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Self-Portrait of a Texas CowboyAss over Teakettle
By Jean Larremore
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Jean Larremore
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Cowboy
In days gone by, before there were cars, planes, trains, and technology, there lived a group of men known as the cowboy. These men fought to keep what was theirs, fought to keep life and limb, and fought for what they believed in. They were a people who believed that a man's word was his bond and truth was in the handshake shared. They fought and died for those beliefs. These hard working, trustworthy people are few and far between today, but every now and then, you may just be lucky enough to find one. I just happen to be one of those lucky few who married one.
Brian—The 21st Century Cowboy
Brian was born in 1945 in Llano, Texas. His father, Wilma, and mother Lucille Larremore taught Brian responsibility at an early age. He grew up on horseback, on a pig farm, chasing coons up trees, fighting his brothers, and looking after his sister. Although he had a hard childhood, he never complained. He felt then, as he still feels, that his childhood taught him how to survive (especially being the youngest of 5 brothers!) and make the most of bad situations. His Mother and Father instilled in him a sense of respect for his elders, a sense of honesty to his fellow man, and the sense of being a true gentleman to the fairer sex. They also taught him to follow the motto set by the cowboys of old, that your word is your bond, and your handshake is as good as your word. He started college at Sul Ross in Alpine in 1965, got a degree in English, and went back later to get his Police Officer's license in 1986.
Brian was a Police Officer for 21 years at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, and was a Deputy Sheriff for 3 years in Brewster County. He retired in January of 2012 and has gone back to his first love ... ranching. He has always said that "he worked to support his bad habit of ranching." He has raised the Texas State Dog, the Blue Lacy, most of his life and talks about and depicts some of his favorite dogs in these drawings. His Father, Wilma, also raised these dogs long before they became known as the Texas State Dog in 2005. Brian is known to always wear a black cowboy hat and has a Swisher Sweet cigarette hanging from his mouth most of the time. In the days of the old west, there may have been some "bad guys" who wore black hats, but Brian dispels that adage and many of his friends and family say that "guys who wear black hats aren't always bad."
Brian's parents taught him to admire beauty and the value of putting his thoughts and ideas to paper. In Brian's world, art says it all. He whittles, paints, and sketches and claims he is not a good artist, but being a little prejudice, I see true characterization and representation in his creative pieces and have felt for many years that I should share his talents. He has a very serious side to his art, but more often than not, his humor is what makes his art unique. The words that describe the pictures are Brian's and yes, Texans do still talk this way. He has a low, slow Texas drawl that is a true depiction of the old west. To me, he is the epitome of a true west Texas cowboy. It just happens to be in the 21st century.
Brian married Ann Anderson in 1967 and was divorced in 1995. Ann's parents, Tinny and Luther Anderson had a little place south of Alpine that later became known as the Larremore-Anderson Ranch. Brian and Ann had two children, Leanna and Jim. Brian stayed on the Larremore-Anderson Ranch until 2000 when the owners of the land around the Larremore-Anderson asked if he would trade his land for some other land or buy him out. He decided to trade that country for some other country about 15 miles further south. Although the story is long and drawn out, over the last several years, Brain and I have fought hard against the ranch who are neighbors and who are attempting to take away our livelihood, our dream, his ranch. It is similar to the old west days of the land barons taking over little ranches any way they could. This rival ranch is very large, very prestigious, and very influential in today's society and is a corporation. Because we do not have much money and live pretty much hand-to-mouth, they know we are vulnerable. But as in old, a person should fight for what you believe in and fight for what is yours. The rival ranch has made claims that they are richer then God, have more money, more power, and more attorneys and will take everything from us if we continue the fight to keep our land. In an attempt to stay level-headed, Brian takes time to put into art form his memories, dreams, and humor. This book is a culmination of some of his artwork and the stories that go with the pieces. This artwork represents some of the trials, tribulations, wrecks, and humor that has occurred throughout the years We both love this land that we have, and the thought that someone would take it from us is painful, and what is more disturbing is that they are trying to take if from our children and our grandchildren.
Leanna passed away at the age of 17 and some of her story will come later in the book. Jim's story will come later in the book as well. Brian re-married in 2001, to me, Jean Raines.
Brian and I got married on a November day and we had plans to move the cattle from the old Larremore-Anderson Ranch to the new ranch further south. Brian had an Appaloosa Mule at the time and Brian says that they are very rare. The mule's name was Blue and he could carry a man that weighed over 200 pounds and could pull a cow real easy. The day Brian and I got married Brian put me on ol' Blue and had me ride out to find a stray cow. Brian drew this picture for me on our fifth anniversary. The caption on this picture is "I let you get on my ass and kick it around the pasture the day we got married, don't you think it's time you got off?"
There are several drawbacks to being married to a cowboy. Among them is tripping over things underfoot in the house or garage such as saddles, harnesses, ropes, hay, feed, spurs, branding irons, or any other ranch related item you might think of. Also, you never know what he will bring into the house after a hard day in the saddle. Cow dung, horse dung, dog dung. etc., etc, etc. You get the picture. My daughter-in-law, Mandy, and sister-in-law, Jeanne, or any other cowboy's wife can attest to this as well. But then again, it's the life we've chosen and love; as well as we love our cowboys.
Some of the stories told by Brian are illustrated and other illustrations are what Brian would call doodling and draws just for the fun of it.
Butt Buster—Ass Over Teakettle
I married my first wife, Ann Anderson, when I was 22 years old. Ann's father, Luther, and I were pretty good friends and they had a small ranch about 20 miles south of Alpine, Texas. That was some rough ol' country. It's mostly rocks, mountains, canyons, cactus, and any other plant that will stick and stab you or kill your cattle or horses. It's part of the Chihuahua Desert but, I loved every inch of it and every minute of being there and liked nothin' better than to be in the saddle riding that country. However, some of the wrecks I had on that place were bloody and bone crushing, but I wouldn't have traded it for the world.
One day I was on a young mare, Sugar, and we had to go to the top of the mountain to gather some bulls and put them out in the pasture with the cows. Some of those bulls were pretty mean and would hook the horse if they could. As I was trying to push the bulls out of a canyon, I had to get around them in a hurry so they wouldn't hook my horse. We hit a dead run to get around them and my mare and I both were watching the bulls and never saw the badger hole that Sugar stepped in. I only had time to kick loose from my stirrups when she flipped ass over teakettle and threw me out far enough where her rear end landed on my rear end. It knocked the wind out of me and blurred my vision and I just knew my pelvis was broken. I couldn't tell the black bulls from the cedar trees, but I could see that grey mare. I eased up to her and she was shaking like a leaf, but she let me get on her. I couldn't sit down on the saddle cause my rear was hurting so bad and had to ride mostly on my arms by pushing on the swells of my saddle. I rode up the canyon up to a water hole so I could wash my face to clear my vision and we started for home about a mile away. My mother-in-law, Tinny, was coming through the gate at my house and she got out of her car to shut the gate. She asked what was the matter with me, to which I replied "I've got a cracked ass," and she laughed, slapped her thigh, jumped in her car and drove off. I rode on up to the barn and her house and started to unsaddle Sugar. I figured she took care of me in that canyon; I was going to take care of her. Tinny was unloading groceries and noticed I was hobbling around and again asked if something was the matter. I told her "before you run off again, this mare rolled with me and I think I've got a cracked ass!" She and my wife, Ann, drove me to the hospital where they ex-rayed me and told me nothing was broken. My tailbone may not have been broken, but it was sure bent, 'cause ever since then, it points west when I'm looking north.
"I've had a number of dogs over the years and each one of them had their own little quirks that made them unique. There was Wilkes, Bo, Sparky, Dee, Bell, Tee, and so many others. All top notch good dogs. Pickles was one of my half Lacy, half Leopard dogs I'd raised from one of my litters. These dogs are working fools. They love what they do and will do anything for you if you let em' work. One day, we had a bunch of cattle in pens having to cut down a long alley about 150' and around a corner. My son, Jim, who was about 19 at the time, and another ol' boy, who was pretty sorry and wouldn't or couldn't work the alley way where the cattle were sorted were with me. Jim had to work the gate by himself. I'd cut the cattle out and have to run them about 150 feet every time 'cause this ol' boy wouldn't move 15 feet. That dog Pickles kept wanting to work and I kept hollering for him to get back. When I started getting tired a light went on in my head and I decided "why not let him work and use him?" I'd cut out something and let him run it all the way down and I'd call him back and we'd repeat the process. I told that ol' sorry boy just to get out of the pens. We cut about 300 head of cattle that way. It's kinda pathetic when a dog can do a job a man is too lazy to do.
Another story about Pickles is one time when I'd missed a red Beef Master bull one day when I'd gathered my bulls. That bull was a little hot tempered. Apache Adams had a colt he needed to ride so he and Jim went after the bull. One of them was riding a colt and the other was riding a barefooted horse. The bull had brushed up in some cedar trees and the way they were mounted, they didn't think it would be too wise to rope that bull out of the cedar trees. My next day off I went horseback and took Pickles and my father-in-law, Luther, took an old 1945 Dodge weapons carrier. Luther told me he didn't think me and that dog could gather that bull. Pickles would get the bull started and I'd call Pickles back and the bull would go to traveling pretty good and Luther would cut in front of us with his power wagon. The bull would stop. We got the bull started 15 or 20 times. We finally got the bull out of the mountains down on the flat and the bull finally sulled up and wouldn't start again. Each time the bull would stop, Luther would ask "you want me to shotgun 'em?" When the bull wouldn't start the last time I told Luther to go ahead and get after him with the shotgun. After he'd shot-gunned him, Luther said "I told you couldn't gather him with just you and that dog!" It didn't hurt that old bull none, just made him mad, but I lost about 15 cents a pound because of the shotgun pellets in his hide and Luther trying to prove a point
Some of the best friends I've ever had were dogs. There were times that I wouldn't have been able to round up the cows without them. There are a number of times that I have to go up on top of Kokernot Mesa, which is part of our ranch. It's about 600 feet off the valley floor and the trail up to the top can kill you if you're not careful. My dogs go with me, just so they can work. It's bred into them and they love the challenge and I have to keep telling them "back" so they won't work when I don't need them to. They stop the herd by circling them and holding them up in one place till I can catch up and move the herd forward. I just call the dogs back and they come back and travel by me till I send them after a stray or a cow that doesn't want to stay in the herd. I have a signal with voice and hand to let the dogs know what I want.
I've lived through a number of really cold days in the saddle, but one day in particular that will stay with me was when I was working at a sheep and cattle ranch up in New Mexico that was one of the coldest places I've ever been or ever want to be. One morning me and some hands were going to move some sheep. It was a bitter, cold morning with about a foot of snow on the ground. None of us was looking forward to the job. It was starting to snow again and the wind was starting to blow. We all had our horses saddled and were ready to go and one of the hands, Jeff, only had on a football jacket which isn't made for 5 degree weather and snow blowing in at forty-five miles an hour. He started to get in the pickup and I asked him if he didn't want to get a heavier coat. He informed me right quick that he had been raised in that country, was young and rough, and that he could handle just about anything that old man winter could throw at him. I shut up, got in the pickup and went to get on the horses so we could gather the sheep. I had a rag tied over my ears with one of those wooly Russian caps tied over that, had on long johns, two pair of pants, two wool shirts, insulated coveralls, a hooded parka with nothing but a peep hole that I could look out of. I had on two pairs of wool socks, a pair of heavy boots and a pair of rubber over boots over those. I don't like the cold. It gets below 70 and I start looking for the second pair of socks and another jacket. I was riding a big horse named Pump Jack and he just needed to pack me and my clothes. That was one ugly horse. He had a really long head, too long for his body' and looked just like the horse's head on a pump jack. Every time he took a step, it looked like his head was going to lift his rear off the ground.
We worked those sheep for about four hours and started to push them though the gate. I noticed that, Jeff, who usually jumps down and opens the gates before I could, wasn't jumping off his horse too quick. He wasn't hassling his old pony and aggravating him like he usually did either. As a matter of fact, I noticed that Jeff's horse was doing most of the work and Jeff was just sitting up on top with both arms wrapped round himself. We shut the gate and hightailed it to the trucks. When we got there we all jumped off and started loading the horses in the trailers; that is all but Jeff. He just sat there on his horse looking around. I asked him what the holdup was and he looked back at me and finally answered that he didn't rightly figure he could get off that horse by himself. I figure he was right, cause his britches were about half frozen to the saddle and he was so cold he couldn't move much. We helped him off his horse, got him and the horse loaded up and started warming Jeff real slow with the truck heater. We finally got Jeff thawed out a little about the time we got home. I never did hear him say how much he could handle old man winter after that. He wore a big abundance of clothes after that too, just like the rest of us bunch of sissies.
The Day of the Wrecks
Roddy Schoenfeldt was a ranch foreman on some country out at the Elephant Mountain Ranch south of Alpine. One day he asked Don Coleman, Sam Dove and myself to help gather his personal cattle as the owner of the ranch told him to get rid of them. Now those old cows were mountain Hereford cattle that had been given to Roddy because they were more trouble to gather than the former lessor of the ranch, Ted Gray, thought they were worth. I had helped gather some of those old cows the first few times that they had been gathered, and I knew gathering them again was going to be a chore.
Roddy had the cows running in the lower Calamity Creek pasture, half of which was head high in mesquite and white brush so thick that you couldn't ride through unless you were on a horse that was about half the size of a javalina hog. The other side of the creek had been root plowed and was plumb full of holes. Looked like a time you hit a lope cause your horse couldn't see those holes and would be upside down with you faster than you could spit. I'd had three bad spills in that rotten ground.
Excerpted from Self-Portrait of a Texas Cowboy by Jean Larremore Copyright © 2012 by Jean Larremore. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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