Top Hands

Top HandsThey were all good hands, and the kind of cowboys – or buckaroos – that could work on any cow outfit. They didn’t all arrive together, they just sorta drifted in, one at a time.

Tom hired them on in January to help with the calving, even though it was early. There wasn’t much riding to do, just go through the cattle each day looking for something that might be wrong. The cows weren’t supposed to start calving until the middle of February.

The ranch already had a cook, a grizzled old time. He was a pretty good cook and quite proud of his sourdough bread and biscuits. He talked a lot, mostly to the items he was cooking up.

The most surprising hand to show up was of the female persuasion. Michelle, nicknamed Mike, said, “I have my own bedroll and my own tent. I can ride as good as any man and can rope better than most. I know cattle and horses, being raised on a ranch.”

When Mike had finished telling Tom about herself, he said, “I guess we could give you a try. I don’t know how the other hands will react to havin’ a woman in camp. But we’ll give you a try. If you work out, you’ve got a job. If not, I’ll bring you back.”