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They say if you play with fire that you will surely get burned….

My name’s Steed McKinnon, and I’m 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 grand pappy’s knee as a boy, I would listen as he told story after story about old Hiram. He had fought in the Civil War as a Confederate soldier for Mississippi. After they had lost the war, Hiram had apparently got the hell outta dodge and moved here to Wabaunsee County, Kansas. He had worked real 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. The family had ended up flat broke. So, we, McKinnons, went back to working for other people, and that was the life I had always known.

My dad and his dad before him had worked for the Buchanans for the last 70 years. It was like a family tradition. Our two families seemed to be intertwined.

My pa, West, had himself a heart attack and left this good earth eight years ago. I had been 24 at the time, and Mr. Ben Buchanan had offered me the job that my dad had filled as the foreman on his ranch.

I loved this land. The green prairies. The wide open spaces. The bellers of the cows. 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 had accepted the job.

Mr. Buchanan was good to me. He paid me 35K a year and treated me like one of the family. The Buchanans owned about 1500 square miles and about 6000 head of cattle. Mr. Buchanan also had large corn and wheat operations on the western side of the place. My job as ranch foreman was to oversee the cattle and manage my four rowdy ranch hands.

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