I grew up in the drought of the '50s on a ranch
in West Texas. People were still shocking feed for hay when they
were fortunate enough to have made any. Most everyone burned pear for
their livestock to survive. Small square bales were in full swing
when it rained, but big round hay bales were to come much later.
Stetson hats and leather were in style especially while riding a
horse. Nylon ropes weren't around yet, but spurs, bits,
horseshoes, and chaps-the regular ones down to the ground-hot and
heavy, were. Screwworms were abundant; I can still smell them and
the medicine used to doctor the unfortunate animals. In fact, I
still have a little bottle of it somewhere to smell for reminders.
Gooseneck trailers had not been invented, but Bobtails and regular
cattle trucks had. "Pots", potbellied livestock trucks
of our modern livestock transportation industry had not yet come out of
the blueprints. My pickup with side bars was used to haul my
saddle-horse from place to place. It was faster and easier, but I
had to teach my horse to jump in and had to find a ditch or low place to
back him out when unloading.
The eradication of the screwworm, gooseneck trailers, big
round bales, and protein feed blocks revolutionized the ranching
industry in Texas during the following decades. These discoveries
allowed for one man to move large numbers of livestock over longer
distances in less time. With no screwworm problem to tie up the
cowboy's time, not considering the loss in livestock numbers, he was
able to concentrate on other needs. The new hay bales and protein
blocks would help him potentially feed and care for larger numbers of
livestock for a greater length of time. It all cut down on man hours to
be spent worthy elsewhere.
But brush growth of all kinds: mesquite
trees, cedar, and cactus would take its toll on the ranching world
robbing precious moisture from grass growth. Stagnant livestock
market prices would never keep pace with the inflation of
nonagricultural products. Livestock prices are basically in the same
region today as they were in the 50's. A pickup would cost between
$1000-2000 and gasoline was selling in the 20 cent range. On a
brighter note, some bank back in the late 50's started giving 1-2%
interest on a savings accounts! Those who still had a little money
in the bank thought they had become rich overnight!!
Finding the time to paint was sometimes
scarce. Most of the time it was after hours or some rainy day. From
childhood, I've always been drawing, painting, and later, sculpting
bronzes. I devoured books and periodicals on art.
Finally some workshops & weekend painting demo's with Bettina
Steinke, Richard Schmid, Joseph Mendez, Ben Konis, and Bruce Green round
out my education on art. The B.S. degree in Agricultural Education
and the Biology teaching certificate never rooted perennially. I
probably spent too much time ranching! Though I'm not
cowboying anymore and haven't for almost a decade, a man may ride more
than one horse in a lifetime!