Motherless calves wandered about the range, hollow-eyed, their piteous appeals unheeded, until some lurking wolf sucked their blood and spread a feast to the vultures, constantly wheeling in great flights overhead. The prickly pear, an extremely arid plant, affording both food and drink to herds during drouths, had turned white, blistered by the torrid sun until it had fallen down, lifeless.
"You see, boys, I've been through three drouths since I began ranching on this river. The second one, in '51, was the worst; cattle skulls were as thick along the Nueces that year as sunflowers in August.
"Show me your water supply," said he to Joel; "old beaver ponds, if I am correctly informed. We must move fifty thousand cattle from Dodge to the Platte River within the next fortnight. One of the worst drouths in the history of the trail confronts us, and if you can water my cattle between the Prairie Dog and the Republican River, you can name your own price."
What the governor did with Blas Rodriguez on account of the quantity of gold taels which he gave him. Of the Dominican friar who went to look at the bulls of Don Fernando, that he might enter as a Franciscan. How not even this gentleman has escaped from the anger of the archbishop and Verart. Of the inundation in Cagayan; of the locusts, famine, earthquakes, and drouths; of disturbances, etc.
Horsham sits in a plain which is as level as a floor one of those famous dead levels which Australian books describe so often; gray, bare, sombre, melancholy, baked, cracked, in the tedious long drouths, but a horizonless ocean of vivid green grass the day after a rain. A country town, peaceful, reposeful, inviting, full of snug homes, with garden plots, and plenty of shrubbery and flowers.
At this time the ranch had some ten remudas including nearly five hundred saddle horses, some of them ranging ten or fifteen miles from the ranch, and on receipt of the first rumor, every remuda was brought in home and put under a general herd, night and day. "These Indian scares," said Uncle Lance, "are just about as regular as drouths.
Now, down in Ohio, where I originally came from, they have drouths even in May, at times, and I've seen things go to the dogs more than once, gardens dried up, and even a forest fire in July, but never up here," replied the stockman. "The woods look as though it wouldn't take a great deal to set them going," declared Frank.
This failure of the crops because of drouths unduly long, wet seasons, the ravages of worms, caterpillars, and other uncontrollable circumstances, not only meant that the whole of that year's labor was to bring no tangible rewards, but that much property accumulated in more prosperous times was to be dissipated as well.
For over eighty years it has supplied the family with water, and not till the severe drouths of later years did it fail. The old beech tree that stands above it is one of the landmarks of the farm.
After endless discussions, your economists appear by that time to have settled down to the despairing conclusion that there was no more possibility of preventing or controlling these crises than if they had been drouths or hurricanes.