feet deep and 3-4 feet across.  That was our bathtub, a very COLD and goose bump inducing wide spot in the creek.  No worries, we didn't use soap. 

I can't believe such a small stream was so full of trout.  Native trout no less ... which my dad would fry up in cast iron pans.  I spent many an hour fishing for dinner.  It seems to me we had pancakes for breakfast, pancakes and peanut butter for lunch, and fish for dinner ... every single day.

I also spent lots of time walking up and down that hill with a pail, because that stream was the only available water.  No one ever considered the water was bad, because it wasn't.  It was the purest, tastiest water EVER!

The green in the above pictures is part of the meadow where the cattle often hung out.  This is a picture of them being gathered up, ready for the drive back to the ranch.  Since there were no roads, there were no trucks.  It was all done on horseback down trails, about 35 miles one way.

Now you know where my love of the mountains comes from.  This was definitely my happy place.

So what did my parents, aunts and uncles do with the kids while they were gathering cattle?  They took them along, of course.  No one was exempt from working.  Even the little kids had to ride in on horseback and help with firewood.

This is where the fear of snakes came from.  These two were caught throwing a snake back and forth at each other.  Turned out it was a rattlesnake.  A dead one, thank goodness.  

Many times one or two of the local Indians would go with us to help out.  I think I've told you this story before. Several months before, this guy left a chunk of beef in the bear box buried underground.  Sadly, I don't remember his name.  He marked on the calendar the days he worked so he could get paid.  On Saturday, there was always a BIG notation .... WHISKEY!!  

So he took that chunk of beef out of the box and stuck it in the wood stove oven.  There was a small stove in the cabin, but we never used it.  We always cooked over an open fire outside.  Let me tell you, that beef smelled SO BAD!!  It was so rotten, none of us could go in the cabin where we kept the water bucket.  My Mom tried to tell him not to eat it because he would get sick, but he didn't listen.  I imagine he survived, but I never heard.   We took off the next day, leaving him to his "special" dinner.

This is Jack ... one of the bigger mules used to pack in all our supplies.  Jack had quite the personality.  Almost every trip he would throw a fit and buck the pack off, which is why we never had eggs or anything that might break.  The cattle were gathered into the meadow day by day until time to head down the mountain.

The pack mules were the last ones to go down the hill.  Because they were cantankerous, my dad would just let them go ... no lead rope.  Jack would hang back, eat a little and hang back some more until we were out of sight.

When he realized that, he would bray like crazy and run up the trail after the horses.  He didn't want to be left alone.  So sometimes, my dad would wait until he was out of sight, then hide in the trees.  Jack came running up the hill hollering for anyone, whereupon Dad would jump out BEHIND him and scare the poor guy.  After that, Jack tried to stay up with the group ... until next year.

When you don't have a fridge and therefore no meat to eat (other than canned chipped beef), we ate whatever we killed.  This is the only image I can find of the enjoyment of eating rattlesnake.  She looks like she's enjoying it, yes?  This is a friend Celia that came along for the ride.  

It was a big snake that I almost stepped on, so I didn't mind eating it.  We skinned and gutted it, then soaked it in a mixture of powdered milk and water overnight.  That takes out the gamey taste.  Then it was fried up like chicken.  To be honest, there's not all that much taste, because there's not all that much meat.  It's mostly bones.  I would eat this ANY day over that rotten beef cooking in the oven.

It's Tuesday and you know what that means.  BINGO!!!  I can't wait for it to be here and over, because that means the old lady gets to try another pain inducing chiropractor, followed by even MORE days sitting on the couch.  Oh the fun!!  It better heal up quick because I'm running out of stories!!


  1. Sorry your back is still bothering you.
    Take it easy at Bingo.
    Totally love your ranching stories!

    1. It definitely was a different life back then Frances.

  2. When we lived north of Paradise in the DeSabla area there was a meadow just up the road. The first time I saw it I couldn't believe an area could be so beautiful. My dream was to have a house in a meadow. Oh well...it's still a dream. I love the story about Jack. Mr. Tough Guy until he thought he was alone. Too cute.

  3. Hope your back feels better after some more adjustments.
    Growing up on a ranch had to have been hard work but your memories are great to an old woman that grew up in a neighborhood.

    1. It was a completely different life Sue. I imagine those who grew up in neighborhoods had some stories to tell also!

  4. Hope that chiropractor will be of help for your back pain. You might also try and take a capsule of Aleve Back & Body Pain, which will relax the muscles affected. Love your recollection of the good old days.

    1. Thank you Marlene. I think that's a big part of the problem ... relaxing the muscles so things can go back in place.

  5. I feel for you Nancy. The way my knee is now days I never know when the knee is going to squeeze a nerve and make me sit for a day or two. Happened up in Cromberg, didn't leave the RV for two days. Going to have to see a knee doctor this year when we get back.

    1. OUCH! I'm hoping my back gets back to normal. I'll be a lot more careful from now on! Maybe knee surgery??


  6. Mr. Ed Said I told you you need to dance like your put on your pantyhose

    Funny Internet search : What is the best dance for back pain?
    Belly dance can be an effective if unconventional way to help your lower back pain, while getting some exercise and improving your posture. Plus, it's fun! Belly dancing
    Be lucky you were on a Cattle farm
    If you lived on the ocean you’d be a fisherman/Woman do you have any idea how bad they smell?
    30 days into the season a gallon of old spice doesn’t help

    ­čĽ║Thinking about it, huh?

    1. I tried that kind of dancing ... and I almost did not get up off the floor without calling 911!! A fisherman, eh? I do have a little bit of experience with that ... my ex father-in-law was a salmon fisherman. OMG you are entirely correct about the smell!!!!

  7. Oh goodness, I hope this chiropractor is the charm and heals you!!

  8. Nancy have you considered a cortisone shot in
    your back? I can’t imagine your doctor not giving
    you one. Get a X-ray when your able, your doc and
    Chiropractor will appreciate it
    I hurt for you❣️
    Linda a.

    1. Thank you Linda ... I haven't gotten an x-ray yet. Sounds like a good idea. I'll see what she says today.

  9. Very interesting. 35 miles on horseback, I am not sure if I could do that! We have had snake, and the first thing I thought of were the bones. So many bones!
    Hope your back gets better soon!

    1. It took 2-3 days depending on how stinky the cattle were. You always try to have a lead cow. She knows where to go and the rest just follow. Those snake bones really make you work for your dinner.