Unexpected Memories

Unexpected Memories 


Rusty Fleming 

I have been known to have my mind wander away somewhere in the past and briefly (sometimes) have a remembrance of an even from yester-year. Such is the case here when I gathered up some of these happenings and thoughts and splattered ‘em on paper. 


When memories blast into the forefront of the past, in an unstoppable manner, the vision of the past is always 20/20. For instance, when I was in high school, my English teacher approached me one day and gently asked if I might know anyone that could start two or three 2 year old colts for her husband,,, I was one of the very few in that high school that dressed in a non-town type manner, so maybe she thought I mighta been “one of those”,,,later to learn her husband was a rancher, part time farmer and part owner in a pawn shop and bail bond service. I perked up because this was a totally unexpected question coming from ,, what, are you serious,,an ENGLISH teacher?,, and the way she asked the question, she had more background than just a mere run-of-the mill high school instructor. I had no option but to say, Yes ma’am, I do,,, or maybe it was, Yes, I can,,, then I asked her what the deal was,,,,she gave me her husbands phone number,,, and then it dawned on me, I knew the last name of him and her,,,and connected it with them being real people,,,not just town business kind of folks. This was a made to order after-school project, just suited to me, since I was town-bound 4.5 days per week, the remaining 2.5 days spent at my dad’s and his partners ranch a mere 160 miles away. Way too far to commute daily,,, of course.


The husband/owner of the colts, and I came to terms, and he was going to deliver three colts to a friend’s pens near town. Part of the deal was I fed and watered the colts and they were mine to be made for him.


The colts were kinda broke to lead, but sharp minded, attentive youngsters, ready for schooling.

So all started and went well for a couple weeks, these colts were pretty light headed, sensible and really didn’t have much inclination to buck. I was riding them in a hackamore and really enjoying the whole deal. I was acquainted with a girl, that owned her own horse, was in the 4-H Horse Club, and mentioned to her I was making these three colts. She was sure interested to watch and I was sure interested in letting her. After school, I drove to the pens, caught the remuda, tied them all to the fence, and started fooling with them. Saddled the first one, led him a few feet, he was comfy, I tightened up, stepped on board and we rode around for 30 or 45 minutes, couldn’t be better. I saw her drive up and she was watching while I rode to the fence, stepped down, slipped the halter on him, unsaddled, and headed to Numero Dos. That’s what I called them, numeros Uno, Dos and Tres. Untied numero Dos, led him around a bit, brushed at him, blanket, saddle, tighten up, lead around in a circled or three, both ways, no hesitation, no hump, cheek him easily and step on board,,,,,all is well,,, we walk and turn both ways,,,then I ease Dos into a trot,,, and it’s going so well, I guess I hurried him along, but it felt good thru the first stride and before really thinking this thru, I stood up in my oxbows and like being on cue, Dos humped up, bowed up, one silly jump and I was bucked off,,, over his head, had done the classic three-quarter gainer, out and over the dashboard and gravitate to the ground, flat on my back, hack reins in my hand ,,, and Dos snorting, blowing rollers and looking pretty spooked at me on the ground,,, I rolled over - got up and girl, my audience, gasped and said in a very concerned voice said “You okay ???”,,,,,I said yeah, gathered up Dos and started over,,, after treating him fairly, at his pace, all went well, never offered to hump again,,, after watching for a while, most all of it boring, she said she probably should go, I got off Dos, haltered him, tied him up and said, thanks for coming,,,she looked sheepishly at me and said, “That’s the first time I ever saw anybody bucked off, and it scared me”.  I didn’t comment except to thank her for coming and see you tomorrow at school. Certainly wasn’t a first time for me. 


Numero Tres was no trouble, but I knew better, I knew better,, don’t rush those colts,,,biggest lesson learned was ,,, the girl wasn’t near as knowledgeable as I had thought, even though she did own her own horse. I wasn’t bucked off, I was POOTED off,,,PUPPED off,,,FARTED off,,,,as yall know, there IS a difference. After that, as years rolled by, I got rather proficient at it,,,,getting bucked off that is,,,




I was always bitten, incurably so, by the roping bug,,,,it all started from the time I was 5 or 6, in the shearing pen and roped a fresh shorn grown rambouillet buck sheep by one horn, I had seen grandad and other old guys, rope something and then throw their hip at him,,, meaning they did a hiplock with the rope to stop the runaway whatever it was they roped,, well, I did the same but being unable to mock all that them old men did, I tied hard and fast around my waste,,,and soon as I had the buck sheep roped I did the Cossack drag around that rocky pen before that buck shed my loop and run off. The shearing crew noticed there was a short term wreck underway, but it didn’t last long,,, not enough to officially shut down the shearing operation. It seemed odd after things returned to normal, all them shearers, grinned and chuckled everytime they saw me around the shearing shed that day,,, one of ‘em finally said, “you never turned loose your rope, that was good”,,, great grandad, grandad and my dad didn’t seem to find much humor in it,,, I guess they mighta had a clue my affair with ropes had just begun,,,


I remember muchos years ago,  Freida Kincaid got stopped in town by a Carlsbad city policeman, because her brake lights were faulty,as in NOT working,,, she told the officer she didn’t know that had happened, but that the dam-med kid goats had most likely chewed the taillight wires in two,,,,,, the cop gave her a ticket,,, and away she went,,, fuming,,,,, couple of days later, this city officer was telling this story to a New Mexico State Trooper, as law enforcement guys are prone to do, as in, the best “excuse” heard recently regarding traffic violations,,, and in this case, the state trooper, who was acquainted with the Kincaid’s, who had a substantial flock of hair goats in the Guadalupe Mountains, Angora’s to be exact, and the fact that the patriarch of the Kincaid’s, Noel, was the Justice of the Peace at Nickle Creek Station, and all the NM state officers were well acquainted with the neighboring Texas DPS troopers AND the Honorable Judge Noel Kincaid, the state cop said, she was telling the truth, that they, the Kincaid’s, had goats, lotsa goats, and that Freida’s situation was not uncommon,,,, the city cop look startled, and surprised, I guess ‘cause he wasn’t aware of the destructive nature of small livestock, also known as kid goats,,,,and the damage they can inflict on anything that was within their range of their hooves, and mouths complete with really sharp teeth and their propensity to hop aboard, jump upon and chew on any and everything in sight,,,, so the state cop had educated the city cop in the sense they considered that a “legitimate” excuse for failed tail lights, brake lights and / or failed turn signals,,,, I never did hear how Freida’s traffic ticket turned out as I had forgotten about this til Carl Lane shared his tale about kid goats dancing a goat-jig on the roof of a brand new car,,,,,,,, Freida’s case may have been “thrown out of court”,,, at least to me that would have been the gentlemanly thing to do,,,,


If you’re gonna raise goats, or have them around, one factor you can always bet on is,,,goats are destructive, and there is a mean streak in them,,,and you never know when it will activate,,,


A-10 Etcheverry, the renowned cowboy cartoonist told me about a guy, muy cowboy type and wilder’n a buck deer, who’s on a ranch in central west New Mexico, and doesn’t make it to town often, doesn’t need to and doesn’t want to,,, but he’s married and there are times when one’s own personal wants and desires take a back seat to maintain good standing with one’s mate and one must make some effort at cleaning up, maybe, and going to town to accomplish whatever task is at hand, get it all over with and get back to the country. On this particular day, the countryfied pair were in the largest town in New Mexico, and I am sure our hero was tolerating the situation as well as possible, when wifey says, “There, let’s have lunch there”, in a nice appearing fine dining establishment. Now if you hadn’t been in New Mexico much, we’re talking about pre-covid when the world was rotating on a more normal axis, but chile in New Mexico is more than a staple, New Mexico revolves and exists because of chile,,, two types, red and green. I’m not talking about chili con carne, the dish, I mean the chile, as in the pepper,,, but plural,,,chiles, lots and lots of chiles,,,, on everything, with everything. So the couple is shown to a table, a well dressed and manicured waiter comes to the table bearing menus and two glasses of water. He leaves and then returns to take their order. The lady orders first, then the ranchy guy orders something really nice,,,, like the house special  enchiladas covered up with lots of green chile, and says ”,,,, oh yeah, bring me a piece of cheese”. The waiter stood there mulling this around in his head trying to figure out exactly what type of cheese for the gentleman,,, and finally asked which particular variety of cheese he would prefer as the selection of cheeses available was vast.

The cowguy look at the waiter and said ”Yellow”. They held a stare at each other for a few seconds before the waiter wisely turned and headed to the kitchen. I presume the selection made in the kitchen was adequate or this story would be longer. Makes me wonder how many other cheeses were actually available that day.




At times I think back on my buddy Mike Capron,,,,,,Mike and his wife, Anne and I go back to about 1970. One thought that comes to mind is how resourceful Mike is,,,his resourcefulness  comes from near poverty working conditions on hard rock ranches , without knowing that at this point in our lives we were living below the nationally recognized poverty levels, but we didn’t know it, nor care,,,,we were cowboys and that’s all that mattered,,,,,wisdom comes after resourcefulness, wisdom coming from superior intelligence mixed with experiences of life that include an eclectic array of horses, good, and not so good (Mike is a perpetual optimist),,,he survived a contract  fencing crew job in Australia, many challenging equines and Viet Nam,,,,after surviving these adventures (tip of the iceberg so to speak),,,,,Mike is the SUPREME optimist, he’s still alive and has been blessed with an outstandingly wonderful wife, two great and talented children, and grandkids and his children’s extended family and friends,,,Mike has led a blessed life,,,,,,,They could have named a social club after him, but we already had one,,,,cowboys, if you were one,  you knew it,,,,,,,,,if you weren’t one, the real ones tolerated you because everyone needs to be somewhere and the real ones always have a need for cannon fodder around a ranch. Mike has always been astounded with painting, he has that ability to put paint on a brush, then brush the paint on a piece of canvas, and if you’re there watching, you’d get tingles from anticipation of what he is about to create. He doesn’t need paint, I have seen him create his masterpieces with a #2 pencil, or a Sharpie marker. You can almost feel the energy as it originates between his ears to his eyes down thru his shoulder, then into his arm and it oozes out his fingertips imprinting a substance onto a surface,,, It’s art, and it’s his art, I can recognize his art as far away as I can begin to make out the subject, and I’m proud he is my friend. When I look at one of Mike’s works, I can see the subject, and the longer I look, the more I see,,,and then after taking all of this in, a feeling takes over,,, many times like I might be just out of his picture, but feeling I was there,,,I don’t know anybody that does that better. Keep it up amigo, we still have some ground to cover. 

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