Cherry Reisch was born October 19, 1944 to Jack and Marianne Reisch, the apple of her father’s eye. She started her cowboy days at the NX Bar on Badger Creek with a stick horse. Her dad bought her a black pony at the Jesse Thomas Shetland sale when she was five years old. She started following her dad in the rough country as fast as the pony could go. He dad only came back looking for her once – she’d jumped her pony down a step bank and the saddle slipped forward over the pony’s head. An early lesson – check your cinch after several hours of riding. At age six, she had a tantrum when the brood mares and colts were brought in. In order keep her quiet her dad would rope one of the baby colts so she could ride it. She was promoted to full sized horses at nine years old and worked with the NX Bar cowboy crew. She got up early and loped a lot of miles and ended up with a lot of blisters on her hands from pulling on hard mouthed horses. Even at that young age, she was put on horses that would shy and run away and after hitting the ground a few times found that her balance and reflexes were constantly improving. She was also learning a about caring for cattle from calving to weaning.
When Cherry was about 13, her parents decided she need to learn “woman’s work.” Cherry didn’t agree as she wanted to be at the barn with the horses and cattle. Despite her objections she was “forced” to learn how to make a pie crust, biscuits, and hot yeast breads. When brandings were held at the main ranch, she had to ready the kitchen the night before. Her mother would leave for a day off in Sheridan and after helping brand the calves, Cherry would rush to the house, peel potatoes, bake the hot rolls and fry the meat having the meal ready when the crew came in. Little did she realize that she would use these skills throughout her life.
During the school year, she attended school in a one room country school with other children who lived in the area. When she reached high school, her parents sent her to live with another family so she could attend Big Horn High School in Big Horn, Wyoming. She was also active in 4-H and showed a number of cattle, but she favored the Angus beef cattle.
She met the cowboy of her dreams when she was 16 and married him at 18. Her father was not very happy. Not because she got married, but because he was going to have to hire and pay a man to take her place at the ranch. During her first year of marriage, the couple lived at a cow camp in southern Montana.
In 1965, when she was just 21 years old, she moved to the Paul Baker Ranch in Weston County. While living here she acquired a bound mare, Hope’s Best who she went on to show in reining and working cowhorse. After Hope’s Best was killed in a tragic accident, she went back to Ed Hope for a filly, Sabre’s Ginger and that was a fantastic animal on who she loved caving two year old heifers and would stay horseback all day. One spring, they had an outbreak of scours and she doctored over 25 sick calves a day horseback. She impressed Dr. Fuzz Edwards, a vet out of Gillette by not losing a single calf.
She also helped all the neighbors and fondly remembers enjoyable days working cattle with neighbors – Ritthaler Ranch, Pickeral Land & Livestock and Ellis Reynolds. She put a lot of miles on young horses and her daughter was often required to go with her to see what she was if she had any problems. One time her daughter even asked her, “Mom, why can’t you be more like my friend’s mothers? They have their hair done, get manicures and go shopping but you would rather just ride through cows? You would rather get a new set of reins rather than a diamond necklace for your birthday!”
After almost 25 years at the Baker Ranch it was time for a change. She and Will moved to the Verne Barton Ranch west of Newcastle in 1989. Once again, she was able to saddle her horse and ride through cattle. The work was the same but the neighbors now included Grieves’ and Wright’s. The circles were shorter here so it didn’t take as many horses, but there were other changes. Changes like the number of rattlesnakes that resided on Louse Creek. She hadn’t had to deal with them since her childhood, but luckily it didn’t take long for her to recognize the sound of one!
Cherry once again pulled from her upbringing by being able to work with the crew all morning then let someone take care of her horse while she would hurry to her kitchen. By the time, the crew had taken care of their horses and gotten washed up, dinner would be on the table. Everyone always loved her cooking and her pie crusts were the best around.
She also found the time to become certified as a substitute teacher and started working at Newcastle High School and the teachers started requesting her and suddenly she was working almost full time. Finally, she had to quit all together and what many people don’t really know is that as her husband’s arthritis and back problems worsened, Cherry started doing more and more of the work and not just on horseback. She packed and drove steel posts into the ground, unloaded calf feed, and fed hay. One year, her husband got in a wreck with a calf table and had to have knee surgery. While he was hospitalized, she did everything that needed done including chopping the ice at the watering hole for 150 head of cows.
Over 20 years went by on the Verne Barton Ranch and time stands still for no one. The spring of 2009 brought about painful decisions due to her husband’s health. The time had come to leave Wyoming where she had lived her entire life. She and her husband moved to Texas to be close to their daughter. While it was the right move, she still misses Wyoming ranch country. She still has her saddle, blanket and bridle on a stand next to the bed.