LETTERS FROM THE RANCH | SteamboatToday.com


Dear Bertha,

Not having water with which to make ourselves a pot of coffee, no water with which to wash our faces, none with which to brush our teeth or a sip to drink. We teachers were learning the importance of water.

It was too late in the day to start out a-foot in search of some other source of water. We made some peanut better sandwiches, but found them too dry to swallow with nothing to drink. So, we opened a tin of canned peaches, taking care to use no more than half for we anticipated that breakfast would be a repeat of our supper experience.

We elected to not light our lantern, but instead to just enjoy our cheery little camp fire, until it burnt itself out and then go to bed. After all, we had put in just about the longest day of the year, the summer solstice.

We slept soundly until awakened by the flute music. We hurried into our clothes and exited our tent, anxious to determine from whence came our beautiful serenade.

But, by the time we were out of the tent, the flute music had ceased and in its place came the bleating of hundreds, maybe thousands, of sheep.

We had never seen such a hug mob. I think mob is the proper term. Anyway that is the term used in an article I read about sheep in Australia.

The sheep had apparently come over a little ridge to our southwest and were now coming down the near side of the larger hill, directly toward the schoolhouse and us.

That huge mob was being guided with the utmost efficiency by a mere stripling of a lad, scarcely a teenager.

Well, perhaps I shouldn’t credit the boy with all of the management of this huge aggregation of livestock for practically all of the actual work was being done by a pair of the most professional livestock handlers you can possibly imagine. I had heard about the incredible performance of stock dogs, but I never would have believed those tales without having seen this demonstration first hand.

Well, I really think there surely had to be some magic line of communication between that boy and his dogs. Anyway, those dogs seemed to be under their master’s total control every second that they were within sight of one another. And, when out of sight, the dogs seemed to respond just as readily to signals given by whistle. But, it would probably be possible to write an entire book about this amazing team. So for now, I’ll put the rest of my dog story on hold and return to our predicament at the Collum Creek School House.

At about the same time we had seen the sheep come over the hill, we had observed two horseback riders carrying shovels coming up the dusty dirt road. The riders looked like they might be cowboys. We could see that the cowboys and the sheepherder would meet face to face. And, judging from what we had heard concerning sheep and cattle wars, we were filled with apprehension. We retreated to the ragged old tent, but peeked through holes to see what we feared might be any sort of violence.

To our amazement, the meeting was as jovial as anyone could imagine.

Well, dear friends, I am going to continue, later. For now, best wishes from a pair of brave schoolmarms.

As ever,


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