Tag: sweet western historical romance

CATTLE DRIVES — On the Trail


Cattle Drives – On the Trail

(Research for The Oak Grove Series)

By Kathryn Albright

Oak Grove, Kansas, the fictional town and setting of the Oak Grove Series that I am writing with Laurie Robinson, is the end of the trail for the Texas cattle drives. The town grows and prospers with the cattle industry in the 1880s much like Dodge City, Ellsworth, and Abilene. With its stockyards and a train depot, I knew some of the inhabitants would have to have jobs that involved the cattle business.

 

Cattle Drives

The era of cattle drives in American history began at the end of the Civil War and lasted into the 1890s. Demand for beef in the big cities in the east as well as an abundance of cattle in Texas (five million!) created an opportunity for hard-working men. In Texas, a steer was worth about $3, whereas in Chicago, that same steer would fetch an average of $20, although demand would sometimes push its value to $40. Other reasons for moving the cattle north were to feed the miners in Colorado and California, or to stock ranches as far as Montana, the Dakotas and Wyoming.

Some herds were as large as 3,000 cattle. Along with the cattle, extra horses were also included on the drive so that when one horse tired and needed to rest, another could be saddled and used. Cattle could stretch out for a mile on the trail and to manage the herd, cowboys had certain positions.

Cattle Drives

 

Duties of each Cowboy —

  • Point – Rode out in front and helped guide the herd.
  • Swing – Rode along the flanks of the herd to keep them gathered in.
  • Flank – Rode behind the Swing and performed the same job.
  • Drag – Rode behind the herd and kept stragglers from being lost or falling behind. A dusty job.
  • Wrangler – Took care of the remuda of extra horses. Lowest paid position.
  • Cook – Drove the chuck-wagon, cooked the meals. Next to the boss, he was the highest paid man on the drive.

These were not gentle milking cows! Longhorns were cantankerous and bad-tempered. The horns on a steer spread an average of five feet from tip to tip. Rounding up cattle, branding them to establish ownership, and getting them to head in one direction as a group was not without mishaps and sometimes dire consequences. Then there were the dangers along the trail.

Cattle Drives - Longhorn Steer

Range cattle were not smart. They got lost in gullies. They headed out into snowstorms rather than seeking shelter. They were easily spooked and alarmed. A flash of lightning, the boom of thunder, or even an odd odor could initiate a stampede where the herd would run for miles. The only way to stop a stampede was for the cowboys to get out in front of the herd and fire their pistols, wave their hats and yell in a effort to confuse and frighten the cattle into slowing and circling until they calmed down.  One wrong decision and in an instant a rider could be impaled on a horn or trampled to death under hooves. Stampedes were the chief threat and worry for a cowboy on a trail drive.

Another danger could occur at river crossings. Should a cow or steer panic, they could drown and take a cowboy down with them.

Then there were the predators. Rustlers—men who would steal the cattle and, although much less common, Indians on the reservations who attacked the drive. Animals such as the American Timber wolf, cougars, brown bears, and farther north…grizzly bears where also a threat. Rattlers and scorpions bothered the men. Although their bite or sting was not usually fatal to a healthy young man, it could still cause horrible pain. A smart cowboy checked their bedroll before bedding down at night, and in the morning, checked their shoes or boots before putting them on.

Cattle Drives Weather was also a danger. Freezing temperatures and blazing heat were both enemies to the herd and to the cowboys. Finding water along the trail was a matter of life and death. Traveling this way, a drive from San Antonio to Kansas would take about two months. No matter how careful the cowboys were, there was always a percentage of cattle that did not make it to the stockyards.

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In spite of the danger and the dust, I believe many cowboys enjoyed the camaraderie of driving cattle to the stockyards. Sleeping on the hard earth after a long day’ work, however, is not so appealing. I am thankful for my comfy bed!

What, in this season of Thanksgiving, are you thankful for?

Comment for a chance to win a copy of  Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove!

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In the book that will be released in December — The Prairie Doctor’s Bride — a character has an accident along the trail, leaving behind unfinished business in Oak Grove. More on this in a future post…For now, Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove, the first book in the Oak Grove Series, is available.

Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove

Kathryn Albright writes sweet historical Americana Romance.
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COWBOYS, HISTORY, AND ROOTS BY KAY P. DAWSON

 

Kay P. Dawson has tied up her pony in the corral and is here to sit a spell and tell us a bit about herself and her writing journey. She’s also offering a few of her books and items to one lucky individual who comments.
Please give her a warm filly welcome! 

Kay Dawson roots
I grew up on a farm, and spent a great deal of my early life hanging around my grandparent’s farms. (We come from a long line of farmers, and my younger brothers are carrying on the tradition).
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In the fall, we even used to have an old-fashioned “thrashing” day when my great-uncle would fire up the old steam engine and all of us kids would follow along in the fields throwing the hay up onto the horse-drawn wagon.
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So, hearing the stories of when my grandparents were young, and when their parents were young always fascinated me.  I used to imagine being back in the times they were talking about, scenes that I would play out in my mind as I pretended to be a pioneer.  Of course, right around this time, Little House on the Prairie was a massive hit on our one channel TV, and I was drawn to the stories playing on the screen.  (I always pretended to be Laura, and my sister was Mary.  Sometimes I’d drag my brothers and my cousin in to play too, although I don’t think they were as excited about it as me.)
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                                              Cowboys, History and Roots     Cowboys, History, and Roots
Writing historical western romance was natural for me.  I began reading the old western love stories when I was a teenager, at the same time everyone was reading the Sweet Valley High books.  Something about the past intrigued me, and when my grandparents would tell a story about how they’d lived, I couldn’t get enough.
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 The part I love the most about being able to write western romance is the time I get to spend researching.  Sometimes, I can lose a whole day of writing because I’ve found something else fascinating that takes me off the path I was originally looking up.
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I’ve recently started writing some contemporary stories too, but all of my books have a “western” or small-town, rural feel to them.  That’s all I really know, so that’s what I like to write about.
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Cowboys, History and Roots by Kay P. DawsonWhen I was a little girl, I had a great uncle Rob who was the truest cowboy you could ever meet.  He used to let me and my friend hang out in the stables with his horses for hours on end, and never once lost his patience with us.  He had a smile for every one he met, and he had a soft, quiet voice you’d have to strain to hear.  I always remember him with a cowboy hat on his head, and his dusty blue jeans.
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So much of what goes into my books is taken from the people I’ve known and where I’ve grown up. Even though I’ve had stories take place in Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, Kansas, Texas…and now British Columbia and Yukon in the early 1900’s – I’ve never been to these places.  I’ve had to research and learn, and spend some time getting a “feel” for the places I’m writing about.
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But they all have a common element, and that’s family, small town, rural roots.  Those are the virtues that have defined me as I grew up, and that’s what I know best.  Something about the call of home and family, where neighbors look out for each other and life moves at a slower pace.

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 What about you?  Have you noticed how much of your own upbringing and the people and places you spent time around as you grew up has defined what you do today?

I’d love to hear your comments below!

For those who comment, Felicia Filly plans to draw one of your names
for this sweet giveaway offer from Kay P. Dawson!

Kay Dawson

Thank you to everyone – all of the authors of the Petticoats & Pistols blog and the readers – for letting me hang out with you all today!
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I have a variety of books out at the moment – Mail Order Brides, Oregon Trail, and even a cattle drive romance!  I also have some contemporary stories that take place in rural, small towns and a couple western time travel stories.  (These I really enjoyed because it was so fun to imagine being able to actually travel back to the times I write about!)
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Kay P. DawsonYou can find all of my books listed on my website or Amazon author page:
Kay P. Dawson Author Page:  amazon.com/author/kaypdawson
If you’d like to join my fan group – http://www.facebook.com/groups/kaypdawsonfans/
You can also sign up for my newsletter at http://kaypdawson.com/newsletter/
**I have a book releasing today in the popular Mail Order Mounties series…you can see all of the newest releases as soon as they are available by joining the readers group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/MailOrderMounties/

Native American Legends of the Eclipse

 

Legends of the EclipseWhat an historic event is taking place today! Here at Wildflower Junction, I want to talk about the fascinating legends of the eclipse that came by way of our Native Americans.

The earliest record of a solar eclipse — recorded on clay tablets in Babylonia — took place on May 3, 1375 BCE. They predicted it, so it can be assumed people had been studying them even earlier.

Many ancient cultures have fascinating legends to explain what happens during an eclipse. Beasts and demons swallow the sun. Many cultures thought it meant that the gods were angry with humanity. Yet many Native American legends had a different spin…

Tewa (Pueblo) Native Americans of New Mexico:  The angry sun was leaving the sky to visit his home in the underworld.

Pomo Band of Northern California: A bear is eating the sun. To get the bear to stop and leave, the people must make as much noise as they can until it gets scared and runs away. Some of the Cherokee have this legend also, but instead of a bear, they attribute it to a frog eating the sun.

Tlingit Tribe of Alaska:  The sun and moon were getting together to create more children which were the stars and planets.

Legends of the Eclipse

The Cree (Canada, North Dakota, Montana), the Menomini (Wisconsin), the Choctaw (Southeastern U.S.) tribes:  A boy has trapped the sun in a net because it burned him or a favorite robe. He refuses to release it. An animal then comes along and chews the net open.

The Cherokee (southern Allegheny mountains, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama): Many years ago, the daughter of the sun was killed and the sun became dark in her grief. Seven men were charged with the task to go to the land of ghosts and bring back the daughter. They did so, placing her in a box for travel. The girl begged to see out and finally the men lifted the lid, releasing a flash of red. This became the world’s first cardinal. Then, still trying to bring back the sun, the people sent dancers to dance before the sun. Finally, the sun peeked out and the upper and lower worlds were once again in balance.

Legends of the Eclipse

The Algonquin Tribe (Michigan, Ontario, Quebec):  A young boy, seeing an unusual track in the snow, decided to set his snare and catch the animal. The track belonged to the sun, and the next day when the sun came by, it was caught in the snare. The next day, the sun didn’t rise, and the earth was dark. The people found out about the boy’s snare and went to free the sun, but couldn’t get near it without getting burned. Many other animals tried to cut the cord too. Finally, the mouse was able to cut the cord with his teeth and release the sun. That is why, to this day, the mouse’s teeth are brown.

From my home, I can expect to see about 87% of the eclipse, with the deepest darkness at 1:15pm CDT.

If you are reading this early in the day, check HERE to find out the best time for you to see the peak darkness in your area.  However, unless you have purchased special glasses DO NOT look directly at the sun!

Do you have any “eclipse” legends from your own heritage?

What will YOU be doing when the eclipse happens?

I hope you take the time to experience it and feel a bit of awe and wonder!

 

Kathryn’s newest release!

Twin sisters say “I do” in the Wild West!

Sweet, sassy and double the trouble ~ twins Mary and Maggie
sign contracts to become mail-order brides
with every intention of escaping before the actual wedding!

Pick up your copy at

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