Trail Boss Journal
By Natalie Adams
June 12, 1870
Life on Lone Pine Acres recently has been frantic, yet exciting. Since our little town in Crockett, Texas holds the population of only a little more than 500 people, the news of my first job as a Trail Boss has spread like a wildfire. Many people are stopping by the ranch to give their farewells and wish my crew and I luck on the trip, and it truly warms my heart that strangers are coming from the other end of town to congratulate me.
Although I am only responsible for 2,600 acres of land and 1,300 heads of cattle, I am quite nervous that somehow my drive will fail- but I must ignore my negative thoughts. If I put aside the fear of leaving home, there is another part of me that is more than willing to explore more of the country.
I love our small town and every person in it, but I feel as if I need to be refreshed and take a few months to escape the endless hills and lublolly pines. Many towns nearby yield the same rolling terrain and forests, so although I haven't decided entirely where I want to travel, I can say for certain that it will be far, far away from here.
Explanation of My Brand-
My brand is a diamond connected "NA," to represent my initials. The diamond is purely for the purpose of making it more difficult for other cowboys to brand over mine and to make it look nicer.
June 19, 1870Dear Journal,
As the date of the drive creeps closer and closer, decisions are starting to be made. The team and I have decided on bringing our 1,200 cattle (leaving 100 at home to make sure the ranch continues to thrive) along the Chisholm Trail from Crockett to Abilene to approach the Kansas Pacific Railroad. We plan on encountering cities such as Waco, Dallas, Ardmore, and Shawnee across hilly terrain.
We are expected to enter Chickasaw and Chocksaw Native American territories once we make our way into Oklahoma, but we are not as worried about that as we are about the long journey. Assuming we travel 12 miles a day for approximately 650 miles, we can expect to be on the trail for about 55 days, the equivalent to about two months
The rivers we are planning on crossing are the Brazos, Trinity, Red, and Canadian River, meaning we should not have that many problems with drought, but with flooding. I am very much excited for this drive and the opportunities I will be given. Who knows, maybe I'll get into something new, like singing or poetry.
June 23, 1870Dear Journal,
Every single the day of the drive approaches, I just become more anxious and excited. Today, my crew and I sat down and spoke about how much everything was going to cost. After all, profit is the main reason we're doing this in the first place. We talked about how much everyone was getting paid and how much each head of cattle was worth up in Abilene.
It turns out that the majority of our money is going towards the cowboys' paychecks and supplies. We are using about 100 dollars for unexpected funds, just incase a chuck wagon is damaged or we need more medicine.
July 8, 1870
Things have just been getting worse and worse. We set out on the trail on June 24 in hopes that no snowstorms could ambush us, but it seems we have made a mistake. We have found no water in the past 36 miles, and my cattle, horses, and men are getting fatigued and thirsty. We are struggling to keep moving forward, and I am beginning to think that Trail Boss was not a suitable position for me. We are becoming weaker by the day and are struggling to find a solution.
Water is very important, especially for the cattle to keep them healthy and able to sell. It makes me so angry that I might not be able to deem my first real job a success. I have sacrificed so much and I have others to do the same, and it just doesn't seem fair. We are only a few weeks into this drive and I already don't know how much more my team can take.
Last night, I spoke to each cowboy, and after much discussion, we've decided to move off of the trail in search of water, possibly setting us back a few days. It's going to cost us a little more money but I really do think it's the best way to make sure my crew is healthy and safe. I never anticipated for us to hit such a roadblock, but we have to do what we have to do.
July 27, 1870
Just our luck. Last night, at just about sundown, thick, gray clouds quickly formed over our small camp, and rain began to fall. Soon enough, lightning started to hit the ground, followed by loud claps of thunder. At first, the thunder wasn't bothering the cattle, but a particularly loud one spooked a few, causing the rest to become unsettled. At this point, some of us were eyeing each other, knowing that we were all fearing the same thing. We hopped on our horses and tried our best to prepare quietly for a stampede.
The storm continued, and after a few more crashes, the cattle completely freaked out and started a stampede. They ran in many different directions, and since we only have a team of six cowboys, we lost about one hundred cows. I sent out our most skilled cowboy to attempt and bring back most of our cattle, but to no avail. I am very upset by this occurrence, but I am so thankful that our chuck wagons are still intact and that nobody in my crew was harmed. Losing cattle will put a dent in our profit, but I suspected that this would happen and am not too disappointed.
The fire tonight is as bright as ever
We sit in a circle to sing our songs
and tell our tells of time
Sharin' a little about ourselves until the sun begins to rise
I was the youngin' of the family,
And although I worked through rain and sun
On the long days on our pasture,
Many said I was nothin' more but a rancher
I was always outshined by my older brothers,
Who were favorited for their bravery,
"Prove yourself! You ain't never gonna be strong!"
And after years of pain I choosed to prove them wrong
It was real tough to get used to this life:
The fear of stampedes a constant struggle
The blazing sun that tints our skin red
And getting used to the taste of stale bread
This journey has changed me more that I can imagine
But there's one thing y'all gotta remember:
The man I am now is more than I was
And that is how you should take me for
August 22, 1870
I cannot begin to explain how relieved I am. We have finally made it to Abilene after 59 days of travel. When we marched into the town, the mayor greeted us warmly and insisted we move into Town Hall so people could meet us. After only moments, a civilian called out, "They're here! They've made it from Texas!" People came running out of their homes with their children and crowded us with hugs and cheering. The youth were looking at the cows in awe, asking their parents how there were so many of them.
I left my cowboys to converse with the people as the mayor of Abilene led me to Town Hall to discuss prices. I will admit that I was surprised to sit in a chair after two months on the trail. After a few questions about how the drive went, the mayor offered to buy the cattle for $25 per head. I thought about this, but lowered the price to $20. After all, it was my first drive and I would have more than enough money by selling them at 20 a piece- there was no need to overcharge. The man seemed very thankful and immediately wrote the check.
When we left the hall, I was greeted with most of the town cheering and clapping for me. Many congratulated me on my bravery, and some asked how my first drive was so successful. After spending hours with the crowd, singing songs and reading aloud some of the poetry I wrote along the way, it was already sundown. Some of my cowboys stayed to continue the celebration, but I headed off to bed. In my room, I climbed into bed and drifted off into sleep with a smile on my face. I felt so much pride and happiness from finally achieving my goal despite the roadblocks, and can definitely say that I will be doing more cattle drives in the future. Who knows, maybe I'll journal those, too.