The Onion Drop
July is almost gone and I’m sure looking forward to a cooler day. We had three nice days at the beginning of the month when we were on trail – it even rained – there was not a slicker in sight, but coats dry out and no one complained.
There is nothing more magical than when the rain stops, the clouds clear and the evening light paints the world in soft, glorious colors. We haven’t seen much rain since the first of the month, but I heard it poured the first night of the Casper rodeo. Alas, not a drop 10 miles west of town.
There has been moisture this summer, but it’s been spotty. Of course, having all of the hay down usually brings on a shower or two.
Yes, we did our long trail again this year and headed out with a big band of ewes and their lambs – the only sheep on a stock drive that used to see thousands of ewes and lambs on their annual trek to the southern Big Horns. We did have some cowboys and their cows ahead of us, but there was plenty of room for everyone.
My kids grew up trailing, and those are some of their fondest memories. It was all horseback then, and now we have a pickup, camper and a four-wheeler trailer hooked on behind. Whoever is moving the camper just rides ahead, loads their four-wheeler and pulls up the trail.
In the old days, the 33 Mile Stock Drive was crowded. There was a big ranch out of Casper with seven bands of sheep, and their cows would march themselves up the trail.
We had to find a day when we could “kick out” and fit in between the bands of sheep. Usually, there was a day between bands, but in the surge of the summer trail, sometimes it might be a half-day or one move. Disaster would strike if the bands of sheep mixed and they had to be worked somewhere on the trail.
There were also herds of cows in the line-up, and one of those families was Frank Shepperson’s family out of Midwest. Frank’s kids were young, and sometimes Bob would go down after his nap and play cards with them. We wouldn’t see much of the Sheppersons the rest of the year, but had many summers when we would all be on the trail together.
I was happy this year to see that Frank’s daughter Lisa Shepperson Garnhart and her husband Gus from Edgerton have continued the tradition of trailing cows and calves to the mountains. This year, she had a big crew with kids and their cousins out of Texas and friends from Arizona. They had a big remuda to mount everyone up. She also had her brother Les to help out – he would fly and check on them every day. Les is a fine pilot and was also a fine steer wrestler in the not too distant past.
One day when Bob was still at Fifty Mile flats – so named because it was 50 miles from there to the Wonder Bar in Casper, where many sheepmen would go to pick up their herders – Les flew over and Bob “mooned” him.
This prompted Les to turn around and land on the wide road, and he and Bob had a visit.
I joined the trail soon after, and Les would buzz the camper in the early morning when it was good flying and wake me up. Bob and Les were in phone contact, and one day Les asked if we needed anything. Somehow, we had managed not to get any onions in the camper, and everyone knows there has to be onions with fried potatoes – a staple on trail.
Bob texted Les that we could use some onions, and Les reported back to say he had some. A couple of hours later, Les returned, circled around and we got ready to catch onions. They arrived in fine shape, wrapped in bubble wrap.
Of the bunch, three onions were whole and one was “pre-chopped,” but I wasn’t complaining.
On this trip, Bob started something, and it wasn’t long before the kids and cousins on the trail ahead learned Bob was mooning Les on his flyovers. Soon, everyone was dropping their drawers for Les.
Les commented to Bob that, “He had seen more behinds than a toilet had that week.”
Who says you can’t have fun on trail?