Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On Cowboys

Whenever I read that someone said something about how there are no more cowboys, it really pisses me off.

It's like me saying there are no more trains.

"But FarmGirl," I hear you say, "The bygone days of riding the range all week and carousing in the saloon all weekend are gone."

True. So is the steam engine, but saying there are no more cowboys because the days of bringing the stock in in a blizzard on horseback are over is like saying there are no more trains because the coal shovelers are out of work.

Cowboys live. They walk amongst us (ok maybe not you) every day. And I'm not talking about the buffed, polished, and shined rodeo boys you see on TV either, although they have their own place in the Cowboy Lexicon.

I'm talking about real cowboys. Stay up all night to nurse a sick calf, cry when his horse gets snake bit, hat wearing, spur jangling cowboys. Men who go out there every day and do a tough damn job for very little thanks or pay.

Men who are, in large part, responsible for your steak making it all the way to your plate.

They're still riding horses, checking fences, sweating and freezing and praying to get their herd through the winter. Sometimes they use the truck or an ATV instead of their trusty old pony, but when it counts, they'll fall back on that four legged partner because two brains are often better than one.

Sometimes they wear ballcaps instead of cowboy hats, but god help you if you touch either one without permission.

They still strap on guns when they leave the house, and usually carry a rifle, in case they run across a coyote. The gun may be a semi-auto and the rifle probably isn't the stereotypical .30-30, but they've got em.

Their jeans are perpetually faded, stained, torn, and frayed at the hem, except for one or two pairs that only get worn for special occasions, like dates or weddings.

They use computers to track their breeding herd and they check the market report on their cell phones, but they're still cowboys.

A cowboy isn't in the costume, and it isn't in the past. What makes a cowboy comes from an abiding love of the land, their critters, and their families. They're often wild, and sometimes they do dumb things, but they're not stupid, and they're a lot of fun.

They're never too tired to help out a neighbor, or a friend.

Cowboys live amongst us today and while they may look different, at the core, they're just the same as those men who rode the lonesome prairie a hundred years ago. They still retain a bit of the romance that their fore bearers are painted with, it's just usually covered in a layer of grime, and you have to look a little deeper.

And anyone who can't see, and respect, the code that those men live by, I feel sorry for. My life is richer for knowing them, their examples have made me a better person.

The world would be a sadder place without them.


Yuri said...

Great post, thanks! :-) I really enjoyed this.

Old NFO said...

A true statement Farmgirl... we would be MUCH better off if MORE cowboys existed. It is a hard unforgiving life, far from the media and press... Many times the ONLY viewer is the horse, and the cows by a large don't give a damn either way...

Crucis said...

Farmgirl, you're right. It's the attitude that makes a cowboy, not the accoutrements.

BUFF_dragon said...

"Sometimes they use the truck or an ATV instead of their trusty old pony, but when it counts, they'll fall back on that four legged partner because two brains are often better than one."

dont forget the tractor.... with a bale on front and a bale on back....
gotta keep the critters fed when the snow is too deep to dig through

Jon said...

There's a local cowboy that probably fits the stereotype more than others. He doesn't own much, except a pickup, an old trailer and a horse...with trimmings. He hires out to work the local herds, as needed, and is a master at his craft.

Justin said...

Right on, Cowboys are still alive and well. My dad has been the foreman of a ranch for the past 24 years in Az, he is everything th stereotypes say. Hard working, honest, dependable, and always willing to lend a hand. He rides the range every single day, sometimes
in a truck, usually on horse. Those who think that the cowboy spirit is dead an forgotten should get the hell out of the urban sprawls and see the rest of the country.

GreenRanchingMom said...

YES!!! cowboys are sill alive. I take mine (husband) "to Town" once every other month (he hates to go to the big city). Its amazing the looks that he gets!

People are really amazed that cowboys still exist, let alone in Iowa!

Great post!

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Somehow I can't believe he or she is a real stock person (reading old NFO is making me PC)if all their trailer lights work.

mustanger said...

I recall the Chris LeDoux song, "You just can't see him from the road". That's not always the case though.

Ian said...

Appreciate it that you mentioned trains as well -- true, we don't shovel coal anymore. But your goods come to you, most of them, on the train -- 24/7, even when the switches are all frozen and you can't see the track in the blizzard. The trains, and the men and women who run them, are still there.