FIRST EXPERIENCE AWAY FROM HOME
In the spring of 1891 when I was less than 13 years old I was sent to live with Gilbert and Marry Gammett whose home was on Maple Creek and about four miles above Wallsburg. I thought I would like it there. All I had to do was to herd about 600 head of sheep on those rolling hills. Uncle Will Widdison helped me to drive our sheep to Maple Creek which took a good day for the drive. When Uncle Will left me, it seemed I had been away from home for a long time. I had been there about two weeks when Father drove up into the yard. I was so glad to see him! But when he started to leave the next morning, I cried as if my heart would break. I wanted to go home. Father said, "If you can stay another week, I will send Will to herd the sheep for a while. As father had promised, Brother Will went to my relief. While I was home I helped haul hay. The hay was unloaded with a hay fork. I stacked it in the old hay shed alone. When I went to bed I could hardly sleep. Yet I would rather work that way than to herd sheep. When father said I must go back to the sheep herd, I cried again. I felt I could not stand to go. I was willing to work, to rake hay and stack it, to milk and to help irrigate. Brother Will was only four years older than I. Why couldnt I take his place? Why should he be fathers pet? Father said I couldnt do the work as good as Brother Will. I stayed with sheep the rest of the season and herded them the best I could, but the feed on the open ridges soon dried up. Gilbert said, "You must let the sheep stay in the timber more" and I could not take them back to the home at night. It was a long walk each day to the top of the mountain. I must go to the sheep each day and observe conditions generally, see if they have been molested by coyotes, wolves, or bear. I would feel a little safer if I had a horse. What could I do if attacked by a wild animal? Such were my thoughts. Gilbert said that wild animals would not tackle me. However, when the coyotes got into the herd of sheep it seemed as if my hair stiffened and raised up my hat. I still wasnt sure about bears and lions after hearing the stories of such men as Isaac Brown, William Wright, Jos. R. Murdock and others. They really must have been brave men. How be it, they had a gun and I had none. I am older now and can tell bear stories as well as some others.
During the later years that Ralph and I herded sheep on the Charleston prarie, we had a horse to ride and we herded both sheep and our milk cows. When we herded cows in the Snake Creek meadow in the fall of the year, the Casper boys herded near us and we visited together. Also, others of our young boy friends visited with us
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