They say if you play with fire that you’ll surely get burned, and although I didn’t know yet, I was about to be scorched…
The name’s Steed McKinnon, and I was a sixth generation cowboy and damn proud of it.
The McKinnons had been in Wabaunsee County since the days of my great, great grandfather, Hiram McKinnon. Sitting on my granddaddy’s knee as a boy, I would listen as he told stories about old Hiram. He had fought in the Civil War as a Confederate soldier for Mississippi. After they’d lost, Hiram left the South and moved here to Wabaunsee County, Kansas. He had worked really hard, and about ten years after he came to these parts, the McKinnons owned half of the county.
Back in the day, my family had been big-time cattle ranchers. But great granddaddy Luther had blown it all on liquor and women, so my family had ended up flat broke. So, the McKinnons went back to working for other people and that was the life I’d always known.
My father and his father before him had worked for the Buchanans for the last seventy years. Since then, our two families seemed to be intertwined.
My dad died of a heart attack eight years ago. I’d been 24 at the time. Mr. Ben Buchanan had offered me my father’s job as the foreman on his ranch.
I loved this land. The green prairies. The wide open spaces. The animals. Even the rough winters weren’t that bad. Also, I liked and respected the Buchanan family. And I loved working with my hands, so I’d accepted the job.