Autobiography of Ralph John Wesley Howard


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pounds, and a team of extra big mules, that he paid a fancy price for the last time he had been to Kansas City with cattle. I loaded a barrel and the plow in the wagon, hitched up the mules and went to the river and filled it with salty jip water. Stock could live on it but it was a question whether I could. I came back to the ranch and stopped to get some salt pork, flour, coffee and headed for his pasture fence o the east side of his pasture. Mullock’s pasture was six miles square, it enclosed thirty-six square miles and that meant that I had one hundred and forty-four miles to plow. When I came to the fence, I pulled the staples and let down the three wires and fastened them and then I drove over the fence and stopped and unhitched the mules and hitched them to the plow. Then a few paces from the fence I wanted to start a furrow to run parallel to the fence. We started all right but the plow seemed to have ideas of its own. It moved along very nicely on the dry grass but if by any means, I tried to persuade it to enter the ground, it would stall the mules in their tracks. They were big and strong and faithful and tried time and again. Now tell me, what a person should do in such a case. I know what I did … I did not want the boss to come out and catch me not trying. Finding his team all covered with foam and exhausted, so I just let the plow slide gently along the grass for a mile along the fence and turned around and came back. I had done so many half trips with a plow that I knew just how many trips to make in a ten-hour day. Every time I completed a trip, I drank about a quart of that almost hot mineral water, and gave the mules some if they would take it. By six o’clock, I wasn’t feeling any too good so I didn’t eat my full quota of flour and water flapjacks for supper. Although they were burned black as usual over buffalo chip fire, and there were plenty of fat pork grease to make them slip down, and coffee I couldn’t drink without plenty of sugar. I wasn’t feeling much better the next morning. I started in the opposite direction at seven sharp. I was expecting the boss to show up at any moment. At six o’clock he hadn’t shown up and I still didn’t feel good, and the water barrel was getting low. At seven the next morning, we started as on schedule and went until noon. At one o’clock, we drank the remaining water and went to the ranch for more. The boss wasn’t home and no one knew where he would be. I filled the barrel and returned to camp and the routine. The following day brought no change in schedule. I done some more figuring on how long this would last. The fireguard that he wanted was three furrows wide along the fence and then three furrows parallel to them, a hundred yards father out from the fence (he would burn the space between to make a barren spot to stop wild fire). This would require three furrows 288 miles long, nearly the distance from Manhattan to Liberal. So far, I could see no advantage in livestock business over agriculture. At seven the next morning, business as usual until noon. At one o’clock business as usual until two

The Howard Clan webpages were submitted by Patrick K. Best The Howard Clan were some of the original homesteaders of the North Bend District. It is hoped that you and many more people enjoy this history that this clan went through everyday to strive to live and provide a great part in making the history of Saskatchewan come alive.

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