Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Define cowboy

The new in style thing is to be a "cowboy". Everyone seems to have run down to the local western store and bought the most expensive pair of boots and hat they could find. Next they get to searchin on their computin machine for a horse. And we all know that the if it costs more then its obviously the best. The next thing they are gonna go hunt down is them one of those high dollar pick em up trucks accompanied by a 4 horse slant with a 16 foot short wall. And of course these new "cowboys" got to run down to the sale barn and get them some cows. They walk in with their new digs shinin in everyone's face and never seem to notice they are the only ones there wearing new anything and definitely the only one without a speck of dirt on them. They watch a few minutes to see what everyone else does and by the time they start bidding they get bid happy and outbid everyone without ever noticing that they will soon be hauling home the sale barn dreggs. They are pretty proud of themselves while everyone else snickers behind their back because if it wasn't already obvious they just proved their stupidity. I know this happens every day because my neighbor is basically my prime example of this. I would also like to point out that these "cowboys" are also the ones that bush hog everything to the ground in the middle of the summer and kill every blade of grass that was going to grow there for the next 3 months.

So this leads me to my topic today. Have you ever tried to define "cowboy"? Its pretty easy to point out things that are NOT cowboy. I do it every time my boss walks in the door. We have nick named him john wayne being fecetious about his lack of any common sense or knowledge about how to run a farm. I have asked severally people to define cowboy, I've yet to get an answer. So I turned to my good friend google. A couple things that the handy dandy google gave me were:
  • a hired hand who tends to cattle and performs other ranch type duties horseback
  • a performer who gives exhibitions of riding, roping, or bulldogging
  • a person who is reckless or irresponsible (especially when driving a vehicle)

The first one is basically what I would call the old school definition and truely I think that's where the spirit of real cowboys come from. They worked hard. They were honest, and they were 100 x's the people as most people I know today. This definition makes me think of my grandpa. When he was younger, and of course when his father was still alive, he worked on his father's ranch hearding cattle horse back and all the other things that come along with it. To tell you how long ago it was this was when the majority of the country was free range. Every day they were up before the break of dawn. They went out to milk the cows and saddle their horses. They would come back for a large breakfast made by grandma stewart and always consisted of eggs(from their back yard), homemade biscuits, and some sort of pork (from hogs they raised and slaughtered) and they of course drank some of the milk they just brought in from the barn. My grandpa's stories about his younger years always make me happy because I feel like I was meant to be born in that day and age.... Anyway. After breakfast they mounted up and headed out. They worked hard until mid day when grandma stewart would bring them a big lunch. And they would continue to work until almost dark and come in to do the feeding and chores. And for supper they ALWAYS had corn bread and milk. I am 100% sure that, although my grandpa would not own a horse now days, he is and always will be a cowboy and nobody could change my mind about that.

The second definition. I can kinda see that. But then again, I beg to differ. A good friend of mine is from the north. She was never near a farm, never worked in the dirt, knows nothing about cows yet she barrel races, ties goats, and ropes. I absolutely love this girl so don't take any of this wrong. But she is not a cowboy (cowgirl). She is talented yes. But if I learned to do a magic trick nobody is going to call me a magician. I go to a lot of rodeos and ropens and I see people the whole time I'm there that have never been near a cow other than throwing a rope around its neck or seeing them standing off beside the highway. I will admit, these people are usually pretty talented. But I'm not buying that they are in fact cowboys.

The third definition.... I laughed. Most people I know that I would qualify as a cowboy... fall in that category and that's about all I can say about that without telling some pretty funny stories on some people.

But I have my own definition of a cowboy. In my opinion a cowboy is someone that above all else has heart. they don't ride horses to impress other people. They ride it for the love of the life style. They know no way other than running cattle on any piece of property they own. They build fence. They teach themselves to do all their own vacinating because if you've ever owned cattle you know that if you've got to pay someone to do all that for you, then you just ruined any chance at making a profit at sale that you had. In my opinion most cowboys are always accompanied by a dog and a rifle. They probably do wear boots, hats, and buckles a lot of the time. But they do it because that's what they like, that's what is comfortable for them. And some of them probably wear shorts and t shirts at some point... they are secure enough in who they are to know that clothing is not what defines them. Its their attitude. They are honest and will do what they can to help their friends and neighbors. They are GENERALLY mild mannered, aren't bother by being a little dirty, and when they work outside they wear a long sleeved button down. That's something I'm still learning to understand. These are the people that will eventually become absorbed in their families. They might rope some for fun, and they might be completely absorbed in it. They will love to be on the road, but they will always have a home that can never be replaced. These are the kind of guys that think pretty views are: perfectly built fences, a fresh cut hay meadow, a pasture full of well built, healthy cattle, the sun setting over a piece of land they own and love. I don't think anyone can be a cowboy. I think its something you are born with in your DNA. You don't just wake up one day and run out to become a cowboy. You will be born a cowboy, you may not always live as a cowboy, but you will be a cowboy at heart. And when you come to find your place in the cowboy world you will suddenly feel at home, probably for the first time.

That's what I think a cowboy is. You are welcome to disagree, but I think you're crazy if you do.

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