These things I remember most vividly about being raised on the farm; the enormous love of my family. Surrounded by my parents, two grandmothers and one grandfather and one set of great-grandparents, it seemed that, surely, I, an only child, would be “spoiled too rotten to live.” Indeed, “Pa,” as I called Grandfather Alsup, often admonished Mother, “There’s no place on that boy for a stick.” More often than not his admonishment only led to a postponement of the inevitable punishment, and made it worse.
I remember the sweet smell of apples being picked, of cider flowing into a barrel, sheep bleating as they were sheared naked in the gangway of the barn to the whir-r-r of the hand driven machines; alfalfa hay perfuming the countryside; the shrill whine of the sawmill on a winter’s morning and hickory smoke curing our hams and bacon.
And I remember seeing the old ones grow older and more feeble, and seeing their glory in my youth and growing strength and manhood, until at last I was assisting them up the stairs at church, in and out of cars, and finally, caring for them in their death beds in the very home where I had been conceived, born and which they, in their tradition, left to dad, with the ultimate hope, I am sure, that his child and his son’s children should have it and prosper.
I learned of life and of death, and of the glory in God, and I swore I would continue what they started. Into high school, then, approaching the senior year; dad and I planned a fine dairy herd, for we had about 100 females, all registered and some imported, and the only thing, we thought, standing between us and success was that one “great” sire all stockmen long for but seldom get. Then came the biggest event in my life.
My vo-ag teacher, J. Darrel Cathey, told me, “My wife’s baby sister is coming to live with us this summer. Come up some night this week and help us entertain her.”
“Is she good looking?” I asked.
He smiled. “Come up and judge for yourself.”
Cows and grass were my life. I cared for girls not at all. But, because of my affection for “Mr. Cathey,” and my curiosity as to whether or not she was “good looking,” I accepted the invitation. I’ll always recall walking into his living room, sitting down and picking up a magazine and then of being conscious of someone else in the room. It was Mr. Cathey’s wife’s sister.
“I’m Helen,” she said.
And I don’t know what I said, for my life was transformed. Her brown hair lay in soft waves, her eyes glistened with life. The beauty of the female form before this had been hidden from my eyes. And I knew not 60 seconds after I met her that she was the girl who would be my wife. She must have known it, too, for ever thereafter there was an accord between us that superceded any spoken word.
A year and a month later, we went one night to the old Presbyterian manse at Cave Springs, where I had played as a boy and gone to church always, and were married.
There was a quaint apartment upstairs in my grandmother’s house – she was the only one left now, of the old ones, and dad lived nearby. On $2 a day we had, in those days, an old but capable coupe, decent clothing and we grew most of what we ate. Connie was born first, she of the yellow hair and deep eyes, and four years later there was Andy. Dolls and broken trucks, worn-over shoes and kneed-out overalls began to take their place in the attic with high-button shoes and old-fashioned hats, and a day spent there would span now, in memory, five generations.
Then, suddenly, I became aware that I, too, could possible grow old someday. That I was not succeeding as I wished to succeed. I’d seen “Pa” fight oaks and rocks, "Papa" fight Hessian fly and army worms and dad fight the depression and droughts of the 1930s. Now, dad and I found our herd decimated by Bang’s disease. We wound up with 13 cows carrying their calves and found ourselves on a really up-hill battle. But we began fighting.
Ten years later, we had licked it; but we had also missed out on some of the best income-producing years farmers had ever known as we built back the herd. And dad, who had had a couple of stints years before as a newspaperman and writer of books, novels and radio serials, decided to take a job in Texas with a chamber of commerce. I took over the old farm. And for the first time, I realized that awesome responsibility. Continued Next Issue
realized the awesome responsibility. There were no grandmothers or grandfathers or mothers or dads left to lean on. Instead, there were Helen and Connie and Andy, leaning on me.
But it was a challenge we adored. Adored, that is, until rain one year lost us 140 acres of oats and alfalfa and took with it all the financial backing we had for crops and operations; until a load of lambs dropped and fattened for the Easter market were stolen; until drought for five successive years took all the seed and fertilizer we had borrowed money for and gave us no return; and until, over a period of years, an “impossible” 73 bull calves in succession forever eliminated any hoped of building up our dairy herd.
It was November, 1953, when Helen said, “What are we going to do for Christmas money?”
I shook my head. “There isn’t going to be any.”
“Then,” she announced, “I’m going to Springfield to get a job.”
“No,” I said. “No Farmer woman has ever had to work. Their men have made the living.”
But no Farmer woman ever had the determination of this woman. She got her job, and we had our Christmas.
The drought continued. A little work with pencil and paper showed me where there was going to have to be a sale. But a look over fields that had been cleared by the family, at fences dad and Pa and Papa and I had worked together on, these things stirred in me. Instead of selling, I, too, got a job.
Perhaps the next few years were nightmares, working in Springfield 20 miles away (Helen continued to work, too), and getting up early enough to milk and staying up late to milk again, but they were worth it. Gradually debts were peeled away a respectable new worth showed up.
The, one day, I could no longer get up early enough to milk, and began to depend on hired help to do ti. Finally, I had to give up milking at night, too. And the pencil wouldn’t show a profit when the price of milk began to drop. Meanwhile, there were other things about the operation that were disturbing to me. There was a definite lack of vitality in our stock. Nearly every calf had to be helped to its feet and showed the teat for the first suckling, and nearly half were dying before weaning age. Furthermore, I was getting tired of rolling rocks over and over in a never-ending fight to produce enough feed.
I wanted cattle that would live without being pampered, and I wanted grass that would come up every springs, crowd out the weeds that were getting the best of me and withstand drought which, in our country, is more “normal” than we like to admit.
Meanwhile, however, fortune was smiling on us in another direction. I sold a couple of articles ot Capper’s Farmer, wrangled an assignment from Farm Quarterly on “We Raise Ponies,” and then got an assignment from Collier’s to go to the JA Ranch in the Texas Panhandle and do a story on “The Vanishing Cowboy.”
On the 250,000-acre JA, with its 10,000 head of Hereford cows, I got my first insight into cattle which had been bred for the range, on grasses which survived in desert-like conditions, and I was impressed. But I still didn’t connect them to my program. The following year, however, came another assignment from Farm Quarterly. I went to New Mexico with Photographer Joe Monroe to get a story subsequently published as “Judd McKnight Built a Sheep Empire.”
On Judd’s mountain ranch west of Roswell, I happened upon a clump of sideoats grama that caused me to marvel. It was growing in a most unlikely spot for anything to grow, in a crevice on a rocky bluff and in little more than a handful of soil, and I thought, “Anything that can grow with such vitality in such an adverse place deserves a better chance.” So I stripped off a handful of its seed to take back home and plant in my garden. Suddenly, I got an idea: Why not gather seeds from different plant and take them back home and start my own experiments? After all, the state university was, I thought, woefully lacking in grasslands research (and still is, unfortunately), and I might just discover a grass that would adapt itself to my conditions.
When I told Judd what I was doing, he nodded his approval. “What you need in your country is a grass that you can graze the year around, like in the range country. Then you would have the west beat, because you get enough rain to make it grow.” So every time I found a healthy bunch of black or blue gama, alkali sacaton, bluestem, Indaingrass, blue panic, or such, I’d strip off its seed, label it in a paper bag, and stow it in the trunk of my car until I got home. In Texas, as I returned home, I was attracted by weeping and sand lovegrass – and a tall, thrifty plant called, I learned, “sorghum almum.” Naturally, I got some seed from all. Back home, I planted these seeds in garden rows and, before sitting back to watch, ordered some Western, intermediate and crested wheatgrass seeds to try, also.
Meanwhile, my interest whetted, I began watching closely another development. It was the first year of the old Soil Bank, and I saw a man take the worst rundown field in Greene County, plow it up, lime it and bring up the fertility count, and plant fescue. Despite the progress of the Western grasses, they were mere shadows of the neighbor’s fescue, so, while I didn’t intend to plow up my experimental plot, I did determine to put together my entire farm in fescue, never again grow a row crop and not even to put up hay. I reasoned that I could devote what would have been hayland to cows, and use the profit from the cows to buy hay for the entire herd. My machinery would consist of one tractor, one mower, one wagon and a pull-type combine to get the seed off my fescue.
But where to get the money to renovate one acre, much less several hundred?
There was only one answer – the Soil Bank. Putting half the farm under contract, I began the renovation. The following year I used my soil bank check to put most of the rest of the place in fescue.
The Western grasses began, one by one, to “peter out.” The wheatgrasses flat died. Sideoats and blue gama grew meagerly but were not aggressive. Buffalo grass seemed adapted and spread beautifully, but obviously would not produce enough forage in a “small” country to justify itself. Sand lovegrass, while beautiful and tender, couldn’t hold its own with more aggressive weeds. Weeping lovegrass proved it would grow where nothing else would, but is leaves were tough as broomstraw, and I doubted that anything would eat it (I have since discovered differently, however,). Blue panic looking promised – but sorghum was always great. It made the most lush forage I ever saw. To test its palatability, I turned the cows into the garden patch. I was happy when they went directly to the sorghum almum. “This is it,” I said. “We’ve found the summer grass we want to go with the fescue for fall, winter and spring.”
No sooner had I said it than, boom! Down went three cows. Fortunately, I had the proper drug on hand and saved the cows with a shot in the jugular veins. While I was pumping the stuff in the veins, Andy was driving the other cows back into the lot. When the gate was shut, I yelled, “Get the tractor and plow up that damned stuff.”
(Today, eight years later, I am still fighting sorghum almum. Although it does not spread, it continues to grow where I first planted it. Perhaps I should have used it for a silage crop. What a boon it would be to have a perennial silage crop!)
Since we went in the Soil Bank for only five years, Helen and I began calling it our “Five-Year Plan.” At the end of the five years, we decided we would milk 50 cows, which, by that time, we would have raised. We would be virtually debt free and things should be as pretty as, well, as pretty as a field of fescue in January. We would quit our jobs and return to the farm.
Although I was disappointed with the price of milk, I was greatly encourage when Kennedy was elected president. “Jack will take care of us Democrats,” I thought, “and the price of milk will be good.” So we borrowed $4,000 to build a new walk-through milking parlor and milkhouse.
How wrong I had been. By the time the barn was finished in the fall of 1962, the price of milk was lower than ever. We had the cows, counting 20 bred heifers, that we had been counting on, and they were debt free. But I had had it.
“If I can’t get a reasonable price our of my product,” I told Helen, “the devil with it. I quit.”
I shut the doors on the new barn, never milked in it, and as the dairy cows began freshening, one by one, I left them in the pasture with the calves. The only trouble was, 15 percent of the calves couldn’t take the rich milk of the dairy cows, and so died. The rest, however, got terribly fat in a short time and I anticipated good prices.
What a disappointed it was when I took them to market. The milk fat dairy calves brought five cents a pound less than choice-bred beef calves. “Well,” I thought, “I can lick that. I’ll put a black bull on them.” The next year the vitality of the calves was improved somewhat; but not the price.
“The solution is simple,” Helen said. “We’ve got the right grass. Now just find the right cattle.’
“How about sheep?” I asked.
She shook her head. “You remember the ewes you brought back from New Mexico when you did the Judd McKnight story?”
“How could I forget?” I replied. “Paid six bucks a head plus a dollar for shipping. Sold $1,100 worth of lambs, $600 worth of wool and then sold the ewes for $12 a head, all in nine months time.”
“Yes,” Helen said, “but that’s not what I meant. How about the dogs.”
My heart sank. She was right. Out of 125 head (there had been 250 head in the shipment, which I had split with Rountree McMehen), dogs had killed us down to 93 ewes. “We still made lots of money,” I said.
Helen just looked at me, and I knew what she was thinking. We love animals. To see the ewes, heavy with lamb, mangled, gasping out their lives in a last gust of fang-torn throat, this was more than we could bear. We have no dog law in Missouri, and a farmer who kills a dog, and I killed a few, believe me, when I caught them in the sheep, is laying himself wide open for a libel suit.
That night, still kicking the thing around, Helen, Connie and Andy and I were in the den before the fireplace. Our thoughts were on the future program – the next “Five-Year Plan,” but we were silent. I glanced around the walls… Helen and I had paneled them with knotty pine bought out of the last good corn crop we’d raised before the droughts. Hanging on the wall were paintings dad had done, paintings of Texas ranch scenes of space, brassy sky, horses and the caprock country. My eye wandered to another picture – a huge photograph of dad, taken when he was 18 years old. He was holding a massive Hereford bull named Repeater 7th Model. Faded ribbons under the glass attested the fact that “Pete” was first place senior yearling at the 1917 Missouri State Fair and The American Royal. The picture reminded me of a snapshot in the family album. It was of the big old barn “Papa” built, with great letters on the south side proclaiming, “Farmer and Son Herefords.”
“You know,” I mused, “We have been raising the wrong kind of cattle. Like this, for instance. We have a weak calf, so to raise her, we bring her into the house, if we have to, and feed her by hand, pamper her and shoot her full of drugs. Then we shelter and feed her for the rest of her life, and we have to take care of her calves exactly the same way. Some of them don’t live, even at that.
“So we are compounding the original weakness. That’s what we have done, generation after generation in our registered cattle and in cattle raised in farming country. Take old Pete, there. He was a whale of a bull, but I remember dad saying they hauled a Holstein cow around to the fairs and he was still nursing when he was 18 months old.”
Helen asked, “Remember your trip to the JA Ranch?”
“Yeah,” I said. “The mistake I made was in not using the check I got for that story to buy a bunch of Monte Ritchie’s heifer calves. They were dirt cheap that year. Seems like he sold a bunch of heifers for $35 a head.”
“How do they manage cattle on a huge ranch like that?” Helen asked. “If we lose as many calves as we do, it looks like they would lose all of the calves born on the range.”
“My eye,” I said. “Those cattle are bred up from the original Longhorns on the Great Plains. They are tough. Only the fittest survive.”
Only the fittest survive. The phrase ran through my mind again and again. Suddenly, I jumped up and ran to the telephone.
“What on earth?” Helen asked.
“Operator,” I said, “give me the number of Monte Ritchie at the JA Ranch in Clarendon, Texas.”
Within minutes, I had Monte Ritchie on the line and said, “Monte, I want 100 of your old cows. I want to raise one crop of calves and keep the heifers for brood cows.”
Monte said, “Frank, I am sorry. We are shipping now but I don’t have any place to hold the cows as I cull them out for a period of days while I gather them to fill a contract.”
I hung up, momentarily disappointed. Then, something stirred in the back of my mind. I hauled my copy of the Farm Quarterly’s “The Good Life” off the mantle, turned to page 111 and a story titles, “Texas Cattle Man.” It had been written, I recalled, by Grant Cannon, photographed by Fred Knoop.
The story, as I had remembered it, was centered abound the Pitchfork Land and Cattle Company between Gutherie and Dickens, Texas. A 176,000 acre “reputation” ranch and one of the oldest ranches in Texas, the Pitchfork “was put together and the brand was established by Powers and Savage about 10 years after the Civil War and was taken over by D. B. Gardner and Eugene F. Williams of St. Louis in 1882, “the story reminded me. After re-reading the story, I looked long and hard at the pictures. Two things in particular interested me: No. 1, a group of cows milling in a corral, and I liked their quality. No. 2, the picture of the ranch manager, D. Burns, seated at his desk, a quizzical smile on his cherubic face. And, as I looked at D. Burns’ picture I recalled my first thoughts the years before when I first read the story and looked at the picture. “There,” I had said, “is an honest man.”
I returned to the telephone. “Operator,” I said, “get me Mr. D. Burns, Pitchfork Ranch, Guthrie, Texas.”
In due time, a woman’s voice said, “Pitchfork Ranch.”
“D. Burns, please,” the operator said.
“I’m sorry,” the woman said, “but Mr. Burns is at the Flagg Ranch in Wyoming,” and she gave the number. The Flagg Ranch, I was to learn, was a 32,000 acre extension of the Pitchfork where yearlings are shipped for fattening.
D. Burns, with his Texas drawl, came to the phone, and I introduced myself and told him what I wanted. “I’ll sell you some cows,” he said. “We’ll be shippin’ early in November.”
“How much,” I asked. “will you take for 100 gold old cows in calf?”
“One hundred and thirty a head,” he said.
“Mr. Burns, I will see you on the 5th day of November. Good night.”
That day dawned bright and clear in the Texas Panhandle. The first rays of day caught my father and I southbound. Dad lives in Memphis, about 100 miles north of Guthrie, and we’d left Helen at dad’s. Connie and Andy had stayed home to tend the farm.
The air was stinking from cotton defoliant from the time we left Memphis until we reached Matador. Then the cotton country gave way to long swells of ranch country covered with shinnery. Finally, the shinnery country broke up and we hit mesquite and buffalo grass country. At Dickens, we turned east and at 8 a.m. sharp, pulled up in front of the office at Pitchfork headquarters.
D. Burns, looking no a day over 50 but nearing 70, stepped to the door. He stood six feet tall, about 180 pounds, dressed in high-heeled boots, twill pants and jacket. The crown of his Stetson was soiled from sweat and dust.
“So you are Mr. Farmer,” he said. “Welcome to the Pitchfork.” He shook my hand, and dad’s, then introduced us to a big, jovial man at a typewriter in an office cluttered with saddles and bridles, chaps and spurs and two big, framed topographical maps of the ranch. “Meet Jim Humphreys,” D. Burns said. “He’s assistant manager.”
Shortly, Dad and I were in D.’s big car, tooling across Pitchfork pastures. As we drove, D. Burns said, “How did you hear about us?”
“Read a story in Farm Quarterly,” I said, “and saw your picture. I thought you looked honest and decided to do business with you.” D. Burns blue eyes twinkled. “Shoot,” he said, “I’ll cheat you out of your eye balls.”
I chuckled, knowing I hadn’t been wrong. I explained my theory on cattle, the pampering and compounding of weak genes, the belief that range cattle were products of survival of the fittest.
“You are about half right,” he said. “Take these Pitchfork cows, for instance. Take a cow calving. If you put a cowboy in a pasture to help her, she sees him and runs through the brush. He chases her half a day trying to catch her to help her have a calf and by now he’s done more harm than good. So under range conditions, you let nature take care of them”
“Then by that theory,” I said, “all cows that are prone to have trouble calving have died out and have not propagated their weakness?”
D. nodded, “Basically, that’s right. Of course, you’ll always run into the individual where trouble crops up again. But it’s not as frequent as with farm-raised cows.”
“By the way,” I asked, “what does D. stand for?”
“Douglas,” he said. “But I don’t like it. Just call me D.”
We looked at Pitchfork bull calves from the registered herd which furnishes bulls for the commercial herd of some 5,000 cows. We looked at the registered cows, and the impressive battery of bulls for them. We saw Pitchfork conception-to-market swine operation where 125 prime hogs are marketed weekly, at an extensive farming operation were forage for calves is raised, at Quarter mares and colts and stallions. We looked at a great portion of the 400 miles of fence on the Pitchfork, but we had not looked at a cow I could buy.
“When,” I asked, “are you going to show me some cows I can buy?”
Dad laughed. “D.’s a salesman, son. He’s making your mouth water so you won’t be able to turn them down when you see them.”
D. Burns’ eyes smiled again. “I just wanted you to know the background of the cattle I’m going to show you. If you want to get into the cow business to stay, you should know this.”
By now it was time for dinner. We went back to the enormous farm house where D. and Mrs. Burns had lived for 30 years, and where they had raised their family. During roast beef (naturally) dinner, D. told of the ranch history and of the trip years before by Grant Cannon and Fred Knoop. “These boys came down and asked to take some pictures,” he said, “and I told them it was fine. Then they left, saying they were going to see some more working ranches, and a couple days later they were back.
“’Mr. Burns,’ they said, ‘We can’t find any other honest-to-gosh cow ranches. The rest of them are supported by oil or something. How about us doing our story here?’
“I told them we had a hard-luck outfit, not an oil well on the place, and it was fine to do the story. They were nice boys, but they were here in a mighty tough time. I sent 1700 mother cows to market to save the grass.”
Soon we were back in the car, this time en route to see some cows I could buy. They had strapping calves by their sides, calving whose conformation rivaled some seen in the show ring. “Here,” D. Burns said, “are the cows you can have. They will average about 900 pounds at shipping time. See the year brand on them? There can’t be any doubt about their ages.”
“How about pregnancy?”
D. pointed out several cows obviously springing. “I think I can pick you out 100 cows and you will get 90 calves. Or it will cost you $1 a head for a test.”
“No we didn’t calfhood vaccinate until 1954. These cows were born before that.”
“D.,” I said, “You pick me out 100 cows like these, and forget the pregnancy test. And send me four good old bulls.”
“All right,” he said. “The bulls will cost you $250, just about what they would weigh out.”
Thus ended a pleasant day; and marked the beginning of a new era on our home place. Back home, Helen and I worked our jobs in the day and prepared for the delivery of the cows at night and on weekends. Andy, of course, was 15, and a great help; Connie was in college, a sophomore, and had taken the ring of a 225-pound (he’s great at driving fence posts) football player named Sam Winn. All of us pitching in shaped up the place in a hurry for our “survival-of-the-fittest cows.”
Two things we must have, I knew, were a study loading chute and corral with head gate. Taking no chance on building anything flimsy, Sam, Andy and I felled big oak logs, 24 feet long, to make the chute and corral. It was hard work, but when we finished, we know no wild range cow would escape.
The cows came Thanksgiving Day, 12 hours late since state troopers had nabbed the truckers for a PSC violation. Missouri is notoriously hard on out-state truckers, much to the detriment of interstate commerce. We unloaded at night, and I knew we were in for an adventurous time; for when we turned the cows into the lot, they stampeded to a head – and stopped, miraculously, right at the fence.
“Thank God they respect a fence,” I breathed. I had visions of them scattering all over the Ozarks.
The most pure delight I ever received on the farm was the day I turned the Pitchfork cows onto the fescue. And, after gnawing at the short buffalo grass, they must have thought they were in cow heaven. They developed a most peculiar grazing pattern; with all four feet planted firmly, they ate the grass in a circle the size of a washtub, right to the ground. The pastures became dotted with these grazed-out circles.
Another curious thing became evident – the cows stampeded at sight of anyone on foot and a horseman would cause them to hit for the brush. But they soon learned that the pickup truck horn meant “Vittles,” and here they would come running. On Dec. 20, sleet hit, and the temperature fell to 17 above zero. I rushed home from work to find Andy anxiously awaiting me. “We’ve got a new calf,” he said.
I gulped. I hadn’t expected any calves yet, and hoped to get into February, when we usually have a warm spell, before any were born. I recalled that sleet and 17 degrees meant instant death for the calves of our other breed – and probably would mean death for a calf of any breed.
“We got to get her in,” I said. So off we went, to find the calf covered with sleet and about the coldest-looking animal I ever saw. We bedded her – it was a heifer – down in the barn and, fortunately, her mother was one of the more gentle cows, and she went into the barn without too much difficulty. Actually, once we got her behind the oak logs, there wasn’t much else she could do.
Subsequently, more calves were born, but not in weather so severe, nor to cows as gentle as the first. Still, I couldn’t get out of the habit of trying to barn the cows; I was going directly against the program I had sought to inaugurate. So, gritting my teeth, I made myself leave the cattle alone.
And then came this blizzard, this night of cold nights when I knew I would lose calves, and maybe, cows.
Suddenly, sitting before this fireplace and going through this reflection, I got an idea. I’d call D. Burns and see what he would tell me to do. I ran to the phone and soon heard D.’s voice. “D.,” I shouted. I’d been raised on the old-time crank partyline phone and never got over shouting on one. “D., I’m in trouble. Zero weather and snow and cows calving. What should I do?”
Came that soft chuckle. “Got a good warm fire in house?” he asked.
“Sure,” I said.
“Then,” D. Burns, cowman extraordinary, advised, “go to bed and forget about your cows.”
I haven’t learned much in my life. But I have learned to take the advice of experts. I went to bed. The next morning, I saddled old Buck and rode to the ravine. During the night the snow and wind had stopped, but the temperature settled deep in my bones.”
The first thing I saw as I neared the ravine was the herd, fanned out and nosing for fescue buried in the snow. A few bitten-off tufts indicated they had found it. The dozen or so early calves, milk foam bubbling on their noses, romped together in the snow like lambs.
“So far, so good,” I said. But I wondered what I might fined in the ravine.
The sight I saw warmed my insides and sent fleeing forever any doubt that I hadn’t bought “survival-of-the-fittest cows.” Three mother cows, gaunt but bright-eyed, stood guard over new calves, each of them lying curled up on a bed of grass gouged out of the snow, little puffs of steam coming from their pink nostrils. I dismounted and nudged one to its feet, and felt the distended belly. They had dropped, they got up, they suckled.
More important, they had confirmed that, at last, I had made a “right” decision, and they gave me hope that I, too, could survive in the cold world of modern agriculture by borrowing, from the past, on the supreme law of nature, survival of the fittest.
The old cows are gone now, hamburgered, much to my regret, with one exception. We’ll keep her as a reminder of our “Great Adventure,” to remind me that those cows had character, each and every one of them. They fought me every step, charged me if I got close to their calves; but 100 old cows dropped 90 live calves, and we raised every one of them. The only sick one we had was the first one – the one we took into the barn to “protect.”
The steers, 50 of them, marketed at an average of 793 pounds, 24 cents; the heifers are bred to a registered bull, and will calve in the spring of 1966. Other things are changing, too. D. Burns retired this year, to live with Mrs. Burns in Lubbock. Jim Humpreys is manager of the Pitchfork now, and his wife, Bernice, the matriarch. Our Connie and Sam are married, and he is a second lieutenant in the Army. Andy is a high school senior, looking forward to college and law school.
Last fall, Helen, Andy and Dad and I went back to the Picthfork and got 100 heifer calves to add to the first 40, and now, on the home place, we are plugging away on the next Five-Year Plan. We are cow crazy.