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

"Clean 'em up, Kelly"
April 10, 2003

When I was a kid, ranch machinery was not as efficient as it is today. More people labor was necessary, especially during haying time in the summers. Good help was hard to find, and any sort of transient that looked like they could handle a pitchfork was considered fair game to hire. Hitch-hikers were picked up readily, and would be asked, "Do you want a job stacking hay?"

Dad hired one of these drifters one time, and the main job on his oral re`sume` was "carnival worker." I was a twirpy little kid, easily impressed, and was taken in by this forty-something pot-bellied new hired man. When he arrived at our ranch, the new man, Kelly, told me that he was real good at performing rope tricks. I wandered down to the barn and came back with a lariat rope. He couldn't do much of anything with it and blamed his sore finger for his lack of ability. The more I was around him, the less I liked the grouchy old son-of-a-gun.

One rainy day when we couldn't put up hay, Dad and Kelly were building something and carrying a sixteen foot long two-by-six. Kelly finangled around to allow the board to hit himself over the head. He dropped to the ground, out like a light. We were all concerned, and Dad dumped some water on his unconscious head to bring him back to life. Kelly "milked" that problem for all it was worth to get all the sympathy availabe.

A few days later, another hired hand, Butch, was driving the hayfield pickup from the shop up to the house. Kelly was in the passenger seat, riding with the door open. Butch applied the brakes on the pickup upon arrival at the house, and Kelly lurched forward hitting his head on the post of the pickup door. Of course, he passed out again and hit the ground in a relaxed heap. Dad was coming out of the house about then, and "smelled a rat." He methodically made his way to a hydrant in the house-yard and filled a five-gallon bucket clear full of water. He carried it back to the unconscious man, and leaned over him. He said, "Kelly, I'm going to dump this water on you." Ol' Kelly was laying there with his eyes shut, and upon hearing those joyous words promptly squinted real hard. Dad slowly dumped that five gallons of water on the faking hired hand, and enjoyed doing so probably more than he should have. Kelly groggily got to his feet, and dripped all the way back out to the hayfield.

One day at dinner, everyone had put away a pretty good feed. Mom was always a real dandy cook. It was about time for dessert, but Kelly asked for more potatoes. A pretty big serving bowl was still about half full of boiled potates. Dad said, mostly joking, "Clean 'em up, Kelly." The professional fainting ex-carnival worker took him at his word. Kelly put all the potatoes on his plate, filling it heaping to over-flowing, and sopped it up with gravy. I (still) can't believe he ate the whole thing, as he had already eaten a pretty big meal. When he finally cleaned up his plate, he did have the good sense to pass on the dessert. From that time to this, the term "Clean 'em up, Kelly" has been widely used at our family meals.






Copyright © 2005 Steve Moreland
All Rights Reserved