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Stories from Bernie's current trip - a mule voyage from Canada to Mexico

Alone on the Range
November 11, 2008

Recently, ducking a patch of wintry weather, mule Polly and I holed up with Barbara Shelton and Chuck Bonner of Logan County, Kansas.


Polly bundled up for the cold at the Bonners

Logan County is located in the western part of Kansas and includes some of the Great Plains’ best chalk deposits, laid down when the area was covered by the Western Interior Sea (or Lost Sea as written on the side of my wagon).


Creep feeder with chalk deposits in distance
Logan County, Kansas


Chuck and Barbara with “Spiker”, the truck they use to take folks on fossil digs

While the snow swirled and wind generator roared (Barbara and Chuck live off the electrical grid) I holed up in the Bonner sun room as Barbara explained how western Kansas was emptying out.


Barbara Bonner


Bernie in the sun room

So pull up a chair next to Barbara and me and listen to her explain why the land on the others side of the glass is emptier than frontier days.

Before you start, here are some definitions for life alone on the range.


Alone on the range
Logan County, Kansas

Alone on the Range Definitions
1) Township: a township consisted of 36 sections, each of one mile square
2) Section: a section is one square mile, or 640 acres.
3) Quarter section: a quarter section is 140 acres. Homesteaders were alloted quarter sections. In some cases, they could file for a “tree claim”. That was a quarter section on which they were to plant trees as an improvement.

A final audio recording note. The roaring wind you hear at the start and end of the following recording was recorded in the snow shower outside Chuck and Barbara’s stone home on the prairie.

Ready to brave the emptiness? Then click on the audio player below.


Thanks, Chuck and Barbara, for sharing your home and stories with mule Polly and me.

Coming next, mule Polly and I explore the empty land Barbara described. Stay tuned for the Kansas Badlands…

In the meantime, if you’d like to visit Chuck and Barbara at the Keystone Gallery, just click on the link below.Click here to visit Chuck and Barbara at keystonegallery.com.

Posted Tuesday November 11, 2008 by Bernie
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