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I worked on Lightning Creek Ranch during summers hauling hay and one winter tending cattle after I graduated from high school. I remember one day the foreman, Larry Isles and I went to the feedlot where yearlings were kept, to pull porcupine quills out of the mouths of some unlucky ones. Why would a cow get porcupine quills in the face? Well cows are near-sited and not very bright. A porcupine on the ground looks to them like a clump of grass. Being unable to resist such a temptation they go in for a mouth-full but wind up with a face full of quills instead. So here we are in the middle of winter on foot. The ground all around the feedlot is covered with partially frozen manure and urine. The trick is to find one with quills then get close enough to rope it. Larry is a good roper so he lets me rope the neck then he ropes the hind legs as it runs by. Then we wrestle it down and start pulling quills. That worked well on a few until I got on one's neck but Larry couldn't get to the legs. Away I go getting pulled by the yearling around the feed lot like a water skier! Shit flying and urine spraying as I try to keep my feet under me. By the time Larry got the its legs I was pretty well covered in a smelly mess and I spent the rest of the day in that condition. That was in 1969. Walter Brennan had another Ranch – if you can call a grapefruit farm a ranch – in Moorepark, California where he lived with his wife. It was called Lightning Creek Ranch South.


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