You ever had that one Uncle who could put wisdom & humor in the same sentence? As a city kid or as much city the Spokane Valley had to offer, I was shipped to the Ranch, as they called it. Almost every summer the cousins would spend certain weeks with my Aunt Elaine, my Dads sister & my Uncle Bill to go work on the ranch. My Uncle Bill calls that working at the Ranch, building character. My cousin Tom & I were inseparable in those days. The things you learn on the Ranch are life’s lessons you never forget. The Ranch sat on hundreds of acres in Prichard Idaho, if you ever heard the term God’s Country, well this is next-door.
Now when I say we worked at the Ranch, we had jobs like collect eggs, clean the coupe, drive the tractor @ age 13 and sometimes the truck, get stuff out of the garden for dinner and sometimes, if you were lucky, you got to go during butcher season. My Uncle had 10 million head of cattle, last I counted. We got to shoot ground chucks, fish, swim at Big Rock, ride motor bikes, play on the zipline, yep, 1st family I know to have zipline. The one major attraction was shooting, my uncle had more guns than he had cattle. To this day, I cannot believe with all the rounds we shot, we were not all recruited as snipers for the military.
The best character lesson I ever received was one of the many times Tom & I got in trouble, too many to count. Uncle Bill told us we would need to go cut a switch off a tree and bring it back to him. So, we headed down the driveway because it was getting dark and I swear that driveway was 30 miles long. Of course, we took our time, no hurry to get back for an ass whooping. When we finally made it back, Uncle Bill was building a fire and said “Thanks, I did not mean, go get it now”, and he threw our switch in the fire. Tom & I was a bit confused, but we went and did more chores without getting in trouble. Uncle Bill calls us over after it was certainly pitch black and said “Now go to the last tree and find me a switch”. At 12 or 13 years of age, you are not quite the brave heart you think you are and with a long hike a head, Tom & I set out to pick out the not to small but not to big of a stick that was going to be used to beat our own asses. I was hoping monsters were real and I would be eaten and then my Uncle Bill would feel bad. Needless to say, we made it back to campfire and my Uncle looked at us both and said, “You going to do that again?”… Hell, I was so scared I couldn’t even remember why we got in trouble the 1st place. We learned our lesson and escaped an ass whooping from this gentle giant, but I would imagine our character was a lot better the next day.
I wanted to give you a visual of what the Ranch was like, it was better than Disneyland because I do remember never wanting to leave. The milk was in metal jugs 3 feet high were the cream rose to the top and the Beef was made into Italian sausage right before your eyes. Everything my Aunt cooked for us was licked clean off the plate and not just because we were hungry. Those summers will never go away from my memory, those character building lessons were priceless, and I handed them down to my kids. I forever will cherish the long talks with my Uncle by the fire, in the barn or around the kitchen table. Well yesterday I lost my Uncle Bill Rogers. You are with God now, Rest in peace and pain free. I don’t think I ever told you how much you meant to me. I love you Uncle Bill.