Tales from the O-NO Ranch | TheFencePost.com
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Tales from the O-NO Ranch

Mad Jack Hanks
Wellington, Colo.

Gentle readers, I have always had a fascination with the order in which some cowboys express themselves. Most of you know that I spent the majority of my adult workin’ life usin’ a saddle as my workbench. I enjoyed that part of my life as much as any time spent doin’ whatever it was I was involved in.

Not all, but most cowboys I ever was around had this wonderful bunkhouse philosophy, dry wit, or an incredible sense of humor. A cowboy’s expressions seem to be so simple, yet have so much wisdom and understanding of what makes us who we are. W.R. Cammack who was a Texas cowboy on the famed Matador Ranch and later a county judge in Motley County said this back in the ’40s: “Every man preaches his own funeral, writes his own obituary, and seals his own eternal destiny as he lives, regardless of what the preacher might say over his casket.”

Another profound statement that has always stuck with me and I view it from a professional cowboy’s thinking, not from some feller that loves to ride, go team ropin’ or whatever and it is this: “If you can’t shoot yer own dogs and shoe yer own horses, you shouldn’t own either.” That may sound a little crude to many of you, but the truth is if you are on a ranch 60 miles from the nearest town and your dog needs to be put down, you don’t drive 120 miles round trip to the vet to get it done.

Some of you may remember on one occasion I had a favorite horse that almost got me drowned crossing a flooded creek. He couldn’t swim and he forgot to tell me so! One of my cowboys roped the horse first and pulled him out before tossin’ me a rope while I was glued to a telephone pole in the water. When asked why he didn’t throw me the rope first, he replied, “Good hosses is hard to come by; a ranch manager we can always get.” I was not offended, I knew I had sure “nuff” punchers workin’ for me.

I coined this phrase a number of years ago: “What endears me to the cowboy is his (her) ability to be unimpressed with folks that are of a pretentious nature.” In other words, I just don’t know too many cowboys that are impressed with folks that are “well to do” and are more than willing to let you know who they are and what they have. A cowboy will most likely be impressed with the abilities of another one of his kind while tending to the stock that is their livelihood.

Another gem is one from a Roswell, N.M., cowboy and horse trader: “They make all the corners of the world for different people and somehow dust bothers me everywhere but here.”

A lot of folks view the cowboy as a common laborer, which he is, but his (her) position and view of our society and the direction we seem to be headed in is so different than most of the rest of our city kin. Most cowboys will not try to back out of a deal, will not lie to save face, will not try to avoid tough situations that have to be handled and will not pass the buck. They are honest, always willing to do more than they are required, are blessed with common sense, and will go out of their way to help a friend in need. They, in their own way, are funny, witty, charming and will make your day lighter just by being in their presence. If given the opportunity to go to a ranch rodeo or a really good cowboy poetry gathering, you should make the effort ” you’ll be glad you did.

Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, and I’ll c. ya.


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