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

Hired Hand Humor
March 6, 2003

It was May of 1962. An acquaintance of my dad's called on the phone with a deal too good to pass up. He knew of a town kid that needed a job. The kid had pulled too many pranks, and was in trouble with the law. His latest stunt had been to knock on the door of a house, and when a lady answered the knock, he sprayed her with a garden hose. That was the straw that broke the camel's back with the town cop, and this kid, Bill, had two options. Number one was reform school or number two was to find a job clear out in the country somewhere. Either way, he was to make himself scarce from the town in which he grew up. Dad's acquaintance wanted to place this kid with someone who would work him quite hard and be responsible for his actions, and the wages didn't need to be much more than room and board. Dad decided to give Bill a try.

A couple weeks later, Dad had a chance to hire two more high school boys who were good friends with each other. Ol' Dad was patting himself on the back, as he already had a hay crew gathered up for July, and in the meantime there was lots of fencing to be done.

The three boys, Skeeter, Doug and Bill all slept in the bunk-house. There was a double bed that the two friends slept on, and Bill had a cot. It was a one-room shack, complete with a "path" which had an outhouse at the end of it. Shower facilities consisted of a 55-gallon barrel up in the rafters of the garage. If it was filled early in the morning, the summer sun warmed the water all day, and it was just right by evening.

Everything coasted along pretty good for a couple weeks. One night about midnight there was a knock on the door of our house. Dad put on his britches and went to see what was the problem. Bill was there looking sad and forlorn. Skeeter and Doug had got into a fight with each other and wouldn't sleep in the double bed together. They were both older and bigger than Bill, so kicked him out of his cot. Doug was sleeping on the cot, but Skeeter wouldn't let Bill sleep with him, his excuse being that Bill would never take a shower. Dad went down to settle the problem. Dad laid down the law that the cot belonged to Bill and the other two would have to figure out their own problems. At five o'clock the next morning, Dad went down to wake the troops for breakfast. Bill was sound asleep on the cot, and Skeeter and Doug were both slumbering in the double bed. Since they were mad at each other, they were each sleeping with their feet in the other fellow's face. Dad had to grin as he informed the rest of us about the deal.

Doug and Bill both fizzled out from the hard country way of life, and the two of them quit before haying ever started. Skeeter stayed for almost two years, and was good help and a hard worker.






Copyright © 2005 Steve Moreland
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