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  • Texas | Columns | "It's All Trew"

    Gunny sacks save the day

    by Delbert Trew
    Delbert Trew
    For a long period of time in the old days, almost everything ordered from suppliers and hauled on freight wagons either came packed in a wooden crate, a wooden nail keg, a wooden barrel or a gunny sack. Once the items reached the frontier, the crate, keg, barrel or sack became a commodity just like the items packed inside.

    Wooden crates became home storage boxes, shelves, furniture, nick-knacks or the easiest kindling to be acquired. Kegs and barrels held drinking water, cow feed, stock water or seed. The gunny sacks became foot mats, bedding, food storage hung up in a root cellar, seat cushions, saddle cinches or saddle blankets.

    The last two items seem to be associated with hard times and poor cowboys. For the moment readers, imagine your name is Tex, you are working at a remote cow camp 40 miles from town and you never see the boss except on the first of the month when he brings you a buggyload of pinto beans, flour, baking powder, lard and fat back along with your paycheck of $30.

    The next morning after he has visited, you enter the saddle house to find that pack rats have finally gnawed through the wooden door and left your saddle cinch and Navaho saddle blanket in a pile of shredded threads while trying to obtain their daily salt from the horse sweaty items.

    With cattle to tend, fences to check, water holes to watch and the boss not due for another 30 days, how in the world can you do your work without a saddle cinch and saddle blanket? Like every other old timer who found himself in this predicament, itís time to fetch down the bundle of gunny sacks swung from the barn rafters to keep the rats away.

    The cinch is easy. Cut the strings off the metal cinch rings, carefully fold the best gunny sack to the width of a regular cinch, install properly onto the cinch rings, folding the ends around the ring and back, and sew carefully with sack strings, binder twine or leather thongs. Presto! You now have a workable saddle cinch, but remember, do not rope a big bull.

    Now, itís time to construct a gunny sack saddle blanket. Old timers say to pick out either 12 or 24 good clean sacks. Lay each flat and cut off the side seam or frazzle it out smooth. Then lay two sacks side by side lapping the seam sides in the middle about 3 inches. Keep adding sacks, alternating the lap in the middle and swapping the end seams from front to back, until all are in place and even on all edges. Pin the corners and middle with horseshoe nails used like straight pins and start sewing.

    Use a sack needle or bent baling wire needle, sewing through and through, around the edges and a couple of times down the middle lap. Presto! You now have a crude saddle blanket. If your remuda needs their tails trimmed or coats curried, add this hair inside the bottom of the gunny sack. Before you know it, you will have a pretty serviceable hair pad.


    © Delbert Trew -
    February 21, 2012 column
    More "It's All Trew"
    Delbert Trew is a freelance writer and retired rancher. He can be reached at 806-779-3164, by mail at Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002, or by email at trewblue@centramedia.net. For books see delberttrew.com. His column appears weekly.

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