Henry Miller in 1915 at 88

Henry’s Pearls of Wisdom (part 1)

One of Henry Miller’s passions was making sure that his employees knew how he wanted things done.  To accomplish this, he wrote letters for hours on end to his superintendents and foremen.

Edward F. Treadwell, in ‘The Cattle King’ put like this;

Henry Miller was a glutton for letter writing.  He always carried with him a pad of small sheets of cheap letter paper.  When on the road he would write letters for hours before any one was up.  He wrote in a small cramped hand.  At the office he dictated letters by the hour.  (His Secretary did such a good job in ‘sending’ out Henry’s letters, that he later remarked that he had done a very good job in writing them.)

He followed the livestock from the time the bulls, boars, and bucks were turned out with the cows, sows, and ewes.  The most minute directions were given as to the class of stock to be used.  Where to pasture, graze, water, ship or feed them.  When to buy and when to sell.

How to prepare the land, when to seed it, how to irrigate it, and how to harvest the crop.

How to keep up fences, kill the squirrels, destroy the carcasses of dead animals, remove dead trees, burn cockleburs and tumble-weeds.

How to feed the men, house them, and keep them contented.  How to treat tramps, neighbors, and visitors.  How to run kitchens, grow chickens and turkeys, prevent fires and be economical.

How to deal with the public, the press, public officials, public institutions, and public improvements.

How to get rid of tule, white alkali, (sodium sulphate) and how to prevent the accumulation of black alkali (sodium carbonate).  How to treat livestock diseases, anthrax, blackleg, and cholera.  How to use cow chips as fuel to run machinery.  How to feed beet pulp from the sugar refinery, pomace from the winery, and every imaginable kind of feed for livestock.

One day he would write a foreman, “You should have some cats to destroy the mice in the granary.”  The next day he would write, “I have directed that two cats be sent for the granary.”  The following day he would write, “Have the cats arrived for the granary?” The next day he would write, “Do not let the cats get food around the kitchen or they will catch no mice.”  The next day he would follow up these letters by one asking, “Are the cats catching the mice in the granary?” By this time the foreman would think that the mice in that particular granary were the most important things on the mind of Henry Miller, and he would soon report that the mice were all destroyed.  Immediately would come back the order, “You don’t need more than one cat now, so send the other to the Midway Ranch.”

The following are some of my favorite pearls of wisdom from Henry Miller (many are as true today as they were when Henry wrote them);

It is not work that ruins so many horses, but incompetent men handling them.

Unbranded calves on the ranges is bad business, as it might induce some of our neighbors to be dishonest.

A man can’t do justice to his employer on an empty stomach.

A good loyal employee is one that goes out of his way to make a saving and a profit for his employer.

The best way to hold good men on a farm is to keep their sleeping quarters clean.

There is no disgrace to ask advice from one holding a position beneath you.

There is a class of people not made to be prosperous.  The minute they have a jingle in their pocket or a dollar’s credit they are ruined and lose their bearings.

There is always hope for a drunkard, but none for a lazy, slovenly man.

I should think it would be cheaper and better to use boards for shelter for horses than a tent.

When men have large families, if the wife and children become dissatisfied, then the man is not satisfied.


References; The Cattle King, by Edward F. Treadwell, (Western Tanager Press, 1981)


I hope that you enjoyed reading some of Henry Miller’s Pearls of Wisdom (Part 1)

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