Years ago, three of the Fillamin kids, ages 10-14 drove a herd of cattle to the Double Circle Ranch from Calva – by themselves. Now that was probably a 4 day drive across some wild country with no roads and lots of bear, lion, rattlesnakes, and probably wolves. It was no problem, just everyday business 70-odd years ago. Today you would probably be arrested for child abuse if you sent kids out with a job like that. Heck, most adults today couldn’t do that drive. Can you imagine going to a suburban mall and taking 3 kids that age, giving them horses, some sourdough biscuits and beef jerky, and pointing them at cattle in the distance and the general direction they needed to go and turning them loose? Talk about a wreck! We are losing a lot of self-reliance and just plain old gumption with all our modern lifestyle.
Yesterday I visited with a neighbor – a kid younger than my grandson, probably around 18 or 19 years old. He is riding fence for the ranch that borders us on our eastern boundary. Now that is some rough country – beautiful to be sure and with plenty of water and forage – but ROUGH. This young man – Josh – lives by himself miles from anyone – on a road that needs a 4WD in good weather and is impassable in muddy or snowy conditions. His job is to ride all day and lead a pack mule or two to patch fence. Now this is thousands of acres of basically wilderness. He might have to camp out for days because it is too far to ride to headquarters. Plus he rides a lot of young stock to put hours and training on the colts. He thinks nothing at all about it. Riding the fence is his job – no big deal. But in 2010 it truly is a BIG deal. Thank goodness for ranch-raised kids who know how to work, can take care of themselves, and have the gumption to cowboy on big, wild ranches.