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HOUSE TOPS BEAR (standard:westerns, 2123 words)
Author: J E MOONAdded: Feb 10 2007Views/Reads: 1780/1077Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
OLD MAN HOUSETOP FIRES HIS HANDS AND FIGHTS A MAMA BLACK BEAR
 



Dance and I were green breaking a bunch of four and five-year-old stock
for a hard nosed German name of Heinstroff.  He had homesteaded a place 
at the foothills of the Bighorns.  He was tight fisted with his money, 
never bought any thing he could make for himself and was right handy at 
making most any thing that was needed.  And ‘cause of that he had 
increased his spread to thirty-two sections ten years after he 
homesteaded. 

The old man had named his spread the Housetop creek ranch and branded
his stock with a rafter H, covering the left side of his cattle and the 
left jaw of his horses. His place was in the foothills of the 
mountains, and was rough country mostly juniper brakes, with some pine 
and mountain meadowland. 

He ran about five hundred head of shorthorn cattle on fifteen sections
of that land.  But his first love was horses; he had about eighty head 
of blooded Percheron brood mares and kept four Morgan studs.  He had 
fenced and cross-fenced another ten sections where he kept them in 
bunches of 20 mares to one stallion. 

Each fall he would have him a horse roundup, separate the colts from
their mammy's and then he would brand them and geld the males, cull the 
fillies by selling the best ones to ranches for breeding stock, the 
rest were shipped to the glue factory.  He would then cut these short 
yearlings geldings from the breeding stock and throw them into a 
four-section pasture.  He had four of these pastures and he would let 
those yearlings run free until they were four needless to say between 
starvation, mountain lion, coyotes, wolves and bear; those that 
survived to 4 were few and far between also they were a tough and 
independent bunch but the Army sure paid him top dollar for remounts. 
Although he put up hay on about 5 sections of meadowland he never 
winter-fed the these young geldings, saying, “I only vant da vons who 
is smard enuff to live on dere own.” 

Now he kept his breeding stock well fed and healthy but the rest, his
selling stock ran free and wild on the rest of his land, which was the 
roughest meanest piece of real estate, a body could find.   There was 
no flat when traveling over it you was either going up or coming down.  
There were boulders, coulees, rimrock, timber, cactus, scrub juniper 
and sagebrush.  Snakes, badger, prairie dog towns and all kinds of 
varmints that could make a young horses life plumb miserable.  Those 
that survived were the best of the best. 

Because his name was so hard to wrap a tongue around folk took to
calling him Hans or Old Housetop.  His horses were Housetop horses. 

That old man was as independent has his broncs.  He had built and fixed
up his place on his lonesome.  Not asking or receiving help from 
anyone.  It was four square, hog tight, and plumb.  The logs for his 
house and barn were fitted so tight you couldn't find a spot of 
daylight through them.  Thick sod roofs that drained into rain barrels. 
Both the barn and the house were spotless and you could eat off the 
floor in either one of them.  Pity the poor puncher that didn't keep it 
that way. 

Dance and I slept in the barn in a big old room he called the bunkhouse.
 We took our meals with him in the house.  With his disposition he went 
through hands pretty often. 

We had been working pretty steady, had about 20 head ready to sell, with
another twenty coming along.  So after three months, we decided we 
should ride into Sheridan, see the sights and tree the tiger.  It was 
Saturday morning when we broached the subject.  At breakfast, Dance 
being the spokesman, put it to him like this. “Hans Windy and I are 
going to take a couple of days in town, so we'd like to draw forty 
dollars each; get some new clothes, take in the sites and have a taste 
o' firewater.  We'll ride in today and be back Sunday night, ready to 
go to work Monday.” 

The old man glared across the table at him.  Slammed those big ham like
hands of his down on that two inch oak so hard all the dishes on the 
table jumped. 

“You poys vill not pe goink anyvere, till da vork you do pe done!”  He
bellowed.  “If you go, do not come pak, for you vill pe fired da minute 


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