DAY-Y-Y LIGHT

None of the residents of the Horse Creek ranch ever needed an alarm clock. Uncle Billy saw to that. At the first glimmer of dawn over the high crests of the mountains he would get into his clothes - make kindling shavings to start the fire in the ladder hole to the attic sleeping quarters, tilt his head back and roar, "Day-y-y Light." Usually one of these thunderous, rafter-shaking bellows was all that was needed. But if all the men and boys sleeping above did not appear in ten or fifteen minutes, he would get under the hole to give them another blast, "Git down outa thar." This brought any laggards down in a hurry, practically sliding down the ladder much as firemen used to slide down a pole.

The men and boys went out to do the before-breakfast chores. Some of them brought in work and saddle horses from the pastures to be fed grain or hay; they put the heavy harnesses on the work teams and saddled up the stock riding horses and sometimes pack horses, for the tasks laid out for the day. Others fed and milked the herd of milk cows. The pigs, chickens, sheep, etc. were left to be taken care of after breakfast by the women and girls.

The women and girls came into W.K.'s kitchen-living room and started preparing breakfast. One of the mainstays for breakfast was sourdough pancakes and biscuits. The sourdough starter and milk for liquifying was stirred into a hollow in the flour in the open top of the flour sack and thinned according to whether it was for biscuits or pancakes. (This was the standard way of mixing sourdough in the Snake River Canyon Country, not only in those days, but even up into the 1920's). The thinner sourdaugh batter pancakes was ladled directly from the flour sack top mixing hollow to the range top griddle and served with farm fresh butter which had been churned in the big handmade wooden churn. The strong coffe, made in a hug "granite ware" pot, was freshly ground in a hand-cranked grinder from whole coffee beans. The pot was usuallly not washed except sometimes when none of the men were around.

After breakfast there was no dawdling around. Every one hustled out to his assigned task for the day. Everyone knew his job and although W.K. was the "Big Daddy" director, he was a fair man and he conferred regularly with his sons on what should be done and what was the best way to do a thing. He knew that he taught them well and respected their judgment, but when he rumbled out a decision, it was final.

Uncle Billy hauled fruit and garden produce to the nearby towns of Enterprise and La Grande with a train of two or three freight wagons. All of the produce picked from his garden was transported up out of Imnaha Canyon by pack horses via the Stubblefield Trail. Billy, and his two older son Mickel and Ira worked many days to build the trail, a shortcut over the mountains. It began at Corral Creek, which was another tributary of the Imnaha River.

A small log cabin was constructed at the top of the trail. It was a low, funny structure with a little door, and the family called it Buckhorn because of nearby Buckhorn Springs. Sometimes Uncle Billy wnet to the cabin just to shoot grouse. Freight wagons were kept at Buckhorn and Billy harnessed the horses right over their pack saddles, an unusual custom. Provisions were stored at the cabin, and were transported between La Grande and Horse Creek.

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