Last week I was hot on the trail of Orbin Stevens. (Being a good feed salesman is kind of like being a good coon dog....... once you get a sniff ..... you got to follow the trail until you tree it.) Well now, Orbin himself, barely has a pot to pee in ..... but is a good range manager and day worker .... which means he knows all the local ranches, who has cattle in the area (even if the owner lives in TX, OK, CO etc) and who has the buying power!
I had met Orbin the first time in the School House Cafe in Fall River KS. (which by the way is a VERY good place to eat ... and if you are ever through Fall River around noon ....... stop in and eat ... well worth the money and the time!) We had compared names to find mutual friends, swapped stories and in general "checked" each other out for authenticity. (no use building a friendship with someone not genuine.) Well, Orbin was genuine.
Orbin is a big fellow, stands well over 6 foot, bald (he, like me, raised daughters) and in his mid fifties. He has spent most of his life in the Flinthills and has worked all the big ranches around that part of the country. His longest time for "full time" employment was on the Matador (owned by Koch Industries) in Greenwood co. But he preferred working for himself as a "day rider", "range manager" or as he put it, "general flunky".... and his reputation as a cowboy kept him busy.
Well Friday, I found him home in the middle of the day, which was very unusual unless it was raining..."otherwise people would think you lazy." When he answered the door, his hand was all bandaged and only three fingers protruding out of the bandage.
"What happened to you?" I asked, not wanting to over look the obvious.
"Well I joined the ranks of career ropers!" he said, his reference to the fact that many who rope a lot usually are missing a finger or a thumb. He then proceeded with the story of how it happened. A neighbor with a "wild ole rip" needed some help. The cow had been on a neighbors field for several days and they hadn't been able to get her back to the pasture.......so they called Orbin.
"I tried every trick in the book to get that wild old rip to the gate, but she would cut and head back. Well now, I couldn't have that! People down at the School House (what he called the cafe) would be snickering at me" he explained with a grin, "if I couldn't get one old cow through a gate!"
"So," he continued, "I throwed a rope at her and started dragging her to it. But, the rope started slipping around the horn. I turned to follow her and grab a new dally, when that wild ole rip turned and ran 90 degrees from me, sucking slack out of the rope ...... and blink, it was gone," he said holding up his bandaged hand. "But, when I set the dally that time, it was good.....and I got her drug through the gate!"
So all's well that ends well. Orbin's reputation is saved and he gets a few days of sitting where no one can call him lazy.