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Posted 8/25/10 (Wed)


You know, we have speeded things up a lot over the years. We’ve got bigger and faster pickups, more power tools, food processors, and sliced bread. We’ve got instant coffee and powdered milk and prepared meals. We’ve got shirts you don’t have to iron and chickens you don’t need to pick. But we don’t have as much time as we used to. I just can’t figure it out.
Used to be fall roundups took all fall. We’d start gathering on the reservation the middle of October and ride every day for two or three weeks. Leave home in the dark and get back in the dark. Ride from “can see” to “can’t see.” Now we don’t have that much time cause we spent thirty years fencing things so we didn’t need to ride. And instead of riding, we’re fencing.
Always had three horses that I’d ride pretty hard. One was usually bunged up so while he was healing, you’d ride a horse every other day. And they darn sure would get broke.
“Maude” was a little sorrel mare Dad had picked up cheap at a horse sale. She was a cute little devil but meaner than all get out. Should have called her Shirley. I was scared of Maude. Like I’m scared of Shirley. But I figured if I skipped the days off with Maude, she’d make a horse.
I was riding in 101 with Wayne Brown. He was a cowboy. With only one ear. I don’t recall if I ever asked him how he lost his ear. I was kind of shy and Wayne didn’t talk much. Mostly because he couldn’t hear too good. What with only one ear and all.  But rumors abounded. He lost the ear in a knife fight. A saddle bronc kicked it off. A bull stepped on it. Any one could have been true.
Anyway, one day Grandpa Jack sent Wayne and me down towards Tunnel Point in 101. It’s big high ridges and lots of trails that make you nervous. It was chilly and windy and starting to spit a little rain.
We were going along this big hogback and Wayne reached back and untied his slicker and put it on. I had a slicker tied behind my saddle, but I was scared of Maude so I decided I’d rather get a little wet.
Wayne glances at my slicker and says I’d better get it on cause that was a pretty big rain coming down the river.
I told Wayne that I’d rather get a little wet than try to put that slicker on while I was riding Maude.
Wayne, who didn’t ever say too much, began the longest sentence I ever heard him say.
“I was riding a bronc worse than that thing one time. And I was up a ridge that was about two-hundred-feet high. Straight down. I reached down for my slicker and started to put it on. Just got one arm in a sleeve, and my horse blew up and bucked over the edge.”
I trotted along waiting for the end of the story. Finally, I had to ask what happened?
Wayne spits his snoose out and simply says, “When I got to the bottom, I was wearing my slicker and I was riding a slicker-broke horse!”
He was a cowboy.