I Coulda’ Been Working

One fall I took a trip with a friend over to his ranch near Van Horn, Texas. In those days it took about 13 hours to get there, and we were pulling a stock trailer load of saddle horses, for ranch replacements.

Night sky with moon behind clouds

We arrived on a late September night. The sky was velvety black, the stars so bright they didn’t even twinkle, and the cool, dry air had an aroma unique to the area, probably creosote bush and broom weed. Compared to Central Texas, humid heat it was heaven.
The next morning we arose to several inches of snow and a 30° temperature drop. We saddle horses in a dark, cold barn. John Mays got on his gray gelding who promptly gave an eye watering exhibition of how to mistreat a cowboy. John stayed on, and I mounted up on Black Jack, to head out to the pasture with ropes and medicines to doctor “Floridas,” the yearling steers that trucks had delivered the day before. After we roped and doctored a few, in the snow and mud, John lit up a cigarette and sat back on his gray in the shelter of the corral fence and soliloquized:

“I coulda’ been working in a nice, warm, dry grocery store for my father-in-law, but no, I had to go and be a COWBOY!”

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