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webfoot

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I got to think about something I witnessed 35 or so years ago. I have deleted the names and locations to protect the guilty.
The characters in the story. #1 A man I got to know who was raised on a 800 cow ranch in Deer Lodge, Montana who at that time was working for the Federal Land Bank. #2 A guy who was running a mechanical bull in an "urban cowboy bar". The girls all called him "cowboy" but the only thing cowboy about him was his hat and boots.
The location, said cowboy bar outside Olympia Washington.
So I am having a Friday evening drink with my banker friend. He is in this urban cowboy bar dressed in his work cloths. A three piece suit, not looking like he has never seen a horse, cow, or miles of Montana range land. The two of us are discussing rodeos, cattle, ranches, and ranch prices. Along comes the operator of the mechanical bull, "cowboy" and sits down. He starts talking about the ranch this and the ranch that referring to the place he was raised on. After a little of this my banker/real cowboy friend looks at him and asks how big is this ranch? The "cowboy" puffs up all proud and replies, "10 acres." Banker quietly says, "calving must be a bitch." It went right over "cowboy's" head. I just about fell out of my chair. I think about that every year around this time when we get busy calving out cows.
 

leanin' H

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I applaud folks who hanker for the western lifestyle. But unless a person has been shoulder deep in a bad presentation calving wreck, or spent 25 hours of a day trying to get cattle away from a wildfire, or froze off a few body parts in a blizzard trying to feed and water a cowherd, its kind tough to take them serious. I was invited to a few cowboy poetry gatherings to perform some of my stuff. I was surrounded by dudes with wonderful memories who could recite other peoples poems and do a wonderful job. But they weren't real or had hardly any actual ranch experience. All hat and no cattle as the saying goes. I have stopped accepting invitations to those deals as i felt like an idiot. Maybe I'm too judgmental? But nothing replaces the highs and lows of working on a ranch. Playing dress up don't skin the cat.
 

Mountain Cowgirl

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@leanin' H and @webfoot Well, you two certainly understand my irritation with all the modern-day poetry readings, rodeos, weekend "cowboy" experiences, and the stereotypical western fashion dressing made and promoted for-profit and not functional ranch use. I have no problem with anyone dressing stereotypical western and admiring the ranch lifestyle if they realize they are not the same as the people that have lived the lifestyle.

The thing I find interesting is these urban or drugstore cowboys or girls, have no idea what real ranch life is like day in and day out. Reading about it doesn't mean anything unless you have had some first-hand experience. They shrug off stories I tell like dressing in generic ill-fitting jeans ordered from the Sears catalog, lace-up urban looking mountain hiking boots, straw hat that looks more sombrero than cowboy, and a stained old tee shirt and working from daylight to pass dark to get the alfalfa field harrowed and seeded before the impending storm. It is all up to me, a 16-year-old girl, as my father is layed up with sciatica.

The harrow journals are so worn they require constant greasing. The planter has a crack forming and requires welding. My mother brings my lunch while I fuel the old International. I would rather be camping and having a cookout in the timber with friends. I had rather be playing guitar at a dance. Those options are not available to me as the year's alfalfa hay yield depends on me beating this storm and taking advantage of the impending rain. Neighbors couldn't help because they were all doing the same thing.

So many get the idea that being a rancher is riding around on a horse dressed in western clothes. Many working cattle ranches today don't even have horses. As outspoken and sharp-tongued as I am, I wouldn't have the courage to tell any of these ranch hands that they aren't cowboys and the urban rodeo guy is because he rides a horse.
 
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Faster horses

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I applaud folks who hanker for the western lifestyle. But unless a person has been shoulder deep in a bad presentation calving wreck, or spent 25 hours of a day trying to get cattle away from a wildfire, or froze off a few body parts in a blizzard trying to feed and water a cowherd, its kind tough to take them serious. I was invited to a few cowboy poetry gatherings to perform some of my stuff. I was surrounded by dudes with wonderful memories who could recite other peoples poems and do a wonderful job. But they weren't real or had hardly any actual ranch experience. All hat and no cattle as the saying goes. I have stopped accepting invitations to those deals as i felt like an idiot. Maybe I'm too judgmental? But nothing replaces the highs and lows of working on a ranch. Playing dress up don't skin the cat.
And you can spot them a mile away.
 

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