By Georgie Wood
I recently posted on Facebook a few photos that I had taken of different subjects after I had enrolled in a black and white photography class at the Aravaipa Branch of Central Arizona College (CAC) circa 1984.
However, my photos are of a much lower quality than those black and white photos that are featured in long-time photographer Scott T. Baxter’s wonderful book, 100 Years 100 Ranchers, which was published in 2012 and features families who have been in the ranching business in Arizona since 1912 or earlier.
The 100 Years 100 Ranchers Project can be found online. Its Facebook open group presently has over 500 members, but anyone can see the group, who’s in it, and what members post.
While enjoying my copy of Scott Baxter’s large book, I am reminded of how the ranching life of our Wood families had been in the Aravaipa Creek country of Pinal County, Arizona. I knew very little, if anything at all, about the ranching business when Cliff Wood and I were married, and from the record book of Cliff’s mother I learned quite a bit about what had gone on before, such as the work involved and the cost of improvements.
Unless one experiences the real, hard-working ranch life, one can’t know how much planning is needed in that life where there has always been the uncertainty of weather and availability of money, plus the possibility of getting seriously hurt while working.
I was fortunate to have experienced a few interesting happenings during which time I didn’t get injured. There was the time I was riding with the men on a narrow trail on the back side of Table Mountain, and my horse slipped on a mossy rock. Luckily, the horse halfway fell to the left of the trail instead of at the lower edge above the canyon below, and that I had leather chaps on.
I only received a bad case of shakes! A funny story, now but not then, is of the time we were galloping behind some cattle and one of my bra straps broke!
My brother, Bill Kishbaugh, wrote the following “The Good Times”, and dedicated it to Cliff and his brother, Fred:
“Have you ever ridden a horse all day in the high desert with real cowboys? Lips so dry you drank from waterholes with bugs in them! Have you ridden across snow and ice-covered rock on a treacherous slope? Wind blowing cold, lips cracked, and face turned ruby red!”
“Have you been where you can hear another rider’s voice a mile away? Have you branded calves in a cedar post corral, ate sandwich lunches from a sugar sack tied to your saddle?”
“Well, I have! Have you seen where the Indians camped; broken pottery, arrowheads, straw-covered floors in ancient caves? Well, I have! — just a little of the cowboy’s life around Table Mountain, Collar Button, Holy Joe Peak, Brandenburg Mountain, Bear Springs, White Wash, Rim Rock country, Oak Springs, and other seldom visited places in southeastern Arizona.”