Reed Anthony, Cowman HTML version

XII. Clear Fork And Shenandoah
I arrived home in good time for the fall work. The first outfit relieved at Wichita
had instructions to begin, immediately on reaching the ranch, a general cow-hunt
for outside brands. It was possible that a few head might have escaped from the
Clear Fork range and returned to their old haunts, but these would bear a tally-
mark distinguishing them from any not gathered at the spring delivery. My regular
ranch hands looked after the three purchased brands adjoining our home range,
but an independent outfit had been working the past four months gathering strays
and remnants in localities where I had previously bought brands. They went as
far south as Comanche County and picked up nearly one hundred "Lazy L's,"
scoured the country where I had purchased the two brands in the spring of 1872,
and afterward confined themselves to ranges from which the outside cattle were
received that spring. They had made one delivery on the Clear Fork of seven
hundred head before my return, and were then away on a second cow-hunt.
On my reaching the ranch the first contingent of gathered cattle were under herd.
They were a rag-tag lot, many of them big steers, while much of the younger stuff
was clear of earmark or brand until after their arrival at the home corrals. The
ranch help herded them by day and penned them at night, but on the arrival of
the independent outfit with another contingent of fifteen hundred the first were
freed and the second put under herd. Counting both bunches, the strays
numbered nearly a thousand head, and cattle bearing no tally-mark fully as many
more, while the remainder were mavericks and would have paid the expenses of
the outfit for the past four months. I now had over thirty thousand cattle on the
Clear Fork, holding them in eleven brands, but decided thereafter to run all the
increase in the original "44." This rule had gone into effect the fall previous, and I
now proposed to run it on all calves branded. Never before had I felt the
necessity of increasing my holdings in land, but with the number of cattle on hand
it behooved me to possess a larger acreage of the Clear Fork valley. A surveyor
was accordingly sent for, and while the double outfit was branding the home calf
crop, I located on the west end of my range a strip of land ten miles long by five
wide. At the east end of my ranch another tract was located, five by ten miles,
running north and taking in all that country around the junction of the Clear Fork
with the mother Brazos. This gave me one hundred and fifty sections of land,
lying in the form of an immense Lazy L, and I felt that the expense was justified in
securing an ample range for my stock cattle.
My calf crop that fall ran a few over seven thousand head. They were good
northern Texas calves, and it would cost but a trifle to run them until they were
two-year-olds; and if demand continued in the upper country, some day a trail
herd of steers could easily be made up from their numbers. I was beginning to
feel rather proud of my land and cattle; the former had cost me but a small
outlay, while the latter were clear velvet, as I had sold thirty-five hundred from