March 1, 2013

Working on the Old Thode Ranch and Crossing the Same White River

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.

The 'that was then' and the 'this is now' feel kind of the same it seems.
©Jean Laughton