Letter From Charlie

Fixing fences and writing


Ranch work is a constant struggle. In Southern Colorado, at the Front Range of the Rockies, drought is a never ending issue to deal with. In the good years there is enough rain to grow the grass, the ponds fill up, and the cattle and game have sufficient water for a time. Inevitably the sun shines and the wind blows. Fierce winds at times blow for hours, days, weeks, and suck the moisture from the ground. Then it is back to the drought. Without a well or water source, the rancher is doomed.

There are always other factors to deal with through the year. Sometimes it does not rain for months and then comes a gully washer—a two inch rain all at once. It does not soak into the ground; it takes the ground with it, rushing down the mountain slope, rain and mud thick as tapioca, washing trees, rocks, roads, and tons of earth away. Other times the moisture comes in the form of hail, as big as golf balls and bounces off your head, your home, your vehicles, and equipment, leaving dents and damage.

Now as to fence repair, that is also a never ending struggle. When I finish a fence, it is taut as a guitar string and it sings. But like life, it does not take long before something goes wrong and the fence begins to sag. An elk, a bear, an antelope, a mule deer, or an animal of the two legged kind (most dangerous of all), comes along and stretches the fence out of shape, breaks, or cuts it, and it’s back to repairing the barbed wire. You put in H’s to strengthen the span, cement in an extra post, shore up the line of posts, so that the wire can be strung stronger than even before. Nothing like a barbed wire that sings, a tight straight fence is a sight to behold, a sagging one, is a tragedy.

I learn a lot from my ranch, from the weather, and from putting up fences. It takes constant care, attention, and maintenance to run a ranch, just as it takes constant care, attention, and maintenance to write a book or tell a tale. In writing my novels and short stories over the span of the last thirty- five years, I have kept in mind all the work I have performed, all the people I have met, all the situations I have lived, and all the fences I have mended and this I draw from to write a good story. It is the sum of my labored education and experience that makes me able to put on paper the stories I write. Thirty-five years of writing has enabled me to pen quite a collection of novels and stories, and they all are awaiting publication. I hope that some of you out there will take the time to look at my web site, take an interest, and buy a book or a short story booklet.

The very best to you,
Charlie Steel

Pictures taken on Condor Ranch near Greenhorn Mountain

Picture of Spanish Peaks from the upper meadow of Condor Ranch

Pictures taken from Condor Ranch