Baxter Black: An Old Story | TSLN.com

Baxter Black: An Old Story

Stop me if this sounds familiar…

Jake had some trouble with his folks. So to keep peace in the family he let the ranch and headed east where his reputation hadn’t preceded him. He wound up at his uncle’s place and promptly fell in love with his uncle’s daughter. Uncle was a mediocre stockman but a sharp judge of character. He could see Jake moonin’ around his daughter, Rachael, so he offered him a proposition. “Work for me seven years and I’ll approve the marriage.”

Jake buckled down and busted his hiney. Uncle had no mercy and, no doubt, gave him all the hard jobs, calvin’ the heifers, britchin’ the ewes and milkin’ the goat.

Seven years slid by and, true to his promise, Uncle threw a big wedding party for Jake and his daughter. After celebrating all day, they led Jake, who I suspect was three sheets to the wind, to the Bridal Suite. Jake woke up the next morning to discover that his new bride was not Rachael, but her older sister!

Jake was mad! The sister was a nice girl, played the piano and sewed her own clothes, but Rachael was built like a brick BBQ pit! He complained. The smooth talkin’ uncle swore he’d make it right. He could marry Rachael, too, if he’d stick around another seven years.

Jake grudgingly agreed. He was a good stockman but, apparently simple-minded in the ways of love.

He put in his time, managing his father-in-law’s herd and mindin’ after his two wives. Finally the time came to take his family back home. The father-in-law said, “Listen, Jake, the ranch is doin’ real good, thanks to you. What would it take to get you to stay another seven years?”

Jake said, “If I stay, I want all the spotted stock that are in the herd when my time’s up.”

“You bet,” his daddy-in-law- said. Then the old trader had his sons sneak out and sort the bunch while Jake was pattin’ himself on the back. They pulled out all the bull, bucks and billys that were spotted, plus a pot load of spotted females for good measure. Then he shipped them across the state line.

But Jake had a few tricks up his sleeve. He gathered what was left and applied what he’d learned in Genetics 101. He took some green sticks and carved spots on them. Then he stood the sticks around the water hole. Every female that was bred near the spotted sticks had spotted offspring.

During the next seven years he kept all the spotted males and when they were old enough he turned them in with the females for the first service. Needless to say, it wasn’t long ‘til the whole bunch looked like an Appaloosa reining class!

When Jake hit the train for home after twenty years of workin’ for his slippery uncle, he had a cattle drive that would put Charles Goodnight to shame and a family that would make a Mormon bishop proud!

Which just goes to show you… Success in the livestock business depends on three things: good management, shrewd trading and the occasional miracle.


Baxter Black