Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Grandpa was a cowboy. Not the kind you see in movies that go around shooting each other. Technically those are gunslingers. But Grandpa rode the range and herded the cattle. He was out there for weeks at a time. Civilization was too far away to stop in town every once in a while. It was a 2 day ride by horse. Horse was the only transportation available unless you wanted to ride shank's mare. That means walking to you tenderfeet.
Grandpa loved the animals. He especially loved horses but all animals were special to him. He always had a dog too. Occasionally Grandpa would be the cowboy chosen to go to town for supplies or maybe to just see people who weren't looking after cattle.
As I said it was a two day trip. Often Grandpa would stop and stay with an Indian tribe for the night. They always welcomed him. Besides letting him sleep there the Native Americans fed him. One time there was a delicious stew that he ate with gusto. He asked what kind of stew it was. They said it was made with snake meat. He was a bit taken aback but thought he dealt with it well.
Another time he stopped and there was stew again. It tasted different from the snake stew. They told him it was made using horse meat. Now Grandpa loved horses. They were special to him. However he reasoned that not everyone felt the same. And after all there would be a lot of meat there. The whole tribe could eat a nice healthy meal. He hated it but he dealt with it.
Another trip to town saw him stopping again. He hoped they weren't serving horse because he loved horses. He even asked and was assured that horse was not on the menu. After a delicious meal he once again asked what they had eaten. It was dog. Grandpa never stopped again. He just could not deal with eating man's best friend.
Even before that Grandpa would often just ride all night to get back to the herd. It was beautiful out under the stars. And a cowboy doesn't mind being alone out there. It is what he does all the time.
One night he saw two glowing eyes with the creature behind them waiting to attack him. Grandpa was not afraid. He carefully lifted his rifle from its carrier, aimed, and fired. He aimed between those two glowing eyes and shot the creature right where he aimed.
It was a bobcat. Grandpa had it stuffed. The taxidermist put it in a ferocious pose. It looked ready to leap right then and there. Its mouth was open in a snarling growl. That thing sat at the top of the stairs of the attic. I was terrified. It looked so real.
When it came the time that Grandpa decided to become a family man he quit being a cowboy. He went home to the farm his father had left him to marry and raise his children.