Mad Jack Hanks: Tales from the O-NO Ranch 1-10-11
To me, gentle readers, most of the time there is a pretty big difference between a cowboy and a ranch hand. Just so you know, I thought I would start off the new year with a wee bit of controversy. I suspect that some of you might disagree with me on my subject matter today and that’s what this column is all about: to keep you interested.
With a good many years behind me as a working cowboy on commercial cattle ranches and a working ranch manager on large steer and cow calf ranches, I have observed the following: Usually a cowboy is skilled with his ability to ride and rope and savvy or have a working knowledge of what a cow or a calf or a yearling might do under a certain set of circumstances.
A ranch hand, on the other hand, (no pun intended) is most likely skilled at irrigating, fixing fence, equipment repair, putting up hay and feeding livestock. The ranch hand may on occasion be asked to get a horseback, but most likely he will be on a four-wheeler to help pen the cows. I have noticed by going through help wanted ads in the Fence Post (out of curiosity as I’m too lazy to work) that on occasion I will see an ad where the ranch owner request that he or she doesn’t want an employee that expects to be riding horses. It will state that they use ATVs.
More and more ranches I think use ATVs to do chores around the ranch and to look after their livestock. A cowboy would not work on a ranch if he could not get a’horseback, in my opinion. Cowboys ride horses. Cowboys pen cattle and rope and doctor cattle from the back of a horse. You cannot rope a cow from an ATV nor again, in my opinion, can you pen a cow that doesn’t want to be penned from a ATV. They will run you in circles all day long. I worked on a ranch once where I was told not to rope any of their cattle for any reason. I carried a rope and they did not object. On one occasion we were in rough country and came across a foot rot cow and we were a long way from the corrals so they let me rope and doctor her on the spot. In the future they gave me the option to rope or not rope. They didn’t rope cause they didn’t know how so they just never felt that was an option.
I know a well-respected and successful rancher in Colorado who does not allow his employees to even carry a rope on their saddle. He and I just agree to disagree about stress on cattle from roping them or trying to drive a sick animal a long distance to a set of pens where they can be doctored. I don’t think I could name you one “cowboy” from my definition of a cowboy that would work under those conditions. Just my opinion folks.
So, a cowboy can most likely do the same chores as a ranch hand and some ranch hands can do the same chores as a cowboy but not nearly so many are that capable. While you ruminate on that, I will say I hope your new year came in as expected and stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. ya’ll, all ya’ll.