Spring brought new life. The wild cherry trees were in bloom the chickens and turkeys were nesting, and the goats were kidding. I was so full of life that I roped the turkey gobler every day to keep in practice. He finally sought revenge and chased me everytime he had an opportunity. He caught Max, my baby brother, outside the yard and almost killed him.
A short distance away we discovered that one of our hens had set up housekeeping. Scott and I watched her nest and got the egg. One day we went for the egg and on reached into the nest heard a funny sound. We both jumped and screamed, "Polecat ". I ran and Scott crawled fast enough to break the speed limit. Mother came rushing out with the shotgun when she heard our shouts of "Polecat, Polecat". When she reached the nest, she didn't see a polecat but a vicious rattlesnake which had sixteen rattlers.
Father announced that they must have more hired hands on the ranch to help with the kidding and building. Mother said that she would take me and go for help, leaving the two boys with Father. We went by hack, taking a day to go and another to come back. When we got to Marathon, Mr. French, our merchant, soon found three Mexicans who wanted to work. Morning arrived and the three Mexicans were at the store to go with us. Each had a small roll of bedding and clothes. They were tough looking "hombres". I shuddered when I looked at them. Before we started, mother told me to sit so that I could watch them. They were sitting behind her and she could not see what was going on.
They jabbered as we rattled along over the mountains. We couldn't understand them. When we were about halfway between Marathon and our ranch, we came to a hill that had a curve near the middle. The Mexicans jumped off and said in broken English that they would meet us at the top of the hill. I saw them unroll their bedding and then take something out before they left the hack. I quickly told Mother what I saw. It was often the trick of peons to kill and rob then rush back across the border. Mother reached down, picked up her shotgun, and placed it across her lap. She handed the reins to me and told me to drive. When we arrived at the top of the hill, the Mexicans very meekly climbed in and continued the journey in silence. I still wonder what went on in their fiendish heads.
None of the ranches were fences in this part of the world. Stock wander at will with only the brand to determine ownership. One day when part of our horses were missing, Father and I took off in search of them. We rode eight miles to the east of us and came to the Easterwood place. The Easterwoods had relatives visiting who brought news of the terrible flood in Galveston, Texas. The little Easterwood girl had an exciting story to relate about an escapade with a Mexican lion. She had been riding the pasture the day before and found a lion after her baby colt. A stallion, which was with the horse, began a battle with the lion that sent that sinner in the direction of the girl. She raced her horse for dear life thinking he was after her, and he might have been.
Eagles, panthers, wildcats, wolves, and lions took a heavy toll of small animals in the Glass Mountains. I have seen eagles flying through the air clutching a kid.
Fall brought an abundance of wild cherries. "Cherries are ripe, Cherries are ripe" and a-hunting we did go. Mrs. Parker came with tubs and buckets, and we went out for a picnic and cherry picking. Mother filled everything on the place with cherry jelly within the next few days. The seeds and hulls were thrown in the hog feed. Late in the afternoon the hired man fed the greedy hogs the waste, and when Father returned from Alpine later in the night, he found the hogs turning around and around. As the night passed, the hogs grew more drunken and finally all died. The next morning the mystery was solved when it was surmised that the cherry waste had fermented and formed a type of wine. Some of the hearts of the hogs had burst. Moral … Don't give hogs an intoxicating drink if you expect pork in the fall.