The stories of our family’s ranches, from both cattle and sheep down through the generations and across five counties, represent a single thread of the tapestry of ranching family histories across Wyoming.
I grew up listening to my Granddaddy’s stories about his father’s sheep company in central Wyoming.
My Granddaddy enlisted in the Navy in 1943, and apparently wasn’t expected to return home from the Second World War, because his return found him no place on his late father’s sheep ranch.
Being rewarded only his mother and her Haviland China, my Granddaddy made a life and a home for his family on a small dairy south of Lander Wyoming.
Often his storytelling of his youth and the Croft’s Sheep Company; where they summered in the Southern Wind River Mountains and trailed the sheep home via South Pass City to winter at lower elevations on the North Slope of the Beaver Rim at the ranch called Rattlesnake.
My Granddaddy’s storytelling planted seeds of longing in listener’s minds. Life’s circumstances led me to the Poston Ranch, my Granddaddy’s cousin’s ranch that neighbored Rattlesnake, and my Granddaddy’s boyhood stomping ground, the setting of his childhood adventures and countless stories that he would later tell his granddaughter.
My husband Kasey and I were fortunate to have financial backing (Thank you, Mimi and Papa.) to lease purchase the property in 1998.
The snows piled over the windows that winter on the Poston Ranch.
Spring thaw brought impassable bentonite roads. The country there at Rattlesnake is sublime for wintering sheep, but not so ideal for summering cattle.
Once the mud baked, the grass would head-out and cease growing. The reservoirs would dry up and the only live creek, Connet Creek, high in the mineral selenium, would be toxic.
The two wells we drilled that summer at Rattlesnake, where overrun by wild horses, and seldom approachable for cattle.
I have my Great-grandmother’s china today. Many trials and tests on down this road of storytelling, I know that I am blessed not to be witnessing winters, nor summers, at Rattlesnake.
In hindsight, because my Granddaddy was not bestowed a life at Rattlesnake, it is evident that he was given the best of his father’s possessions: his bride and her dishes.