John Thode on the Ranch back in the early 1900's. Me on the Ranch in the early 2000's riding in the footsteps of the old time cowboys but hardly comparing to. But fun to give it a try ... I will have to learn to spin a rope. (John Thode photograph courtesy of his sister Mildred Thode Sleep) They sure rode some rough and tumble ranchy horses back then. Funny to sleep in the same house as they all did - crossing paths continuously indoors and outdoors and moving from past to present at all times it seems. Long live the ranchers of today carrying on the heritage of the cowboys of the past. They sure lived a simple hearty life.
The first photo below is of the Thodes, back in the early 1900's, bringing cattle across the White River Crossing where the cable car used to cross. It is the crossing near the old house and headquarters. The panorama photograph is Lyle O'Bryan on the ranch, in the early 2000's, bringing the horses across the same White River Crossing as I ride ahead to get the shot
This is the first crossing I went down on horseback - so much for my camera that time. ha ... I am sure the Thodes swam their horses across when the river got high.
Lyle sure has crossed this river thousands of times in his 50 years on
the ranch - on many many a horse of varying degrees of wildness. I just
watched him ride out onto the ice yesterday trying to save a sick heifer
as she went crashing through the ice. Luckily Lyle did not do the same.
She got back up and out of the water but headed across into no mans
land. The river can be tricky. I was riding behind Lyle when I first got
here. We were chasing a bull - I mean geez what did I know. "Here get on
this horse - we are going to chase bulls" - "Okay". ha ha ... We really
had to get after him to get him to cross the river. As we were crossing,
he lunged at Lyle's horse and they both went down in front of me - luckily the bull didn't land on them. That
was one of my first doses of reality. I also heard a story of Lyle
going down in the river when the icy cold water splashed up onto his
fresh horse. The other cowboys tell of how he barely touched the water
before he was back up and on his horse. Nothing like icy water to motivate a cowboy.
Sometimes current, sometimes from the past. Photographs (some from horseback some not from horseback) & writings from my time working on the Quarter Circle XL Ranch since 2002 when I relocated from New York City to the tiny Badlands town of Interior, South Dakota & started ranching as a complete novice - to present goings on with me, Pony & the cows...Riding across the same land as the cowboys who came before me, I sit on my Pony & look across the land and try my best to time travel. Riding around in a cinematic day dream under a cyclorama sky on this back lot of a western movie set in 'costume' playing the role of my lifetime.