Here’s another piece of Clara’s writing. It came to me late in the process of writing the book, but it confirmed the direction the book was taking. I thought you might enjoy reading Clara’s own words:
“Cause we wanted to; that’s why!” That was the exasperated answer my partner gave to the last man who stopped by the ranch and asked, “Why would two girls come clear out here, buy an old dilapidated ranch, and raise horses?” I’m sure many people wondered why, but most were too polite to ask.
In the first place, we’re not exactly girls. We’re both getting pretty close to 30 years on earth, but it wouldn’t be ladylike to say exactly how close, now would it?
In the second place, we didn’t just “come clear out here.” We both quit good teaching jobs and went $35,000 in debt to come out here.
And in the third place, it is not “an old, dilapidated ranch. It is “old,” but not dilapidated.” It is a beautiful ranch in the Wet Mountains of the Rockies in southern Colorado, and there’s lots of life in the old place yet. It has beautiful grass and lots of timber and plenty of water and a house that is livable. What more could one want?
If the place is undesirable, then you tell me why in the two months we’ve been here we’ve had over fifty visitors, fifty per cent of whom say, “I sure envy you,” or something similar.
Other questions that always come up are “Are you two sisters?” “How did you get together?” “What are you raising Appaloosa horses?”
“No, we’re not sisters.”
“We met while teaching riding for the Girl Scouts on the Glying G Ranch in Colorado.”
“We’re raising Appaloosas because I got interested in them and someone bet me $5 that I couldn’t raise Appaloosa colts out of the two mares I had. I took the bet, bought three more mares, carefully selected the proper stallion, and raised 5 Appaloosa colts the first year.”
Those are the answers usually hurriedly given to a passer-by. No Margaret and I are not sisters. I was born and raised on a farm in south central Kansas. Margaret was born in Everett, Washington, and grew up in Oakland, California. We were both nearly through our respective colleges when we met and were both planning to teach. At the conclusion of one of those summers for the Scouts, I invited Margaret to come home with me for a visit. She took me up on it.
While there, we needed another horse to ride so we went half and half on a nice mare and thus began our partnership in horse-raising. It was the following summer we bred our mares to the Appaloosa. Margaret began spending her summers in Kansas, and eventually got a teaching job in Kansas where I was already teaching. While working for those few summers for the Scouts we had decided that someday we’d have a ranch in Colorado. We found that “someday” doesn’t roll around by itself and if you just keep saying “someday we’ll do it,” you never will. Thus, we started looking for our ranch and in the spring of 1965 we found it.
True friends have asked in awed tones, “How did you find such a place for sale?” Our answer is simply, Strout Realty. Our Strout man, J. Howard Morris, on Canon City saw our needs and found us the place.”
Clara had every intention of writing more, but her energies seem to have been hijacked by working an Appaloosa ranch, teaching, bagging trees, building and running a ski area, and running a horse-riding program. I’m glad I only had to write about it. I never could’ve kept up with those two!