"A day in the Western life"
"On the trail"
The brisk, morning air awoke Dillon from his deep slumber. He emerged from the bedroll fully dressed. A blanket of frost covered his beard as he slipped his boots on for the ride ahead. The fire needed stoking and Jackson, his horse needed hay. They were a great team, and had been since Dillon had purchased him 5 years earlier as a young colt. With Jackson fed, and the fire distinguished, next came packing for the trail. Water, food, and supplies were packed into the saddle bags, and the bed roll tied on top. Dillon layered his clothes since the snow was coming soon, and his duster was close at hand for any storm that might pop up, as so many do in the back country of Wyoming. He mounted his horse and started the long ride to check the fences and the cattle guards on the Triple T Ranch. He was hired on a few years back as a wrangler, but proved to be much more so the owner had given him the reins as Foreman. He loved being out on his own, so he took on the task of checking the perimeter of the ranch. "If you want it done right, do it yourself", was his motto, and he taught the ranch hands and staff the same principles.
The day was going like any other normal day....tightening strands of wire, replacing posts where the trees had fallen on the fences and pulled the post out of the ground, and snapping them off at the ground. If cattle found the hole, that was money down the drain for the owner, and that wouldn't look good on Dillon. The clouds were rolling in from the North, and that meant storms were close. Jackson's ears perked as Dillon approached....Time to ride! They headed to the rugged part of the ranch, where it was known for blow downs along the fence line. They had to cross numerous trails that were very close to the edge of a deep ravine, a very treacherous crossing on foot, not to mention being on horseback. Snow had started falling and visibility was getting low. The cold wind was now blowing directly into their faces, so Dillon pulled his hat down, and flipped his collar on his duster up and around his neck. He pulled an old cowboy scarf out of the bag and added that extra protection to his ensemble. As for Jackson, he just put his head down and slowly moved along the trail, placing his hooves carefully, one in front of the other with the precision of a tight wire walker. Suddenly, his left hoof slid sideways, dropping off the trail. Jackson froze where he stood, as he looked down to see the raging river below. Dillon's reaction came naturally, squeezing his legs tight, and leaning right to give Jackson the help of balance. A close call for sure, but as a team, they escaped danger.....this time. Dillon dismounted as soon as the trail widened, giving Jackson a moment to recover and relax. A horse has feelings just as his rider does, and Dillon knew that ordeal had scared the hell out of him as well. He brushed his face and told him he had done a great job, giving him that reassurance that everything was fine. Jackson's eyes closed as he lay his muzzle on the cowboys shoulders, letting him know he understood every word he had said. They were in sync once again, and that was a good thing for a rider and his horse.....
"Long way to the bottom"
"Moving down the Trail"
After taking a lunch break and giving Jackson some time to regroup, Dillon mounted up and again turned his horse toward the West. The snow was really coming down now, and the cold followed with it. He had to make a decision now.....Stay on the trail moving slowly for safety, or find a place to lay low with a fire and shelter until the storm blew over. The answer was easy... find shelter, and do it quick! The trees ahead were blown down at an angle good enough to block the wind and snow for the night. Dillon found extra limbs and cedar limbs to lay down as a bed, then added his bed roll for comfort. He tied Jackson behind the blow down to give him what protection he could from the wind and snow. Quickly, he made a fire to warm both of them as much as he could. The warmth felt good on his face, and he let Jackson stand as close as he could without getting burned. The sky grew darker as the clouds above dumped 6 inches of snow within an hour. It was going to be a long night ahead, but they'd seen this before so they didn't worry much.....Something tells me they should have.
Dillon could feel his neck hair standing on end as Jackson broke away from his tie down. He disappeared quickly into the darkness and into total silence. A horse running with fear in the dark was dangerous...it could run straight off a cliff before realizing what had happened, a certain death. The fire still had a few embers so Dillon quickly stoked it, wrapped his scarf around an end of a limb, and lit the scarf for a torch. Turning to see what had scared his horse, he caught movement to his left. Two pairs of eyes were looking his way, staring intently at their prey....Dillon! The wolves had circled downwind to get a better look, and thought it was going to be an easy meal. They showed their teeth, as they drew closer, snapping their jaws and drooling savagely. They were hungry for a good meal, and Dillon was their entree. Dillon had to think quickly on his feet. A lone cedar tree was 20 feet away....He needed to get to it before the wolves got to him. He tried to make himself look bigger to the wolves so he threw his arms up, and yelled to intimidate them. They weren't buying it this time, and slowly stepped closer. Dillon's gun was in the scabbard, but it too was too far away to get at the moment. Why had he not had it with him in his bed roll? What was he thinking? He quickly broke a limb off of the blow down, using it as a weapon if he needed too. By now, a third wolf had joined the welcoming committee and had come in from behind. Dillon was now the "center" of attention, and ALL eyes were upon him. Dillon was a pretty tough guy, but he knew this was going to be a fight he may not win. For protection, he wrapped his duster around his left arm. He would use his left arm to fight, and then use his right to punch the attacker in the throat or eye, which ever one he could get to first. The only thing was most times when wolves attacked, they attacked as a group. He had seen them attack elk, and moose as a team, so he knew they may do the same to him. Silently he said a prayer for God to help him out, as best as he could, and to let him die quickly....He was allergic to pain....
Suddenly, the Alpha male charged!! Out of the darkness, Jackson appeared just as quickly and caught the wolf off guard. With a swift kick, his front hoof caught him in the head and killed him instantly. The other wolves went on the attack at once, and caught Dillon in their powerful jaws. Dillon fought bravely as Jackson came back to scatter the two, and give Dillon reprieve and a chance to catch his breath. Dillon saw the chance to get to his gun, and quickly dove to his saddle, grabbing the rifle and regaining his stance. A wolf jumped on his back and tried to bite him on his neck, but Dillon rolled and the wolf flipped off as it happened so quickly. In one motion, Dillon leveled his rifle, found the wolf in the fire light and squeezed off a round. The wolf yelped as the bullet found it's mark, and fell in a heap as Jackson stomped it several times....fire raging in his eyes, and determination in his body. The remaining wolf knew it was time to retreat, and quickly vanished into the darkness! "Thank you big fella, you saved me...again!" Jackson was fired up still and running back and forth in the fire light. Dillon grabbed his mane, and stroked his neck, calming him down slowly. "You came through again buddy, good boy, good boy!" Dillon's wounds were deep, but he'd survive. He bandaged them as best as he could, and made sure Jackson was ok as well. He had a few bites on him, but mostly scratches from claws. They had survived as a team once again. He skinned the wolves out for souvenirs and a reminder of their ordeal. The morning sun was lighting the sky as Dillon got camp packed up once again. "You ready to get home boy?", he said. Jackson lowered his head as Dillon put his bridle and saddle on. It would be a long ride home, but a welcomed sight to see for sure!!.........."Cowboy Up!