Soapweed's Ranch Ramblings
The writings of a Nebraska Sandhills cattle rancher!

Another Bad Storm
Nov 28, 2004

The 29th of April in 1967 was a nice day. My dad's cousin had recently purchased a small ranch quite a few miles down in the hills south of town. His main ranch was six miles north of town. He had a son my age, and another cousin and I were looking forward to helping trail yearlings down to this new pasture. After school on the 29th, which was a Friday, we trailed about 250 yearlings about five miles to their "camp" where the cattle were left for the night. We all arose early the next morning and started about a twenty mile cattle drive for the day to get the yearlings to their new summer home. It was a cool Spring day, and the cattle moved well. When we were almost to our destination, a rainy drizzle settled in.

Our crew consisted of my dad's cousin, his hired hand, the hired hand's son (who was about my age), my two cousins (also the same age), and me. My cousin's granddad drove along with a pickup to carry food and camping gear. Upon arriving at this new land, our intentions were for us four boys to camp there, while the three men went home. They would come to pick us up the next day.

The weather was deteriorating rapidly, so we decided to stay in the old house on this ranch rather than camp out. Good choice. The next morning the snow was coming down in big flakes and the wind was blowing hard. My dad's cousin came to pick us up, and we loaded my horse and my cousin's horse in the back of the pickup, which had a "stock rack". All of us scrunched into the cab, and we headed back to town. On the top of the river hill, a pickup was stopped. Their cargo was a canoe, and it had blown out, so we helped get it back into the pickup and tied in place. Upon arriving back in town, we unloaded my cousin's horse and several passengers; then my dad's cousin took me and my horse home.

Dad and I went to check on our cattle. The cows and calves were all in one big bunch, as we were planning to brand the following Saturday. The wind was straight out of the west, and the bunch was dummied up in a fence corner. The snow was packed, and only one wire was visible above the packed snow. It was a miracle that the cattle had not crossed the one remaining wire. Dad and I were able to get the cattle moved back up the fence and let out into another pasture. Had the cattle crossed over that one wire, they could easily have drifted just a few hundred yards further and all gone into Goose Lake and perished. The Good Lord was watching out for us.

Back to the canoe deal. A local school teacher and two eighth grade boys had decided to canoe the Niobrara that week-end. They had easy floating on Saturday, and when it started to rain, they had pulled to shore and set up camp. They didn't have adequate camping gear along, but made the best shelter they could out of the upside down canoe. With the blizzard the next morning, the man teacher decided to walk up out of the river bottom and try to find help. He didn't know the country, and started walking up a road that really didn't go to anything but pastures. It would have been about ten miles further on to any ranches. Divine Intervention played a roll in this case also, as a rancher just happened to be checking on his cattle quite a few miles from his main ranch. He was driving his pickup and just happened to be on the same road that this teacher was walking. It is quite certain that the teacher would have perished in the storm had he continued walking, and the two boys back at the canoe would not have been very well off either with weather conditions as they were. All is well that ends well.

Also spent some time visiting with a friend who makes saddles and other leather goods. Stopped off at the local emporium and got in on Taco Tuesday for supper. Caught up on the local gossip with other patrons. Anyway, it was a fun day.






Copyright © 2005 Steve Moreland
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