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Continued from Ready to ride:

At last they were all saddled and ready to pull out. The men’s saddlebags bulged with pliers, cutters, staples, and a wire stretcher. A roll of wire hung from the front straps of Dallas’s saddle. They spent the afternoon appraising Yry’s horsemanship and teaching her how to fix fence. After a couple hours of work she ruefully stripped off the tattered remains of her beautiful kid gloves.

When they returned late in the afternoon, the milk cows were already bunched and complaining at the entrance to the milk shed. After caring for the tack and the horses, Dallas ushered Yry to the milk shed. By now, each of the men had ridden off into an arroyo or behind a bush, but Yry hadn’t urinated since lunch. Her bladder was an overfilled balloon on the verge of popping. But she was determined, so she held a bit longer while Dallas explained how to stanchion the cows, grain them, and wash their teats before milking them. When the stream of milk squirted against the metal pail between Dallas’s knees, Yry could stand it no longer. She excused herself and dashed for the bathroom in the house.

At dinner that evening, George complimented Yry. “You’ve got some learnin’ ahead of you, but I can see you’ve got grit. You’ll be fine. Tomorrow, though, I want Claire to drive you into town and get you properly outfitted.”

That night Yry slept sounder than she thought possible. She was completely drained from the excitement of the journey, the lack of sleep on the train, and the long, active day. The house was unbelievably quiet. In the morning her eyes popped open and she was instantly awake, refreshed and exhilarated. She rushed to the window which revealed the last wispy bits of blush in the morning sky. Chagrined, she realized that she was the last person up. The birds were well into the third movement of their morning symphony; Dallas was walking toward the house with two buckets of warm milk; and the horses were munching hay in the corral. She heard voices and kitchen noises downstairs.

It wasn’t even 6 AM yet. The table was burdened again with food: a pile of thick-cut French toast, a platter of fried eggs, and another platter loaded with sausage patties, plus butter, preserves, maple syrup, coffee and fresh milk with thick cream floating at the top of the pitcher. This morning she was hungry and dove into the French toast with gusto. The butter was the best she’d ever tasted. The coffee was just as bad as the restaurant coffee but a good dousing of fresh cream compensated.

After breakfast Yry helped Nettie and Claire clear the table and began washing dishes while the two older women bent their heads over an extensive shopping list. A few minutes later she and Claire were bumping down the corduroy road for a shopping trip in Sheridan. First they stopped at the feed store for some inoculations and supplements for the cows and a bag of chicken feed. Then Claire walked her into the clothing store where she purchased two pairs of denim Levi’s, two long-sleeved pearl-button shirts, and two short-sleeved shirts. They spent considerable time in the boot department. Yry was fussy about her shoes. She insisted that she needed very high arches. At last the right combination of boot design plus an arch insert fit the bill, then it was on to a hat that would keep the punishing sun off her noggin and her nose. Before heading back to the ranch, they stopped at the grocery store to restock staples.

George & Claire Cormack – Sept. 1942

Continued