This is a fictional short story about a twelve year old boy and his dad taking care of the ranch in Wyoming.
Justice is a twelve year old boy who lives on a ranch with his mom and dad, Joan and Joshua. Joshua owns a cattle and sheep ranch in Wyoming. When Justice isn’t working with his dad, he is practicing with his slingshot. Justice has become very good with his sling shot made out of oak and cowhide.
This morning Justice and his black horse Stud will be hauling a wagon full of fence post, staples and a post hole digger. It is also hauling cattle branding equipment. During the next couple of days, Joshua, Justice and Shep, their trusty ranch dog will be working on the far west side of the ranch. Joan has packed some homemade bread, jelly and potatoes in a basket for her men.
Joshua has already started for the west side of the ranch. Shep and Joshua are going to check on some of the sheep before heading for the fence to be fixed. Justice doesn’t mind traveling alone. It gives him time to daydream about saving the Old West.
Justice gives his mom a hug before getting into the wagon that his black horse Stud is hooked too. He starts whistling and daydreaming as they head for the day’s work. They have probably been traveling for about twenty minutes when Stud suddenly rears up on his hind legs. Justice is quickly jostled from his daydream. He gently says Stud’s name to get Stud back on all four legs. However, Stud is still spooked enough to start heading for the bushes and the stream. Justice quickly grabs hold of the reins and gets Stud stopped before they tumble into the stream. After calming Stud down, Justice walks back up the path to see what has started Stud. There are two large snakes sunning themselves. Justice pulls out his slingshot from his back pocket and grabs two rocks nearby.
Justice smiles as he carries his catch back to the wagon.
“Lunch,” he says to Stud who is drinking from the stream.
While Stud continues to drink, Justice takes time to catch some grasshoppers. He catches a small basket full. As he is hitching Stud back to the wagon he talks to him. “We can use the grasshoppers for bait later,” he said.
Stud just looks at him and neighs.
Joshua looks a little bit worried when Justice arrives.
“Where have you been, son?” asks Joshua.
“Catching lunch,” says Justice as he holds up the snakes.
“Yah hoo! Looks like we’ll be having some good stew,” he says.
“I also caught us some grasshoppers for fishin bait,” said Justice.
“Well, boy, right now we need to git to fixin fence,” said Joshua.
Joshua and Justice worked on the fence until the sun beat hard against their necks. Justice built a campfire while Joshua put skinned the snakes and cut up pototoes for the stew. Justice and Shep gathered buckets of water while Joshua looked for wild carrots and onions for the stew.
While Justice was getting the water, he found a patch of blackberries. “Desert,” said Justice. “Thank you God.”
Justice, Joshua and Shep enjoyed a fine lunch of snake stew and homemade bread. They finished it off with several handfuls of blackberries.
Joshua and Justice worked hard on fixing the fence the rest of the afternoon. As the sun was gettng ready to set, they had finished. They rekindled the campfire, grabbed the grasshoppers and headed for the stream.
God had to be watching over them. Within a half hour, they had caught two pails of fish. While Joshua prepared the fish for supper, Justice and Shep traveled the fence line to make sure there weren’t any more rails down. The cattle were happily grazing in the field.
After the fine dinner of fish and homemade bread, Joshua sang about the Old West. Shep accompanied him. When the moon was high over their heads, the men climbed into their sleeping bags. Justice told his dad stories about the stars he head read about at school.
In the middle of the night, Justice heard some rustling. It was too quiet of a rustling to be the horses and Shep was laying at Justice’s feet. He thought maybe it was his dad, but his dad was snoring so it wasn’t him. As Justice looked closer he saw two eyes staring back at him. By this time Shep was standing at his feet fiercely growing.
Justice picked up the lantern beside his sleeping bag and shined it towards the bushes. It was a coyote. He slowly picked up his sling shot and some rocks. He hit the coyote hard enough to scare it away from the campsite. He quickly then grabbed some firewood and built two smaller campfires close to where the coyote had been. He then woke up his dad.
His dad and himself took turns watching the ranch and campsite. They kept the fires going all night. Justice must have fallen asleep, because when he awake the sun was shining. Joshua was sitting on a log whistling and working on something. When Justice walked over to him, Joshua smiled at him and handed him a bigger slingshot.
Justice smiled from ear to ear.