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Well-known member
Feb 14, 2005
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Western South Dakota
After reading Soapweeds comments on his gizmo and his comment on breaking traditions of trading help with neighbors, I was reminded of these thoughts I have formulated over the past few years.

We neighbor in this country. Mostly cow/calf in herds of 200 to 500 head with the average probably around 250 head.

This country was all homesteaded in the very early 1900's.

The ranch we have, used to have 10 families on it. Now there is just one.

My dad could tell you the names of all the people and their kids and where they all went. Wish I'd have been smart enough to get it all down, when he was still alive.

One of the things I've noticed is that those who helped each other, stayed here. Those who didn't left. My grampa and dad and great grampa neighbor'd with the ancestors of the people who I helped brand today and all of those who were there. Except for a few newcomers who have only ben here for 20 to 40 years! LOL

I think it is good for our life and community to neighbor. There are some in this area who are maybe not thought of as well as others, because of their past actions. But we all pitch in and help whoever needs help. I might not like a certain person, but I will help him in an emergancy and he will do the same for me. As I said, if we don't, we leave.

I don't think I could stand to live in a part of the country where I didn't know my neighbors and couldn't rely on them to help when needed or didn't want any help when they needed it. "Pride goeth before a fall".

Maybe we all get too caught up in getting everything done, so we can go do some more, so we can make more money, so we can buy our neighbors out.

I think we would all be better off if we all neighbor'd more. There are always excuses not to go to a wedding or a funeral or any other community gathering, but many of us should maybe stop and think about how that makes us feel when people don't have time for us. Time is the only thing that we have in this life and we should share it with those around us. Like going to see some older folks who are shut in's, and funerals and weddings.

As the Mexicans say,"Monyona". That isn't the proper way to spell it, but it is how it's pronounced. It means tomorrow. As in, what we don't get done today, we can do tomorrow.

OK, that is just some thoughts. End of sermon. Hope I didn't step on no toes or make anyone mad! :)
What a coincidence!!! the hubby and i were just having a conversation on the way home from our 9 year olds baseball game about "RANCH NEIGHBORS".....we recently lost our new ranch-hand (ya all know, the wanna-be former bull rider who had NO CLUE about true ranchwork) to a "neighbor" rancher from another state who simply uses his place as a tax right off!!! He offered our hand a better paying job just to "take him" from us...not very neighborly in our opinions...or the opinions of many of the other long-time ranchers in this area...sure has raised a few eyebrows in our part!! :evil: :evil: :mad: :mad:
You darn sure have a point, Jinglebob. I agree with you 100 percent. In my case I just feel old and worn out, and am trying to make life easier, while still keeping branding efficient and doing it the cowboy way. If our kids were more interested in continuing the ranching tradition, I know I would feel differently about the whole situation. Anymore, I'm kind of a fair weather cowboy, and if a job can be detained until a more satisfactory day, I'm all for it.

Your philosophy jives with thoughts my dad and I had about thirty years ago. This will undoubtedly step on some toes, also, but just to stir up the pot of beans I guess I will say it anyway. My dad and I had it all figured out all those years ago. Before that time, everyone was pretty satisfied ranching cowboy style and dressing the part, complete with hats and boots. About then, it became quite the fad to depart from wearing a cowboy hat and succombing to wearing a doggoned baseball cap.

We watched it happen time and time again, during the eighties. First a rancher would start wearing a baseball cap, then he started using either a motorcycle or three-wheeler to work his cattle, next came a calf table, and pretty soon he sold out the ranch and got a town job. Now I know I am going to get tromped on, but ain't it fun being opinionated in cyberspace where nobody can break my bones?
Jinglebob and Soapweed, I know where you both are coming from~I appreciate both points of view. Some of the best times I can ever remember are at brandings. They were such social gatherings, so much fun!! It has changed, and not for the better. For instance, I work in town and it is a chore for me to get dinner for 30 people. I love doing it~but I don't have the time to spend days preparing what I used to fix. Other women work out as well, so it is harder for them to send food along as we used to do~just to help each other out. Oh, some do, for sure. But I hanker for the 'good ole days' when none of us worked outside the home/ranch. And we did have more time to spend together.

I love good neighbors. They can make your life so sweet. Our neighbors here are very, very good people, but they are more farmers and there is a difference. They mean well, and~here goes, I will get myself in trouble here too~they ride four wheelers or motorcycles instead of horses and either don't brand at all, or use a table. I felt real bad about that for a few years, but now it is okay. The horses are better off for it.

In Western Mt. folks didn't really know how to wrestle calves. When we moved there we were basically the only smaller outfit that wrestled them. Others started doing it, but they never got real good at wrestling. I'm not sure they ever really figured it out. There is an art to it~anyway when we moved over here, the wrestlers were GOOD. It was so much fun to watch them work together and get the calf on the ground so readily, because they were a TEAM. My husband got so he didn't like to wrestle in W. MT. because the calf and the other person were both working against you. Now this isn't every person, every place, you understand, but it was more that way than not. Actually, our first branding crew there, there were only two that knew how to wrestle calves. One was from North Dakota and the other was from Ekalaka, Mt. It is just a difference in regions, I guess.

So, at this phase in our life, my husband thinks just like Soapweed. Get it done right, the easiest way possible, with the least amount of dust. I wouldn't think of branding without horses, so Soapweeds invention keeps the horses in the process. We tried the inner tubes once and I really didn't like that. They were not motorcycle inner tubes and were too stiff. Every calf got up and LIMPED away. So I requested that they stop doing it like that. Since I am the cook, they did heed what I asked. LOL!!!

We are fortunate to have a good crew. And we or he goes to help them back and enjoys it. But it is getting harder and harder to get wrestlers. And harder and harder for the old guys to wrestle. Funny, my husband remarked at one point, "when I was young I wrestled and the old guys roped. Now I am an old guy and I wrestle so the kids can rope."

Actually, since he is the oldest one at the brandings anymore, they take pretty good care of him!

Anyway, we are looking with great interest at Soapweed's gizmo!!!
Well, Soapweed, I guess I'll step up to the plate and take the first crack at you :wink:
Where I come from most of us only wear hats when we are dressed up, or occasionally at home as the mood strikes. Means nothing. This area was homesteaded in the forties and very early fifties, and we are all still here. We are all cattlemen, we rope and drag, brandings bring a flood of help.... biggest stress is on the women. They worry there won't be enough food. We move our cattle with horses, we file our stud reports. Some of us braid rawhide, some paint cowboy paintings. We wear boots 'cause it's practical. But we wear caps as often as not and for the same reason.
This community is as close knit as any I've ever seen or heard tell of, and I don't believe it has a d@mn to do with our headgear.
Saturday nights around here often involve a bunch of neighbours sitting around a fire singing campfire songs, playing guitars, and having a few sips. We allways know our neighbours are only a phonecall away. 2 years ago on Easter Sunday my wife and I had a little grass fire get away (in her opinion), and she called some neighbours. Everyone she got a hold of was having Easter dinner. In 20 minutes there was 15 people here swinging shovels. After which we had several invitations to help finish some of these dinners.
Anyway, I ramble on. My point is that the headgear don't make the cowboy. Being a cowboy is what we do, how we live. Period.
Soapweed said:
We watched it happen time and time again, during the eighties. First a rancher would start wearing a baseball cap, then he started using either a motorcycle or three-wheeler to work his cattle, next came a calf table, and pretty soon he sold out the ranch and got a town job. Now I know I am going to get tromped on, but ain't it fun being opinionated in cyberspace where nobody can break my bones?

I geuss I can think of alot more hat wearers that sold out (went broke) mostly because they were so darn busy chasing rodeos and peeing their money away they never got their work done.
HI HO SILVER, you're on! :D Your point, "the headgear don't make the cowboy. Being a cowboy is what we do, how we live. Period," is well taken. However, just for a good cyber-fight to start the day, here goes.

You are absolutely right; clothes don't make the person. Take my following comments with several grains of salt, and also keep in mind I am not nearly as narrow-minded as it sometimes seems. You already have a great deal of my respect, because I can tell by your photographs that you have a wonderful herd of well-cared-for red-colored cattle.

Back to "head-gear", sometimes it seems like it corresponds with "attitude". Being a rancher takes a lot of hard work and a certain amount of ability. We have all heard the phrase, "he sure earned his spurs today." As ranchers and cowboys, if that is what we do for a living, we should be proud of the fact and dress accordingly. A western-style hat and cowboy-type boots (with a little manure on them) shows the world we are proud of what we do. We not only have "earned" the right to wear this type of apparel, but it is also our "duty" to do so. It is rather like voting, not only is it our privilege but it is also our civic duty. The world can be a better place because we take pride in what we do.

Several years ago, a Colorado cowboy wrote a little article in the WESTERN HORSEMAN magazine. He told that his calving pasture was right next to the interstate, and he had a little corral adjacent to the busy highway, where he would tag his calves. Whenever he was out working cattle on horseback, cars would always pull off to the side of the road and someone would take his picture. One fine spring day, absolutely no one stopped to take photographs. He was perplexed until he got back to the house and realized that he was wearing his baseball cap instead of his usual Stetson. Caps are just not part of the cowboy image.

On Friday of this past week, all of the Cody, Nebraska, FFA kids had an excused absence, and they and their instructor/sponsor all went to a branding. The rancher paid a sizeable amount to the FFA fundraiser if all these kids would help wrestle calves at his branding. My son is a good hand, but you would never know it to look at him. He dresses pretty incognito and cosmopolitan in his school clothes. A baseball cap and big ugly yellow lace-up work shoes accentuate his wardrobe. I kidded him as he was about to go out the door that he sure wouldn't get asked to rope being dressed like that. He stepped out into the cold wind, and decided he needed more clothes to wear. He completely started over on his dressing, and when he stepped outside the next time, he was wearing his Carhartt coat, chinks, and big black hat. I complimented him that he sure looked a lot more like a hand that I would want at my branding.

When he arrived home, I asked how the branding went. He smiled and said, "You were right, Dad. I was the only FFA kid out of the whole deal, besides the instructor who got to rope." Clothes do make a difference, sometimes.

P.S. There is nothing in the world wrong with a cap with ear-flappers. I wear one of these quite frequently myself. :)
Now you folks know how I tend to get along with my fellow man without makin' any body upset. And I'm sure not going to argue over the inner- net( I can't type fast enough) :D

One thing about hats is you can tell alittle about a feller and where he comes from by his sombero. You can see a Texan from across the street, you can tell if he is a buckeroo, you can see if he is from S. dakota or Wyoming, just by his hat.

But on the other hand if he's wearing a cap... You can tell if he's from Darlings Mineral,Young's Western Wear, John Deere, Catipillar etc. etc.

Sorry folks, but I am not the kind of guy that wants to be confused with a truck driver or a dock worker or a any other occupation. I like it when strangers know what I do for my living...... Just some more thoughts. :wink: :wink:
On this hat subject-could not agree more-although there are times I wear my "rockie"cap -you know-the one that make you look like a cartoon character,but in Jan. it is needed. Really liked Mrs. Soapweed's hat in the branding pictures-would it be possible to say where she purchased that one? Yep,its wranglers and a pressed shirt and a vest and better boots for the more up scale events and if that is not okay well,guess I shouldn't be attending that event. Have a great day. Almost need my "rockie" cap today-it is rather cool.
Well, I guess maybe the difference between us is that while I'm damn proud of what I do, I have absolutely no desire to pound my own drum. I know what I am and who I am and have not a care in the world if other folks know what I do or not. If I have to get a rank cow in, I'll get her in. If I need to start a colt, I'll start him. Weather or not other folks can tell what I do by my hat is the least of my concerns, and certainly is not how I measure another man. In fact more often than not when I see a hat comin' at me I just know its a dude or straight off the reserve. Which is fine with me, to each their own. I do have some fine hats, normally prefer my resistol. Right now my favorite is a Bailey. But to be honest I don't wear them that often. They tend to get knocked off in the thick brush, they bump against the back window of the truck, not good in the wind, and I aint gonna put strings on them. Around here someone would hang a whistle on it. I wear my hats to dances, cattlemens meetings, weddings, funerals, and sometimes when the weather calls for it. But mostly it's a cap of somekind, something that keeps the sun out of my eyes and my head covered.
It was interesting to me reading that the western cowboy hat was invented by, not a westerner but a Pennsylvanian.
(Let's hear it from my home state of Pennsylvania) yea!
John B. Stetson was the son of a Philadelphia hat maker.

Maybe that is why some Easterners who don't know a blessed thing about ranching shamelessly wear cowboy hats.
My husband bought a black one on a business trip and has worn it for years in our rainy climate because it does such a great job keeping him dry. To my way of thinking, he also looks better in a big brimmed hat which balances his height.
So don't make fun of us Easterners wearing cowboy hats. They're practical and we're (somewhat) responsible for their existence. :D
I wrote this clear back in 1991. I've changed my opinion SLIGHTLY since. I ain't wantin' to step on no toes, but thought it was pertainent to this thread. I guess nbow i would say, "if your gonn'a dress the part, you damn well better be able to do the job."

As far as hats, I've got one with a short little brim and low crown. I call it my windy day hat. i wqas wearing it one day when a neighbor pulled into the yard. he was wearing a seed corn cap. He said, "Boy thats a stupid lookin' hat."

I replied, " Could be worse, I could be wearin' oner of them stupid lookin' caps like you are."

He just kind'a chuckled.

I've got some neighbors who are damn fine hands w3ho wear caps and I've seen good hands wear all kinds of clothes and gear. Don't matter what you dress like, can you do the job?

I feel much as Soapweed and when people look at me and think, there goes a cowboy or a rancher, it just fills me up with pride. I'm damn proud of what I do to make a livin' and a little resentful of those who want to imitate without having a clue of the heartaches and troubles that the job entails. If someone wants to dress different, I don't give a damn. Each to their own. But give me the same priviledge!

I don't mind "wannabe's" cuz' imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I got no problem with "has beens" cuz they done it. But I got no time for "claim to be's"!!! Them SOB's will just get you hurt!

Hope my little poem don't offend, cuz that surely ain't my intent.

My Bitch

I see all kinds of people
Who wear boots and a hat
Some are young, others older
Some skinny, others fat
I guess it's quite a compliment
They all must admire the cowboy
And so they dress up like him
I don't suppose they mean to annoy

But they annoy the hell out of me
Tho' it's surely not their intent
I suppose if I were a better man
I would apologize and repent
But all I see is some dressed up dude
Who don't savvy nuthin' 'bout a cow
Who's never endured any of the misery
Or wiped the sweat off of their brow

After puttin' in a day, bein' a cowboy
Maybe fightin' to save a calf's life
Helpin' a heifer to have her calf
Or bein' a cowboys wife
Gettin' bucked off in a cactus patch
Or havin' a good colt up and die
Fightin' a 3 day spring blizzard
Or cussin' a droughty 'ol sky

Goin' to the banker to get a loan
After a mean, rotten year
Watchin' a fire rape your grass
Or fightin' a fence jumpin' steer
The list could go on and on
Of the everyday suffering and pains
And of course there's lots of good too
Like the time it finally rains

But how can you have the fun
Without having any of the trouble
Pretenders don't get the job done
Sorrow and joy are twins that come double
To me the hat is the symbol
Of a cowboy and cowmen's might
And no one should get to wear one
Unless they've earned that right
My two bits worth on hat wearing-- Never saw cowboys wearing ball caps until the team roping craze came to be starting in the 60's-- Before that no real cowboy wore anything but a hat until it was 10-20 below, then "might" put on a scotch cap with earflappers...Everytime I see a cowboy wearing a ball cap I immediately look to see if they have any thumbs missing :lol:
Some things just kind of go hand in hand, but it seems to me that the gradual demise of the hat has kinda gone with the infiltration of the 4-wheeler. Maybe this is good or bad, but I like to work cattle with someone who likes to take things easy(not that there aren't times when speed is called for), and does it horseback. There are a few who can handle cattle on a 4-wheeler, and do it easy, but most don't even realize that they are pushing too hard on a bunch of cattle, or a single cow. This makes helping out horseback dang irritating as trailing cattle at a trot gets rather old.

I think the one thing that has brought this on is the lack of folks left in some of ranch country. Our neighbors are few and far between here, but the ones we do have are just the best.

I read something one time that I sure liked. A cowboy was saying that from the beginning he thought some folks wanted to think the cowboy was just a thing of the past. He said that the second day a cowboy got in the saddle to take a look around at his country he must have said to his partner, "You know Slim, this just isn't the way it was yesterday".

I think there will always be a few good hands left in the country no matter how they choose to do their work, or dress.
Oldtimer said:
My two bits worth on hat wearing-- Never saw cowboys wearing ball caps until the team roping craze came to be starting in the 60's-- Before that no real cowboy wore anything but a hat until it was 10-20 below, then "might" put on a scotch cap with earflappers...Everytime I see a cowboy wearing a ball cap I immediately look to see if they have any thumbs missing :lol:

Do you know the difference between a team roper and a large pizza????

A large pizza will feed a family of four...
I tend to get full value out of my felts-I even wear them when I coach hockey-one time at Agribition I was wearing a well used black hat-had some sweat rings and some cowcrap on it. This purebredd Simmie breeder kept nagging me to go look at something with him. I finally dragged myself out of the 'Swamp' and went with him. He took me to the Simmental booth and told me to pick any ballcap I wanted. He said he felt sorry because I always wore an old felt hat. The poor guys heart was in the right place but I said no thank you lol.my dad had a saying for guys with a small ranch and a big hat 'All hat and no cows'. Another funny story was when I took a friend bull shopping in Montana-he's got 1,000 momma cows but is a running shoe-ball cap kinda guy-I finally nagged him into buying a nice John B. Stetson-we went to Wayne Stevenson's and be damnewd if he didn't wear his hat backwards all day looking at cows-GAWD.
That's funny, Northern Rancher. We had an old neighbor that had his hat on backwards one day. It was just him and me, so I casually mentioned that his hat was backwards. (If I had my hat on wrong, or if my zipper was down, or a piece of snot was hanging down from my nose, I would appreciate if someone inconspicuously would tell me.) Anyway, this ol' rancher told me it might be backwards, but he didn't care, that was the way he always wore it. He said he wanted the bigger broader part of the brim to cover his face, not the back of his head where he still had hair.

This same man once was telling my dad and me that he had three pairs of long winter underwear. One pair was pretty old and wore out, with lots of holes. He wore this pair on the days that weren't very cold. Another pair just had a few holes, which he chose to wear on days that were pretty cold. His final pair of long johns was nearly new, with no holes, so he wore those on very cold or blizzardy-type days. He had a twinkle in his eye when he explained all of this, but I think he was dead serious, too.

I had occasion to travel one time with this character, his wife and son about my age. We entered a busy cafe during the noon rush. The waitresses were over-worked, and hadn't as yet had time to clear off the tables. We sat at one where the previous occupants had just got up to leave. There was quite a little food still left on one plate. The old rancher said, "The rest of you order what you want. This is all I need."

He grew up in tough times, and put together a good ranch by hard work and frugality. He had my respect.
Jinglebob wrote "if you're going to dress the part you better be able to do the job." Silver wrote: "We wear boots 'cause it's practical. But we wear caps as often as not and for the same reason "

How many of you wear baseball caps from time to time but aren't ball players for a living?
It is cause they're practical as Silver said.
Same reason we wear hardhats/ steel-toed boots doing construction/treework.
There must be many examples of clothing that folks have adopted because it suits a purpose so well. Think of the sailor hat with brim turned down while sailing in a wind; doctor's scrub suits; aviators' goggles;...
My husband has a hand-me-down fur super-warm Russian type hat he often wears on blustery winter days, but that, thank goodness, doesn't make him a RedRuskie! :D
There are some interesting points of view here. Neighbors are important and those of us left on ranches sure do need to do a better job of "neighboring". That is pretty difficult when we are so darn busy trying to make a living that we more or less fall exhausted into bed at night, or when days aren't quite as long in winter, we are going to school events and whatever community events or 'watering holes' seem to be the gathering places. Not too many years ago, it was rare for a whole family to go out a few times a week so such events. That has substituted for "neighboring" in many small communities.

Soapweed, I'm taking you to task for the "manure on the boots" comment. My bet is your mother, and many other mothers worked tirelessly to train their sons to spruce up their one pair of boots when going out into the community or to town for socialization or business.

A personal pet peeve is people who complain of how hard it is to make a living ranching, then treat their good leather boots improperly so they wear out faster than they should. Scuffed and dirty boots may be a fair badge of honor to some, but well cared for and cleaned up boots, even if scuffed and past their prime denotes to the world a person who is on the ball and pays attention to business in other ways as well.

Same for clothes. Nothing to be ashamed of if they aren't new, but decently cared for and reasonably clean says a lot about the wearer.........and more about the one who routinely shows up in public places in the opposite condition.

Hats......may be making a come-back for many reasons, not the least of which is skin cancer. Everyone please pay attention and have checkups with professional dermatologists occasionally. Use that sun screen even if it is a nuisance, and don't forget good SPF in some form of lip balm. Used religiously, from the cradle to the grave, just might make the trip to the grave a little later in life!

I have close acquaintance with a guy who hates to wear caps......and complains of earaches on occasion! Wearing whatever is appropriate to the weather and the work makes quite of sense, if not keeping up with personal sense of style at all times. Vanity, thy name is....cowboy! for quite a number of them, it appears.

And why the disdain for the stampede string? They make sense in windy country, don't they?


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