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Posts Tagged ‘cowboy’

A couple of years ago money got really tight for our family.  Things were tough to begin with but after my son and I both had hospital stays (with two $5,000.00 deductables on our health insurance) and 5 years of having to buy hay for the herd because of the drought it became downright impossible to keep up with the bills.

We’ve never been the kind of people who had ‘money to burn’ but because of a chain of events things were worse than usual.  And no matter how hard we tried things just kept getting worse – a $3,000 transfer case for the diesel pickup, mortgage payments and credit cards and then the worst happened – a death in the family.  We lost my father-in-law to a heart attack.   

It was a horrible time but  life goes on. 

 I had already decided it was time for me to go back to work and for the previous few months I had been applying for every job that looked remotely possible.   Even though I don’t have a college degree, I had never had trouble finding a job…

 until then.

Over the next 10 months I must have applied for at least 70 jobs when I finally got called in for my first interview – receptionist at the Forest Service office.  Thankfully, I got the job.   Unfortunately, it was only full-time for 8 weeks and then would be intermittent – meaning I would only work for a couple of days every month.  So of course this meant no steady pay check and no benefits but by this time we were desperate and I gladly took the job.

It was a good job and I enjoyed visiting with the people who came in for firewood permits, Christmas tree permits, hunter information or just because they were lost.  And since I generally hate shopping for clothes, one of the best things about the job was that I could wear a ‘Smoky Bear’ uniform.  I was allowed to pick through a box of extra pants and shirts and found quite a few that fit so I didn’t have the problem of shopping for a wardrobe with no extra money to spend on one. 

It worked out great but I still worried about what would happen when the full-time came to an end.  I really needed a job with benefits but it appeared no one wanted to hire a 48-year-old woman with just a high school education.  I don’t know – maybe it was because everyone knows how stubborn and pig-headed ranch wives are.

Then one day – about half-way through my 8 week job at the Forest Service – God smiled down on me.  A job opened up in the same building just across the hallway at the USDA Farm Service Agency.  I put in my application and anxiously waited.  In the meantime, sitting at the front desk, I had a front-row seat to the steady stream of people who come in to apply for the job.  I was even asked to deliver several applications when the FSA office was closed – which I did.  As it turned out over 30 people applied for the job but luckily a life-time of ranch and farm experience actually counted for something and I got the job!!!

Unfortunately, my uniform wearing days were over so I dug through the closet and found enough clothes to make it work.  The worst part was that I only owned a couple of pairs of shoes – and they were pretty beat up but I figured if I stayed behind my desk no one would ever see my feet anyway.

Now the only hurdle left was to be accepted by the people I would be dealing with.  If you’ve never been around ranchers and farmers I will tell you right now – they don’t fall for bull-shit.  These are men and women who have spent their whole lives working and living on ranches.  They are good, smart, hard-working people but I knew I would have to earn their trust to do my job. 

One important piece of information about ranchers and farmers you should know is to never ask them how many acres of land or how many head of cattle they own.  That is the same as asking someone “How much money do you have in the bank?”  It’s rude and you would be surprised to know how many people will ask this within 5 minutes of meeting a rancher.  If you do it – you’ll get nothing but some vague response before they walk away from you as fast as they can.  But of course this was exactly the type of stuff I would need to know as I would be helping people with disaster programs.

Another problem I had was that I knew very few people in Wyoming so I was starting from scratch.  No one knew me from Adam.  I met a lot of new people the first couple weeks but for the most part they still wanted to talk to my boss instead of me.  Then one day when my boss was gone for the day, a rancher came in.  This guy is an old-time cowboy who cusses every other word and is a little rough around the edges but he’s also the kind of guy you could trust with your life and if I ever ran into trouble – he’s the guy I would want to see riding over the horizon.  I could tell he wasn’t real sure about talking to me and he had just decided to come back later in the week when I offered to at least copy the paperwork he had brought in. 

I stood up, walked to the copy machine and started making copies.  When I was finished I turned around and saw that he was looking at my feet and the best pair of shoes I owned which were a beat up pair of cowboy boots.  Oh well, I thought, at least I had polished them the week before.  I handed back his paperwork and expected him to leave but he didn’t.  Instead, he settled back in his chair and started to talk to me.  He told me about his ranch and his cattle and how they had lost so many calves to a spring blizzard that he wasn’t sure what they were going to do.  He opened up to me and talked to me like he’d known me for years.  I wasn’t sure what had changed but at least I had gotten through to one guy. 

And then, over the next few weeks I started to see a pattern – I would catch people looking at my old boots and suddenly they would start talking to me.  The more I watched for it the more I saw it.  I guess my boots with the ratty laces and scuffed leather convinced them I was someone who knew what they were going through.   Anyone who wore boots like that had been there too.

I have since bought myself a new pair of boots to wear to work but I still wear the old ones too.  After all – they did help me settle into my new job.  They are also a reminder that most people aren’t really impressed with expensive things.  They don’t care if you have thousands of dollars in the bank or thousands of dollars worth of loans.  None of that matters.  What does matter is what kind of person you are inside.  Always treat people with respect, don’t ever pretend to be something that you’re not and never judge anyone by the clothes they wear. 

The truth is, the best people I ever met were wearing clothes covered in manure.

 

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This Worthy and Wierd Quote is a little nasty but  it was so funny that I had to include it here.

I would guess that our boys were about 13 and 16 years old at the time it happened.  We were still living near Custer but were spending that particular day helping Grandpa S. get some things done around the ranch. 

Grandpa was known to everyone as ‘Bud’.  He had been born a cowboy and had lived his whole life at the ranch.  Bud was mostly a quiet man but he could get fired up on occasion when stuff broke down, the price of cigarettes went up or the football games he loved to watch didn’t turn out as he had hoped.  Basically, he was a tough old rancher with skin like tanned leather and a vocabulary that sometimes bordered on the – shall we say – spicy side of life?

This particular day had been a long, hot one filled with broken down equipment, skinned up knuckles and busy grandkids.  We had finally had all the ‘fun’ we could stand so had stopped for a cold drink at the kitchen table.  Grandpa was in the middle of telling a story – about what or who I can’t remember but our youngest son had obviously come in at the middle of the story because he didn’t know what or who it was about either.  Unfortunately, he was trying to figure out what Grandpa was talking about just as Grandpa was trying to finish his story.  My baby (actually a teenager) kept asking,

“Who?  Who are you talking about?  Who? Who?”

Grandpa had reached his last nerve and answered back,

“You don’t shit through feathers!”

It was one of those rare moments in time when the world and everything on it stopped mid-step and you pause with creased brow trying to process the words you think you just heard before asking, “What did you say?”

Grandpa was frazzled and our son was speechless (but secretly thrilled to quickly file these words of wisdom – complete with a 4-letter ‘sentence enhancer’ away for future use). 

The rest of us were practically worthless as we laughed till tears streamed from our eyes.  Everybody laughed about that one – even Grandpa and our boy.

I can’t blame HBO for teaching my children to cuss like sailors.  They were born ranch kids and since most ranchers have a colorful language you’re bound to pick up a few choice words that always seem to pop out at the most inopportune times.

(I’m still really, really sorry about that one time, Pastor Dave)

When our boys were little and throughly fascinated with those 4-letter words I finally had to make a deal with them – they could cuss but only when we were working cattle.  I figured this was OK since it seems to be the only language cattle understand. 

Now, you might think I’m a terrible mother but I must admit this arrangement worked out pretty well.  The boys actually watched their language at school and public places but on horseback, in a corral full of wild-eyed cattle they could blister the paint off the side of the barn. 

I always had to laugh when the neighbors would come to help work cattle – seeing the shocked looks on their faces, the boys were always quick to explain…

 “But Mom says that’s the only language cattle understand.”

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What exactly is a snubbin’ post?

I heard you – inquiring minds want to know.  So to ease your mind and not leave you hanging,

this is a picture of a genuine snubbin’ post.

No – it’s not the cows or the cowboys or even the big stick my Hubby is dragging behind him – it’s the wooden post sticking out of the ground all by itself in the middle of the corral.  The one that looks like someone forgot to build the fence on to it.

And what do we use a snubbin’ post for?

Why snubbin’ – of course.

Let us demonstrate.

Here’s our son Morgan and his rope.  Morgan likes to rope and he’s good at it.  Please notice that at the end of his rope he has a calf and two cowboys trying to subdue said calf.

Now, notice how Morgan has one loop wrapped around the post already and is ‘throwing’ a second loop.  It is always a good idea to have at least 2 loops around the post no matter what size the animal is on the end of your rope.  Three is even better.  The friction from the rope around the post gives you much more control over the ticked off animal – at least it gives you the illusion of control.  You soon learn there is very little about the world of ranching that you have any control over.  This setup also allows you to take up slack when the ticked off animal charges at you and hopefully you get enough slack to get you clear of the business end of the charging animal.  Warning – don’t ever let your loops cross over each other as they will bind up and refuse to slide at the exact moment you really, really need them too. 

 Take my word for this. 

By applying a little pressure you are able to hold a very large and very angry animal in place no matter how many times it chases you around the post (as long as you stay ahead of it and don’t get run over).  And absolutely never ever let them get the rope wrapped around any part of your body – this is an extremely bad thing.  People have lost body parts and their lives by getting tangled in ropes.  A rope can cut like a knife under the wrong conditions and cows never stop just because you ask them to.

Oops, Morgan – you’ve lost a loop. 

Snubbin’ posts are very heavy posts, usually the butt end of old power poles that are set deep into the ground.  This is a new one we put in a couple of years ago when the original one rotted off and broke while we were working cattle.  Hubby’s uncle and his father had set the original post when they built the corrals sometime in the 20’s or 30’s and it showed all those years of wear and tear in the deep groves dug by hundreds of ropes.  

My favorite part of the old corrals are the gates.  There’s nothing like the sound of an old wooden gate when you swing it open.  It’s music to my ears.  Our gates  are hung from the original gate posts that were set back then too and it amazes me that they are still in such good shape as cattle are pretty rough on things.  Remember the ‘bull in the china shop’ thing?  It’s true. 

Snubbin’ posts are handy for other things too.  You can wire metal panels (sections of portable fence) to them when you need to create an alley way or loading chute.  They will also save your butt when the usually mild-mannered bovine changes before your eyes to a raging leather bag full of vinegar and oneryness and decides, for some unknown reason, that you are the spawn of the devil himself and their sole purpose in this life is to the stomp you into the ground and save the world from scum like you.  It happens – I’ve seen it happen.  It’s scarry when it happens!  The trick is to keep the post between you and the cow long enough for you to jump the fence.  And believe me, with the right motivation (such as a ticked off cow blowing snot all over your backside) you can clear that 6 foot corral in a single bound – just like Super Man.

You can take my word for that too.

Here’s a good picture of the post and our oldest son Dalton on Rough.  I know it’s a weird name for a horse but it suits him – he’s always been a little rough around the edges.

Horses know the benefits of snubbin’ posts too.  Rough has worked most of his life in this corral and he’s ducked behind that post and run cattle around it and has even been tied to it a time or two himself – yes, that’s partly how he got his name.

Snubbin’ posts take a lot of abuse but every corral should have one. 

Don’t you think?

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I took a photography class once.

It was great and I learned a lot about editing photos.

Every week we had an assignment such as

Texture:

Seeing things in a new way:

We had to take a self-portrait:

And then the final assignment – the Granddaddy of them all.  We would have to find a model and take portrait shots at the studio with the teachers wonderful and very expensive camera.  I was a nervous wreck.  I thought I had things ready but when the day arrived I suddenly found myself without a model.  As luck would have it, the only person I knew, who was available that day was our youngest son and he was less than thrilled.  In fact he tried to talk a friend into taking his place.

I think money was even involved.

But the friend couldn’t do it and he was stuck.

He was ticked.

 Can you tell?

He only put up with it for about 10 minutes and then he was gone.

But I’m pretty fast with the shutter. 

This comes from years of practise – trying to photograph small and speedy children.

He was mad but once he saw the photos I think he decided maybe it wasn’t so bad.

He even asked for copies to hand out at school.  He actually begged – it was painful to watch.

Maybe it will lead into a career.  He does have those bedroom eyes (or so I’ve been told).

Not bad for an onery,ticked off, rough and rowdy cowboy – with an attitude.

 

 

 

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