As young men, my grandfather and his brother, Blaine, took any job they could find.
Late one summer, Uncle Blaine, being a fool for love, volunteered them to move several flocks of sheep.
As most men will admit quietly, they’ll do most anything a young lady requests of them.
Such was the case of the dark-haired girl from Ogden, Utah, and my Uncle Blaine.
Uncle Blaine’s attempts to convince Grandpa it was the thing to do for the dark-haired girl’s family, and none of their cowboy cohorts would ever know, fell on deaf ears and a fight ensued.
Grandpa always swore, “If Blaine hadn’t bit my thumb darn near clean off, I would have won that fight and there’d be no story to tell.”
In any case, they became part-time sheepherders.
Both agreed that moving sheep “wasn’t near as easy as it looked, but the fishing was pretty good.”
They also agreed that they’d never eaten so many plates of beans and potatoes “without real meat” in all their days.
That changed the day Grandpa “borrowed” a yearling deer from Mother Nature’s grocery store.
Grandpa hung their borrowed meat source in the trees just above camp. Each night they’d slice off what they needed and cook it up for the day ahead. This is what Grandpa was doing the night the forest service guy showed up with his second cousin who worked for fish and game.
“When you’re cooking something borrowed and caught red-handed, there’s not much sense in hiding it,” Blaine would say. “You just throw more onions in the mix and a bigger dash of pepper.”
As the dinnertime small talk wore on, the second cousin kept telling Blaine what a great cook he was and thanking them for the invitation to spend the night.
Grandpa, sure they were caught, could only wonder about the fine, laughter rolling across the Heber Valley.
Grandpa started coffee the next morning and walked down to grain the horses. When he came back, there was Blaine, “making biscuits and gravy from last night’s leftovers.”
Grandpa kept waiting for the boot to drop that was sending them straight to the poorhouse.
When breakfast finished up, the two visitors loaded their “government truck” and got ready to leave.
About halfway to the truck, the second cousin stopped, looked out across the valley and turned and walked back toward Grandpa and Uncle Blaine.
“Ya know, Blaine” he said, as Grandpa worried about handcuffs and fines, “that’s the best damn mutton I’ve ever had, thanks again.”
For part-time sheepherders, they’d faired pretty well.
Hey, you be careful out there, and stay to the light.
Craig Daily Press columnist H. Neal Glanville can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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