Hat Tips


By the time you read this, we could be in the throes of our first major storm of the winter. I’m hoping that the people that forecast the weather are the same people that forecast the election results!

Yesterday, we had our last deck party of the year. Just Shirley and I and a couple neighbors. But I don’t recall a fall with the wonderful weather we have been enjoying. I mean, people are still getting produce from their gardens! In the middle of November!

I grew up near Berthold, North Dakota. Our farm/ranch was in the prairie pothole region of the state. The only trees were around homesteads. There were no creeks or rivers running through the area. There were no clay buttes of cedar canyons. There is wide-open country with rolling hills and potholes.

One year, I suppose it was over 50 years ago, Gary was working for us. He was a classmate of mine and helped out on the ranch whenever he could. He could run equipment, cowboy a little, and was dang good company.

It was about this time in the fall and the forecast suddenly called for heavy, wet snow and strong winds. Our cattle were scattered out over several miles of fall grazing across fields, areas of grass, and potholes. Dad and Grandpa knew we had better gather the cattle and bring them into the feed ground, where there was shelter.

I think there were five or six of us that saddled up and trotted out of the yard. Dad lined us out in different directions to get the job done before the storm got worse.

It got worse in a hurry but the cattle seemed to know they had better head for home and moved easily towards home. When we got to the yard with the cattle, we were one short. Gary. One rider was missing.

Grandpa and Dad rode out to look for him. By now it was a rip-snorting blizzard. But being older and wiser, they knew by the wind the direction they were riding.

They came across Gary just a mile or so from the yard. He was following a track that was quickly drifting in. He figured it had to be taking him towards the yard. He said when he had started following the trail there was only one horse. Then a bit later another rider joined it. Then he figured there were at least three riders ahead of him so he knew he was close.

He had been riding around a hill and following his own tracks.

The moral of this story is, “If you are going to follow someone, make sure you know where they are going”!

Ride safe out there.



Dean Meyer is a former legislator and ranches in southwest North Dakota. He has been a columnist around the state for years.

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