Old Ben RaymondPosted Thursday, February 3, 2011, at 3:54 PM
My parents purchased part of their acreage from an old man, whose name was Ben Raymond. Although, I was very young when he moved away, he left a lasting impression on our entire family.
Ben Raymond was old and grouchy. He didn't like women much and distrusted the goverment even less. He once ran off a census taker with a double barrel shotgun. She had the misfortune of being both a woman and a representative of the government.
But Ben loved animals. He raised his calves inside his house making them gunny-sack diapers. He had two calves named Lurch and Ferdinand that he particularly loved. We purchased those calves from him when he moved. I am not sure that he ever forgave my dad for butchering them when they got big enough.
Ben also had several milk cows that he named and talked to. His favorite was "Old Growler." He would ask her questions and I'll be darned if she didn't answer back with a moo or two. He loved that cow, and when she finally died at 17, it was devasting to him.
Ben lived in a white cinderblock house on the hill above us. There was no running water or electricity. He had an old outhouse. We kids would make expeditions up there from time to time after he moved away. The cellar was scary but the outhouse was even scarier. Ben had left a pair of his overalls hanging and it always seemed as though someone was standing there.
I think that the last time that we saw him, he was living in a garage in Haines, Oregon. He was missing his cows something awful then, especially Old Growler. His sister had moved him from Gooding to Oregon and eventually put him in a nursing home. As you can guess, he died not long after.
One of our neighbors said that he had been a veterinarian and had stopped to help a woman who had been in a car crash. She was pregnant at the time and Ben took measures to save her life and she lost the baby. A lawsuit followed and he lost his license. Whether or nor that is completely true, I am not sure. It may explain why he didn't trust women.
There are many other stories about Ben, but these were the ones that stood out most in my memory. Other than his sister, I don't think that he had any other family. His cows were his family and the little calves that he raised were his children. I am sure that "Old Growler" was waiting at Heaven's Gate to greet him when he passed away. She was his favorite.
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Fixing fence is the one of the hardest jobs on a ranch. I no longer live on a ranch, but I do know what hard work is. Fences are everyone's concern, but nowadays,the "hole" is always your neighbor's side not your own. It used to be that you would respect your neighbor and mend the fence together. If their cows got in your field, a simple phone call resolved the problem. You might even saddle up your own horse and help them gather them up. We need more people who are willing to roll their sleeves up and fix the fence regardless of who your neighbor is. There are people in this country who need to be reminded that a fence is like the way you should conduct your life. Your posts should be straight and neat. The wire needs to be stretched tight and your gate might be closed, but can still be easily opened. And most of all, we can all saddle up together and ride the range, it won't matter if you have an Appaloosa, Quarter Horse or Thoroughbred. The cows still have to be gathered, fences have to be fixed, and the range is a wide open space of opportunity for us all.