Atrocious salary sends shock waves through the pasture

(Gunnison 1890) Brackey Toate started working on his father’s tiny ranch near Parlin in 1878. Little did he know he would be a wealthy man in less than ten years. Today he signed a lucrative multi-year contract for what amounts to $95 per month.

The free agent jumped ship in Baldwin last September to try his luck in the burgeoning market. The expansion of ranch land has left the industry with a diluted wrangler pool and seriously short of cowboys familiar with the round-up. Some ranchers have turned to other countries for manpower while the larger ones simply tighten their belts and pay the higher wages.

“This is outrageous!” said one pot-bellied rancher from Quartz Creek. Wild Bill Hickock only makes $150! This kind of money sets a dangerous precedent! Who will pay for these kinds of salaries? It’s the consumer.”

Beef prices have skyrocketed over the past year partly due to the competition for cowboys.

“We have to compete,” said Crystal Alripe, matriarch of the Yellow Tail Ranch near White Pine. “The boys and I can’t run the place on our own so we have to hire seasonal help at least. The cost has become prohibitive. I remember when a cowhand was happy to get a dollar a day and board,” she quipped. “Now they’re looking for the big dollars! Where will it all end?”

Toate’s contract includes incentives, health benefits, horse expenses, a clothing allowance and his own bunkhouse entrance. In addition he gets first crack at the dinner table and holidays off.

“This marks a new day in agriculture,” said Alripe. “The next thing you know the cows will want a piece of the action.”

Besides his daily chores on the ranch, Toate will train to compete in the National Western Stock Show Rodeo which opens in Denver in January. Fiscal wizards say that his performance there will determine future bonuses.

“This scandalous salary is only the beginning,” explains banker Tom Watchitt of Gunplay Bank and Trust in Vulcan. “Besides the income Toate is looking at endorsements, perks from special interests and investment opportunities that would choke a bull. If he plays it right he could be quite wealthy and look forward to an early retirement.”

Already Toate has been groomed as a spokesman for Cheeky Chew, a popular brand of chewing tobacco and may be featured on advertisements for the Million Dollar Boot Company of Ironton. According to close friends he plans to buy a spread near Ohio City and raise Herefords.

“It’s a whole new world that we live in,” continued Alripe, “one where a simple cowpuncher can make his fortune overnight and where others don’t seem to grasp the value of a dollar.”

Toate is expected to report to spring training in February after completing a conditioning program here. If all goes well he will start against the Longhorns on Opening Day.

– Slim “Fats” McGovern



Filed Under: Fractured Opinion


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