After The Holidays......Continue to Enjoy

  After the Holidays……….Just Continue to Enjoy ……..!!


        Rusty Fleming 


If you ever wonder’d why lots of my reflections from the past start off,,’many moons past’, ‘lots of years ago’,,,, ‘once upon a time’,,,,’way back when’  etc etc etc,  it’s cause it WAS,,, and it’s ‘cause I’m OLDER, ,,,every day seems I’m older than I used to be,, but hey, I’m still here,,, and even though there’s a few things I have to overlook, those things being side-effects of being elden,,,yes, that’s a word, and I could care less if Funk ‘n’ Wagnalls don’t agree, I’m the one writing this and I say, it’s a word,,, there,,, you gotta have some years on ya to remember Funk ‘n’ Wagnalls. When younger, (see, there I go again) my mother, rest her soul, decided I might not be quite as worldly, plenty cowy, but not too much in favor of being worldly beyond my horizons of horses, cows, sheep, goats, border collies, hounds, traps, snares, and trap baits. So this one day, at the house in town, a knock at the door resulted in a book peddler, he was invited in and he and mom conversed,,, and before he departed, he had extracted $100 from dear old mom, a healthy sum of money in those days of the early ‘60’s,,,,,with the promise to expect by postal service, there WAS no FedEx nor DHL or UPS back then,,,but by Postman, a complete set of World Book Encyclopedias,,, I can tell some of yall younger ones are gonna be Googling,,, but they didn’t deliver to our place,,, nooooo, the much anticipated arrival (by my mom, not by me) the arrival of all the worlds knowledge,  it was at the post office,,,, so me and mom saddled up her Pontiac and off to the postal mail place we go,,,and took delivery on a fairly large cardboard box,,,full of knowledge,,,I guess,,,and I trudged without dropping, this box outside to the trunk of the Pontiac, knowing that once home, we could open the box and pack the pieces inside a few at a time easier than toting the whole box again,,, it was easy to put it IN the trunk, but not sure if I was horse enuff at 12 or 13 to lift it OUT of the trunk,,,mom was surprised I could carry that much as far as I did,,, that night dad asked if that box was heavy and I said I guessed about a  $1-dollar a pound,,, I wudn’t far off,,,,,so far I hadn’t been excessively impressed with moms purchase, I appreciated her motives, loved her for her good intentions, but not always her methods. Part of the deal with the purchase “in full” was an annual supplemental volume, at no extra charge for 10 years, updating what had happened in the previous 12 months or so, mas o menos.  A lot they thought ‘they’ knew back then huh. Best I remember, each volume was 2 1/2 inches to 3 inches thick, then each annual addition of the additional annual supplementation of wisdom grew bigger every year til they reached 4 inches wide,,, in a year,,, just ONE year !!! 


I really cain’t tell you much about that collection of knowledge, ‘cause I don’t remember putting much wear and tear on those hardback bound works of intelligence. Except when my dad would sneak in some off the wall comment about some totally unnecessary unrelated subject like,,,”Button, can you tell me that guys name that got assassinated in Saraukranianeckistan a couple hundred years or so ago”, forcing me to pull one of those excessively dusty and heavy books down off the shelf, and having to conduct quickie research to prove his hard-earned $100 investment was well worth it and paying off. Mom was a meticulously minded housekeeper, but I noted she never dusted off those World Books’, now I know why,,, monitoring their us, or a lack thereof,,, in a stealthy motherly way. Some years later, mother shed the family of the dammed things for $10 bucks at some neighbor’s garage/yard sale,,,, they were already over-obsolete by then, but hey, they’d’a made a lot of branding fire kindling if used properly, but were entirely too smooth slick surfaced paper to be of any real use in the outhouse at the ranch, even though I thought the entire set AND the annual supplemental volumes all belong’d there, and not necessarily to be read there,,, the only time I voluntarily reached for reference was about reloading rifle shells,,, not a word, not one word of useful info in this World(ly) Book regarding how many grains of Hornady Smokeless powder was recommended for a .270 round. And that pretty well ended my thoughts of value concerning mom’s purchase. Oh I forgot,, there was one other time, when I knocked the dust off of the “S” volume,,, the books were alphabetically labeled,,,,,you know, A, B, C, D etc etc etc,,, I pulled down the “S” one, and again, terribly disappointed that when I went to the topic of SADDLE, not one word to help my query resolved of why them old men rode center fire riggin’s and had slick nickel plated horns,,,,and why was Sears & Roebuck one of the largest saddle sales outlets, when they didn’t post the saddle makers name.

So much for my World Book quest for wisdom,,, oh yeah, and horseshoes and tying up back legs and hobbling one to apply iron on a bronc was another scantily explained subject, not to mention the difference in shearing sheep VS shearing hair goats,,, looking back I think what I learned was not to get overly dependent on books smarts cause what you learned was already outdated,,, thus the eventual evolving of Windows 11,,, and Google and Apple and and and,,, well look where we are today,,,smart phones not to be excluded,,,,well I guess I could say,,,nah, I ain’t gonna say it,,, I’d get banned from writing stuff down for Mike and Tales,,, not to mention the speech police, displaying their ignorance of written history, whom might be prone to arrest a guy for saying ,,,,,,“Look THAT up in your Funk and Wagnalls”. When dear ol’ mom recovered her 10% of original purchase price at the yard sale, I had to admit, yep, there’s wisdom in them there books,,,,share the wisdom,,, with others,,, finally gone,,,


Christmas is lingering in the air,,,, always happens like this,,, before during after,,, it’s a progression,,,, also involving shopping opening recovery,,,, once again I reach back into my cranial archives and a Christmas TIME happening comes to mind,,, we were cowboys,,, cowboys have friends that are also cowboys,,, cowboys live with several unwritten unrecorded rules codes unspoken oaths,,, and without the blink of an eye,,,should one cowboy be in need of anything, such as skilled assistance, performed by skilled assistANTS, sometimes the use of the words ‘skills’ and ‘cowboys’ don’t seem to fit in the same sentence but I challenge you to alert me to any other pastime of occupation that has any more “onboard skill-sets” than a cowboy has,,,,,, the list is long and I ain’t gonna name em all, cause I cain’t,,, I’d sure leave a bunch of skills out,,, plumber, electrician, welder, parameter boundary installation, animal nutritionist of multiple species, culinary engineer, professional gourmet (everybody eats to live, therefore I consider that a skill), beverage consumption expert, beverage analyst, welder, cement finisher, rock layer, brick mason, animal submission applicator of multiple species, advice consultant, animal and human psychologist and psychiatrists, father, mother (yes the are mom cowboys), brother sister aunt unkle, grampaw, granny,,,feeds distributor ,,, the list of a cowboys’ skill set are endless,,, lest I forget, heavy equipment operator, truck driver, fixer of faulty tires,,,on and on and,,,, even know a few that’s been county and district judges, attorneys, bankers, legal counselors, accountants, and even a few county commissionors,,, potash and hard rock miners, and at all times, regardless of cost of inconvenience, one cowboy calls for assistance,,, the requestor had respondees,,, such is the following shown to be,,, I know,,, I was there,,, 

Big Joe Hood and family had a fair sized ranch east and some south of Whites City, NM,,, year round,,, running 350 pair, along with yearlin’s and bulls,,,,round it off at 400 head, mas o menos, and if memory serves, Joe was county commissioner about  then, and his then wife, Daphine, not a real country oriented member of the gender, was zero’d in on a rapidly approaching Christmas time ,,,and her focus was on town Christmas activity, a mere 25 miles away from the ranch, which coincided with numerous Christmas parties to be attended by a variety of folks,,,,Joe needed to make a pretty big cow gather, and consummate and coordinate the annual re-location of bovine occupants from the ranches, to winter grazing on the Hood family alfalfa farms west of Black River, 22 to 25 miles away, mas o menos. So Joe calls all his buds and all but two (of us) have pre-existing conditions and or plans,,, that left Jim Donley and I, BUT we know the country, the cows are gather broke, t’wern’t like gathering wilder ones, and with Big Joe’s help we can gather and throw ‘em all in the shipping/horse trap, prior to the re-location effort, in a short 3 or 4 days, if all went well. The weather was great, sunshiney days, not much wind, no brutal cold spells, chilly in the early hours, but it was gonna work. One drawback Jim and I didn’t figure on was Joe’s wife.  She was coercing him to attend all the holiday affairs in town, she wudn’t one to turn down an invite, damn sure not because of a cow gathering,,,,,they were attending one, maybe two parties nightly, and not only was she ticked off at Joe for calling up a cow work at that untimely part of the HER year, resulting in poor Joe being horseback with us every day after having been partying  hardedely all those nights long. He was exhausted AND hungover and SHE wasn’t about to fix us breakfast or anything else,,, 

It seems anger in a woman radiates in large diameters,,,like the ripple effect of a rock throwed into a dirt tank,,,,no one nor nobody is exempt from such wrath. First day the gather went pretty well, cows seemed ready to move to better pickings, and maybe some even remembered the drill from the year before,,,,2nd day arrival at the Joe headquarters, saddled and chap’d up, it was dark in the house, Jim drives up and see’s my pickup with sideboards already there and my horse tied to it, but no me,,,, so he whistles kinda low,,, and I said I’m over here,,,,don’t think we’re gonna get breakfast,,, we’d both coffee’d before leaving our respective camps, his on the northern outskirts of Carlsbad and mine 30 someodd miles southwest of Joe’s place at our place, but we hadn’t snacked or eat anything cause it was normal for the host(s) to feed free labor. BUT. Jim whistled and I said I’m in the front yard  crawling around on my hands and knees in the yard rustling pecans off the ground,,,,I filled my leggin’s and coat pockets with nuts, and told Jim I’d share with him throughout the days gather,,, I think he muttered a ‘no thanks’,,,but I didn’t ask for clarification. One thing Joe did was provide us generous amounts of sipping whiskey to carry with us in case we had a fainting spell and to stave off hunger pains,,, Later in the day I loped over to Jim and offered a handful of pecans,,,he accepted the snackable edibles and we scattered, went back to gathering,, I repeated this harvest sharing several times over the next couple of days,,,, this was the same year Joe and his brother Ralph decided to truck the herd to the farm instead of driving them,,,, the drive usually took 2 to 3 days, but trucking them could be done in half a day,,,and a few old timey single deck cow transport units were still in use, way back then,,,that was the same year their old green F-600 died, after being loaded, being the first truck in this parade,,,,as Ralph, Joe’s older brother, pulled away from the loading chute, it was uphill from the loading chute, when ol’ Greenie, with several hundred thousands of miles hauling hay and road salt, DIED,,, total heart failure maybe 200 feet from the loading chute,,,,nothing to do but back down to the chute with a dead engine and offload,,,, being downhill and in neutral with fading brakes, the single deck trailer hit the loading chute harder than usual resulting in all the cattle sliding to the back,,,,, a single deck of stacked up tightly packed cow brutes,,, and all that weight on the exit gate that had to be RASIED to open,,,,One fat heifer yearling was the first to tumble out as we finally got the gate open, very dead. The rest of the load had to attempt leaping over the carcass cause a severe traffic jam at the chute,,,they finally all made it out and somebody got a horse and drug the yearling out of the way, and out of the pens,,,,someone else fired up a tractor and drug ol’ Greenie away from the chute,,, and we reloaded the next bovine transport and the relocation process began. The herd got moved, were later grazing contentedly on alfalfa fields, and Joe and wife, attended the last few remaining holiday festivities. Some years later we were reflecting back on this and other ventures, when Jim, always being a serious thinker, said  ” I’ll never again look down at a lowly pecan the way I used to”.

Enjoy the holidays, stay safe and warmed,,,and hey, remember, the days get longer now,,,

RF 12-21-22 

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