Oct 06 2014

Cattle Creek, Owyhee County

Published by at 12:00 PM under Birds,History,Scenery,Trees,Wildlife


The site of the old cabin

The site of the old cabin

This scene takes me back 80 years to my early childhood. Left of lower center one can see the skeletons of two dead Lombardi poplar trees. Originaly there were four of these trees set around a spring-fed well. About 30 or 40 feet behind and to the right of these trees stood a small three-room board cabin. A few hundred yards up Cattle Creek to the right were pieces of iron and a chopped up boiler, reminants of an old whiskey still. In later years I refered to the cabin as a “moon-shiner’s cabin.” Norton, an older brother of mine, was living in this cabin when I arrived in May 1934.

My mother died in January ’34 while our home was in Boise, Idaho. My step-father left Boise and placed me in the care of my oldest brother, Stanley, presumably so I could finish out the school year at Park School. My grades in school were always average or above. Soon my grades began to fall and I was behind my classmates in learning. One day a representative from the Welfare Department paid us a visit at home inquiring about my well being. Shortly thereafter I was whisked away from all this to live with Norton in the cabin mentioned above. I never finished the 6th grade. I was just 12 years old.

Summer rolled around and Norton found work during the haying season about three miles away. He would come home from work every night and leave early the next morning. My chore was to milk the old Jersey cow and take care of the calf. What was a poor kid to do that had been brought up in the city with playmates and people around? Here on Cattle Creek the closest neighbor was a mile away and they were elderly with a grown daughter. Our cabin was located a mile off the Pleasant Valley road about 12 miles south of Jordan Valley, Oregon. Teddy, our dog, was my sole companion during most of my waking hours during those hot  summer days in 1934. Teddy and I roamed about in this desolate sagebrush landscape with nothing particular in mind. I was lonely.

Mother Nature came to my rescue and introduced me to flowers, birds and other wildlife. I got acquainted with a nest of Brewer’s blackbirds and the Bullock’s Oriole which I called a canary. I recall a group of Sage Grouse, Red-tailed Hawks, ground squirrels and snakes. My first encounter with a rattle-snake was when one entered an open door and rattled a warning when I started through the room. All of these things and many more experiences flashed across my mind when I revisited this scene 80 years later. While I feel  sorry for this orphaned waif thrust into early hardships I am grateful for lessons learned as a result.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Cattle Creek, Owyhee County”

  1. Ruth Smithon 08 Oct 2014 at 6:39 AM

    And I am grateful for the man who was molded by this life. Thank you for being a good friend and teacher. I couldn’t ask for better.

  2. Cathy Eellson 06 Jan 2015 at 8:56 AM


    Your observations are thoughtful, and your photos are excellent!

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