The Progression of a Puncher - By Bailey Anderson

The Progression of a Puncher - by Bailey Anderson                                   

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it many times again—growing up on a ranch is the absolute best way a person can be raised. This is my personal timeline, but it’s one I am betting several of my friends can relate to. 

 

  1. It started with a pillow. Kev would prop a pillow between her and the swells of a saddle, plop me down on top of it, and trot off with the crew. When I got tired, she would lay me across that pillow and let me nap it out. There have been several times in my adult life where I could’ve used that pillow, honestly. 

  2. I moved on to real ranching—on my noble steed Charlie Brown. He was about 11 hands high, thick-necked, and the ranchiest outfit a 4 year old could hope for. Kev was still leading me along at this point, but she had the saddlebags full of snacks and frozen water bottles. So it wasn’t like I was going anywhere, regardless. 

  3. Once I was about 5 or 6, I figured I could make it through a drive without Goldfish, so I was ready to strike out on my own. By this point, I had my second noble steed—Charlie Dunn. He was also about 11 hands, a touch younger than my previous ride, and had a little more action to him. To help the process, Kev strapped walkie talkies on us. Each kid had one, as well as Pa. This was the golden age of working cattle for me. You see, I was big enough to make my own drive, but I still got the inside. I was also young enough to be able to use my walkie talkie to communicate with my next man, but I was old enough to know exactly where the power button was for when Pa was yelling at me to ride up. 

  4. Pretty soon, my responsibilities on the ranch increased. I was finally getting a paycheck—$20 for a full day’s work. I was riding normal sized horses, I was making bigger drives, I was giving vaccines, among other things. However, what really made me walk tall in my Justin boots that I’d won mutton busting was when Pa taught me to pull a trailer. He had some cattle on wheat about 20 minutes from headquarters, and sometimes he just needed a second trailer and driver. I was next in the lineup. We had a pretty good deal going until that small town camaraderie backfired on us. Pa and I were trucking along down Highway 180 with two full trailer loads one day, when we happened to pass a high school classmate of my sister’s. It didn’t take long for a few phone calls to reach Kev’s ear that her daughter was illegally hauling horses down a major highway, and it was an even shorter amount of time before Pa’s bag phone rang with a scolding. I was 9 at the time. 

  5. After that, Pa really went to using us for cheap labor. He about had all of us at the age where we were decent help, but he was still only paying us $40 a day. One day, we were gathering the largest and roughest pasture on the OBs. Since it was just us three kids and Dad, we had to make two drives in it. We were all sitting at the pickup after the first drive eating some peanut butter crackers and all drinking out of the same water bottle when the infamous bag phone rang again. It was Kev wondering where her children were and who was going to eat the lunch she’d cooked. Pa responded, “Well, we still have half a pasture to go.”

 

After that, the progression gets less comedic, but I will always be thankful for those early years. They taught me to appreciate a good nap, appreciate a good snack, and appreciate a good horse. 

 

 

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