Wells Brothers HTML version
Harvest On The Range
Joel set out for the Republican the next morning and was gone four days. The beef
ranches along the river had no men to spare, but constant inquiry was rewarded by
locating an outfit whose holdings consisted of stock cattle. Three men were secured, their
services not being urgently required on the home ranch until the fall branding, leaving
only a cook and horse wrangler to be secured. Inquiry at Culbertson located a
homesteader and his boy, anxious for work, and the two were engaged.
"They're to report here on the 15th," said Joel, on his return. "It gives us six men in the
saddle, and we can get out the first shipment with that number. The cook and wrangler
may be a little green at first, but they're willing, and that masters any task. We'll have to
be patient with them--we were all beginners once. Any man who ever wrestled with a
homestead ought to be able to cook."
"Yes, indeed," admitted Sargent. "There's nothing develops a man like settling up a new
country. It brings out every latent quality. In the West you can almost tell a man's native
heath by his ability to use baling wire, hickory withes, or rawhide."
The instinct of cattle is reliable in selecting their own range. Within a week, depending
on the degree of maturity, the herd, with unerring nutrient results, turns from one species
of grass to another. The double-wintered cattle naturally returned to their former range;
but in order to quicken the work, any beeves of that class found below were drifted above
headquarters. It was a distinct advantage to leave the herd undisturbed, and with the first
shipment drifted to one end of the range, a small round-up or two would catch all
The engaged men arrived on the appointed date. The cook and wrangler were initiated
into their respective duties at once. The wagon was equipped for the trail, vicious horses
were gentled, and an ample mount allotted to the extra men. The latter were delighted
over the saddle stock, and mounted to satisfy every desire, no task daunted their numbers.
Sargent was recognized as foreman; but as the work was fully understood, the concerted
efforts of all relieved him of any concern, except in arranging the details. The ranch had
fallen heir to a complete camp kit, with the new wagon, and with a single day's
preparations, the shipping outfit stood ready to move on an hour's notice.
It was no random statement, on the part of the solicitor, that Wells Brothers could choose
the day on which to market their beef. Sargent had figured out the time, either forced or
leisurely, to execute a shipment, and was rather impatient to try out the outfit in actual
"Suppose we break in the outfit," he suggested, "by taking a little swing around the range.
It will gentle the horses, instruct the cook and wrangler, and give us all a touch of the real