Guess I’m still on a sheep kick. This is a story about my cowboy’s great uncle Charlie.
So great uncle Charlie went to work on a big sheep ranch not real far from where we have been working this summer. These stories were told by the ranch foreman.
Apparently he and Charlie were out a horseback checking on some sheep. They came upon a sad scene where a coyote had killed a lamb and was eating it in front of the mother. The ewe was trying everything she could to drive off the coyote but it wasn’t working.
Suddenly, leaving the foreman behind with no explanation, uncle Charlie kicked his horse into a gallop towards the coyote and the ewe. At a dead run he pulled out a guns and with one shot killed the coyote but didn’t stop, just headed over the hill back to the yard.
A short while later he was back, packing a little orphan lamb on his horse. He skinned the little dead lamb, tied the hide to the orphan and presented it to the ewe. A sniff or two and she happily accepted the lamb.
The foreman congratulated uncle Charlie on his marksmanship and on finding a mama for the bum lamb.
Uncle Charlie said he didn’t do it for the lamb but any mother who would fight that hard for a baby deserved to have one. I love uncle Charlie (and my cowboy since it was his great uncle) just from that story alone, but there’s more.
So the foreman was headed to town, one day, and asked the hired men if there was anything they wanted him to bring them back from town. Lots asked for whiskey or tabacco but uncle Charlie just wanted his bible. Well this caused the other hands to start ridiculing him and calling him the bible boy which led to an unpleasant incident a while later.
The foreman heard gunshot and when he rode over to the group of hired men found one of them shooting at Uncle Charlie’s feet trying to get him to dance with all the others egging him on. Uncle Charlie, cool as a cucumber said: “Well, I know they’re big but it’s gonna take a better shot than to hit ’em”. (Dang, aren’t you starting to love uncle Charlie too?)
Well this caused even a bigger ruckus and they were saying things like: “I guess you think you’re a better shot, then?” Before things got any more out of hand the foreman said: “We can have a little contest and see whose the better shot.”
Everyone was all about showing how much better they were with a gun than uncle Charlie. (The foreman had seen him shoot that coyote I mentioned before and knew how good a shot uncle Charlie was).
So the contest consisted of 5 rocks on top of fence posts on down the fence line. The deal was you started standing on the ground, mounted your horse, galloped on down the fence line shooting off the rocks as you went by, ahorseback.
Each of the hired men took a turn but only a rock or two was hit. Uncle Charlie was last. He climbed aboard his horse, yelled yeehaw, threw his hat in the air, and shot a hole threw it, then spured up horse, galloped down the fence, and hit every single rock. (Like the original mounted shooting but will a lone bullet, not a pistol full of shot and balloons like they do now.)
But I saved the best story for last.
There was a mighty blizzard and the men out tending sheep came in one by one, leaving their flocks to drift with the snow, pile up on fence lines, and die and die they did, thousands of them.
The only one who didn’t come in was uncle Charlie and the foreman was rightly concerned about him so when the blizzard quit he went out looking for him. He found him safe and sound along with all his sheep. The foreman was flabbergasted and asked him how, when those big tough men had got scared and come back to the yard, how he had managed to stay alive and save the sheep too.
Uncle Charlie told him how he had tried to hold the sheep from drifting but when he couldn’t anymore he knelt down in the snow and asked God to help him. And He did.
Uncle Charlie was more than a good shot and saved more than just sheep. Because of his influence the foreman changed his life and started going back to church and became a real good man who blessed many lives.
My cowboy can remember his great uncle, just a little guy, not much over 5 foot tall, but a spiritual giant.
He even remembers sitting on his old saddle. I wonder if that’s when he first wanted to be cowboy? His compassion for animals is a lot like Uncle Charlie’s too. He’s like my dad that way. My dad would have liked Uncle Charlie a lot. Hope I get to meet him on the other side. You never know, maybe they’ve met in up-yonder.