In summing up the year’s business, never were three partners more surprised. With a remnant of nearly one hundred beeves unfit for shipment, the Medicine River venture had cleared us over two hundred per cent, while the horses on hand were worth ten dollars a head more than what they had cost, owing to their having wintered in the North. The ten thousand trail cattle paid splendidly, while my individual herd had sold out in a manner, leaving the stock cattle at home clear velvet. A programme was outlined for enlarging our business for the coming year, and every dollar of our profits was to be reinvested in wintering and trailing cattle from Texas. Next to the last shipment, the through outfit went home, taking the extra two hundred saddle horses with it, the final consignment being brought in to Wichita for loading out by our ranch help. The shipping ended in October. My last work of the year was the purchase of seven thousand three-year-old steers, intended for our Medicine River range. We had intentionally held George Edwards and his outfit for this purpose, and cutting the numbers into two herds, the Medicine River lads led off for winter quarters. We had bought the cattle worth the money, but not at a sacrifice like the year before, neither would we expect such profits. It takes a good nerve, but experience has taught me that in land and cattle the time of the worst depression is the time to buy. Major Hunter accompanied the herds to their winter quarters, sending Edwards with his outfit, after their arrival on the Medicine, back to Texas, while I took the train and reached home during the first week in November.
CLEAR FORK AND SHENANDOAH
I arrived home in good time for the fall work. The first outfit relieved at Wichita had instructions to begin, immediately on reaching the ranch, a general cow-hunt for outside brands. It was possible that a few head might have escaped from the Clear Fork range and returned to their old haunts, but these would bear a tally-mark distinguishing them from any not gathered at the spring delivery. My regular ranch hands looked after the three purchased brands adjoining our home range, but an independent outfit had been working the past four months gathering strays and remnants in localities where I had previously bought brands. They went as far south as Comanche County and picked up nearly one hundred “Lazy L’s,” scoured the country where I had purchased the two brands in the spring of 1872, and afterward confined themselves to ranges from which the outside cattle were received that spring. They had made one delivery on the Clear Fork of seven hundred head before my return, and were then away on a second cow-hunt.