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CATTLE RANCHING IN ARIZONA

My health seemed to have reached a more serious condition than imagined; and so on the advice of my friends, but with much regret, I decided to henceforth cast my lot in a more bracing climate. Having no profession, and hating trade in any form, the choice was limited and confined to live stock or crop farming of one kind or another.

Accordingly, after six months at home and on complete recovery of health, I took my way to the United States of America, first to Lemars in Iowa, where was a well-known colony of Britishers, said Britishers consisting almost entirely of the gentlemen class, some with much money, some with little, none of them with much knowledge of practical business life or affairs, all of them with the idea of social superiority over the natives, which they very foolishly showed. Sport, not work, occupied their whole time and attention. Altogether it seemed that this was no place for one who had to push his fortunes. The climate, too, seemed to be far from agreeable, in summer being very hot, in winter very cold; so, with another man, I decided to go further west and south, to the sheep and cattle country of New Mexico; not that I had any knowledge of sheep or cattle, hardly knowing the one from the other; but the nature of Ranch life (Ranch with a big R) and the romance attaching to it had much to do with my determination.

Arrived in New Mexico I went to live with a sheepman a practical sheepman from Australia to study the industry and see how I liked it. In the neighbourhood was a cattle ranch and a lot of cowboys. I saw much of their life, and was so attracted by it that the sheep proposition was finally abandoned as unsuitable. Still, I was very undecided, knew little of the ways of the country and still less of the cattle business. I moved to the small town of Las Vegas, then about the western end of the Santa Fe railroad. Here I stayed six months, making acquaintances and listening to others’ experiences.

Las Vegas was then a true frontier town. It was “booming,” full of life and all kinds of people, money plentiful, saloons, gambling-dens and dance-halls “wide open.” Real Estate was moving freely, prices advancing, speculation rife, and I caught the infection! A few successful deals gave me courage and tempted me further. I became a real gambler. On some deals I made tremendous profits. I even owned a saloon and gambling-hall, which paid me a huge rental and gave me my drinks free! The world looked “easy.”

Not content with Las Vegas, I followed the road to Albuquerque and Socorro, had some deals there and spent my evenings playing poker, faro and monte with the best and “toughest” of them. Santa Fe, the capital, was then as much a “hell” as Las Vegas.

Let me try to describe one of these gambling resorts. A long, low room, probably a saloon, with the pretentious bar in front; tables on either side of the room, and an eager group round each one, the game being roulette, faro, highball, poker, crapps or monte. The dealers, or professional gamblers, are easily distinguished. Their dress consists invariably of a well-laundered “biled” (white) shirt, huge diamond stud in front, no collar or tie, perhaps a silk handkerchief tied loosely round the neck, and an open unbuttoned waistcoat. They are necessarily cool, wide-awake, self-possessed men. All in this room are chewing tobacco and distributing the results freely on the floor. Now and then the dealers call for drinks all round, perhaps to keep the company together and encourage play. But poker, the royal game, the best of all gambling games, is generally played in a retired room, where quietness and some privacy are secured. Mere idlers and “bums” are not wanted around; perhaps the room is a little cleaner, but the floor is littered, if the game has lasted long, with dozens of already used and abandoned packs of cards. At Las Vegas the majority of the players were cowboys and cattlemen; at Socorro miners and prospectors; at Albuquerque all kinds; at Santa Fe politicians and officials and Mexicans, but Chinamen, always a few Chinamen, everywhere; and what varied types of men one rubs shoulders with! The cowpunchers, probably pretty well “loaded” (tipsy), the “prominent” lawyer, the horny-handed miner, the inscrutable “John”; the scout, or frontier man, with hair long as a woman’s; the half-breed Mexican or greaser elbowing a don of pure Castilian blood; the men all “packing” guns (six-shooters), some in the pocket, some displayed openly. The dealer, of course, has his lying handy under the table; but shooting scrapes are rare. If there is any trouble it will be settled somewhere else afterwards.

But things took a turn; slackness, then actual depression in Real Estate values set in, and oh! how quickly. Like many others, I got scared and hastened to “get out.” It was almost too late, not quite. On cleaning up, my financial position was just about the same as at the beginning of the campaign. It was a lesson, a valuable experience; but I admit that Real Estate speculation threw a glamour over me that still remains. It is the way to wealth for the man who knows how to go about it.

About this time two Englishmen arrived in Las Vegas, and we soon got acquainted. One could easily see that they were not tenderfeet. On the contrary, they appeared to be shrewd, practical men of affairs. They had been cattle ranching up north for some years, had a good knowledge of the business, and were “good fellows.” They had come south to look out a cattle ranch and continue in the business. They wanted a little more capital, which seemed my opportunity, and the upshot was that we formed a partnership, for good or for ill, which lasted for many years (over twelve), but which was never financially successful. Considering my entire ignorance of cattle affairs, and having abounding confidence in my two partners, I agreed to leave the entire control and management in their hands.

It was about this time (1883) that I was fortunate enough to meet at Fort Sumner the then great Western celebrity, “Billy the Kid.” Billy was a young cowboy who started wrong by using his gun on some trivial occasion. Like all, or at least many, young fellows of his age he wanted to appear a “bad man.” One shooting scrape led to another; he became an outlaw; cattle troubles, and finally the Lincoln County War, in which he took a leading part, gave him every opportunity for his now murdering propensities, so that soon the tally of his victims amounted to some twenty-five lives. The Lincoln County New Mexico “War,” in which it is believed that first to last over 200 men were killed, was purely a cattleman’s war, but the most terrible and bloody that ever took place in the West. New Mexico was at that time probably the most lawless country in the world.

Only a month after my meeting Billy in Fort Sumner he was killed there, not in his “boots,” but in his stockings, by Sheriff Pat Garret. He was shot practically in his bed and given no “show.” His age when killed was only twenty-three years. There were afterwards many other “kids” emulous of Billy’s renown, because of which, and their youthfulness, they were always the most dangerous of men.

Our senior partner, not satisfied with New Mexico, went out to Arizona for a look round, liked the prospect, and decided to locate there, so we moved out accordingly. Arizona (Arida Zona) was at this time a practically new and unoccupied territory; that is, though there were a few Mexicans, a few Mormons and a great many Indians, a few sheep and fewer cattle, it could not be called a settled country, and most of the grazing land was in a virgin state.

My partner had bought out a Mexican’s rights, his cattle, water-claims, ranches, etc., located at the Cienega in Apache county, near the head-waters of the Little Colorado River. To close the deal part payment in advance had to be made; and to ensure promptness the paper was given to my care to be delivered to the seller as quickly as possible. Accordingly I travelled by train to the nearest railroad point, Holbrook, found an army ambulance about to convey the commanding officer to Camp Apache, and he was good enough to allow me to accompany him part of the way. It was a great advantage to me, as otherwise there was no conveyance, nor had I a horse or any means of getting to the ranch, about eighty miles. Judging from the colonel’s armed guard and the fact of travelling at night, it occurred to me that something was wrong, and on questioning him he told me that he would not take any “chances,” that the Apaches were “out” on the war-path, but that they never attacked in the dark. This lent more interest to the trip, though it was interesting enough to me simply to see the nature of the country where we had decided to make our home. We got through all right. Next morning I hired a horse and reached the ranch the same day.

As this was to be our country for many years to come, it will be well to describe its physical features, etc. Arizona, of course, is a huge territory, some 400 by 350 miles. It embraces pure unadulterated desert regions in the west; a large forest tract in the centre; the rest has a semi-arid character, short, scattering grass all over it; to the eye of a stranger a dreary and desolate region! The east central part, where we were, has a general elevation of 4000 to 6000 feet above sea-level, so that the fierce summer heat is tempered to some extent, especially after sundown. In winter there were snowstorms and severe cold, but the snow did not lie long, except in the mountains, where it reached a depth of several feet.

The Little Colorado River (Colorado Chiquito), an affluent of the Greater River, had its headquarters in the mountains, south of our ranch. It was a small stream, bright and clear, and full of speckled trout in its upper part; lower down most of the time dry; at other times a flood of red muddy water, or a succession of small, shallow pools of a boggy, quicksandy nature, that ultimately cost us many thousands of cattle. The western boundary of Arizona is the Big Colorado River. Where the Santa Fe railroad crosses it at the Needles is one of the hottest places in North America. In summer the temperature runs up to as high as 120 degrees Fahr., and I have even heard it asserted to go to 125 degrees in the shade; and I cannot doubt it, as even on our own ranch the thermometer often recorded 110 degrees; that at an elevation of 4000 feet, whereas the Needles’ elevation above sea-level is only a few hundreds. At Jacobabad, India, the greatest heat recorded is 126 degrees, and at Kashan, in Persia, a month August averaged 127 degrees, supposed to be the hottest place on earth.

Above the Needles begins or ends the very wonderful Grand Canon, extending north for 270 miles, its depth in places being as much as 6000 feet, and that at certain points almost precipitously. The wonderful colouring of the rocks, combined with the overpowering grandeur of it, make it one of the most impressive and unique sights of the world.

Now, stop and think what that is 2000 yards! say a mile; and imagine the effect on a stranger when he first approaches it, which he will generally do without warning nothing, absolutely nothing, to indicate the presence of this wonderful gorge till he arrives at its very brink. Its aspect is always changing according to the hour of day, the period of the year, the atmospheric conditions. The air is dry and bracing at all times; and as pure, clear and free from dust or germs as probably can be found anywhere on earth. The panorama may be described as “wunderschoen.” Anyone of sensibility will sit on the rock-rim for hours, possibly days, in dumb contemplation of the beauty and immensity. No one has yet, not even the most eloquent writer, been quite able to express his feelings and sentiments, though many have attempted to do so in the hotel register; some of the greatest poets and thinkers admitting in a few lines their utter inability. Our Colorado Chiquito in its lower parts has an equally romantic aspect.

Close to our ranch was another of Nature’s wonders, a petrified forest, quite unique in that the exposed tree trunks are solid masses of agate, chalcedony, jasper, opal and other silicate crystals, the variety of whose colouring, with their natural brilliancy, makes a wonderfully beautiful combination. These trees are supposed to have been the Norfolk Island pine, a tree now extinct, are of large dimensions, all prostrate, lying in no particular order, and all broken up into large or smaller sections. Many carloads have been removed and shipped to Eastern factories, where the sections are sawn through and polished, and the most lovely table tops, etc., imaginable produced. One must beware of rattlesnakes when prowling about these “ruins.”

To complete the physical description of Arizona territory something must be said of the pine-clad mountain range to the south of us. The bulk of this area constituted the Apache Indian Reservation. It was reserved for these Indians as a hunting-ground as well as a home. No one else was allowed to settle within its boundaries, or graze their sheep or cattle there. It was truly a hunter’s paradise, being largely covered with forest trees, broken here and there by open parks and glades and meadow lands, drained by streams of clear cool water, which combining, produced a few considerable-sized rivers, “hotching” with trout, unsophisticated and so simple in their natures that it seemed a positive shame to take advantage of them. These mountains were the haunt of the elk, the big-horned sheep, black-and white-tailed deer, grizzly, cinnamon, silver tip, and brown and black bears; the porcupine, racoon and beaver; also the prong-horned antelope, though it is more of a plains country animal. But more of this some other time.

The Apache Indians (Apache is not their proper name, but Tinneh; the former was given to them by the Mexicans and signifies “enemy”) were and are the most dreaded of all the redskin tribes. They always have been warlike and perhaps naturally cruel, and at the time of our arrival in the country they had about attained their most bloodthirsty and murderous character. Shocking ill-treatment by white skalawags and United States officials had changed their nature; but more about them also by-and-by.

North of us were the numerous and powerful Navajo Indians. They were not so much dreaded by us, their Reservation being further away, and they then being of a peaceful disposition, devoted to horse and sheep breeding and the manufacture of blankets.

These are the famous Navajo blankets so often seen in English homes, valued for the oddness of their patterns and colours, but used in Arizona mainly as saddle blankets. The majority of them are coarsely made and of little intrinsic value; but others, made for the chiefs or other special purposes, are finely woven, very artistic, and sell for large sums of money. Rain will not penetrate them and they make excellent bed coverings.

These Navajoes used to declare that they would never quit the war-path till a certain “Dancing Man” appeared, and that they would never be conquered till then. An American officer, named Backus, at Fort Defiance, constructed a dummy man, who danced by the pulling of wires, and showed him to the Indians. They at once accepted him as their promised visitor, and have since then never gone on the war-path. This may seem an incredible tale, but is a fact.

Also near us were the Zuni Indians, who, like the Pueblo Indians, lived in stone-built communal houses, had entirely different customs to those of the Apaches and Navajoes, and are perhaps the debased descendants of a once powerful and advanced nation. Whilst speaking of Indians, it may be said that the plains tribes, such as the Comanches, believe in the immortality of the soul and the future life. All will attain it, all will reach the Happy Hunting-Ground, unless prevented by such accidents as being scalped, which results in annihilation of the soul.

Is it not strange that though these barbarians believe in the immortality of the soul yet our materialistic Old Testament never even suggests a future life; and it seems that no Jew believes or ever was taught to believe in it.

Indian self-torture is to prove one’s endurance of pain. A broad knife is passed through the pectoral muscles, and a horse-hair rope inserted, by which they must swing from a post till the flesh is torn through. Indians will never scalp a negro; it is “bad medicine.” By the way, is not scalping spoken of in the Book of Maccabees as a custom of the Jews and Syrians? The tit-bits of a butchered carcass are, to the Indians, the intestines, a speciality being the liver with the contents of the gall bladder sprinkled over it! Horses, dogs, wolves and skunks are greatly valued for food.

Amongst certain tribes Hiawatha was a Messiah of divine origin, but born on earth. He appeared long ago as a teacher and prophet, taught them picture-writing, healing, etc.; gave them the corn plant and pipe; he was an ascetic; told them of the Isles of the Blessed and promised to come again. In Mexico Quetzalcohuatl was a similar divine visitor, prophet and teacher.

But to return to our own immediate affairs. At a reasonable price we bought out another cattleman, his ranches, cattle and saddle horses. As required by law, we also adopted and recorded a cattle brand. Our first business was to brand our now considerable herd, which entailed an immense amount of very hard work. This in later years would have been no very great undertaking, but at that time “squeezers” and branding “chutes” were not known. Our corrals were primitive and not suited for the work, and our cattle extraordinarily wild and not accustomed to control of any kind. Indeed, the men we had bought out had sold to us for the simple reason that they could not properly handle them. The four-legged beasties had got beyond their control, and many of them had almost become wild animals. These cattle, too, had very little of the “improved” character in them. Well-bred bulls had never been introduced.

Some of the bulls we found had almost reached their allotted span crusty old fellows indeed and scarred in many a battle; “moss-heads” we called them, and the term was well applied, for their hoary old heads gave the idea of their being covered with moss.

Most of the cattle had never been in a corral in their lives, and some of the older steers were absolute “outlaws,” magnificent creatures, ten to twelve years of age, with immense spreading horns, sleek and glossy sides, and quite unmanageable. They could not be got into a herd, or if got in, would very soon walk out again. Eventually some had to be shot on the range like any wild animal, simply to get rid of them; but they at least afforded us many a long and wild gallop.

There was one great steer in particular, reckoned to be ten or twelve years old, quite a celebrity in fact on account of his unmanageableness, his independence and boldness, which we had frequently seen and tried to secure, but hitherto without success. He had a chum, another outlaw, and they grazed in a particular part of the range far from the haunts of their kin and of man. Three of us undertook to make one more effort to secure him. At the headquarters ranch we had gathered a herd of cattle and we proposed to try and run the steer in that direction, where the other boys would be on the lookout and would head him into the round-up. Two of us were to go out and find the steer and start him homewards; I myself undertook to wait about half-way, and when they came in sight to take up the running and relieve them. They found him all right about twenty miles out, turned him and started him. No difficulty so far. He ran with the ease of a horse, and he was still going as he willed, without having the idea of being coerced. Meantime I had been taking it easy, lolling on the ground, my horse beside me with bridle down. Suddenly the sound of hoof-beats and a succession of yells warned me to “prepare to receive cavalry.” Through a cleft in a hill I could see the quarry coming at a mad gallop directly for me, the two men pounding along behind. I had just time and no more to tighten girth and get into the saddle when he was on me, and my horse being a bit drowsy it needed sharp digging of the spurs to get out of the way. I forget how many miles the boys said they had already run him, but it was a prodigious distance and we were still eight miles from the ranch. The steer was getting hot, it began to suspect something, and to feel the pressure. As he came down on me he looked like a mountain, his eyes were bright, he was blowing a bit, and looked particularly nasty. When in such a condition it does not do to overpress, as, if you do, the chances are the steer will wheel round, challenge you and get on the fight. Much circumspection is needed. He will certainly charge you if you get too near, and on a tired horse he would have the advantage. So you must e’en halt and wait not get down, that would be fatal wait five minutes it may be, ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, till the gentleman cools off a bit. Then you start him off again, not so much driving him now, he won’t be driven, but guiding his course towards the herd. In this case we succeeded beautifully, though at the end he had to be raced once more. And so he was finally headed into the round-up; but dear me, he only entered it from curiosity. No round-up for him indeed! no corral and no going to market! He entered the herd, took a look round, a sniff and a smell, and was off again out at the other side as if the devil was after him, and indeed he wasn’t far wrong. The chase was abandoned and his majesty doomed later on to a rifle bullet wherever found.

Our principal and indeed only corral at that time was of solid stone walls, a “blind” corral, and most difficult to get any kind of cattle into. While pushing them in, each man had his “rope” down ready to at once drop it over the horns of any animal attempting to break back. Thus half our force would sometimes be seen tying down these truants, which were left lying on the ground to cool their tempers till we had time to attend to them; and it is a fact that some of these individuals, especially females, died where they lay, apparently of broken hearts or shame at their subjection. They showed no sign of injury by rough usage, only their damnable tempers, rage and chagrin were responsible for their deaths.

Inside the corral everything, of course, had to be roped and thrown to be branded. It was rough and even dangerous work, and individual animals, again generally cows, would sometimes make desperate charges, and even assist an unfortunate “puncher” in scaling the walls. In after years we built proper corrals, and in the course of time, by frequent and regular handling, the cattle became more docile and better-mannered. For one thing, they were certainly easily gathered. When we wanted to round them up we had only to ride out ten or twenty miles, swing round and “holler,” when all the cattle within sight or hearing would at once start on the run for the ranch. These were not yet domesticated cattle in that they always wanted to run and never to walk. Indeed, once started it was difficult to hold them back. This was not very conducive to the accumulation of tallow on their generally very bare bones.

I well remember the first bunch of steers sold off the ranch, which were driven to Fort Wingate, to make beef for the soldiers. About two hundred head of steers, from six to twelve years of age, all black, brown, brindle or yellow, ne’er a red one amongst them; magnificently horned, in fair flesh, perfect health and spirits; such steers you could not “give away” to-day; but we got sixty dollars apiece for them and were well rid of them; and how they walked! The ponies could hardly keep up with them; and what cowman does not know the pleasure of driving fast walking beef cattle? Ne’er a “drag” amongst them! You had only to “point” them and let them “hit the trail”; but a stampede at night was all the more a terrific affair, though even in such a case if they got away they would keep together, and when you found one you found them all. Such a bunch of magnificent, wild, proud-looking steer creatures will never be seen again, in America at least, because you cannot get them now of such an age, nor of such primitive colours; colours that, I believe, the best-bred cattle would in course of long years and many generations’ neglect revert to.

The method adopted when an obstreperous steer made repeated attempts to leave the herd was to send a bullet through his horn, which gave him something to think about and shake his head over. No doubt it hurt him terribly, but it generally was an effective check to his waywardness. And when some old hoary-headed bull wanted to “gang his ain gait” a piece of cactus tossed on to his back, whence it was difficult to shake off, would give him also something to think about.

Another small herd we some time later disposed of were equally good travellers, and indeed were driven from the ranch in one day to Camp Apache, another military post, a distance of over 40 miles. In this case the trail was through forest country where there was no “holding” ground, so they had to be pushed through.

Our herd increased and throve fairly well for a number of years till other “outfits” began to throw cattle into the country, and sheepmen began to dispute our right to certain grazing lands. We did not quite realize it at the time, but it was the beginning of the end. We had gone into a practically virgin country, controlled an immense area, and the stock throve accordingly. But others were jealous of our success, threw in their cattle as already said, and their sheep, and ultimately we swamped one another. The grass was eaten down, over-grazed, droughts came, prices broke, and so the end. From 500 our annual calf brand mounted to 4000; halted there, and gradually dropped back to the original tally. Our cattle, from poverty, bogged in the river, or perished from hunger. This was all due to the barbarous grazing system under which we worked, the United States refusing to sell or lease land for grazing purposes; consequently, except at the end of a gun, one had no control over his range. Cattle versus sheep wars resulted, stealing became rampant and success impossible.

Among other sales made was that of some 1500 steers, of all ages, which we drove right up to the heart of Colorado and disposed of at good prices. This drive was marked by a serious stampede, on a dark night in rough country, by which two of the boys got injured, though happily not seriously. Then another time we made an experimental shipment of 500 old steers to California, to be grazed and fattened on alfalfa. They were got through all right and put in an alfalfa field, and I remained in charge of them. Our cattle were not accustomed to wire fences, or being penned up in a small enclosure, and of course had never seen alfalfa; so for a week or more they did nothing but walk round the fence, trampling the belly-high lucerne to the ground. Gradually, however, they got to eating it, and in six weeks began to pick up. Briefly stated, this adventure was a financial failure. Like the cattle I had been myself an entire stranger to the wonderful alfalfa plant, and I never tired marvelling at its exuberance of growth and its capacity for supporting animal life. The heat in San Joachin Valley in high summer is almost overpowering, and vegetable growth under irrigation quite phenomenal. Alfalfa was cut some six or seven times in the season; each time a heavy crop. After taking cattle out of one pasture, then grazed bare, it was only three weeks till the plant was in full growth again, in full flower, two feet high and ready for the reception of more live stock. The variety of animal life subsisting on alfalfa was extraordinary. All kinds of domestic stock throve on it and liked it. In our field, besides cattle, were geese, ducks, turkeys, rabbits and hares in thousands, doves and quails in flocks, and gophers innumerable; frogs, toads, rats and mice; while bees, wasps, butterflies and moths, and myriads of other insects were simply pushing one another out of the way. It was a wonderful study.

In Utah much difficulty was found in growing clover. This was accounted for by the fact that there were no old maids in that polygamous country. Old maids naturally were not allowed! And there being none, there were of course no cats to kill the mice that eat the bumble-bees’ nests; thus, no bumble-bees to fertilize it, therefore no clover. Old maids have found their function.

Figs could not be grown successfully in California till the Smyrna wasp had been imported to fertilize the flower.

And while talking of bees: on the Mississippi River bee-keepers are in the habit of drifting their broods on rafts up the river, following the advance of spring and thus securing fresh fields and pastures new of the young spring blossoms; which is somewhat similar to the Chinaman’s habit of carrying his ducks (he does love ducks), thousands of them, on rafts and boats up and down the broad Yangtse to wherever the richest grazing and grub-infested beds may be found.

I should not forget to say that care must be used in putting cattle on alfalfa. At some seasons it is more dangerous than at others. A number of these steers “bloated,” and I had to stick them with a knife promptly to save their lives. A new experience to me, but I soon “caught on.”

But something must be said about our little county town, San Juan, county seat of Apache County in which we were located. St Johns consisted of one general store, three or four saloons, a drug store, a newspaper office, court-house, jail, etc. A small settlement of Mormons, who confined themselves to farming on the narrow river bottom, and an equal number of Mexicans, an idle and mischievous riffraff, though one or two of them had considerable herds of sheep, and others were county officials. County affairs were dreadfully mismanaged and county funds misused. For our own protection we had to take part in politics, form an Opposition, and after a long struggle, in which my partners did noble service, we carried an election, put in our own officials, secured control of the county newspaper, and had things as we wanted them. But it was a bitter fight, and the old robber gang, who had run the county for years, were desperate in their resentment. Unfortunately, this resentment was basely and maliciously shown by an attempt, successful but happily not fatal, to poison one of my partners. He had a long and grim fight with death, but his indomitable will pulled him through. I myself, though I had little to do with politics, had a narrow escape from a somewhat similar fate. Living at that time, in winter, at what was called the Meadows Camp, I usually had a quarter of beef hung in the porch. Frost kept it sweet and sound for a long period, and every day it was my practice to cut off a steak for consumption. There were two cats, fortunately, and a slice was often thrown to them. One morning I first gave them their portion, then cut my own. In a few minutes the unfortunate animals were in the throes of strychnine poisoning and died in short order. It was a shock to me and a warning.

The Mexicans continued for some time to be mean and threatening. Bush-whacking at night was attempted, and they even threatened an attack on our headquarters ranch; but we were a pretty strong outfit, had our own sheriff, and by-and-by a number of good friends.

In our district rough country and timber prevented the cattle drifting very much. In winter they naturally sought the lower range; in summer they went to the mountains. Headquarters was about half-way between. It was finally arranged that I should take charge of the lower winter camp during winter and the mountain camp during summer. My partners mostly remained at headquarters. In summer time, from April to the end of October, this arrangement suited me very well indeed; in fact, it was made at my own suggestion; and the life, though a solitary one for long periods, suited me to the ground and I enjoyed it immensely. Practically I lived alone, which was also my own wish, as it was disagreeable to have anyone coming into my one-roomed cottage, turning things over and making a mess. I did my own cooking, becoming almost an expert, and have ever since continued to enjoy doing so. Of course I could have had one of the boys to live with me; but no matter what good fellows cowboys generally are, their being in very close companionship is not agreeable, some of their habits being beastly. Thus it came about that my life was a very solitary one, as it had been in India, and as it afterwards continued to be in New Mexico and Texas. Few visitors came to my camp in summer or winter. Now and then I was gladdened by a visit of one or other of my partners, one of whom, however, cared nothing for fishing or shooting, and the other was much of the time entirely absent from the country. During our short periodical round-ups of course I attended the “work” with the rest; but to spend one whole month, as I did once, without not only not conversing with, but absolutely not seeing a human being, is an experience that has probably come to very few men indeed. However, as said before, life in the White Mountains of Arizona was very enjoyable. Peaks ran up to 10,000 feet; and the elevation of my camp was about 8000 feet. Round about were extensive open parks and meadows, delightfully clear creeks and streams; grass a foot high, vast stretches of pine timber, deep and rocky canons, etc., etc.

When we first shoved our cattle up there the whole country was a virgin one, no settlements or houses, no roads of any kind, except one or two Indian hunting trails, no cattle, sheep or horses. There were, as already stated, elk, mountain sheep, antelope, deer, bears, panthers, porcupines, coons, any amount of wild turkey, spruce grouse, green pigeons, quail, etc., etc. There were virgin rivers of considerable size, swarming with trout, many of which it was my luck to first explore and cast a fly into. Most of this lovely country, as said before, was part of the Apache Indian Reservation, on which no one was allowed to trespass; but the boundary line was ill-defined and it was difficult to keep our cattle out of the forbidden territory. Indeed, we did not try to do so.

The Indian settlement was at Fort Apache, some thirty miles from my camp. These people, having such an evil reputation, are worthy of a few more notes. Such tales of cruelty and savagery were told of them as to be almost incredible. They were the terror of Arizona and New Mexico, yet they were not entirely to blame. Government ill-treatment of Cochise, the great chief of the Chiricaua Apaches, had set the whole tribe on the war-path for ten years. A military company, called the Tombstone Toughs, was organized in Southern Arizona to wipe them out, but accomplished nothing. Finally, America’s greatest Indian fighter, General Crook, was sent to campaign in Arizona in 1885. The celebrated chiefs, Geronimo and Natchez, broke out again and killed some twenty-nine white people in New Mexico and thirty-six in Arizona before Crook pushed them into the Sierra Madre Mountains in Sonora, where at last Geronimo surrendered. Victorio was an equally celebrated Apache war-chief and was out about the same time. Fortunately these last raids were always made on the south side of the Reservation. We were happily on the north side, and though we had frequent scares they never gave us serious trouble. So here were my duties and my pleasures.

The saddle horses when not in use were in my care. The cattle also, of course, needed looking after. I was in the saddle all day. Frequently it would be my delight to take a pack-horse and go off for a week or two into the wildest parts of the Reservation, camp, and fish and shoot everything that came along, but the shooting was chiefly for the pot. Young wild turkeys are a delicacy unrivalled, and I became so expert in knowing their haunts that I could at any time go out and get a supply. One of my ponies was trained to turkey hunting. He seemed to take a delight in it. As soon as we sighted a flock, off he would go and take me up to shooting range, then stop and let me get two barrels in, and off again after them if more were needed. Turkeys run at a great rate and will not rise unless you press them.

Big game shooting never appealed to me much. My last bear, through lack of cartridges to finish him, went off with a broken back, dragging himself some miles to where I found him again next morning. It so disgusted me as to put me off wishing to kill for killing’s sake ever afterwards. A wounded deer or antelope, or a young motherless fawn, is a most pitiable sight.

There was, and perhaps still is, no better bear country in America than the Blue River district on the border of Arizona and New Mexico. On these shooting and fishing trips I was nearly always alone, and many times experienced ridiculous scares. Camping perhaps in a deep canon, a rapid stream rushing by, the wind blowing through the tall pines, the horses tethered to tree stumps, a menagerie-like smell of bears frequently quite apparent, your bed on Mother Earth without tent or covering, if your sleep be not very sound you will conjure up all sorts of amazing things. Perhaps the horses take fright and run on their ropes.

You get up to soothe them and find them in a lather of sweat and scared to a tremble. What they saw, or, like men, imagined they saw or heard in the black darkness, you cannot tell. Still you are in an Indian country and perhaps thirty miles from anywhere. Many a night I swore I should pack up and go home at daylight, but when daylight came and all again seemed serene and beautiful how beautiful! all fear would be forgotten; I would cook my trout or fry the breast of a young turkey, and with hot fresh bread and bacon grease, and strong coffee. Why, packing up was unthought of!

One of my nearest neighbours was an old frontiers-man and Government scout. He had married an Apache squaw, been adopted into the tribe (White Mountain Apaches) and possessed some influence. He liked trout-fishing, so once or twice I accompanied him with his party, said party consisting of his wife and all her relatives indeed most of the tribe. The young bucks scouted and cut “sign” for us (another branch of the Apaches being then on the war-path), the women washed clothes, did the cooking, cleaned and smoked the fish, etc. These Indians were rationed with beef by the Government, while they killed no doubt quite a number of our cattle, and even devoured eagerly any decomposed carcass found on the range; but they preferred the flesh of horses, mules and donkeys, detesting pork and fish.

In these mountains in summer a serious pest was a green-headed fly, which worried the cattle so much that about noon hour they would all congregate in a very close herd out in the open places for self-protection. No difficulty then in rounding up; even antelope and deer would mix with them. When off on a fishing and hunting trip it was my custom to set fire to a dead tree trunk, in the smoke of which my horses would stand for hours at a time, even scorching their fetlocks.

In these mountains, too, was a place generally called the “Boneyard,” its history being that some cattleman, stranger to the country, turned his herd loose there and tried to hold them during the winter. A heavy snowfall of several feet snowed the cattle in so that they could not be got out or anything be done with them. The whole herd was lost and next spring nothing but a field of bones was visible.

At another time and place a lot of antelope were caught in deep snow and frozen to death. A more remarkable case was that of a bunch of horses which became snowed in, the snow being so deep they could not break a way out. The owner with great difficulty managed to rescue them, when it was found they had actually chawed each other’s tails and manes off.

Indian dogs have a great antipathy to white men, likewise our own dogs towards Indians, which our horses also share in. Horses also have a dread of bears. Once when riding a fine and high-strung horse a bear suddenly appeared in front. Knowing that my mount, as soon as he smelt the bear, would become uncontrollable, I quickly shot the bear from the saddle, and immediately the scared horse bolted.

To preserve trout I sometimes kippered them and hung them up to dry. Quickly the wasps would attack them, and, if not prevented, would in a short space of time leave absolutely nothing but a skeleton hanging to the string. It was later demonstrated that cattle, too, thought them a delicacy, no doubt for the salt or sugar ingredients. Snakes also have a weakness for fish, and I have seen them approach my trout when thrown on the river bank and drag them off for their own consumption.

While fishing or shooting one must always be on the careful lookout for rattlesnakes. In the rough canons and river banks the biggest rattlers are found, and you may jump, tumble or scramble on the back of one and run great chance of being bitten. On the open prairie, where smaller rattlers are very plentiful, they always give you warning with their unique, unmistakable rattle. Once, on stooping down to tear up by the roots a dangerous poison weed, in grasping the plant my hand also grasped a rattlesnake. I dropped it quick enough to escape injury, but the cold sweat fairly broke out all over me. The bite is always painful, but not always necessarily fatal.

“Rustlers” is the common name given to cattle or horse thieves. Arizona had her full share of them. That territory was the last resort of outlaws from other and more civilized states. Many of our own “hands” were such men. Few of them dare use their own proper names; having committed desperate crimes in other states, such as Texas, they could not return there. Strange to say, the worst of these “bad” men often made the best of ranch hands. Cowboys as a class, that is, the genuine cowboys of days gone by, were a splendid lot of fellows, smart, intelligent, self-reliant and resourceful, also hard and willing workers. If they liked you, they would stay with you in any kind of trouble and be thoroughly loyal. No such merry place on earth as the cow camp, where humour, wit and repartee abounded. The fact of every man being armed, and in these far-off days probably a deadly shot, tended to keep down rowdyism and quarrelling. If serious trouble did come up, it was settled then and there quickly and decisively, wrongly or rightly. Let me instance a case.

In round-up camp one day a few hot words were suddenly heard, guns began to play, result one man killed outright and two wounded. The case of one of the wounded boys was rather peculiar. His wound was in the thigh and amputation was necessary. Being a general favourite, we, myself and partners, took turns nursing him, dressing his wounds and cheering him up as well as we could. He rapidly recovered, put on flesh and was in high spirits, and, as the doctor said, quite out of danger; but one day this big strong young fellow took it into his foolish head that he was going to die. Nothing would persuade him to the contrary, and so die he did, and that without any waste of time. In preparing a body for burial it is the custom, a burial rite indeed, not to wrap the corpse in a shroud, but to dress it in a complete ordinary costume, a brand-new suit of black clothes, white shirt, socks, etc., etc. whether boots or not I forget, but rather think so dress him probably better than the poor fellow was ever dressed before, and in this manner he was laid in the ground. The man who started the shooting was named “Windy M’Gee,” already an outlaw, but then cook for our mess wagon. Shortly afterwards he killed a prominent lawyer in our little town, or at least we suspected him strongly, though another man suffered for the crime; but such incidents as these were too common to attract world-wide attention.

On another occasion one of our men got shot in the thigh, by whom or how I do not now remember, but he was a different sort of man from the boy just mentioned. We knew him to be quite a brave, nervy man in action, having been in one of our fighting scrapes with rustlers; but as a patient he showed a most cowardly disposition, developing a ferocious temper, rejecting medical advice, cursing everybody who came around, so that he lay for months at our charge, until we really got to wish that he would carry out his threat of self-destruction. He did not, but he was crippled for life and did not leave a friend behind.

Then, too, the cowboy, in matter of accoutrements, was a very splendid fellow indeed. His saddle was gaily decorated with masses of silver, in the shape of buttons, buckles and trimmings, etc. Likewise his bridle and bit; his spurs were works of loving art from the hands of the village metal-worker, and likewise heavily plated with silver. The rowels were huge but blunt-pointed, and had little metal bells attached. His boots cost him near a month’s pay, always made to careful order, with enormously high and narrow heels, as high as any fashionable woman’s; his feet were generally extremely small, because of his having lived in the saddle from early boyhood up. He wore a heavy woollen shirt, with a gorgeous and costly silk handkerchief tied loosely round his neck. His head-covering was a very large grey felt hat, a “genuine Stetson,” which cost him from five to twenty dollars, never less. To keep the big hat in place a thong or cord is tied around and below the back of the head instead of under the chin, experience having proved it to be much more effective in that position. His six-shooter had plates of silver on the handle, and his scabbard was covered with silver buttons. It should be said that a saddle, such as we all used, cost from forty to sixty dollars, and weighed generally about forty pounds, not counting saddle blankets. Sometimes the saddle had only one “cinch” or girth, generally two, one of which reached well back under the flank. Such heavy saddles were necessary for heavy work, roping big cattle, etc. The stirrups were then generally made of wood, very big and broad in sole and very heavy, sometimes covered with tapaderos, huge leather caps to save the feet from thorns in heavy brush, and protect them from cold in severe weather.

To protect our legs we wore over the trousers heavy leather chaparejos, sometimes of bear or buffalo hide. Let it be noted that a genuine cowpuncher never rolls his shirt sleeves up, as depicted in romancing novels. Indeed he either protects his wrists with leather wristlets, or wears long gauntlet gloves. Mounted on his favourite horse, his was a gay cavalier figure, and at the “Baillie” he felt himself to be irresistible to the shy and often very pretty Mexican senoritas. There you have a pretty faithful picture of the cowboy of twenty-five years ago.

It remains to say something of the “shooting irons.” In the days of which I write there was no restriction to the bearing of arms. Every man carried a six-shooter. We, and most of our outfit, habitually carried a carbine or rifle as well as the smaller weapon. The carbine was carried in a scabbard, slung from the horn, under the stirrup flap, and so under the leg. This method kept the weapon steady and left both arms free. By raising the leg it was easily got at, and it interfered in no way with the use of the lariat (La Riata). The hang of the six-shooter required more particular consideration; when needed it would be needed badly, and therefore must be easily drawn, with no possible chance of a hitch. The butt of a revolver must point forwards and not backwards, as shown in the accompanying illustration, a portrait of one of our men as he habitually appeared at work. We ourselves did not go the length of wearing three belts of cartridges and two six-shooters; but two belts were needed, one for the rifle and the other for the smaller weapon. Some of the boys were always getting into scrapes and seemed to enjoy protracted fights with the Mexicans. There must be no flap to the scabbard, and the point must be tied by a leather thong around the thigh to keep it in correct position; and of course it was hung on the right side and low down on the hip, so as to be easily got at. Only when riding fast was a small loop and silver button passed through the trigger guard to prevent the gun from jolting out and being lost. The chambers were always kept full and the weapons themselves in perfect working order. Very “bad” men tied back or removed the trigger altogether, cocking and releasing the hammer with the thumb, or “fanning” it with the left hand. This permitted of very rapid firing, so that the “aar would be plumb full of lead.”

As an instance of quick shooting, two of our neighbours had threatened to kill each other at sight: and we were all naturally interested in the results. When the meeting did take place, quite unpremeditated, no doubt, each man saw the other about the same instant, but one of them was just a little the quicker, and put a bullet through his enemy’s heart. It was a mortal wound of course; but before the unlucky man fell he was also able to “get his work in,” and both fell dead at the same instant. This was no duel. The first to fire had the advantage, but the “dead” man was too quick for him, and he did not escape. If I remember right, a good riddance.

There was one other way of “packing a gun.” It was called the Arizona way. Legal gentlemen, some gamblers, and others who for various reasons wished to appear unarmed, simply put the pistol in the coat side pocket, and in use fired from that position through the pocket. It was not often so used, but I have known cases of it. In this way it was difficult to know whether a man was “heeled” (armed) or not. Of course our usual weapon, the long Colt 45 deg. six-shooter could not be so used, being too cumbrous.