#77 A Winter's Tale

#77 A Winter's Tale
Patty Wilkinson
(Some strong language, adult themes and violence)

Many thanks to Pam Knych Klawinski for use of her lovely screen cap.

Forward by Mrs Daisy Cooper

Our Wyoming winters can be long and hard at the best of times, with North winds blowing in storm clouds, the rain lashing down causing flash floods. Even worse is the deep snow, so pretty but accompanied by bone chilling frosts and icy blasts of wind blowing straight across from the prairie, the drifting snow making travel impossible.
I suppose the winter affects us all differently. I for one have all the worry of trying to dish up nutritious and tasty meals sometimes with very few ingredients. Oh yes, I plan meticulously for the winter months, salting, bottling and laying down all manner of food stuffs. But sometimes it just isn’t enough especially when I have the vociferous appetites of three healthy young males to accommodate.
Mike as the rancher’s ward and youngest of my three ‘sons’, as I now think of them, is the happiest in the inclement weather. Mainly because it often means some time away from school if the Stage can’t get through…But not away from his school books though as Slim and I see to that. But he also has fun times building snowmen, having madcap snowball fights with Jess and generally larking about out in the winter wonderland as only youngsters can, never seeming to feel the cold.
Slim copes reasonably well when confined to the ranch and yard and once the chores are all completed and the animals fed and watered, he will settle down to his accounts or get lost in an improving book…He worries though, I know. Mostly about our safety, the odd marauding renegade Indian, or white man come to that…stealing out of desperation. The freezing conditions affect the wild creatures too and there is always the danger of wolf or mountain lion attacking the stock or even the house as happened on one occasion.
As to my middle and most beloved 'son ’ Jess he is the one who finds the bitter winters the hardest to bear. Being a southern boy, originally from Texas he found the Wyoming winters hard to cope with when he first arrived. But now he accepts the weather with stoicism as a fact of life…Not that he doesn’t grumble and moan about it all the time though, but that’s just his way.
No, the hardest part for Jess is being confined to the house for any length of time…a throwback to his past when he was once held in a terrible prisoner of war camp, where the conditions were barbaric, the experience having a lasting effect on him. He’s also been in jail more than once back in his days on the drift, when he briefly skirted around on the wrong side of the law. Well those days are long behind him now, but ever since then he can’t stand to be confined.
My heart bleeds for him when I see him standing on the porch looking out to the hills, desperate for his beloved Big Open, but knowing it is out of reach for the duration of the worst of the winter weather anyway. So, he turns back indoors and will occupy himself mending tack on my good dining table… Or even worse stripping down and oiling that dreadful gun he carries… But at least now I have taught him to lay a copy of the Laramie Sentinel down before he starts the dirty task. Oh, how I hate those guns that he and Slim carry… Even though I know they are essential for our protection in this still sometimes wild and inhospitable environment, where there is always the danger of outlaws.
So it was that we were all preparing ourselves for a hard winter with the men bringing the stock down to the lowlands. Then mending and securing the house and out buildings. Whilst I cooked and preserved as many provisions as I was able…But little did I know at the time that this was to be one of the most difficult winters we were ever to experience…and not just because of the bitter weather either, but the things that transpired over those bleak winter monthsRead More »


#76 A Very Different Christmas

A Very Different Christmas

Patty Wilkinson

Thanks to Sally Bahnsen for use of amazing screen cap

(Some strong language, violence and adult themes)

Chapter 1

“I’m sorry Harper really I am and if there was any other way, believe me I’d take it…you are a loyal and much respected member of my staff…but…”
“But…” Jess said raising a questioning eyebrow…
“But, Christmas or not, the Stage must get through and the fact is that we are down three of our best guards due to this dratted influenza, well I have no choice but to ask you,” said Mister Jenks the Stage line Supervisor.
“So, I’m yer last chance?” Jess said glumly.
“Well I’m afraid so, yes…you should still be back for Christmas…er weather permitting,” the dapper little man said casting a cautious glance out of the Stage line office window to the grey skies without.
Jess sighed deeply, “OK Mister Jenks I guess I don’t have no choice…So let me get this straight, I head out tomorrow, day before Christmas Eve, stay over and then head back real early on the 24th arriving in Laramie mid-day?”
Um…yes…hopefully….”Read More »


#75 Abduction

As told by Jess Harper & Slim Sherman
Patty Wilkinson

(Please be aware of adult themes, strong language and violence)
Thanks to Sally Bahsen for screen cap

Chapter 1

I guess it was all my fault the way things turned out. Least ways it sure felt like it at the time. See the way I figured it, if I hadn’t gotten sick…then none of the other stuff would have happened back in the fall of ‘75.
It had been one of the hottest summers we could ever remember, with the creek and the lake getting real low. So I figured we should have been kinda thankful when the heavens opened and it looked like we’d have to start building an Ark. But when the rain fell relentlessly day after doggone day while we were bringing all the stock down to the low grazing for the winter, we got kinda sick of the novelty of all that wet stuff.
It was the Friday before the Harvest Dance that I got soaked through to the skin and boy was I mad about it. Slim was back in the east pasture chasin ’ up strays leaving’=  me to herd a few yearlings across the ridge and down into the home pasture. Well that would have been just fine iffen one of the ornery critters hadn’t managed to git in the creek, set on drownin’ itself. I weren’t havin ’ none of that, seeing as she was worth top dollar, one of our prime Aberdeen Angus beasts, and so I stripped off my coat and boots and waded in to git a rope on her.
When I rode back into the yard an hour or so later, shaking and shivering with the cold and covered in mud, I sure weren’t in the mood for any of Slim’s wise cracks.
“Hey Jess, what have I told you about bunking off to the swimming hole when there’s work to be done,” he greeted me, grinning up from where he’d just emerged from the ranch house looking real dry and clean.
I guess the look I threw him kinda said it all because he backed off some.
“Sorry Jess, why don’t you get in the house, Miss Daisy’s been frettin about you this last half hour. She’s been boiling up some water for the tub for you.”
“Oh, well that’s somethin’,” I muttered, as I went to put my horse up in the barn, thanking the good Lord for Daisy Cooper our housekeeper and surrogate Ma to us all at the relay.
But then a moment later a single rider came galloping down the rise at full tilt, splashing his way through the puddles.
“Looks like someone’s in a hurry,” said Slim.
“Looks like trouble to me,” I said darkly…and I weren’t far wrong either.Read More »