Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Herdsman: A Glimpse Into The Childhood of An American Frontiersman

Courtesy of Faithwalk Photography
The youth felt the splash of the chilly creek water before he saw it. Goosebumps broke out on his flesh but his brain registered it just long enough note the water was already warmer than when he last brought the herd through these grounds. As the young man and cattle clambered out of the creek onto the bank, a wide meadow laced with looming, dark forest broke before them. Already the emerald newness of spring was slowly blanketing the earth. A shiver raced up the youth's spine – not from the cold, but from boyish thrill.

A mile into the midst of the meadow, our herdsman left the cattle to nuzzle the new grass. His sharp, blue eyes studied the landscape. If a bear or mountain lion were to attack the herd, the woods would be his best advantage. A smile spread across his tanned features. Of course the woods; his world; his love.

The youth spent the morning discovering for the thousandth time the secrets of the forest. With his gun at his side and his bare brown feet as light and noiseless as a cat, he noted everything. The flick of a squirrel's tail, the soft stepa, stepa, stepa trot of a deer with her fawn. At one point he even heard the far away rustle of a bear aroused from her winter slumber. Later in the year, he would hunt her down, but in the spring a bear was hardly worth anything. So he listened only long enough be sure she lumbered in a direction away from the herd.


Courtesy of Faithwalk Photography
A little past noon, he wandered back to his four-legged charges. Some of the older cows were missing. Bother. I hope this doesn't take too long. I'm famished. Those girls probably went toward the river bottoms again. After tracking to the north he found the stragglers and brought them back to the safety of the meadow. As he settled against a tree to eat, his thoughts wandered. Herding isn't so bad. If Mother didn't have to oversee the cows while Father kept the store, I'd never been able to roam the woods. The youth cast his eyes west towards the mountains. Only a few men knew what lay beyond them. What if he could be one of them? The Virginia colony – like all the rest of the American colonies – had an undefined western border. Trappers at his father's store often speculated about how far west the land must go. Few had ever been west of the great Mississippi River. The west was a giant question mark that plagued the youth's imagination. Someday he would know. As soon as I'm a man, I'm going to cross those mountains. Yes, sir. As sure as my name's Daniel Boone.

Is there a future frontiersman in your home? Did you know most of the men who carved homes from the wildernesses of our land were more made than born? Before there was a Daniel Boone there was a Sarah Boone who gave him an outlet to master the unknown about him. No doubt Sarah only wanted to help her husband put food on the table for their brood; allowing her boy to tramp in the woods was likely the furthest reason in her mind for keeping her dairy. Yet a mother's industry became the wings for her son's future. Think of the up and coming men-to-be in your life. What can you do that would inspire your young sons, brothers and nephews to someday be the men God created them to be?


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