What do you see out of your window today?

Bud Mills - the Stud Horse Man

A story by Dub Ramsel



Bud was not someone who wore Levis and boots with a denim shirt to pretend to be a cowboy. He was genuine. He did some rodeoing when he was younger and ranched the rugged hill country around Leaky in Real County, Texas. Real County is about the ruggedest part of the Edwards Plateau. It was not known by this writer if Bud ever owned any of the land he ran cattle, sheep and goats on. There were a lot of absentee owners of large tracts of land in that area. They bought it up to use for hunting and recreation and was glad to have some reliable rancher make use of it to keep the fences up and see that he "Wet Backs" did not stay too long on the place on their trek to the States looking for work. Bud once had a wife and one son named Gaston. I assume his wife died. His son Gaston moved to South Texas to become a big rancher around Alice. This left Bud free to move when he met up with the Widow Zieschang from Williamson Co. I do not know how and when they got together, hut he wooed her and they got married. Bud was a good looking man and quite dashing when he sat on a horse. Mrs Zieschang had a Feed Store in Georgetown, Texas, and she managed to get him to move to Georgetown. When I arrived to Georgetown and Williamson County, Bud was already here and was living on a small ranch up on the North San Gabriel River. This was in 1952. I am sure the Widow Zieschang's intentions were for Old Bud to help her out with the running of the feed store. Somehow he changed her mind when he claimed that he only did what he could do on horseback, and his was no horseback job. So, they both lived on the ranch that was about in the vicinity of the third "Booty" (this is a crossing on the river). There was an old frame house on the place and had livestock pens or corrals and some storage facilities for storing hay and grain. She commuted to her store each day. Bud had brought along his horse "Dude" and began setting up for a special type of ranching. This horse was a registered Quarter Horse Stallion. I do not know what all of the Blood lines he carried, but Joe Baily showed up as one of his lines. He had a quality that was not common for Quarter Horses, he could pace. A pace in when both feet on each side move together instead of separately. Like Bud, he was very attractive, and liked to show off when Bud rode him into a rodeo arena. This way he advertised Dude for breeding and got a lot of business in Williamson County. In addition to breeding his horse, he began raising roping calves to supply the ropers at the rodeos. He first acquired half a dozen nurse cows to raise his calves. These cows had to be a special kind. They had to have enough Jersey blood to be good milkers. Then they had to be gentle enough for Bud to put these calves on them and become surrogate mothers to them. He would place up to four on each cow. The calves had to be a special kind also. He would sit at Cattle auctions and pick up baby calves that had roping calf qualities. They had to have a touch of Brahma to run fast but also be smooth enough to resale for stockers, and then their roping days were over. Their roping days began when they reached one hundred fifty and continue until they were about three hundred ponders. Bud could usually raise two sets of roping calves on each cow before she dried up and got ready for a new lactation. Bud would deliver his calves to the rodeos and take them home when the show was over.
I am not sure how much Bud charged for the use of his calves, but a dollar a loop was about the normal fee to the roper. I do not know what happened between Bud and the Widow Zieschang, but she sold her store and moved to Taylor where she originally came from. All I recall was that Bud suddenly became a bachelor again and was living alone up on the river with his stud horse and roping calves. He continued with his usual activities. Bud was a very personable fellow and the families up on the River sort of adopted him. They kept him in vegetables and the kind of foods they thought he needed and invited him to their homes for meals. Most of the ladies took a shine to him and this helped him adjust to single life again. He was in his sixties but looked younger - with his hat on. The Dunn Family lived next to him and Shirley saw that he got the right kind of food and Bud got to eat at the Dunn table quite often. The Dunn's had two boys, Jimmy and Darrel. They sort of looked up to Bud as a grandpa. He taught them a lot about live-stock. Their dad being handicapped from Polio was not able to get around very well so Bud came in handy in helping raise the boys. There were other neighbors living up on the river that helped keep an eye on Old Bud. Someone had to see that he got something to eat besides beans and beef steak. When Bud got a call for his stud services, he would try to arrange his time of arrival at about eleven thirty. This would give him time to have the mare bred, but also get invited to dinner (noon meal). He loved country cooking and this would give him a fee for his horse and a meal besides. He knew that country folk would always invite any-one to the table if they happened to be on the premises at noon time. When I arrived to the county, Bud already had a lot of colts on the ground from old Dude. Some were in service. As you might expect, some of his offspring were outstanding and others were not so good. I had the privilege of having one of each. The first one I owned was a chestnut sorrel gilding and was marked like his pa. He could also pace. I bought him cheap from the Salana Ranch North Of Jarrell, Texas. Floyd Gibbs was the ranch manager there, He told me the colt was a "Fluke" and I was sure he was right, but he was cheap and I thought I could get him straightened out since I had been fooling with colts since I was thirteen. I called him "Sock" because he had two stocking legs. He was also broke gentle and rode out very well. When I got him home I learned what Floyd meant. The horse would break into a dead run when he was moved out of a trot. He refused to learn anything else. I kept him for about six months and saw that he wasn't going to be the kind of horse I needed. The last thing I needed was a race horse. So I called Red Hoyle the horse trader, and he took him off my hands. I had bought him cheap and sold him cheaper. The next horse from Duke was a filly. Bud had bred a mustang mare to his horse and the colt was solid color and showed a lot of character and confirmation. Being half mustang appealed to me since I grew up with Mustangs in Arizona. Some of them were the best using horses I was ever around. This filly was broke to lead, but I had to rope her out of Bud's corral, and thus got to ride old Duke for the job. I liked the look of this filly and I named her "Millie" for Bud. When I got her trained she was just what I needed. She had cow sense and was good at cutting calves out of my feedlot that I built on my 437 acre ranch west of Georgetown on the South San Gabriel River. I had a lot of pasture riding on a Family basis doctoring animals with screw worms. She could smell a "wormy" and point, her ears. I kept her many years and she raised me a fine gilding colt from a King Ranch stud. 
Bud was not the kindest person toward his livestock. The roping calves got chorused pretty much and then hauled back and forth. He also had a rough cure for old Dude when he got obstreperous from standing idle too long. He would hitch him to the tail gate of his pickup and go for a drive down the County Road with old Dude in a dead run. When he got lathered up good he would bring him back to his stall and hose him down. In the mid sixties the Corps of Engineers began buying up all the land in the river plane for the Georgetown Lake. Bud had to find himself a new home. Luckily the Knippa Brothers had just bought a ranch east of Round Rock along the Brushy Creek. They bought the land for speculation and needed some reliable person to live on the place and over-see things for them. He soon moved his base of operation to this new location - to make the story short. 
Bud continued raising his roping calves and breeding his stud. The move did not seem to slow him down one bit. He also participated in roping contests for the "Old Timers". He won most of these events. 0ld Dude was always his mount for the occasions. Bud was getting well along in his years the last time I talked to him. Old Dude was also getting "long in the tooth". Bud was also beginning to worry about the possibility of having to move again. He knew that sooner or later the Knippas would be getting such good offers for the ranch that they could not afford to keep it. But Bud had no reason to worry, the Knippas were not in any financial bind and knew that the longer they kept the land the more it would be worth. They did finally sell but long after Bud was dead and gone. Then it was sold for development with good restrictions. Now there are some expensive homes there as well as County Club. Bud died the way he would have wanted to. He was working his calves when he had a massive heart attack and ended his life quick. I did not know about Bud's death until after the funeral. I suppose he was buried with his boots and Levis on. I am sure he did not own a suit, and would not have wanted to be in one, anyway. 
I heard that Buds Son Gaston gave Old Dude to a neighbor who was a dairyman. This man is named Ertlisp and I am sure he gave old Dude a good home for the rest of his years. The horse usually dies before the man, but in this case it was the other way around. Good using horses are hard to find any more in these parts. The eradication of the screw worms caused a lot of ranchers to drive pickups and four wheelers instead of the horse. Never the less the price of horse flesh has escalated tenfold since Buds time. A good pleasure horse will bring all the way from fifteen hundred to three thousand dollars. Breeding fees are also ten times or more than what Bud charged for his horses services. These high priced horses are no better that the colts from Old Duke. Packers pay more for horse meat than a good using horse used to be valued at.

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 cattle,cowboy,gilding,mustang,pace,Real County,rodeo,roping calves,stallion
  Georgetown, Williamson County, Texas
Jun 15 2024


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