The Orphaned Lambs

By Herb Vincent

In the early 1930s, while living on the ranch at Grantsdale, Montana, my father, Frank Seymour Vincent would see the sheepherders moving their flocks on Highway 138, to the higher elevations above our 160-acre farm. This was in 1933,34,35 when I was a lad of 5-7 years old. Dad would go down to the road and buy an orphaned lamb for me to raise. He gave me the lamb and a baby bottle with nipple and all the milk I needed from the cows we kept in the barn. This was an early lesson in responsibility, as the lambs wanted to be fed often. I would hold the full bottle of milk pointed downward to the lamb and it would suckle away to it’s hearts content, pushing repeatedly against it. The lamb was my mine from Spring ‘til Fall when we took it to Hamilton and sold it to the butcher for, as I remember, about $10.
This was in the heart of the depression and 10 bucks were compared to several hundred today. I could spend it on anything I wanted, but was encouraged to put some away for Christmas gifts. This ended abruptly in 1935 when my father was kicked by a horse and ended up in the Daily Memorial Hospital with internal injuries. He passed away in a matter of a few days and would not have died in more recent times with the advent of Sulfa drugs, Penicillin, etc. He is buried in the Riverview Cemetery on the west side of the Bitter Root River in the family plot. There is a large tombstone nearby with the name Charles Herbert Vincent and my older brother Frank Edward Vincent or Junior was called, used to tease me about they were ready for me to die.

 

This road by our farm goes all the way to Anaconda where my maternal grandparents, John and Mary Pyle, lived and who we would visit each 4th of July for a week. John Pyle would always say, “Glad to see you come and glad to see you go”, which I never understood until having great grandchildren of my own.
(Frank Vincent jr. has a sign above the entrance to his mountain cabin in Colorado, which says the same thing as you drive away. This road also goes by the Boy Scout Camp where my brother Frank attended for a week in the summertime. One time he was teasing another Scout who didn’t take lightly to being provoked and he stabbed Frank in the leg with his Boy Scout knife.

 

The highway was considered very dangerous, as there were drop-offs for several hundred feet with no guardrails. There is also a beautiful waterfall near the top, and then the road flattens out and goes through a thick pine forest.

 

After our dad died we moved to a 10-acre farm just south of Hamilton, but that's a whole other story.

 

Love,

 

Dad

July 18, 2008 

 

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Aunt Marge’s response

July 20, 2008

 

Dear Kinfolk:  My version of the orphaned lambs is somewhat different from Herbs and, Frank and I being older, may see it differently. 

I would have been 11 years old in l930.  I do not recall our Dad buying an orphaned (we called them "bum")

lamb for us.  My version is that Frank and I went down to the herder and he gave us the lamb as it was doubtless doomed to die--being shoved about by the stronger, better fed members of the flock.  Yes, they were being led eastward to the mountains for summer grazing. (This may have happened more than one season.)      Yes, we used a bottle and nipple to feed the little critter and with Grandma Jennie's help we filled the bottle from that stored in her adjoining milk house.  The lamb was kept in the small orchard quite close to her back door.

Herb's story of the lamb quickly grabbing and drinking from the bottle is not what happened.  Yes, the lamb grabbed the nipple and pulled it off of the bottle with the milk spilling on the ground.  Another trip to the milk house and Grandma's help once more.  Sometimes this took two or three attempts.  As the kids, Grandma and the lamb got on to this it went better and, yes, we raised the lamb.  I don't know who claimed the lamb as theirs.  I'm sure all were relieved when the lamb left the bottle to consume the grass in the orchard. 

I assume that it was sold at the local meat market but I do not remember that detail and who was given the money for which it was sold. 

 

About our father's demise.  Herb's account seems strange to me.  I was a junior in high school when this happened so believe I have a good understanding of this tragic event.  Our Dad was actually a rather frail person having had colon problems from the time he was very young.  This was one reason that Auntie and Grandma joined the Christian Science Church with the urging of Vermonter and relative George Jarvis.  Looking back I always wonder how he was able to work so hard and ended up losing the ranch to foreclosure.  That is another story.

 

Frank had a hernia, which in the present age would be something that would be surgically corrected quite simply.  Folks were suspicious of doctors--postponed such operations.  The excuse being money and time.  It could have been done in the winter.  It was never done.  After we lost our part of the ranch and moved to the Nichol place he had two "nervous breakdowns"--what we called deep depressions in these days.  These were wintertime episodes.  Another story.  Following the second one he became physically ill, called Jack Miller to his bedside and told him that he was dying and to take care of his family.  Hospitalized and operated on too late. It ruptured. He died the following afternoon of peritonitis. Dr. Hayward, Hamilton's only surgeon was the one who operated on him.

 

We had no horses on the big ranch for many years--except Old Kate.  Everything was gasoline.  At the Nichol place there were no horses so the story of him being kicked cannot be true. 

 

Yes, Dad drove us in our Model A over the Skalkaho every summer--one time and not always on July 4.  It was timed for us to be there when Inez and Ray and Betty Rae came each summer.  It was a great challenge for our Dad.  I was exceedingly frightened of the highway and became car sick at once.  The A radio blew on the trip so Dad had to stop several times for the two of us to erupt! 

 

Sorry this is so long.  Let me hear from you--all of you, if you saw these events differently.

 

Love and Blessings, 

 

Aunt Marge

For The Next Story

"The Lost Wallet"