Received my new catalog from Tuckers Saddles, I am honored to be part of this company and greatly appreciate their sponsorship AND of course their fine saddles, Thank you Tuckers ! My horses and I have spent a good many hours wearing your saddles.
Steve Tucker quotes me below in his “message from founder” and I do mean it… “Nothing comes between me and my horse but a Tuckers Saddle.”
Here is a cute story you may enjoy. I am taking Bills Old Blue Truck south next week for winter riding with Rosie Rolling (see summer posting and her book “Adventures on Horseback”)
Bill’s Old Blue Truck
He bought it new in 1969 from the DePratu Ford dealership in Whitefish, Montana. He brought it home, home to Trego all shiny and new. His short body sat a bit taller in the driver’s seat, proud of his new acquisition. Proud. Bill Griffin was a “Ford Man.”
A 1969 ¾ ton Ford Pick-up truck, baby blue, “Camper Special,” two wheel drive, 360 V-8, four on the floor – stick shift, full-size box with side chrome embellishment. Brand spanking new. It rolled off the Ford’s Detroit assembly line in 1968. They sold for $7,000.00 give or take. Built not for speed but for work. Dependable.
Bill’s blue Ford truck has been a fixture on the roads of Trego, Montana and its surrounding communities for nearly fifty years: coming and going, never missing a beat, steadfast like a work horse. It is now the only truck like it in the tiny community. Everyone knew it belonged to Bill, they waved and smiled when driving past. “There goes Bill with another load of neatly stacked wood filling the box.” He left the tail gate down where “Whiskey,” his shaggy gray/brown colored Collie perched precariously, but calmly, seriously taking life in as dogs do. He trusted Bill because Bill drove slow, Bill drove careful.
He had an Apache Camper that fit on the truck. He and Peggy his first wife took several long trips around the country with the truck and camper. “Bill was really proud of it,” said Perry Johnson, long time friend and relative.
Roy Kern of Trego rebuilt the engine in 2016, did as good a job as any master-mechanic would. Kelly Mee finished it up. He raved about the work Roy did. It purrs like a kitten, starts right over, requires muscles to drive it. With good tires and in low gear, that old truck will crawl ever so slowly up a steep incline, just let it go she’ll crawl steady like a tank.
Bill and I were friends, just good friends and had been for years. After Bill passed away in July of 2006 at the age of 83, Norma Griffin, Bill’s widow, gave the truck to me. It had 90,000 miles on it and hadn’t been driven for a few years. I tried selling the truck a few times, “Needs too much work, too old.” I said, but the damn thing persistently held on and would not go.
Bill moved westward as a young man with a friend from Wisconsin in 1951. “Couple of boys probably just out looking at the country,” said Peggy Brandon. He lived with the Henry Hillikee family (Peggy’s father) for years before purchasing his own home. The Hillikees and Griffins had family connections from Wisconsin.
He found work with the National Forest Service grading roads and fighting fires – stuck with it and retired from the USFS. He remained a dedicated community member, husband, and father. “Couldn’t ask for a better neighbor.” said Bruce Todd. Bill was a friend to many. He was a Mason, served on the Trego School board, the Trego Hall board and the Lincoln Electric Co-op board for eighteen years. Ask him, “Well whaddaya think?” “Takes a big dog to weigh a ton,” came his reply.” Bill had a million of them. “It’s so cloudy around here a person think they’d sold the sun to North Dakota.” He’d say with a faint smile.
Bill moved through life gently. He wasn’t a man to shout or cuss. He was a gentleman. He held his short sturdy body straight, was never fat, wore a belt on his jeans and usually a nice wool plaid shirt tucked in. He wore a fisherman’s cap and thick rimmed black glasses. He dressed clean and neatly unless he’d gotten himself into some dirty project like rebuilding a horse drawn wagon (for me). Our local vet Nancy Haugan now has the beautifully crafted (John Deer green) wagon.
He made his own firewood, was an avid reader, had carpenter skills and was a good mechanic. If he didn’t know how to do something, he’d figure it out. Each year he baled and sold the hay off his land at the end of Griffin Road in Trego. More often than not he’d give it away. He was the kind of man who was always, always willing to help when-ever, how-ever he could.
Bill rides along sometimes in the 69 Ford. I swear I can see him sitting at the other end of the bench seat looking out through his thick glasses, commenting on the weather, the land, historical events, smiling. He makes a clever remark that makes me laugh but I keep my eyes on the road, both hands on the big steering wheel. Behind me my two horses follow smoothly. The old blue truck pulling my horse trailer is slow but steady. It looks retro. I must gear down for hills. New trucks hurtling past me up ANY mountain pass, laugh, curse and snort at us slow pokes. I drop down into 2nd gear and pull over to let a line of cars pass. When I stop for gas a man fueling in the other lane calls over, “What year?” “Sixty-nine,” I call back. “Best truck Ford ever put out!” says the man. I smile. Bill would have had a clever reply, I only nod.
It’s got a few dents and scraps adding character – its no show room vehicle, it’s still working, that’s obvious. But still it looks pretty good. Inside is like new.
Fifty years later Bill’s Old Blue Truck is still rolling its wheels down the paved highway looking for adventure.
Thanks Bill, thanks Roy, thanks Ford!
Special thank you to Bruce & Loretta Todd, dear friends of Bill’s who provided time and information for the story.
When Bernice Ende is not traveling around in Bill’s Old Blue Truck at 50 mph she’s traveling at 5mph as an equestrian long rider. She has amassed an amazing 30,000 miles in the past 13 years crisscrossing the United States and Canada on her beloved horses. This is the very first truck and trailer she has ever owned! Read more about her travels on her website www.endeofthetrail.com or read her book “In My Own Skin, Becoming a Lady Long Rider.”
And there is more….
Following this past years fire season and with much careful deliberation I have decided to log my property. I have had enormous help deciding how best my property should be logged so as to improve its condition and provide good stewardship. Brian Russel, Ed Ferruzzi and Michael Justus are the team assisting my project. Michael did this wonderful Management plan and I felt I must share the Philosophy part.
Tree Farm/ Forest Stewardship
Forest Management Plan
Forest management is the human process of assessing a forest, and act accordingly to provide for its sustainability”
Native American Reality: A Land Ethic
Community: Men and women are members of a community that includes all beings. Each has its proper role and obligations to others. All beings have spirit.
Human-to-human relationships are similar to human-to animal and human-to-plant relationships. Human obligations in action toward nature should mirror human actions toward one another.
Connectedness: One should expect that an action that affects one part of the environment will have impacts on other parts. Further, the connections are many and complicated. As a consequence, the assumption of connectedness, native peoples rarely classify other species as “good” or “bad.” They assume that every being has a reason to exist, even if humans do not understand the reason.
Seventh Generation: Among humanity, past generations have left a legacy, and humans have a duty not only to their children but also to seven generations. This assumption of duty to the seventh generation leads to the belief that land should be sustained.
Humility: In taking action, humans should be humble. The natural world is powerful and complicated. Connections are not obvious, but they are important when considered over the time scale of seven generations. Some tribes object to the concept of “management” and prefer the term “care-giving” to describe their philosophy of interaction with the land.