Tales from the O-NO Ranch 11-9-09
What does it take to make a cowboy, gentle readers? Well, maybe we should start with what is a cowboy? I’ve heard lots of different definitions on what or who a cowboy is. My own personal definition is a cowboy is someone who looks after another man’s livestock from the back of a horse. Now, you know of course that we are talkin’ cowboys and cowgirls as there are some sure “nuff” punchy cowgirls out there as I write and they are takin’ care of business.
There are some variations as to what a cowboy might do on any given ranch or ranch situation. For example: he (she) might be sent to fix some fence and they may go in a Jeep, a pickup, a wagon or on an all terrain vehicle. All terrain vehicles are necessary on most modern ranches, but not for, in my opinion, gathering livestock. There is no way on God’s green earth you can gather a cow on a four wheeler that don’t want to be gathered. No way!
In those years that I punched cows full time or managed ranches, I encountered all types of hombres and hombretts that were absolutely sure that the cowboy lifestyle was for them. NOT! Too many times, in fact most of the time, when the rubber met the road, the hours were too long, the nights too short, the work too hard, the summers too hot, the winters too cold and on and on.
A cowboy enjoys what he does. It’s that simple. The lifestyle suits him and that is why he is where he is. He just gets up every morning, goes out and does whatever he needs to do on that particular day and he gives 100 percent. It may be pullin’ the rods in a windmill, hunting for a lost bull, digging a ditch, fixin’ fence, buckin’ bales or mowing the grass around the headquarter house.
I’ve worked where the “cowboy rules” were to be observed. Don’t ride in front of the man in front of you on a cow gather. Don’t ride off and leave the man that just got down and opened the gate for you, wait on him to remount before you ride off. Don’t ride near the cook wagon and always thank the cook for your meal. Doesn’t matter if you liked it or not. I read about one ranch where you had to wear a silk or nylon wild rag. No straw hats, no canteens and no sunglasses unless there was a doc’s prescription in yer pocket. That’s a little over the top for my taste. Every ranch can be different in what they require. Most just require that you do as you are asked without complaining, and treat their livestock and their family members with care and respect. Some guys like a lot of silver on their gear, some are plain as cardboard. Usually, the cardboard cowboys make the
In the part of Texas where I grew up, the title “cowboy” is a badge of honor. It was common to hear, “did that feller ever make a cowboy?” You might hear, “Yeah, he did and he made a danged good one or naw, he never did, he just didn’t have what it takes!” I’ve heard rumors that I made it, I would like to think that I did, I would like to lay me down to sleep at night and be satisfied that I had what it took. Children whatever it is that you do it will require that you give it your best.
You most certainly must give it your best if you are a parent as there is no bigger challenge ahead of you. I like to tell folks that Little Miss Martha and I raised two perfect children. When they turned 13 we took them to the vet and had them neutered!
Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. ya.