Mike Fluit and his family made a recent visit to Imnaha Canyon. Mike brought with him reminder of a story that occurred one fine spring day a few years back. It seems that upriver rancher Lyman Goucher took pity on a ne'er-do-well who was overwintering at Imnaha Motel and RV Park and gave him a job. Spring and branding time came and a host of Lyman's friends showed up to help with the work and eat the scrumptious dinner prepared by Barbara Warnock.

Despite being employed as a "manure collection and re-distribution technician" in the calving pens, the new guy was invited to attend.

The new hand managed to avoid most of the excited cows as they swirled around the dusty corral and were separated from their calves. Toward the end, he asked if he might operate the branding iron. Since he had worked darn near as hard as the Fluit girls, his request was granted.

As most folks know, a branding iron is a complicated and quite challenging piece of equipment consisting of two ends and a middle. One of those ends glows red and is almost as hot as Imnaha in August.

Rancher Joe Warnock offered a helping hand on the first attempt when he spun the brand 180 degrees at the last second, thereby insuring a proper brand for the calf and the aspiring ranchhand. Thus instructed, the man finished up the calves that remained.

When the cattle came down from the high country the next fall, Lyman could from time to time be seen studying his heifers. He would slowly lean his neck clear over to his shoulder and then bend almost double to the side.

The ranching life is rough on a man. Apparently, the rumor that a pain in the neck no amount of aspirin would cure sent Lyman into semi-retirement is true.

Aleasha Clayton and her daughters Kaesie and Mackynzie have moved to Imnaha from Hopewell, Va. Aleasha is daughter of Margaret Turner, who, with husband Dave, owns Imnaha Store and Tavern. She is busy learning the business and the names and faces of those who live in and visit our canyon.

Kaesie is 5 and a frequent visitor to Imnaha School and Library. Her little sister Mackynzie is making great progress in the area of language. She is quite a talker and there have been several times of late when her words have been both recognizable and understandable. Mackynzie just turned 2.

The good folks at the store have been going great guns with the Thursday night "All You Can Eat." They usually seat 30 to 40 people and recently set a record. A total of 61 customers came through the door and joined friends, neighbors and visitors for dinner.

Training is the cornerstone of any successful operation. If those calves were better trained, they would have gone into the squeeze-chute upside down and backwards as I intended and the brands would have come out just right. Besides that, many will remember Mr. Goucher grumbling about a certain pain in the neck the entire time I worked for him! Contact me at (robrites@gmail.com).

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