Ranch Bones




Years of bones piled up.  Cattle–calves, yearlings, the old–heaped 100 yards

northeast of the ranch house, upwind from the summer, southwest prevailing

winds.  Mostly black baldies, a few Charolais.  Old bones bleached white,

disintegrated.  Some new bloated bodies rotting, nauseating.  Others just sundried

hide stretched over skeletons.  Drug here by tractor, the dead.  Shipping fever, parasites,

drought, extreme weather.


A ranch’s history written in bones.




The bone is big, more than eighteen inches long.  Isabella–

wolf, German shepherd, blue heeler, 80 pounds, lies in cool,

emerald, native grass, gnawing.  What kind is it?  From where?

Half hour hiking cross canyon, through junipers, tall grass, searching.


One week later, while driving through the gate, I see the neighbor’s

black lab gnawing on identical bone.  Surprised, puzzled, I wonder

if it’s the same bone.  After running the eighth mile back to my house,

I find the old bone, three pieces scattered in the grass.  Not the same.

Neighbor tells me he hiked, searched.



no dead animal smell

meat scraps stuck to bone

we will never know