“You all talk about going back to the old States,” said Joe Stallings, “but I don’t take very friendly to the idea. I felt that way once and went home to Tennessee; but I want to tell you that after you live a few years in the sunny Southwest and get onto her ways, you can’t stand it back there like you think you can. Now, when I went back, and I reckon my relations will average up pretty well,—fought in the Confederate army, vote the Democratic ticket, and belong to the Methodist church,—they all seemed to be rapidly getting locoed. Why, my uncles, when they think of planting the old buck field or the widow’s acre into any crop, they first go projecting around in the soil, and, as they say, analyze it, to see what kind of a fertilizer it will require to produce the best results. Back there if one man raises ten acres of corn and his neighbor raises twelve, the one raising twelve is sure to look upon the other as though he lacked enterprise or had modest ambitions. Now, up around that old cow town, Abilene, Kansas, it’s a common sight to see the cornfields stretch out like an ocean.
“And then their stock—they are all locoed about that. Why, I know people who will pay a hundred dollars for siring a colt, and if there’s one drop of mongrel blood in that sire’s veins for ten generations back on either side of his ancestral tree, it condemns him, though he may be a good horse otherwise. They are strong on standard bred horses; but as for me, my mount is all right. I wouldn’t trade with any man in this outfit, without it would be Flood, and there’s none of them standard bred either. Why, shucks! if you had the pick of all the standard bred horses in Tennessee, you couldn’t handle a herd of cattle like ours with them, without carrying a commissary with you to feed them. No; they would never fit here—it takes a range-raised horse to run cattle; one that can rustle and live on grass.”
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“Another thing about those people back in those old States: Not one in ten, I’ll gamble, knows the teacher he sends his children to school to. But when he has a promising colt to be shod, the owner goes to the blacksmith shop himself, and he and the smith will sit on the back sill of the shop, and they will discuss how to shoe that filly so as to give her certain knee action which she seems to need. Probably, says one, a little weight on her toe would give her reach. And there they will sit and powwow and make medicine for an hour or two. And while the blacksmith is shoeing her, the owner will tell him in confidence what a wonderful burst of speed she developed yesterday, while he was speeding her on the back stretch. And then just as he turned her into the home stretch, she threw a shoe and he had to check her in; but if there’d been any one to catch her time, he was certain it was better than a two-ten clip. And that same colt, you couldn’t cut a lame cow out of the shade of a tree on her. A man back there—he’s