By his late twenties Ira found himself able to afford property on which to build a home. He purchased 160 acres of raw mountainside land in the shadow of Mt. Emily, thirty miles beyond the city limits of La Grande. Beautiful Emily was to be the only female in his life for several years and he didn’t seem to mind that.

Ira took the summer away from working for others and set about to literally make a home for himself. The wooded acreage would soon boast a one-room log cabin and barn, each made entirely with the bare hands of a cowboy, aided by his faithful horse and a rusty jeep that he had bought from a neighbor.

The majority of his summer days were spent harvesting trees, felling and delimbing them on his own, using an ax and a crosscut saw. On those days he found himself in need of an extra hand, Ira called on his brothers, inviting one or all three and their families to spend a day on the range on a warm Sunday afternoon after morning church services. As the women and children explored the deep mountain forest on horseback or picnicked in the sun, the men spent hours mortaring crevasses or hammering shake shingles down, with their shirts off and their backs burning in the hot sun.

These infrequent family Sundays came to mean much to Ira as it was often the only contact he would have with others in the space of an entire week. Still, he enjoyed the peace once the noisy children were gone, the chatter of the adults had calmed and the hammering had subsided. It was then that he could hear the quiet again. He longed for this, it was his meditation; it was his prayer.

Iras trusty jeep hauling logs
Ira’s trusty jeep hauling logs

Ira’s nights were spent near a campfire under a spread of stars and he slept soundly on a bedroll under a canvas. Each morning brought back-breaking work and he rose to the challenge, donning his worn leather work gloves and his determination.

Only weeks before fall, Ira’s home was completed. The simplicity of the home was indicative of who he seemingly was: a man born fifty years too late. With no electricity, a pot bellied stove pulled double duty, warming the small house and acting as a range for cooking food. Running water was another indulgence that Ira went without, possibly believing that it was a luxury of the 20th century, a time that he may not have entirely accepted as his own.

Ira's completed home
Ira’s completed home

Ira chose a life of peace and isolation – if not reclusion, living out his days removed from society. He came to live off of the land and, besides his horse, he could say that he trusted none other.

Once settled into his home and his life of seclusion, Ira returned to work among men, again putting his cowboy-ing talents to use. Manual labor, farming or handling horses became his forte and he established a reputation for being a hard worker who kept his nose to the grindstone. He often worked more than one farm at a time, finding he had a knack for multi-tasking. Ira came to be known for his work ethic and found himself to be a valuable commodity in the area.

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