“PUSHIN’ THROUGH A DROUGHT”
Ever planned a three-month road trip based on where you thought to find water to drink? Welcome to the reality of an 1870’s cattle drive from Texas to Montana.
Cowmen (not cowboys as they later came to be called) often found themselves days between water holes. Rivers, creek beds and springs, that were known to be full of water the previous year, could come up ‘unexpectedly’ dry. Put several days of “no water” together and men and animals get a bit edgy.
Get out and walk – pull a stretch of 30-50 miles with no water. I promise you, you’ll be able to smell a ‘drop’ if it comes across on a breeze. That very circumstance was a hazard to cowmen, who knew a stampede was immanent if a dry herd smelled water in the wind.
What made matters worse was if the breeze (carrying the smell of water) changed directions before it got to the herd. Now the possibility arose they would stamped in the wrong direction – further away from water.
Bit of trivia: Ever notice how you never see ole time cowmen with canteens? They drank when the cows drank.