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‘It Was All a Part of Range Life’

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Following is the first of a two-part series portraying the life of a 13-year-old boy on a ranch in the 1880s. Material is taken from the book “Range Rider” by Bud Cowan, in which he relates the founding of the Big Creek Ranch in south central Carbon County Wyoming and North Park Colorado.

That winter, in 1883, all of the neighbors got together and built a block house up at Pinkhamton, about three miles from our home ranch. Jimmie and I went up in the timber and cut logs for the block house, as well as dead logs for winter wood. 

We camped in a cabin up there and hauled up hay for the oxen and brought up what provisions we needed. We used bulls for parking the timber; that is, after cutting it, we would drag it out to the side of the road where it was easy to load it on the sled and take it down to where it could be used. 

We cut all the logs to build the block house and about eight loads of dead timber for the winter wood, and then it was our job to get the logs down to the ranch. After we hauled everything down with the bull team Father started us to sawing up the wood. 

All Jimmy and I had to do that winter was saw wood, milk cows, attend to the horses and a few other chores, because Father had taken Mother and the girls to Denver, after we had done our share of building the block house. 

Jimmie and I figured out a way to cut our wood, which worked even better than we thought it would. We had an old Buck Eye mowing machine that Father had discarded and set over against the back of the barn. We conceived the idea of making a sawmill out of it. We wouldn’t have dared even to mention the idea if Father had been home, but we were our own bosses for the time being, and we went ahead with our plans.

This story will be continued in the next “Postcard,” to run March 9. 

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