Pioneer Families

Those days the pioneers all had big families. The families normally consisted of between eight to twelve kids. They raised them for work, and they very seldom gave a damn if you got an education or not. Child labor laws were unheard of. If these laws had been on the books in those days, most of the old pioneers would have spent the better part of their time in court. As bad as things were at my home, some of the neighbors had it worse...


Heating

The houses they lived in were not even adequate for sheep sheds. During the depression years, some people had two 30-gallon oil barrels welded together, which they used for a heater in winter. It stood in the middle of the room and the kids had to keep shoving arm loads of straw in it to keep enough heat in the house.

I remember a Hill family we used to visit. They had seven kids. The boys kept a set of boxing gloves handy. For a quick warm up, they would put the gloves on, and if they mixed it up (boxed) for 10 minutes, they would generate enough to keep an eskimo warm for the better part of a week.


Christmas and Church

My folks were Lutheran but the nearest Lutheran church was 14 miles from home, which had to be driven by horse and buggy, so we seldom got to church - only for funerals or weddings of close neighbors and relation. But there was a small Evangelical church about 1 1/2 miles north of our place that we kids went to off and on. We normally took part in their Christmas programs. Their minister came from Kulm about once a month to preach; otherwise some of the neighbors would change off giving little sermons, and read passages out of the Bible. Gottfried Martin and Jake Braun used to trade off preaching and I recall the remark made by Gottfried, who preached in German, "Nun will ich diesen wichtigen pharsh noch einmal wieder holen," meaning, "I must read this enlightening verse over again."

Gottfried and Jake did a good job considering what little education they had, like about the equivalent of the 3rd grade. I recall they had what they called “revival meetings” at the church sometimes - in the evenings. The whole congregation would be on their knees. One person would be praying out loud confessing his or her sins. Old Henry Brandenburger would be listening, and every time he heard someone confess one of their erring ways, you could hear him mutter "hmm" to himself. It got the congregation so disturbed, they initiated a move to have him kicked out of church.

As I mentioned, we kids took part in church Christmas programs. We'd get a small bag of nuts and a few candies, which was a great thing for us. This was about all Santa brought us. At home, some of the neighbor kids got toys and new clothes, but that was wishful thinking at our place. Dad's booze took care of that. In spite, we always looked forward to Christmas. There was also a Christmas program at school where we also received a few candies.


Isolation

We were isolated. The only people we encountered for months at a time were the immediate neighbors within a radius of about five miles. About once a year we would see an airplane go over. The neighbors would call each other on the phone, "Did you see the airplane; isn't it amazing what people can do now days?" Of course the Klotzbeacher's didn't have a phone or newspaper. The only news we got was by word of mouth.


The Telephone

The phones those days were quite crude and it was about the only means of knowing what was going on in the neighborhood. Whenever one party would call another, everyone's phone would ring. After that you could hear clicks from receivers all over the place - people listening in - no such thing as a private conversation. That's what they called rubbering.

Country phone lines were maintained by the people that subscribed to the service. Every six months they would get together and go over the lines, replace insulators, poles, etc. I recall one old rancher calling a widow to ask her to furnish someone to take her place on the maintenance crew. After trying several times, she didn't answer. He got disgusted and just before he hung up, everyone that was listening in heard him say, "I suppose the danged old heifer ain't home!"

Anyway, to describe these old time phones... They were sort of an oblong box which had some type of magneto inside and a crank on the outside. To call someone, you turned the crank. Everyone had a ring assigned to them such as one long, and two shorts. For the long you gave the crank one complete turn and for the shorts a half turn, hesitating for an instant between each turn. These contraptions were fastened to the wall.


Roads

Farmers building roads 20 mi. west of Ellendale ND Roads those days weren't much more than Indian trails. There were few cars. If you wanted to go some place, you took the shortest route across fields and pastures. There were pasture gates at every place which you opened and closed as you went. Then there was a lot of open territory. In the spring and during rainy seasons, everything turned to mud. The people who owned cars had trouble going places because they would get stuck in the mud. There were no gravel or paved roads.


Cars

Cars were few. I don't think I had a ride in one till I was about seven years old. That was about 1920. There were mostly Model-T Ford touring cars. They had a cloth top which you could put up in case of rain. It was normally folded over the rear seat like a convertible. A new Model-T would cost between $400 to $450. I remember when one of our neighbors drove in the yard with a new Model-T touring car. He was asked what it cost him, and he said, "$444." A sedan was in the $500. range. One never paid for "extras" at that time because the car dealers didn't know what that word meant.

In about 1922, Dad bought a 1917 Model-T used car. I doubt that he had more than $100 in it. The salesman had to teach him how to drive it. I remember being in the back seat going down a deeply rutted country road at about 35 miles per hour when Dad decided to make a sharp left turn, damn near upsetting the monstrosity. The salesman was quite disturbed and told Dad to slow down to make a turn.

When it looked like rain, you put on the side curtains. With the top up, they were able to be attached both to the top and the side of the frame. There were four pieces which had small isinglass windows sewed into heavy cloth. The isinglass was cracked most of the time. For heat you had a 4x6 register in the front floor board on the passenger's side with a button which turned to open and close it. A pipe ran to the hot exhaust pipe for heat. It was inefficient, possibly useful to keep a passenger's feet warm. They called these vehicles various names: puddle jumpers, whoopee wagons, flivvers, or tin lizzies.

The tires on these cars were 3 1/2 x 30 inches - hardly larger than a bike tire. Flats were very common because they had inner tubes which were easily punctured. You always had to carry tire irons and it was a hell of a job getting them off and on the wheel, especially when you had your best suit on and the mud was knee deep, or in the winter with the snow and ice and 20° below with a wind. One carried some patching material under the back seat along with the side curtains.

Paved roads were still 30-40 years in the future, especially in the Dakotas. There were some bigger cars around too; they weighed as much as a tractor: Oaklands, Overlands, Essex, Reos, Whippet, Chrysler, Dodge, Buick, Star, Studebaker, Graham-Paige, Chandler, Chevrolet, Pontiac to name a few.


Easter

Easter didn't get much attention at our house since we were so far from church. Mother would dye a few eggs, tell us about the Easter rabbit and the biblical story about Christ's resurrection. We were more interested in the rabbit that laid all the colored eggs. We could never catch the son-of-a-gun in the act.


Jack Rabbits

Jack rabbits were very numerous in North Dakota. When I was a kid, they were hard on some of the crops, so the farmers and ranchers would get together and have rabbit drives. About 40 men would get together, surround a section of land with 10 fellows on each side. As they staggered out, all moving to the middle and armed with shotguns, the rabbits and coyotes wound up at the center of the circle and everybody would blast away at them. It sounded like Custer's last stand. They used to wind up with 200 or 300 rabbits on a Sunday. Someone would haul them to town where they would be shipped to fur farms to feed fox and such. Also, the pelt would be utilized.


Whitestone Battlefield

Whitestone Battlefield was located six miles straight north of where I was born. There was an indian uprising in 1863, during the civil war, in the western part of the U.S. General Sully was sent out from Ft. Snelling, Minnesota to hunt down some of the stray Indian bands and encourage them to associate with an established Indian reservation or, if necessary, force them to comply. General Custer was also sent out from Ft. Snelling on an Indian campaign.

General Sully had two troops of Cavalry: the 5th Iowa and the 6th Nebraska. They encountered their first band of Indians September 3rd, 1863 approximately twelve miles southeast of what is now Kulm, North Dakota. Late in the afternoon of that day, it seems there was an attempt at negotiating, which obviously didn't succeed, so battle ensued. There was an estimate of 1000 Indians in the encampment, who were camped around a small lake opposite a fairly high hill just east of the lake. The Indians fought a delaying action while their women and children escaped to the southeast. The rest followed after night set in. According to a North Dakota historian, it took 100 men two days to bury dead Indians, horses, plus 25 of their own dead.

The government had a large monument erected with 25 small grave markers surrounding it, honoring the dead troopers. The large monument is of a bugler facing north, blowing his bugle. Monuments were erected on the high hill east of the small lake - whence the name Whitestone Hill Battlefield.


Gypsies

I also recall as a kid about gypsy tribes roaming through the area. We kids were warned that the gypsies would steal children. Whenever gypsies were reported, most kids could be found under their beds. They were mostly horse traders, coming down the road in covered wagons, with strings of horses, kids and dogs, pots and pans - everything they possessed. They cooked on campfires. When they arrived we tried to lock up everything. Gypsies were shrewd traders, and they always came out ahead when trading horses.

The first gypsies came from India, roamed all over Europe, parts of Asia, and eventually came to America. The art of gypsy women was fortune telling. It offered them countless opportunities for using their Indian powers of suggestion and hypnotism. Gypsies inspired stories and suspicions in the countries they roamed, helping them to bewitch the country folk and bring them under their spell. They were fakirs by instinct, and were able to read the minds of their audiences like a book. Their hypnotic eyes soon mesmerized their victims. If they weren't telling fortunes, they were going door to door, begging or stealing, and their children were adept at slitting purses and picking pockets. Gypsies were also great musicians, with accordions, fiddles, and guitars.


Cattle Drives

When I was growing up, we lived next to a large ranch. The rancher, Walter Haas, owned eleven quarters of land. Every spring he drove all over the area buying up cattle from some of the farmers. Those days, no one knew what the market price was on cattle or other livestock because radios and newspapers weren't available. Most people couldn't read anyway. So old Walter took advantage of them. After he had bought enough to fill his pastures, he would hire my brother, Klotzie, and me for a cattle drive. All the cattle had to be delivered to a certain place, then my brother and I would ride up there and drive the herd down to the rancher's place. This was normally a two-day drive for which we earned $1.00 per day. The rancher would follow us in his wagon. He had a tent and groceries in his wagon. We would camp at night by a small stream. This normally took place in early May. The rancher would turn the cattle loose in his large pastures over summer, then along in October, we would drive them to town, load them in cattle cars and he would ship them to South St. Paul and make a handsome profit.

The above gives you an idea what wages were like. In spite of the profit he made, he never paid us more than $1.00 per day. I helped him a lot during the summer months repairing, building fences, cleaning barns and cattle sheds, putting up hay, etc. I didn't mind working for the old maverick because I enjoyed life on a ranch. He had several good ponies to ride. I broke several broncos for him and used to ride in rodeos till I got smart and decided a guy could get his neck broke with no compensation if you got disabled.

The first time I was on a cattle drive, it was a two-day affair when I was 12 years old. Some older guy was in charge who appeared to be in his 50s. We stopped over night at the Elm River in North Dakota. We pitched a tent. The old guy must have been troubled by hemorrhoids. Just before he got ready to retire, he dug out a jar of petroleum jelly, took a big gob on his index finger and ran it up the cleft of his rear end. I had never experienced anything like that. My eyes lit up like two silver dollars. The guy noticed this reaction and thought I deserved some kind of an answer. He said, "Did you ever grease your ass so you could run faster?"


Games

There wasn't much to do in our country school during recess. There were never more than 16 pupils in school. In the winter, we went in the hills with our home made sleds and slid down hill or played some kind of pasture hockey. We made hockey sticks from old Model-T car tops, and for pucks we used frozen horse biscuits (manure). Those we could afford; all we had to do was wait for the horse to make more.

During summers we used to play pasture baseball. We didn't have any type of equipment; mostly everything we had was supplied by the Brandenburger boys. Baseballs consisted of balls their older brothers had no more use for. The seams were split, with half the leather knocked off. Bats were few and far between. Sometimes we had to use 2x4s with a handhold carved on one end. Bases consisted of flat rocks.

Other games we played were pom pom pull away, tag, anti-anti over, drop the handkerchief, and so forth. That's the way we spent recess time in our earlier school years.


Graduation

I graduated from the eighth grade in 1927. Sometimes I wonder how I ever made it. I was kept out of school for work much of the time, had no books to study from, no library to consult, no magazines, no newspaper, no radio, and lived out in the boondocks. It helped that I spent from 1919 to 1923 in Merricourt and learned to speak English well because I was constantly in touch with kids that spoke English most of the time. My sisters and brothers picked up lots of knowledge from us older ones. Being the oldest one, I was the trailblazer. Although my folks spoke German at home, we kids spoke English between ourselves. As a result, our folks picked up the English quite well also.


Confirmation

July of 1929 the folks obtained a room for me in Forbes, North Dakota where I attended confirmation school at the Lutheran Church. I graduated from this religious training on August 4th, 1929. I was the only one of the family to get confirmed. In the 1930s, we got into the Depression; no one had any money for anything. The church struggled to keep going. Our minister had to work for the farmers part time to keep from starving.


Iowa, Fall & Winter of 1929

I got acquainted with a fellow by the name of Harvey Smith. He came up from Shenandoah, Iowa to work in the harvest fields in Dakota. We were both 17. He was a likable guy, but he had trouble telling the truth - very talkative. He convinced me to go to Iowa with him after harvest saying there were lots of corn picking jobs down there. They paid 5¢ per bushel for hand picking. Those days there were no mechanical pickers. I also had to convince Dad to let me go. We got down there in an old Model-T flivver which Harvey had acquired.

His folks lived in town; they were poor as church mice. His mother worked part-time in a restaurant. She used to bring chicken bones home to make soup out of. They had six kids. The old man worked here and there wherever someone needed a man for a few hours or days. We lived mostly on baking powder biscuits, soup and potatoes. As usual Harvey had painted a glamorous picture of jobs available. Most farmers and their kids picked their own corn. Times were tough; they didn't have money to hire help.

I got acquainted with an older guy that had a small place in the country. He invited me to stay with them for my room and board. He didn't work steady either, but he didn't have other kids underfoot. I stayed at his place through Dec., Jan. and Feb. By that time my friend Harvey had another brainstorm. He had talked some auto dealer out of a 1919 Buick touring car. At this time, two guys from Missouri showed up. One was Harvey's brother. Both these guys wanted to go out west. They had about 100 bucks between them. So Harvey volunteered the car if I and he could go too. So we left about the middle of March, a real nice day in Iowa.

This old Buick had a nice top on it, with side curtains available. The weather the first couple of days was very nice and it was decided, "Who needs that top anyway?" So we ripped it off. Next day we hit western Nebraska where we started experiencing sleet, snow and cold rain. We were soon soaked to the skin. We then pulled into a rancher's place. He saw our plight and let us stay in an old granary for a couple days. We got out as far as Laramie, Wyoming and rented a motel room with light housekeeping for $25.00. We lived on flap jacks and pork & beans that week. We didn't know enough to go out scouting for a job.

By the end of the week, we were broke; so Harvey sold the Buick, which I'm sure never belonged to him, for $10.00. Then there was nothing else to do but head for home, so we decided to ride freight trains. We got to Grand Island, Nebraska and the train stopped. There were several fellows in this box car when a railroad bull (cop) came by. He said, "You damn bums get the hell out of here, or I'll shoot your shoe soles off." Harvey looked at his shoes, which both had holes in the soles, and said, "Your going to have to do some close shooting partner." Next time I saw Harvey, he came out of the railroad car in a headlong swan dive with the propulsion furnished by the railway cop.

Another time on the way, some railroad official asked Harvey, "Where you bound, buddy?" Harvey replied, "...bound in the ass, and ain't shit for a week!" My first reaction, "Oh, Jesus, here we go again!" but this official took it with a grin. He even advised us where to hop the next freight so we wouldn't get booted off. When we got to Sioux City, Iowa, the two Missourians headed for Missouri, and Harvey and I headed for North Dakota. We were flat broke when we got to Sioux City, so the rest of the way home (two days) we had no food. We arrived back in Dakota in mid April 1930. I was sure as heck glad to get home among friends. Harvey went back to our neighbors where he worked before.


Typhoid Fever

A week or so after I got home, I came down with typhoid fever. I must have come in contact with the germ somewhere on the Nebraska and Wyoming trip. We had been drinking water out of ponds while hitchhiking and missed many meals which left me in weakened condition. I came down with typhoid the last week in April and could hardly walk on the 4th of July. One afternoon I got a nosebleed. Ma tried to stop it by putting cold towels on my neck and nose. She had Klotzie walk over to Mallach's asking for help. Ted came back with him. Ted tried some home remedies to no avail. Another neighbor, Henry Martin, came over. He said, “I'm going to drive over to Walt Haas' place and use his phone.” He called Doc Lynde at Ellendale (25 miles away), our nearest doctor.

On the way back from Haas' place, Henry's car caught on fire. I guess he got it out by throwing dirt on it and without too much damage. It took an hour for Doc to get out to the place. Roads and cars were still in their early stages of development. Doc did something to stop the bleeding and got ready to leave, but did a little visiting with Ted, Henry and Dad. In the meantime, Mother noticed I was bleeding out of the mouth. Lucky for me, Doc hadn't left yet. He came back in and ran something up my nose, brought it back through my mouth and tied it. That stopped the bleeding. Next day he came back and pulled it out.

It was fortunate, as I said, that Doc hadn't left the night before or I would not be here to write about this. And, I have to thank Henry Martin for calling the doctor; he saved my life. All the while Dad did absolutely nothing. There was one week I was completely out of my head. Doc told Ma what she should do to keep the rest of the family from getting infected. In spite of it, my sister, Theresa, came down with the illness. She never required a doctor however, but we both lost our hair. The bill came to $40.00 and I'm sure the doctor never got a cent.


Mail

When my grandparents, the Gulke's, first settled in North Dakota in 1889, there was no mail delivery to the settler's homes. Instead, the mail was brought out from the nearest rail terminal, which was Forbes, North Dakota, whereupon it was transported once per week to one early settler's home. He provided a room in his house for this purpose; all the farmers and ranchers had to go to his place to get their mail at their convenience, usually by horseback. The delivery point was John Wirch's place, and, for quite a number of years, the place was known as Wirch, North Dakota. In fact, my birth certificate lists me as born at Wirch, N. D.

It was sometime around the end of World War I (1918) that a couple of rural routes were established, coming out of Forbes, No. Dakota. It was then that the name of Wirch, N. D. became extinct.

Mike Mallach family, ca. 1920, Forbes ND I recall when the folks decided to move back out to our old country place, from Merricourt, North Dakota in about 1923. We had mail delivery six days a week, but we still had a mile to go to pick it up. The mail man came by our Uncle Mike Mallach's place and left our mail in Mallach's box. We used to pick it up on our way home from school.


Forbes, North Dakota

Forbes, North Dakota was the first town I ever remember being in - possibly a population of 200. I'm writing this 72 years later; the town still exits. But, I doubt if it has 150 population at this date. This was the town we did our business in the first 15 years of my existence. It took half a day to drive to town with horse and buggy, and the rest of the day to drive back home. I recall most of the business places in town. Gottlieb Hoffman had the garage. There were two grocery stores, the farmers' store run by Johnnie Martin, one of our neighbor boys (my second cousin). The other farmers' store was owned by Handleman, a Jewish fellow. Dad could talk this Jewish dialect, so during World War I, he had no trouble negotiating for rationed items such as sugar and coffee.

Jack Rapp had the blacksmith shop. Mike Martin, another relative, owned the implement shop. There was a lumber yard, and I have forgotten the guy's name who ran it. There were two banks; one was run by Martin Erbely and the other by Boley. They both went broke during the depression in the 1930s. Many people lost all their savings because at that time there was no insurance against such catastrophes.

The town also had a pool hall and barber shop combination. Shaves were 25¢ and haircuts 50¢. There were no safety razors, so the barbers used straight razors which were kept sharp by stropping them on a leather strop (strap).

There were three churches in town, one being Lutheran, and I don't recall the other denominations. Likewise, there were three grain elevators in town.

Curiously, this little town always managed to put on a 4th of July celebration complete with parade. Here, as elsewhere, the streets turned to mud when it rained. After gravel roads were built and more cars appeared, many people began making the more distant drive to Ellendale, the county seat of Dickey County. Ellendale, having a population of around 1500, was a more significant commercial center.


Groceries and Food Preservation

Very few groceries were bought in town, just the bare necessities such as salt, sugar and items we couldn't make or grow ourselves. For example, wild and locally raised berries were made into jams, jellies and sauces. Meats were all preserved by being fried down in large stone crocks. Meat was also turned into hams, sausages, bacon and hamburger. Vegetables were eaten fresh in season. The rest were canned. Carrots and beets were put in sand, kept in a storm cellar or basement, if you had one, along with the canned goods. The hams, sausage, and so forth were hung in the attic where it was dry. To keep them from spoiling, these items were heavily smoked. Flour, sugar, and so on were bought in large quantities; 100 pounds of sugar was a normal purchase, along with perhaps 1000 pounds of flour in 100-lb. bags - depending on the size of the family. Our folks used to trade wheat for flour at the flour mill in Kulm, North Dakota.


The Gulke Cemetery

The Gulke cemetery is where my maternal grandparents are buried. It is located about 14 miles northwest of Forbes, N. D., next to the road, on the south side, about 1/4 mile west of their farm buildings. I also have a brother and sister buried there; August was less than a year old, and sister Rachel (the youngest) was about two or three months old. I believe hers was a crib death. August was born about 1914, between myself and Klotzie. Rachel was born in 1930.

John Gulke has John Jr. buried there. He was their second son. Christ Gulke has three buried there. The cemetery has been in disrepair since Grandmother died in 1923. Grandfather died in 1909. My brother, John, and I went out there in the 1970s and straightened the place up, cut brush grass and put the tombstones in order. We have many cousins living in the vicinity, but they have never done a thing maintenance-wise. We had to come from Minnesota and California to do it. Next trip to Dakota, I'm going to talk to the county commissioners and see if they can do something in the way of maintenance.


Rumor of Indian Uprising

This occurred west of Ashley, North Dakota shortly after 1900. People left their homesteads and headed for Ashley and Eureka, South Dakota to keep from getting massacred. They turned their livestock loose and some even went as far as digging tunnels and covering them with railroad ties and arming themselves. Their handiwork inherited the name of Fort Sauerkraut. But, it turned out to be a rumor. After a week or so they realized that it was just that, and they came back and gathered up their livestock.


Prairie Fires

These were dreaded by early settlers because there was no means to stop them. Many were set off by lightning, others by carelessness, such as a farmer trying to burn the grain stubble of his field before replanting.


Winters in the Dakotas

Winters were something to behold. Sometimes it went from 30 to 40° below zero. The wind might blow for several days at a time, gusting to 50 miles per hour. Blizzards would be so bad that you had to run a rope between house and barn so you could find your way to feed the animals and do chores. The family car in front of the house was unusable, being completely covered over by the snow.


Job Conditions

Jobs were few and far between in North Dakota. Farm and ranching jobs were about all that was available. In summer during planting, harvest and haying times, one got from $20.00 to $25.00 a month. This meant putting in 10 to 12 hours per day doing dirty, hard labor for six days, and still having more chores on the seventh. At night, it was so damn hot, one could hardly sleep; there was no such thing as air conditioning, not even fans. To add to the discomfort, there were no bathing facilities. My uncle had a creek running through his pasture with a few deep water holes in it. After work in the evening, we went skinny dipping to cool off. During the drought of the 1930s, there was no water anywhere except for a few deep lakes. Most were dried up.

We normally bathed in a wash tub every Saturday night, the night everybody went to town to pick up a few groceries and visit with the neighbors and catch up on the latest news. The money they spent was from eggs and cream since everyone had a few chickens and milk cows.


Montana, April 1934

My brother, Klotzie, and I had heard that there was work on ranches in Montana, and the going wages were $40.00 per month, so we decided to head for Montana. I had purchased a second-hand Model-T coupe car for $50.00 and I paid $5.00 a month on it. We took off for Montana having only $10.00 between us. I was 21 and Klotzie was 18. I had never been farther from home than 50 miles. Aberdeen, South Dakota had been the extent of my travels. We got about 75 miles from home and the car threw a connecting rod. I drove it across a ditch so I could get under it. I commenced taking off the oil pan and disassembled the connecting rod while sending Klotzie back to town (hitch hiking) to get some oil and a new rod. The whole ball of wax cost us $2.50. I put the rod in, poured in the oil and in a couple hours were on our way again.

We finally came to the Black Hills; a sight like this I had never seen. I became so excited, I wanted to take them back to North Dakota. We got to Belle Fourche, South Dakota after dark, had some supper, put gas in the car and had $5.00 left. We rested overnight in the car. Next morning I told Klotzie, "We'll hang around here a few hours. If we can't get work, we'll have to start back home. We've just enough money to get back." We were parked on Main Street, about 8:00 a.m., when a rancher walked up to the car, asked if we were looking for work, and we replied, "Yes, we are."

"You fellers know anything about herding cattle or sheep?" "Well, we grew up with livestock," we replied. "I live in Montana. I'll give you $40.00 a month if you can handle the job." We said, "You won't be disappointed." He responded, "You can follow me; I live about 50 miles from here." We trailed him to the vicinity of Albian, Montana - with a population of about 150. Our new employer was Walter Kornamen, a bachelor, but he lived with his folks. His mother did the cooking.

We were both assigned to a big herd of sheep and were given a pony and a covered wagon. Each of us was put on a couple sections of land, shown where the boundaries were, and were given a couple weeks worth of groceries as well as pots and pans. From that time on, we lived among the sheep. After two weeks, the boss came to check things out and bring a new batch of groceries. (Too damn bad if you didn't know how to cook).

It was lambing time, and I was what they called the "drop herd." I had to be real watchful; if any ewe had any trouble with bearing her lamb, I had to assist. Early June, when the lambs were about 5 or 6 weeks old, the herd was driven back to the ranch where they were docked. This consisted of counting the new crop of lambs, castrating the buck lambs, and running all the sheep through a solution to kill the sheep ticks. Following that, a shearing crew came to the ranch and sheared the sheep for their wool. A good shearer could shear 100 sheep a day with an electric clipper. There were 12 guys doing the shearing. Since there was actually no electricity on the ranch, they brought their own generator with them. (Prior to the 1930s they used nothing but sheep shears, which was a slower process).

Klotzie didn't hang around after shearing; there wasn't much to do after lambing and shearing was over. When all of the sheep were docked and shorn, the separate herds were combined into one large herd, like about 1500 sheep.


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