Tom Ross: Linda Long talks about 6 generations of ranching in Routt County
Steamboat Springs — In the midst of one of the most difficult haying seasons in years, lifelong Routt County rancher Linda Long told an audience here Friday how her grandpa Doc Marshall relied on teams of draft horses to make hay alongside his neighbors at the turn of the 20th century.
“My grandfather was a very generous man who came into the valley to homestead near Finger Rock in 1896,” Long said. “He came with a good friend, Mr. Pastorius, who injured himself and couldn’t put up his own hay.”
She was speaking during the Tread of Pioneers Museum final Brown Bag lecture of the summer at United Methodist Church of Steamboat Springs.
Doc Marshall couldn’t stand to see Pastorius at such a disadvantage and recruited other homesteaders to come to his aid.
“Everybody joined together to get Mr. Pastorius’ hay put up,” Long said. “When the work was done, one rancher said, ‘That is kind of a nice way to put it up. We can get it done so much quicker!’”
And so, the practice of South Routt ranch families putting up loose-stacked hay together became a tradition that lasted for 30 years and helped to propagate a culture in which men, women and children worked hard together.
Sometime in late August or early September every year, the Hamiltons, the Joneses from over by Laughlin Buttes, Long’s great-uncles Dewey and Clyde and other families gathered at the Pastorius ranch near Phippsburg to start the haying season. Gradually, all those hay hands worked their way up the Yampa River until they finished at Five Pine Mesa.
“The host families always provided the meat” for the big midday meal in the hay fields, Long said. “The women were up at 5 a.m. Grandmother would start the cook stove for breakfast and my grandfather and father (Glenn Glaze) would have finished milking the cows before breakfast.
“The kids were up at 6 a.m. and ate breakfast immediately before they began the daily chores of hauling water and kindling. From the littlest to the oldest, everybody would have a pail and nobody quit until the reservoirs were full.
“My mom, (Marguerite Glaze) was famous for her pies and bread. She and the other women would have maybe 12 pies in the oven so they could take them to the hayfield in wooden boxes. We would feed 20 to 30 people out in the hayfield.”
In spite of all of the labor involved in haying, the gathering of families made it one of the highlights of the year.
“We always looked forward to this event because it was a time when we’d all be together,” Long said. “The women loved it because there was a lot of help. Otherwise you had to do it by yourself at home at midnight.”
Long said the communal hay harvest traditions withered after the older generation passed on.
Doc Marshall, who died in 1984, loved his teams of draft horses so much that he never quite became accustomed to mechanized agriculture. It’s not so hard to understand when you realize that before the railroad arrived in Yampa, he and another rancher on horseback trailed most of the cattle in South Routt to Salida where there was a railhead that passed them on to Texas.
Although he learned to drive a Jeep, Doc never drove a tractor, leaving that to the younger adults on the ranch.
“It was hard for him when we got the first baler in the field,” she recalled. “He was not sure it was the right thing to be doing to all of that good hay.”
A great-grandmother now, Long continues to work hard on the ranch while her husband, Dusty, works hard in the coal mine.
“All the men in our family work in the coal mine, so what it ends up being is us wives and all the kids get to do the ranch chores,” she said.
So don’t think for a minute that Long hasn’t done all the chores that need to be done her ranch in Twentymile Park, except maybe one.
“My hands are small, which helps if a calf needs pulling. If a gate’s snowed in and needs to be bug out, I dig it out. I try hard not to get the tractor stuck. But if I do, I leave it and let my husband get it out when he comes home.”
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