The Briggs Place
August 13, 2021
My Grandma and Grandpa Coons had two other places with houses on them besides the home place. Grandpa was a hard working guy but he never got excited or hurried about anything. Grandma was just the opposite. She was shorter than five feet and less than one hundred pounds but she was made of high tensile steel. She was the one who finagled and was able to buy other places that made their original homestead into a creditable ranch. The Briggs’ place was one of these places. They bought it from someone named Briggs.
The Briggs place lay just north of Catamount Creek and just a little east of the road. We, the Lavell's, lived in it several times but I only remember the one time. As a kid I thought that it was a big house but I think that it was a one room log house. I remember one time when Mother put us all to bed and said goodnight. It seemed like just a moment later when I woke up and it was morning.
There was a road going past the Briggs place up toward the hills. I don't know where it went. One time my Uncle Harvey told me that a geologist once told him that if he would drill a well at a certain spot on the Briggs place that he would get a wonderful artesian well. He never had the money so didn't do it.
The most memorable thing that happened at the Briggs place is that I almost drowned in Catamount Creek: Bertha and I were out in the yard playing, Mother was working in the garden, she always had a garden. It was spring runoff time and normally dry Catamount Creek was rushing water. I got too close and it grabbed me. Bertha yelled and Mother went in the water up close to her waist to grab me and save me. I was probably three or four.
There was a well casing sticking up out of the ground there. We kids loved to yell down into the pipe and hear the echo coming back. I remember one time when we saw Grandpa coming back toward us from down on the neighbors place across the road. He had some traps set and he had several skunks that he had caught. We got quite a kick out of it when he was skinning them and one proved not to be totally dead yet. He would skin them and then stretch the skin over something. I guess that he sold the skins.
When I began herding sheep for the Grandparents, Palmer Hill on the Briggs place was the bedding ground and the northernmost part of where I would take them. Palmer Hill was backed up to the neighbors place, probably the Grass's. It had alkaline water seeping out all over it. The sheep would drink it but people or cows wouldn't. I would drift the sheep slowly south even through the fence and then back north again to arrive at the bedding ground at the correct time. I would take a slightly different route each time to avoid grazing the grass off too short. In the fall, when they sold their lambs, the herder was judged on how good of a job they did by how much the lambs weighed. I was between nine and thirteen when I was herding sheep. I really enjoyed those days. I wonder if that water still seeps out of that hill. I said that I was going to go look but never got it done. Everything looks so different out there now than I remember it so maybe I wouldn't be able to find it.
Next time I will tell you about the Anderson's place. My times at the Grandparents ranch are some of the happiest times of my life.