Read CHAPTER V of Fred Fearnot's New Ranch and How He and Terry Managed It , free online book, by Hal Standish, on ReadCentral.com.

Evelyn on the new ranch.

Two young ladies at Crabtree offered to go down to the ranch with Evelyn, but she suggested to them to wait until she first found out whether the new home was one to which she would like to invite them.

“If the place is such that I can offer you comfort, I will notify you, without delay,” so they remained behind at the hotel.

The driver then started off down the road at a clipping pace. Terry had hired a splendid team, and the driver understood well how to manage the beautiful horses.

The dirt road ran all the way down in sight of the railroad. They passed many beautiful suburban residences during the first three or four miles, after which they passed farmhouses and then the road stretched white and straight over the wide prairies.

Terry had directed that Evelyn’s two trunks be sent down by freight. Evelyn enjoyed the ride very much.

“Brother,” said she, “the grass seems to be greener and richer down through this country than up in Colorado.”

“Yes, and so it is, else we wouldn’t have bought down here. We have some advantages here that we didn’t have up there. There we had to drive our cattle and receive our freight twenty miles away; but now the railroad runs right along beside us, and the depot is on our side of the track. Jack’s ranch borders the road on the other side. The company has laid side tracks for each ranch, and built a good depot. I think, in the course of time, we’ll have a far more beautiful home down here than we had up in Colorado. Of course, though, Fred has told you all about the magnificent mineral spring a mile from the railroad and on the ranch.”

“Yes, both of you have told me all about it.”

“Well, Fred thinks it best to build a residence right down there near the spring in order that we may have the use of the water and some large shade trees in the yard.”

“Terry, isn’t there any building there now?”

“No, the only buildings we have now are merely four-room frame buildings for the men on the place, and we have fixed up one of them for our home until we build a larger and better house down near the spring. There isn’t a particle of swamp about it; but there is plenty of good solid earth all around it. Of course, we can cut a splendid road from the depot down to it. We will build stables and all the necessary out-houses down there, too, and will fence it in, so that the cattle cannot annoy the residents of the place. There isn’t a passenger depot built yet, and passenger trains don’t even stop there, unless they are flagged by the freight agent.”

The road passed through several patches of timber and wide stretches of prairie land presenting scenery that Evelyn loved and admired very much. The splendid team made the trip in a little over two hours, a distance of twenty miles.

“You see that big building going up out there?” said Terry, pointing to Jack’s new home.

“Yes.”

“Well, that is the new house that Jack is building for his mother and his wife. It has a dozen large rooms in it.”

“Well, what in the world does he want with such a big house away out here?” Evelyn asked.

“Well, it is the first house he ever owned, and he says he wants it roomy enough for his wife’s and mother’s friends to come down and stay as long as they please, as it will cost him nothing to board them. I guess that Fred and I will build a house just as big as that.”

“Terry, you and Fred must not indulge in any such extravagance.”

“Sister, don’t you know that comfort is not extravagance?” The driver had never been out there before, so he turned and asked Terry where he must stop.

“Right in front of that house out there,” and he pointed to the house which he and Fred had furnished for their home until a big house could be put up.

Both Fred and Jack were on the lookout for them. Evelyn saw them waving their hats and she waved her parasol in return. They reached the house about the time that the carriage did, and of course, as Fred lifted her out of the carriage he caught Evelyn in his arms and kissed her several times. Jack seized her hand and kissed it, saying:

“Heavens, Miss Evelyn, but I am glad to see you way down here.”

“Thank you, Jack,” said Evelyn.

Then she turned and glanced around at the wild prairies on either side of the railroad track.

“Evelyn,” said Fred, “come in and see the little home we have fixed up for you,” and he led her up on the little piazza and into the two rooms that had been furnished up for her.

Of course, she recognized the carpet, because she had chosen it herself up in Crabtree, and also every piece of furniture.

“Oh, my, how beautiful!” she exclaimed. “But how out of place such furniture in a ranch house! I dare say there is not another so beautifully furnished as this is in the State of Texas.”

“No,” said Fred, “nor is there another house in all Texas with such a beautiful mistress to reign over it.”

She laughed and seemed pleased with the compliment.

As soon as she could throw off her hat and light coat she said:

“Now, Fred, let me see the kitchen and the dining-room.”

“All right. This leads into the dining-room,” so she went in there and seemed equally pleased with its furnishings and then she looked into the china closet and found two complete sets of china dishes.

Then she went into the kitchen, where Fred and Terry had set up a first-class range to take the place of the wide-open fireplace which Jack had been using. The carpenters had built a splendid closet for all the cooking utensils. There were all the necessary tables and chairs there in the kitchen. She went to the sink and, turning the faucet, saw a splendid flow of water.

“Why, where in the world does this water come from?” she asked, very much surprised.

“Oh, that is one of Jack’s ideas,” replied Fred. “While we were away he got permission from the superintendent of the railroad to run a pipe from the railroad company’s tank, some three hundred yards away, and thus provided for a supply of water for household purposes as well as a bathroom. Those are New York ideas which he brought out here with him, and people who have visited the premises wondered what the Yankee boy was up to. Of course the water isn’t for drinking purposes, for he has a driven well out in the yard, and the water is very good; but still it is not like that down at the spring.”

She turned around and patting Jack on the shoulder said:

“Jack, were you thinking of your mother or of Katy when you were fixing up all these comforts?”

“Of both, Miss Evelyn,” he answered, “for mother is as fond of comforts as any other woman. She does her own cooking, and I am having water pipes run from the same source into our house.”

“By and by,” he continued, “I’m going to see if I can’t find artesian water somewhere on the premises, and have it running through the house all the time.”

“Good boy! Good boy!” laughed Evelyn. “Now, brother tells me that you have pigs and chickens and milch-cows on the place, and I want to see them at once.”

Terry and Fred and Jack went out with her. They first went to the big stable, saw the saddle and carriage horses that they had bought, and she was pleased with their appearance.

“Evelyn, here are a pair of grays,” said Fred, “which Terry and I say belong to you and Mary, and we hope you will love them as much and train them as you did those up at Fredonia.”

“Oh, my. That is work for me, but I am glad of it. Have they good dispositions?”

“Yes, the stable-man says that they are kind and gentle and very susceptible to kind treatment.”

From the big stable they emerged into the big barn lot, passed through a gate in a division fence, and saw a big flock of chickens. There were about one hundred of the little things, all like little balls of down, following clucking mother hens all over the place.

Evelyn went into such expressions of delight at seeing a splendid flock that made the boys smile.

“Haven’t you any turkeys?” she asked.

“Not one,” said Jack. “All the cowboys told me that the turkeys would go off and find such an abundant supply of things to eat that they can’t be kept at home. But we have ducks and geese, which are kept over in another lot.”

“Then they passed through another gate, where Evelyn saw a row of cow-sheds, and a half dozen splendid looking Jersey cows.

“Oh, my,” she cried. “I never saw such fat, beautiful milch-cows in my life.”

Jack ran up to two of the cows and put his arms around their necks, patted their faces and noses, and the mild-eyed beauties seemed to enjoy the petting.

“Fred, where in the world did you and brother find Jersey cows way down this way?”

“Oh, we found them on some ranches on the line of the railroad further back east. We paid a pretty good price for them, too. Down here the ranchmen don’t seem to understand the value of the Jersey cow; so when we offered them a price that seemed the least bit extravagant, they readily parted with them. We are going to get more of them, for milk and butter sell readily all along the line of the road; but we don’t sell any buttermilk, though, for we let the little pigs have that, and the little chickens, too. Jack had an experienced man to build a dairy house in the latest approved style.

“Jack, is there any buttermilk in the dairy house now?” he asked.

“I don’t know, sir; but I’ll go and inquire.” So he went to the dairyman who had charge of the cows and the dairy house and found out that he had about half a barrel of buttermilk, just a little bit sour.

“Then have him bring several bucketfuls out to the little pigs.”

The dairyman brought two big pails full of the buttermilk and poured it into a big sheet-iron receptacle, circular in form and about four inches deep. The little pigs came running up to the gate, crying like little pigs do when they smell food, and the gate was opened to let them get at it, and every one, of course, stuck his nose into the buttermilk clear up to his eyes, and they drank and pushed against each other until their stomachs actually looked swollen.

Evelyn stood and looked on, her eyes fairly sparkling with delight. She picked up several of the little fellows, who seemed to be used to being handled. They behaved, of course, like all little pet pigs.

“Oh, what a sight!” she exclaimed. “How I do wish mother could see it.”

“And Mary, too,” added Terry.

“Yes, for she, too, is very fond of pigs and chickens, and milch cows.”

When the little pigs couldn’t drink any more buttermilk they were driven back into the lot where the sows were, and then the big pans were shoved in so that the sows could drink the balance. Then they showed Evelyn where the ducks and geese were kept.

“Why in the world don’t you let them run out and graze? Don’t you know that ducks and geese live on grass just like cows and horses?”

“Yes, but we haven’t arranged for that yet. These ducks and geese were bought by Jack, while we were up in New York and there is such a wide range that he has been afraid, to turn them out to go where they please. Then, the coyotes, too, are very fond of ducks and geese. A chicken can rise on the wing and get away, but fat ducks and geese can be caught before they can flap their wings three times. We will gradually build a wire mesh fence and turn them out so they will be protected from the coyotes and foxes.”

After that Evelyn took a look at the dairy house. It had been built in first-class style by an experienced dairyman, and was large enough to manage the products of fifty cows if necessary, and Fred made the remark that he hoped to some day have that many Jersey cows on hand.

“Sister,” put in Terry, “it won’t cost a dollar a month more out here to keep a dozen milch cows than it would cost to keep a half dozen, for they can feed on the grass all day long, and at the present season the grass is very full of milk, and there are two of these cows whose yield of milk is so abundant that it is necessary to milk them at noon.”

“Brother,” she asked, “how is the grass in the winter? Does it dry up and turn brown like the grass in Colorado?”

“Yes, I believe it does; but the winters down here are at least two months shorter then they are up in Colorado. We expect to cut several hundred tons of hay while it is yet young and fresh and full of milk, and feed that to the milch cows during the winter. The beef cattle on the range can keep fat on the dry grass like those on all ranches do.”

“Well, I’m glad to hear that,” replied Evelyn, “for by that means you will have the abundant supply of milk that you are now getting.”

She inspected every part of the dairy, particularly the arrangement for keeping all of the utensils perfectly clean.

Then she returned to the house, when Fred invited her to come out to the store.

“Why, goodness gracious!” she exclaimed. “Have you a store out here?”

“Yes; that building out there fronting on the wagon road is the store, and it does a particularly good business with the ranchmen who drive along the road.”

“Well, well, well! What do you keep on sale there?”

“Oh, we’ve got an experienced salesman, who was raised in the business. He sells everything in the dry goods line and groceries and patent medicines. Of course, the dry goods are only such as ranchmen and farmers’ wives need. If you want silks and fancy ribbons you would have to drive to Crabtree. Drummers come along nearly every day with samples of goods their employers have for sale, so if you want anything different from what we have in the store, you can order it through them.”

“Well, I want to go in there and see the stock,” so she went over with the boys, and Terry introduced her to the storekeeper as his sister. He was a single man, so he stared at her in open-eyed wonder, as she was perhaps the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life. She found that there was a little of almost everything that was kept in a country store. There was very little fancy goods, however, to be had there.

While they were in the store a two-horse wagon drove up and stopped in front of the store. The wagon was driven by an old farmer, who had with him his wife and two daughters. Fred and Terry ran out of the store to help the ladies out of the wagon.

“Mrs. Jones.” said Terry, “I am really glad that you have come. My sister arrived to-day, and you are the first neighbor that she will meet.”

“Oh, my! Is she going to live here on the ranch?”

“Yes, until she gets tired of it. Then she will run up and stop at the hotel at Crabtree for a change. But she is of a domestic turn, and as we intend to have everything that can be raised on a ranch, we think that she will be satisfied to stay.”

He was well acquainted with Mrs. Jones and her husband as well as the two daughters, so he led the women into the store, where he introduced them to Evelyn by name.

The girls were about fifteen and eighteen rears of age, respectively, and as Evelyn shook hands with them and welcomed them, they stared at her as though she were a royal personage.

“Girls,” said she, addressing the two daughters, “this is the first time I was ever on this ranch. Brother and Mr. Fearnot owned a ranch up in Colorado, and there was no other ranch like it in all that state. I am very fond of domestic life. They have a big flock of chickens, ducks and geese and a splendid dairy-house, where they make fine butter and give the buttermilk to the pigs. I have just been over the place to see them, and I am as happy as the youngest pig on the place,” and she laughed so merrily that the girls forgot that she was a stranger and laughed heartily with her, but her dress was so much better than that which they wore that they actually felt awed as they looked her over.

“Mrs. Jones,” she said, turning to the mother, “how far is it from this place to your home?”

“Oh, it’s fully ten miles. We are running a farm, not a ranch; but I don’t know what to make of your brother and Mr. Fearnot raising pigs and chickens and making butter for sale on a ranch. I never heard of such things being done on a ranch before.”

“Oh, brother and Mr. Fearnot believe in raising everything that can pick a living on the big ranch. There are now a thousand beef cattle on the ranch, and it costs nothing but the hire of the cowboys to raise them.”

“Oh, yes, I know that. But I never heard of chickens and geese and ducks and pigs being raised on a ranch before.”

“Well, they will probably have a hundred milch cows soon, for it doesn’t cost any more to keep them than it does to keep the beef cattle.”