Letters from the Ranch

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Steamboat Springs

Dear Denver Friends,

Continuing my account of adventures at Collum Creek, in my last letter I alluded to a most surprising encounter between a sheepherder with a huge herd of sheep and two cowboys who came riding up the road.

We had heard so many awful tales about the friction between sheep and cattlemen. We could see that the cowboys and the sheepherder would come face to face and we shuddered as we expected the very worst.

Imagine our astonishment when these fellows greeted one another in the friendliest manner.

The sheep spread out across the muddy area created by the big spring. The sheep were obviously looking for a place to drink. No drinking water was available. The young sheepherder, a teenage Greek boy, with the able assistance of his two dogs moved the herd to the dry hillside above the spring. The Greek boy joined the two cowboys and the three all came forward together giving us a cordial welcome to Collum Creek.

The cowboys explained that they had come to assist the sheepherder in making water available for the sheep and for us schoolmarms.

The two cowboys tied their horses in the open-faced shed, which was provided for the children who ride their horses to school. Then, with the irrigation shovels they had brought and our water bucket, the cowboys proceeded to assist the Greek boy in digging out the spring.

The two sheep dogs quietly held the huge herd, one dog on each side.

The young herder took his horse to a clump of willows near the spring, tied his horse to a willow and then produced a shovel, which had been well hidden among the willows. In what seemed like no time at all, the three men had an abundant flow of cold, clear water. The older men continued digging, excavating a good-sized ditch along the upper dry edge of the big muddy area; meanwhile the young Greek filled our water bucket and carried it to our tent. I emptied the bucket into our washbasin and two dish pans, plus a gallon mason jar, which I had brought along for making sun tea. Lulu and I accompanied the Greek boy back to the spring to refill our water bucket, which we took turns carrying back to our tent.

The herder started letting a few sheep at a time come to the ditch to drink. While the Greek boy was thus engaged, the cowboys lowed it was time for a break, which they spent in telling us some interesting information about the sheep and cattle ranching of the area. Will tell you about this later.

Meanwhile as ever,

Anna

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