Luke pulled the last string of wire taut, sweat dripping from every part of him even at seven-thirty in the morning as his muscles strained in battle with the wire. Once done he released his breath and with the palm of his hand he wiped the mud from the beat up old watch. Yup, to check and fix this piece of fence it took him less than an hour, a new record for him.
After the thunderstorm last night he'd knowingly gotten up early to walk the fence line. Even though open range meant cows roamed wherever they chose without consequence, if no fencing existed to stop them it also meant more work for small land holders. If they roamed onto a fenced piece of land the owner then had the joy of getting them off of that land and back to the open range. Over the years the amount of open range had dwindled significantly, however that didn't mean the amount of cattle had.
Armed with extra barbed wire, a hammer, pliers and a wire stretcher he walked out ready to repair any damage done by the storm. Luke started out at about five-thirty in the morning just after sun up. It only took twenty minutes to find the one and only place, the same place, where a large branch got the better of the barbed wire as it rode the currents. The wash, or arroyo as Luke had always called it, turned into a fast moving stream each time the rains started and just as fast as the stream started it stopped. By this afternoon, if it didn't rain again, the top layer of mud would have crusted in the sun covering up and hiding the soggy goop below it. This made it particularly dangerous for younger, more curious calves.
Luke knew where to look, after all he'd fixed this piece of fence three or more times every year during the monsoon season and the sooner he had it done the better. Summer's searing hot sun and temperatures left little time to get hard work done, and today the sun promised another scorcher.
He brought up his arm preparing to wipe the crusting mud off his face only to realize that his sleeve, in fact his entire shirt, his pants and other parts of him he didn't want to think about, had far more mud on them than his face. With a slight sigh he glanced around and saw Nate's place nearby and then smiled.