Sunday, April 25, 2010

He had been resting in the shade of an old Juniper when he noticed a dust devil whirling across the desert. He squinted from under the brim of his old Stetson at the clouds gathering on the horizon. "This is gonna be a bad'un, partner." He didn't expect Buck to answer, but he knew he understood better than most two-legged animals would. "Come on, we best hed for some shelter, there's a line shack about a mile away." He saddled Buck, gathered up his gear, and climbed into the saddle, grunting with the effort. "I'm gettin' too old fer this" he muttered. He whistled for his dogs, a Blue Heeler and a Border Collie, and headed down the trail.
Reaching the line shack, he turned Buck loose as he would weather the storm better, and giving the storm another look, he and the dogs went inside to wait it out. Those blamed cows and calves will be scattered all over, he thought. Oh, well, that's a cowboy's life, dust, mud, heat, cold; and he wouldn't trade it for any other.
As was the way of most dust storms in this desert, this one was over in less than an hour. Buck was waiting for him when went outside, expecting to be saddled and go gather the cows. The dogs were eager to go too, but the old cowboy wasn't in any hurry. His lean frame ached today, and for some reason he was having trouble lifting the saddle; but he finally got himself on and headed out to find those critters.
When he didn't return to the ranch that evening, the cow bossd was worried. Old Shorty should be back by now, unless that storm caused more damage than expected. He called to a couple of the younger cowhands, who were leaning on the corral fence, and told them to saddle his horse and join him. The three of them headed for the back country searching for some sign of where he might be. It was nearly dark when they found Shorty, lying on the ground, with
Buck and the dogs keeping watch over him. It was the last round-up for Shorty.

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