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The Midwest Cattleman · September 10, 2020 · P4

                                         sional rattlesnake are still all
                                         there to see.
                                            Growing up, our family grew
                                         wheat, barley, and hay along the
                                         edge, and we also ran cattle and
                                         sheep down in ‘The Breaks’.   It
                                         was quite a ‘backyard’ - a great
                                         place to ride, hunt, snowmo-
                                         bile or, if you’re carefree young
                                         boys, just play.  Every summer,
                                         between the last day and the          " No one can go off here and survive."
                                         first day of school, my brother
                                         Doug and I would walk or ride
         When  Lewis  and  Clark  left   horses  all  over  that ‘backyard’
       St. Louis in 1804, they had       nearly every day. The last sum-
       very little idea what lay ahead.   mer we were there, we spent       Just past the tallest pine tree on the left side – near the horizon, you can get an idea where my
                                                                            brother Doug fell from.  The distance from top to bottom is almost a football field in length – the
       After wintering in what is now    nearly every day with several  first 20 feet is straight down.
       North Dakota, they pulled         hundred ewes with their lambs
       their  keelboat  up  the  Missou-  and killed  an average of one     pened next has played like a  wanted me to show him the spot
       ri  river, past the  Yellowstone   rattlesnake every day.  The rat-  ‘loop’ over and over again in  where Doug had fallen.   When I
       and into what today is Central    tlesnake ‘rattles’ we collected as   my head thousands of times.   showed him the spot, he at first
       Montana.  There, they passed      souvenirs filled a large ‘jelly jar’   I saw my brother Doug step  thought I had to be mistaken.
       through what is called the ‘Mis-  by the end of the summer. We       back, then slip in the gravel,  “No one can go off here and sur-
       souri  Breaks’  until  they  came   often carried a gun, swam in the   and then tumble off the cliff  vive.” He said.  But then climb-
       to the ‘Great Falls of the Mis-   creek, got bucked off of horses,   and disappear.  In the moment  ing down on the ledge below he
       souri’.  Although much smaller,   run over by cows, and there was    is ‘surprise’, ‘disbelief’, ‘fear’ and  saw Doug’s hat.   We climbed
       that section of Montana in some   this one event with a dog, some    a blue denim jacket.  As I raced  farther down, and I showed
       ways resembles ‘The Badlands’     horses, and a little red wagon     to the edge, I could see his limp  him where Doug had stopped.
       of South Dakota and even to       that I won’t get into.  I wonder   body- like a  ‘rag-doll’ tumble,  He looked back up the hill and
       some extent… Arizona’s ‘Grand     how we survived. So does our       bounce, slide and finally come  was visibly shaken.  “And then
       Canyon’.                          dear mother.  If she were to       to a rest far below me.           he got up and walked back up
         Today, wheat and barley are     weigh-in, she’d say, “You’re leav-   Years later, I retraced the  this hill and then home?” He
       grown right up to the very edge   ing one off!”  Not really Mom,     route, the actual steps I had  asked.  Indeed - it was hard to
       of ‘The Breaks’.  In some places   I’m just saving it for last.      taken to reach him.  The incline  believe.  It could have been bad,
       you can stand in a wheat field       One summer afternoon, we        was so steep I could not stand,  but it wasn’t his time.
       and look almost straight down     were  playing  when  we  were      but on that particular day I         Lewis and Clark traveled
       and see the Missouri River.  In   supposed to be watching a herd     had  run  down  that  hill  like  a  from St. Louis to the west
       fact, if you search 'Harvesting   of sheep.  It must have been       mountain goat at a dead run -  coast and back again and only
       on the Edge' on YouTube , you     hot that afternoon, because        without giving it much thought.   one man died – of appendi-
       can see what it looks like today.    most of the sheep had found a   As I reached Doug, he was just  citis.   Somewhere in what is
       Take one step out of the wheat    shade-tree and we were well        waking up.  He had no broken  now  Nebraska,  Meriwether
       onto the edge, and it still looks   above them, on the cliff, throw-  bones and the only scratch he  Lewis slipped on a hillside over
       very much like it did when        ing rocks off the edge as young    had on him was just below one  the Missouri river and nearly
       Lewis and Clark saw it two        carefree boys will do.  We found   of his eyes – he got three stitch- ended his young life and his
       hundred and fifteen years ago.    a couple of sticks – which we      es.                               expedition before it got started.
         The bison are gone, replaced    discovered resembled  swords,        When our mother had taken  He recorded it in his journal.
       by smaller herds of cattle, but   and like two musketeers, faced     Doug to the doctor (sixty miles)  It could have been bad, but it
       the mule deer, antelope, moun-    off and began to spar.             to get checked-out, my dad came  wasn’t his time.
       tain sheep, elk, and an occa-        I’m certain that what hap-      in out of the wheat field and,    KwC
                                                                            after hearing what happened,

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       My brother Doug, obviously years later, at the top, close to the very spot where we had decided   (573) 208-8125 •
       to “play” near the edge.  This time, he stayed well out of the loose gravel.
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