Tag Archives: Floyd McRorey

Beginning: Red Ants

There is first a setting out, a beginning of all things.  Among the Huron in America, a woman fell from from the sky, hurling toward water.  Two loons that were flying over the water saw her and placed themselves beneath her to cushion her fall, holding her above the water, and calling for other animals to help hold her up.  The cry of the loon can be heard a long distance.  Animals came, including the turtle, and helped her, building earth from the bottom of the sea.  Here in the Southwest, among the Navaho, human beings emerged from the earth as red ants and red ants are the ancestors of those that walk the earth today on solid ground.

I remember my Uncle Floyd on his ranch in Cherokee, Texas, taking poison to the large red ant hills in the corrals and alleyways of the cattle pens.  Some ants died, but most of them survived the attack and continued to bring small stones to their portal.  The red ants never stung him, nor me.  Uncle Floyd eventually gave up the task and let them be.  The Navaho and other tribes collect the stones at the ant pile and place them in gourds to make rattles.  Uncle Floyd, Aunt Lennie, and I would attend the Methodist Church in Cherokee, Texas, and hear the minister read Genesis on how God created the earth and gave dominion of its creatures to man in the beginning.

I never assisted in putting the poison on the ant hills.  The red ants always looked so harmless and when I held one in my hand, there was no stinging, just a waving of the antenna and a deliberate attempt to find a way off of my boyish hand.  Today here on Flying Hat, I let the red ants live and bring their little stones to their entry holes.  I wonder how they place themselves down in the ground and what chambers they retire to.  Their pathways are so well-traveled on the surface that they may be two inches wide, devoid of vegetation, and a hundred-yards in length.  In Pecan Tree pasture, the ants have a lot of food from the side-oats gramma Cody Scott and I planted five-years ago.  In the area cleared around the ant hills, I can see the tracks of deer.  The word, deer, is traced back to an Indo-European hypothetical word meaning,  to breathe.

On our place here in Texas, the ants emerge from the earth and a deer signifying breath stands above them on solid ground brought up by turtles in ancient times to save the woman that fell from the sky in the beginning.

Notes

For method, N. Scott Momaday, The Way to Rainy Mountain.  For Huron, Elsa A. Nystrom, Primary Source Reader for World History, volume I: to 1500.  For Navaho, divers sources including Washington Matthews, his Smithsonian series on Navaho singing chants.  See also Frank Waters, Masked Gods.

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Filed under Colony Road, Recollections 1942-1966

Floyd McRorey Angus in Cherokee, Texas

In 1946, my first experience with cattle occurred on the Floyd McRorey Ranch near Cherokee, Texas, San Saba county. I was four years old and the first time away from my family.  I slept on a cot beside my aunt and uncle in the master bedroom.  My uncle Floyd and his son, John R., ran a cow-calf operation of about forty head of black Angus. He sang a cattle call to bring them to feed: “Whooooooie, su, su, su!”   He repeated the call twice more.  Cattle came running and he would count.  The last time I saw Uncle Floyd in 1977, he was spraying the cattle for ticks.

As a boy, I visited my aunt and uncle, staying days, even weeks.  The ranch was the second or third ranch on County Road 407, north of Cherokee.  The house was white clapboard with three bedrooms and a grand room with dining table at one end, living room at the other.  A flower garden, lawn, and oak trees surrounded the house.  A windmill stood outside the fence surrounding the house.  The master bedroom had floor-to-ceiling windows facing south and Aunt Lennie had five or six shelves holding African violets across the windows. Floyd took a nap after lunch everyday so that he go back out in the field to work.  Before napping, he could look out of the bedroom window and see the oak trees and cattle when they grazed.  After I had seen Floyd the last time in 1977,  a few months later, he ate his lunch, went to the master bedroom for his customary nap, and died in his sleep.  Before falling asleep, his last visual must have been violets, noonday sunshine, oak trees, and his Angus cattle, a scene to carry for eternity.

Floyd’s Angus were very dear to him. His son, John R., told me that he thought his dad loved those cattle more than him. John R. laughed at the rivalry for he knew how much Floyd loved him.

When I had a herd of twenty-seven Angus-cross on our place, I called the cattle with, “Whoooooie, su, su, su.”  In reflection, I thought of my uncle and how he husbanded his Angus and his family and me, a blond-headed kid that always asked too many questions. Of all the days and nights I spent with uncle Floyd and aunt Lennie, there were no unkind words directed toward me or others in their country home. There was silence, a lot of it, and we would get up in the morning with the sun, listen to the weather report and markets from WOAI radio in San Antonio, and then to the fields.

When Angus Number 27 on my place became ill, I sped him to the veterinarian.  He survived his illness and recovered his eyesight. The 27th heart, as I call him, made it back with the herd because I remembered how Floyd cared for his cattle.  A cycle complete, I was tending a herd sixty years later the same way Floyd watched his Angus and lived with the land in Cherokee, Texas.

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Filed under Recollections 1942-1966