Julie Carter

Welcome to the West as I see it

Within these pages, you will find the end result of a lot of living and laughing, finally put between book covers to share with the world. A laugh is never a better laugh than when it can be shared and shared again.

I hope you choose to own a copy of my book, Cowgirl Sass and Savvy. It is a selection of some of the first stories individually published in a syndicated column by the same name that I have written weekly since 2002. They offer you a peek into ranch and cowboy life that isn't what you see as you drive by or what you read in the glossy slick magazines selling cowboy clothes, furniture and adventures.

And most of all, I hope the stories bring you, at the very least, a smile and a good laugh. No better gift could I offer you.

I also offer you a glimpse of this rural area as I see it through my camera lens. Shop the Mercantile page for posters that I have combined my photography with words I have written. Also there are calendars showcasing some of my favorite photos from this year. A link to my landscape photography website will let you browse through what I see when I travel down the dirt roads of the West.

Julie's Weblog

January 29, 2016

Check your cinch

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 9:02 am


Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter

Working on a big cow-calf operation, a cowboy’s days are routine to his job title. With 4,000 head of momma cows and their babies by their side, a typical day was long and mostly seen from the back of horse. It also required the steady use of a rope.

The day would include doctoring pink eyes, scours, foot rot and any other bovine malady that showed up. During calving, it was usual to rope 50 calves a day to tag or stuff a scours pill down their throat.

As the story went for this cowboy Frank, not far away from his place of employment was a feedlot with backgrounding pasture and plenty of corn stalks.

Lloyd had worked so long at Deer Creek Feedlot not many even knew his last name. He was just Lloyd. He talked real slow, and for the most part, seemed in all ways, “slow.” But he ran the feedlot and did his job well.

The cow boss of the outfit Frank worked for sent him and another puncher to go help Lloyd doctor shipping fever in a load of yearlings. They loaded their horses and headed to Deer Creek, arriving just as Lloyd was catching his big grey horse that he called Frog.

Frank and his partner unloaded their horses and walked over to where Lloyd was saddling Frog. Frank couldn’t help but notice that Lloyd’s rig was an old center-fire bear trap that had no breast collar.  On the horn, there was an old rope tied off that had been broken and then tied into a square knot. More noticeable was that the cinch holding the saddle on had maybe a dozen strands still intact and the rest were broken in two and hanging frayed.

Frank always carried a rope bag in the trailer with a couple of extra ropes, leather punch, leather, awl and an extra cinch just in case tack repairs were needed at any time or place during a day of cowboying.

He told Lloyd that he had a better cinch if he wanted it and was sure welcome to it. Lloyd replied in his signature slow speech, “Nope, I reckon this one will do.”

Frank nodded his acceptance of Lloyd’s decision and the trio rode to the pasture to get started on the doctoring.

The very first steer they saw needed medical attention. He was a big, soggy Simmental. Lloyd put the spurs to Frog and built to the steer. His loop caught him deep, far down on the brisket and included a front leg.

Lloyd jerked his slack and old Frog put on the brakes hard, laying some classic 11s on the ground. When things came tight between the steer and the horse, the cinch on Lloyd’s saddle snapped. There went Lloyd, saddle and all, right over Frog’s head.

Since Lloyd had the steer’s head and a front leg in his loop, that steer might as well have been a Siberian husky in the Iditarod and Lloyd’s saddle was the sled. Lloyd was the musher, except he was sitting down instead of standing and he was holding on to the swells of the saddle with both hands with his legs stuck out in front.

The steer was running full out and not showing any signs of slowing down. Frank and his partner were laughing so hard, they both missed the steer with their first loop. Frank managed to catch him on second try and when he got the steer halted, he took Lloyd’s rope off of him.

They had to pull Lloyd’s spurs and stirrups down from around his knees to free him from his saddle. Old Frog was standing calmly right where the cinch broke, munching on some grass.

Undaunted by the event, Lloyd said with his very slow drawl, “Frank, you reckon I can borrow that cinch?”

Frank laughed and said, “After that spectacular wreck, you can just keep the cinch.”

No one seems to know what became of Lloyd over the years, but Frank was certain it was a safe bet that Lloyd forever more used good cinches.

Always good advice. Check your cinch.

Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com.



January 7, 2016

Hard-won victories

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 9:34 am

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy Julie Carter

It didn’t take an act of Congress to give cowgirls their equal opportunity rights in their work at the ranch. Since cowgirl time began, the women of the range have been afforded the opportunity to work side by side with their male counterparts.

The weather never made the issue debatable. She was allowed to freeze her backside off in the same West Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, or Dakotas blizzard as he was.

Her circle for the day included ice just as thick to axe through and the same drifts to drive or ride through. Her frost-encrusted eyelashes, batting over blue eyes, never turned an ounce of sympathy or empathy with any of the other chilled-down cowboy-types as they moved a herd of mother cows and calves in a spring snowstorm.

Dust boiling from a droughty country side as the winds whipped across the landscape never offered a preference for what gender the rider was when she got sandblasted, dirt stuck to eyes and nostrils and teeth turned brown with grit.

The start before daylight and the stop long past sundown carried no clause for shorter hours for the fairer sex. In fact, more often than not, she started earlier and ended later, as she first tended to arrangements for provisions to last the day and the cleanup at the end of the day. It’s not a complaint, just a fact.

A charging cow in the alley will just as quickly run over the one wearing chaps and mascara as she will the one who hollers at her in a deep voice, then laughs when the denim bottom is last seen bailing over the fence into the weeds. The bulls will knock down the gate she is holding with no regard to the fact she’s a mother and has plans to live to raise her children, preferably not as a quadriplegic.

The real equalizer in the operation has always been the horses. And, this is where the cowboys will, and they can’t help it because it is how they are, claim a superior notion that they can ride what the little woman can’t.

Sometimes true, sometimes not.

I remember my dad warning me not to ride a horse he’d just bought in a herd of several he brought home. “You stay off that dun horse,” he said. “Even the cowboys at the ranch I bought him from are afraid of him and for good reason.”

The local hands murmured and warned me. Eagle’s reputation had traveled the information highway common to ranch hands. You can see where this is going. I was 15 and bullet proof, or horse proof as it were.

As soon as nobody was looking, I had the tall, leggy dun saddled and in a long trot to the south, so my mother couldn’t see me from the house. Never knew why, but nothing happened. It never did and when Dad got over being mad at me, Eagle and I covered lots of miles at a long trot.

Sometime back, a friend of mine was hurt seriously when her horse bucked her off at the ranch. She’s been healing and will return to ride by springtime, but the best medicine she got came in the form of recent news.

The “outlaw” that had put her on the ground was sent to a cowboy to put some miles, wet saddle blankets and manners on him. Seems that was going along fairly well until this same horse dusted that cowboy’s britches in the dirt as well.

“That son-of-gun sure can buck,” he said. The radiant light had come on for the cowboy. The cowgirl hadn’t “fallen” off in a crow-hopping event … dang if she hadn’t actually been bucked down by a real bucker. Victories for the cowgirl sometimes come in odd ways.

This was one of them.

Julie, who suffers today from the long-term effects of a few “dustings,” can be reached at jcarternm@gmail.com.


December 16, 2015

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 9:48 pm


Workin’ for peanuts

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter
Cowboys are always a never-ending source of funny quips and one-liners delivered with a matter-of-fact tone that belies the actual humor within the words.

Put a cowboy on an airplane headed to the bright lights of Las Vegas during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and his capacity for wit and humor pegs the needle on the laugh meter. The only thing funnier is an entire plane load full of them.

Obviously acquainted and buddies, the banter is passed back and forth amidst the stewardess’ attempts to take drink orders and offer the usual Southwest Airlines snack.

Lightheartedly, one cowboy suggested little juice boxes would be in order for the lot of them because they needed to stay sober for their arrival in Vegas. He had been assured they were to be met by the champion Australian beach volleyball team. He had plans for fun in the sand.

The discussion quickly moved to a recent trip to Vegas one of the lads had made to stand up in a wedding. It was for his good friend who had decided, on the spur of the moment and a night of drinking, to get married. The story teller said he got called in the middle of night, jumped on a plane and the wedding took place as soon as everybody could get there, at 8 a.m.

The cowboy next to him said, “If I ever get married again, it’ll be in the Elvis Wedding Chapel using a bubble gum wrapper for a wedding ring. That’s about as serious as I plan to be about it. I rode that horse already!”

With only an hour of open-bar time, the cowboys in rows 13 and 14 managed to get themselves dubbed the “two-fer boys,” both for beer and peanuts.

As a parting gift, over the loud speaker, the stewardess recognized them for their good humor and fun. She also handed them a large bag of the peanut snack sacks as a reward for their “entertainment show.”

Those cowboys gave new meaning to “working for peanuts.”

On the shuttle bus to the hotel, a Texas cowboy, who showed some signs of aging wisdom, said he’d had to quit gambling. When one of the other passengers asked why, he replied, “They kept complaining about the spit cups I used when I chewed, and I damn sure wasn’t going to give up chewing.”

Eight-time PRCA world champion bull rider Donny Gay was working the NFR behind the ESPN microphone during the bull riding. When asked if he thought he could still ride a bull Donnie said, “Sometimes I think so. Then I look down and there are about 25 pounds of me that have never been on a bull.”

The trade shows draw as many crowds as the casinos do. At a National Ropers Supply booth a cowboy was scrutinizing a belt loaded with shiny glitz. “That’s too blingy for you,” his wife said to him. He chuckled as he hung the belt back on the rack and said, “Yeah, that’s true. I’m too fat to be flashy.”

Words to live by.

December 10, 2015

A snapshot in time

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 2:54 pm

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter

A Pandora’s box of memories sits on a closet shelf with a label that simply says “Old Photos.” A tattered lid is anchored tenuously with a yellowed strip of adhesive from a long-ago era and the dust is layered in decades.
If you are like me, that is just one of many boxes that hold pieces of your life in glossy rectangles with dates stamped in the margins and maybe a name or place written across the back. Handed down from generation to generation, the boxes may be relatively small but the value is untold.
As each photo is pulled from the mass of others, a memory is released. It floats up before your eyes and brings with it names, circumstances and perhaps even sounds and smells of that moment suspended in time by a camera.
I’ve looked at these pictures so many times over the years and yet as life goes by, each one seems to have a little more meaning, a little more depth for a life that once was. I find not just memories, but emotions as well, are held in place by a piece of film paper.
Each secures a season, a location and its own story. It captures genealogies and work histories. It validates memories of fashion both in clothing and home decorating. It takes you to a time when people lived simpler and times seemed harder but smiles were bigger. Oh, and those love-filled kitchens along with the smells of cooking food in pots and something always baking in the oven.
In the “Old Photo” boxes are all those Christmases past, starting with the tall spruce tree selected after a tromp up a snowy hill. Dad with a two-bit axe in hand and Mom making sure it was the tree to fit the bay window area. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and neighbors all joining in the fun. Laughter and children’s squeals of joy echoing in the crisp air of December.
Snowballs flying and kids rolling in the drifts. Then the trek back to the pickup with the Christmas tree of the year, dragging through the snow perhaps with a child hitching a ride. Times that we as children thought would last forever.
The strings of bright lights, garlands of popcorn and cranberries placed carefully on the branches once inside the house. Those treasured special ornaments carefully unwrapped and hung high on the tree out of harm’s way. Soon, the packages under the tree evoked unparalleled excitement for days before the wrapping-paper holocaust on Christmas morning.
We remember those things without a photo but with one, they come to life in a reality our mind, left on its own, tends to tinker with and adjust. I have always loved photos and that has evolved to me becoming not only passionate about them, but pursuing photography with that same driven desire.
I don’t see a camera as a tool for a photograph. I see it as a historian at work. I know without a doubt that what comes as a result of a camera will have a special place in life not just today, but significantly more in the future.
So while we remind each other and ourselves to savor each day because we know tomorrow is not promised, I suggest we photograph each day for the same reason. Save today for those tomorrows beyond your life. Someone will be glad you did.

154476_4965552304450_29734689_n ChristmasTree1961

Julie, camera in hand, can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com.

November 29, 2015

Killjoy Christmas Shopping-saga of the toy livestock hauler

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 8:09 am

the toy

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter

This is the time of year that I usually create a funny but accurate shopping list for the ranch wife or the cowboy that may be looking for something special for his sweetheart. Doing a little looking around, I jumped track to a rant that is swelling up in cattle country over a toy livestock hauling truck.
They are cattle trucks where I come from, or “bull wagons.” And yes, sheep and other assorted ranch and farm animals are hauled in them too.
It seems that a group of animal rights activists finds nothing amusing about kids playing with a livestock truck sold by Walmart (and other places too, they just went after the most visible big guy).
The online petition started this month by a vegan activist from Toronto refers to it as a “toy slaughter truck” and the petition states, “Normalizing the enslavement and murder of animals to kids is not OK.” Seeking 15,000 signatures and as of this week, there were 12,824 supporters.
The comments under the petition are priceless in both their reality and those I would call “completely gone off the deep end.”
It was pointed out in a response that these trucks are toy models of an industry that moves livestock from one place to another and claimed a 95% ratio of location change usage to actually taking animals for slaughter. The toy is labeled “Peterbilt Model 579 with Livestock Trailer.”
The other side of the issue jumped off the ledge with “The reality is violence. Do not support desensitization of children. This ‘toy’ is no different than a slave train combined with a coroner’s wagon. Auschwitz mentality is immoral & degrading.”
Another said, “Glorifying and normalizing slavery, abuse and slaughter is just disgusting.”
Seriously people? I would bet all that is mine not one child anywhere that found that truck under the Christmas tree would look at it and say, “Oh look, Santa brought me a slaughter truck.”
I have no delusion that my story here will change the mindset of those so embroiled in this leap from the toy shelf to Auschwitz, but it makes me feel better to shed a little more light on the insanity of this world. I am, however, a little concerned that those trucks hauling vegetables from farm country might be next on the list. Will the vegans attack their own?
Desensitizing children? Enslavement and murder of animals? Oh boy, it’s a good thing I’ve got a word limit that comes with this missive. My vote would to be to remove most television shows cartoon programs included, and video games. I would also do away with a long list of things people that claim to be free-thinking, free-willed adults do on a daily basis that “desensitizes” us all before taking a toy truck off the shelf. It is a TOY. A symbol of a tool used daily in the livestock industry. Period. Ban that, then ban the knives that chop the vegetables.
And, about that doll that magically poops little charms after feeding her water. It comes with the suggestion that the doll owner then make a bracelet out of the charms. Hey, I don’t make this stuff up! What kind of reality is that for a child? I suggest there is possibly psychological damage done by this doll to children who will someday actually have to change a real baby’s diaper … well, I leave it to you.
So on behalf of the livestock industry, the farming industry and the lucky charm industry, happy holiday shopping. By the way, those livestock hauling trucks are still available for $29.99. Buy two. Make a point.
Julie, who is charmless but has a previously owned by son toy livestock truck, can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com.

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