Burning daylight

Things that come up in the daily operation of a ranch.
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webfoot
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Burning daylight

Post by webfoot » Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:36 pm

Others seem to be sharing stories here so I thought I would throw one in.

Burning Daylight by Dave Nygard

Back in the spring of ’74 I had a rodeo-traveling partner who I will call Bob (names have been change to protect the guilty). He was from Montana. His parents had a big ranch in central Montana. We generally avoided stopping by his folks place because his dad liked to put us to work. We were both opposed to work and working for free was definitely not our thing. His dad, Bud was a real old time cowboy. Ranch born and raised. He didn’t have a lot of use for us rodeo cowboy types. Thought that rodeo cowboys were lazy, shiftless lot in general and the two of us in particular.

So one year in April we stopped in at the ranch and of course Bud decided that there were chores to do that needed our assistance. He said that the next day he needed our help to gather up some cows with new calves that needed branding. Now I have been to a branding or two and they can be fun so I agreed to help.

Although the rest of us think of April as spring that is not necessarily the case in Montana. I also didn’t consider that for Bud the day started about two hours before the sun came up. So the day started with Bud kicking us out of bed at about 4:30 in the morning. No more warm and comfortable for me. We had to go catch the horses that we were to use to gather the cows.

Well Bud gets his carrot muncher out of its stall in the barn, saddles up and heads out into the darkness. I am left holding a gate waiting for Bud to bring in the horses. It is just starting to get light and here comes Bud chasing 10 or 12 wild-eyed horses. Come to find out that these horses have spent the entire winter looking out for themselves in a 2,000-acre pasture. They hadn’t seen a man since last fall when they were kicked out. The only company they had was the deer, elk, and cougars. In the mean time Bob has gathered up the saddles and tack for us to use.

Bud, not wanting to waste any time doesn’t wait for the horses to settle down. He just ropes one out of the herd and drags it over to us. He tells Bob that this is his horse. Bob tries to put a halter on the horse and it goes to biting and striking. By the time he manages to get the halter on I am laughing at him. What a magnificent mount you have. Bud says what are you laughing about and proceeds to rope one for me.

Now my horse doesn’t move a muscle after he is roped. I carry the saddle and tack over to him and he still doesn’t move a muscle. He is a nice looking horse from what I can see. He is a buckskin gelding (I called him buck) with good conformation, nice head, alert eyes but he still isn’t moving. The one thing worth pointing out is that he has hair that would make a wooly mammoth envious. I mean his hair is about a foot long. So I saddle up this horse and he is still just standing there. In the mean time Bob and his horse are all over the corral. Bob is trying to get a saddle on this horse that is trying to kick and bite him the entire time.

Now you have to realize that this is April in Montana. The ground in this corral is frozen hard as a rock. I get the gear hung on old’ buck and he just stands there not even blinking. This is beginning to make me nervous. I start cinching up the saddle and buck holds his breath. I really pull on the latigo and neither end of the saddle is touching his back. This is not a good sign. I did my level best to cut this horse in two with the cinch and get nowhere.

In the mean time Bob as got his horse saddled and is on top of him. The horse is a little broncy but Bob is in control. Bud starts hollering at me to get up in the saddle so we can get started. “We are burning daylight,” he says. Even though the sun is yet to show up over the ridge. So I swing into the saddle. Again old’ buck just stands there.

Then Bob and his horse come running/bucking by us. They bump into buck, half knocking him into a step. At this point buck came out of his trance. It is not that buck could buck so hard but he did have a certain stiff legged way of landing that jarred me like you can’t believe. Especially on that frozen ground. Every jump ended with my chin bouncing off my chest and my spine feeling like it collapsed.

Bud seeing that we were both in the saddle turned and threw open the gate. Now I had 10,000 acres to have this fun in. Bob and his horse went racing by with his running/bucking stuff that soon had his horse worn down. Me, I just slowly headed out at this slow bone-jarring buck. It wasn’t that he bucked so hard as it was the landing. I remember thinking to myself he can’t keep this up for too long, he will run out of wind pretty soon. I was wrong. Down the lane we went bucking every inch of the way. Bob got control of his horse and rode alongside me. Bud was hollering at me to stop goofing off that we had work to do. Pretty soon my nose started bleeding. Not from hitting on anything, just from the continual shock of those stiff legged landings.

I began to think this is why cowboys carried guns. They needed one to shoot the horse, the heck with the Indians and rustlers. If I had a pistol at that point I am sure that I would have shot buck right there. He couldn’t have bucked off a kid on the way to a Sunday school picnic but what he lacked in ability he made up for with stamina. I mean this went on for what seemed like hours.

We were a good two miles from the house when buck finally lifted his head up and quit bucking. Actually he turned out to be a good horse once he got that out of his system. The rest of the day went fine. Later that night Bob and I came up with an excuse of why we needed to be in a different state by the next morning. We loaded our gear up and got out of town while the getting was good.

I made it a point never to stop and spend a day at that ranch again. We would visit on our way through but always when we had somewhere we needed to go to.

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Re: Burning daylight

Post by Big Muddy rancher » Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:43 pm

Aw the good old days, :lol: :lol: :cowboy:
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Re: Burning daylight

Post by Soapweed » Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:48 pm

Good story, Webfoot. Bud sounds like my father-in-law, Royal. Every time Carol and I would visit Royal and Jean, he would come up with some non-essential project that needed doing. His favorite was for me to change the oil in his windmill. On our own ranch, we changed oil in our windmills once a year. His windmill needed the oil changed every time we came to visit. I finally started "dressing up" a bit when we'd go see our in-laws. I'd then get out of changing the oil on his windmill because I was wearing my "good clothes."

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Re: Burning daylight

Post by Faster horses » Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:06 pm

webfoot, Buck is exactly why cowboys don't pack guns...... :lol:

Bud was pretty free with you guys' guts. :D

Thanks for the story!
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webfoot
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Re: Burning daylight

Post by webfoot » Tue Mar 05, 2019 8:13 am

I still cringe when I hear someone say we're burning daylight. He must have said it 15 times that morning. The only daylight we were burning that morning was coming from a mercury vapor light in the barnyard. But.... oh to be a carefree 23 year old again.

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