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Working Ranch - November/December 2017

cattlemen’s association. His ranch was along the river. Sometimes ice plugged the channel, fl ooding the buildings unless it was kept open by dynamiting the ice jam. The winter of 1961-62 was really bad. Darrel went out late one evening to check calving cows, and it was fl ooding so he decided to blast again. “I’d chop a hole in the ice, and drop dynamite in the hole. That night I tried to light the fuse, but it didn’t fi zz so I thought it hadn’t lit. I reached in my pocket to get my second match and it went off in my hand,” Darrel said. Larry came home from basketball practice, found his father lying there and went for help. The local ambulance took him 30 miles to the nearest hospital at Glenwood Springs. The blast damaged his eyes and took off both hands above the wrists. “The doctors told my family I wouldn’t make it through the night. Then they said I wouldn’t live more than 3 days, because they thought everything inside me would quit working. But I fooled them. Nobody thought I could keep ranching, but 11 days later I walked out of the hospital and went home. We were calving, and I was soon back on my horse. My head was bandaged, but if I raised my head a little I could see out through the bottom of my eyes. My arm stumps were bandaged so I tied my reins together and looped them over my arms.” He later had cornea transplants, and went to the VA hospital to be fi tted with prostheses. “They wanted me to stay longer to show me how to use them but I told them I had a ranch to run. I never did get artifi - cial hands, just hooks that open and close, but I managed to do the things I needed to do. I just kept on ranching and bought a few more ranches.” He ranched for 10 years at Eagle, but the area between Vale and Aspen became popular for recreation and skiing so he looked for another ranch. “While we were still at Eagle, my kids got married. I located some ranches near Salmon, Idaho – one for us, one for Larry and his wife, and one for Diann and her husband,” said Darrel. Not long after, Darrel and Ruth were divorced. Later he met and married Traudy, who was originally from Austria, and bought two more ranches. By that time he had 5 grandchildren. They enjoyed helping with cattle and horses. He built an arena, and neighborhood kids came to practice roping or cutting. He organized a horse show association at Salmon that included Challis and Mackay, with an awards night once a year and an old-timers’ rodeo at Mackay. His multiple ranches included 2600 acres (about 800 acres irrigated and the rest mountain pasture). Cattle spent summers on BLM from mid- May until mid-June, then went to Forest range until October 15th. “We had 650 cows and kept 200 calves as yearlings. The herd was Hereford and some Angus cows, bred to Shorthorn bulls. That made a nice cross and we bred the heifers back to He Just Kept On Ranching “They wanted me to stay (at the VA hospital) longer to show me how to use them but I told them I had a ranch to run.” It’s what’s on the inside that defines us. You know it, and we know it. Because we share the same values. Ingenuity, commitment, sense of pride… These are the values that built this country; They are the values that built this company. Ritchie, proud to be a partner to the American Cattleman since 1921 www.ritchiefount.com | Proud Sponsor of: 96 I WORKING RANCH I NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2017


Working Ranch - November/December 2017
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