Chicken Coop Chatter©
This year was our Father's 100th birthday, however he did not live a long life. He passed away when Bro was still a teenager. He had a very hard and often very lonely life. He was born in Prairie City, Oregon, just a little town, to a very young mother. Her father, our Great Grandfather owned a ranch, and had 9 daughters, and 2 sons. There were a number of hired hands, but since our Great Grandmother had passed in her mid 40s from a brain aneurysm, he was left to raise his daughters on his own. Our Great Grandfather had his hands full.
After our grandmother married and started her own life; our father lived with her and his Father until he was 12 years old; when his mother passed away at the age of 26 from blood poisoning. That left our grandfather with two sons to raise. He was a sheep rancher/herder, and unable to care for the two sons, so he made arrangements for other family members to care for the two boys. The Boys were separated and sent to different families. Our father was sent to live with his father's brother, our Great Uncle Jim whom also owned a ranch in the Beulah, Oregon area.
Our dad learned roping, riding, training and ranching from his uncle and when he was a young man, this uncle "verbally" deeded him a share of the ranch and of the livestock. So daddy continued to work the ranch, driving cattle to Winnemucca Nevada, and to other Railroad heads in Oregon, Idaho and Nevada. These cattle drives were many grueling miles of sweating heat, dust, wind, bitter cold depending on the season. Our dad was a true born cowboy of the west. He road broncs in rodeos, trained broncs on the ranch and had been kicked in the face and drug through sagebrush more than once.
Well as fate plays a hand sometimes, the "gentlemen's handshake" of the day fell through when Uncle Jim married late in his life to an old school marm; a "mail-order bride". She had entirely different ideas about the ranch, and that agreement established between our father and his uncle was broken. That meant our father had to find another means of work. He worked on some other ranches for a time, but as a hired hand, he wasn't making enough money to support his growing family since he now was married and had small children to support. The year I was born, he found a job as a truck driver and continued his employment with this same trucking firm until the day he passed away. By the time he found the driving job, he had already fathered 6 children; and would be 7 with me on the way.
Through the years he did buy farming land which we were raised on, but to make enough money, it meant he had to continue driving and leave the farming in the hands of our mother and of his children. To make a better living in truck driving he opted for long haul, which meant being gone for lengthy periods of time. And eventually he was transferred to Montana, which meant selling the farm and packing up the family to move. He gave up his dream of ranching and farming to make a living. By the time he was transferred to Montana, Bro and I had the soil in our blood and soul and bore the blisters of the toil, so our formative years engrained in us the value of farming and ranching and being self-reliant, which we continue to this day.
I share this story with you today in honor of our father. A hard working, honorable man. His life spanned, the wagon days, the work horses that plowed the fields (one of ours was named *Barnie Google Eyes* after an early childhood character that our older sister adored), to the motorized vehicles, tractors, early bi-planes, to passenger jets, to the first rocket launched to the moon. He'd lived through the time of two world wars, Korean and Vietnam wars, through the depression and in fact worked for a time for the Three Cs. an organization to put people to work building the infrastructure of our country during the depression. When we think about that span of years, it's almost impossible to believe the progress of this country during our own parents lifetime, and the hardships they endured while raising a slew of kids. But we were taught some of the most important things in life about helping others, being self-reliant, having honorable morals and values that have carried us through our lives and have passed along to our own children as they are passing them along to theirs.
Daddy has been gone many years now, I still miss him terribly, but maybe this little story in some way offers a tribute of appreciation for all he went through in his short lifetime. We love you!
(NOTE: The ranch still exists with many of the original fences and corrals. The old ranch house is gone, but the house our parents and sis lived in while he worked the ranch still currently stands, but is destined to be torn down and reconstructed to another location. Prairie city is still a little old western town, and many of the old historic buildings still stand including an old-fashioned General Mercantile, with Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone trophy game mounts to view. The backdrop to the city is the Strawberry Mountains, that turn shades of Crimson, Gold, Purple and Blue. The area is still known for ranching, where you will still see some cattle drives and real working cowboys. Prairie City is along the main highway through the eastern section of Oregon that is rich in pioneer history.)
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