Heritage, Spring 2003 Page: 28
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across and then doubled back before stopping
to drink. During this trip those steers
got as gentle as dogs.
After this first trip across the desert we
made it systematically, and there was practically
no loss. And the time consumed in
making this drive would not vary two
hours. (I made four trips up this trailafter
that I contracted my herds at Bosque.
My losses were too heavy, and the man I
contracted with lost two herds, horses and
all, on the Pecos. Indians.) We would
leave the Concho at noon, drive that
afternoon and all night, then the next day
and the next night. About ten o'clock the
next morning we would reach the Pecos.
The mess wagon was always sent on ahead
in making these drives and the men would
eat and drink as they passed it with the
A herd, under ordinary conditions, was
ready for grazing at 11 o'clock in the
morning. At this time the men stopped for
dinner, which had been prepared while
breakfast was cooking. It was always best to
select a grazing ground where the ground
met to straddle the trail, so that the cattle
could be thrown to each side. If this was
done, the foreman or one of the pointers
would give the signal to split the herd by
waving his hand each way. The swing
hands would fall into the center, turning
the cattle both ways. It was a little troublesome
the first few days, but the cattle soon
learned it. This method brought the herd
back into form in half the time it would
take if all the cattle were on one side.
After this grazing at noon the cattle
would not eat any more until they got to
water, which we always tried to reach
before sundown. This gave us ample time
to have the cattle filled and everything
arranged for a pleasant night. The herd
was put in a circle, the cattle being a comfortable
distance apart. When the drive
was first started and the cattle were fresh,
I used a double guard. That is, half the
men guarded the first part of the night; the
other half the latter part. In storms or
stampedes, we were all on duty. After the
herd had been out 15 days it was "trail
broke," and four men were sufficient to
guard 3,000 head of cattle. If we were out
two to three months, the last month, two
men at a time were sufficient. Each guard
slept two hours at a time and a little over;
for each guard always stayed up a little
over time. It is a fact that the last guard
had the shortest watch. After we had been
out a month, the men could easily stay
awake their two hours, and when in camp
would not sleep those hours. We never
had any watch to go by, but divided the
time by the Dipper; it was accurately
measured in this way. The guards rode
around the herd facing each other, and in
this way they passed each other twice as
they went around. If a rattlesnake were
heard in the guard line, the man hearing it
would inform his companions of its whereabouts
and the next morning someone
would go and kill it-rattlesnakes do not
move at night. Cattle feared the rattlesnake
and always gave him a wide berth.
When cattle are first started the risk of
HERITAGE f SPRING 2003
THE ANTLERS HOTEL
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places
and a recorded Texas Historical Landmark
A turn of the century
railroad resort on Lake LBJ
Historic Hotel * Cabins * Traincars
1001 King, Kingsland, TX 78639
800-383-0007 - 915-388-4411
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Spring 2003, periodical, Spring 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45378/m1/28/?q=contract%20drovers%20cattle: accessed January 16, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.