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

November 2, 2007

Technology for the cowboy

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 8:24 am

When you see a cowboy leaning on the side of a pickup with an adult beverage in his hand, hat cocked back and a big toothy grin accenting the story he is telling, you just never, even remotely, consider there might be cutting-edge technology impacting his life, his job and his sport.

For the competitive roper, technology has become an integral part of his game.

For instance, a new rope has now come on the cowboy equipment scene that has some sort of space-age coating baked on it, so that it never loses its “slickum.” Thereby, it is always fast in doing its job. This sci-fi layer replaces the wax coating common to good ropes.

There is also a rope available with a weighted tip in the loop. Evidently, someone, theoretically a roping consultant of reputed expertise, determines the perfect tip point. The rope is fashioned with a weight at that point. Bowling ball technology may have moved to the cowboy world.

The senior cowboys still hanging on in the new world of the techno-roper will regale you with stories of how ropes used to be made at home, not bought already manufactured.

A trip to the feed store allowed for the purchase of the right length of grass rope which was taken home, stretched for a millennium and left out to be weather-cured.

At just the right time, which often was determined by necessity, the rope was taken loose, a honda tied in it and a burner placed in the honda. A kitchen match struck on the backside of a denimed-leg was used to burn the burrs off the rope. With a bread wrapper or other such modern plastic technology, a slightly slick finish could be rubbed on the
rope and it was good to go.
This piece of handcrafted equipment seemed to last longer. The amount of trouble it took to make it might have been a definite incentive for longevity. According to memory and legend, this masterpiece caught faster, bigger cattle more often with better accuracy. It could have also hung a few deserving people and in general was a valuable piece of equipment.

And as a bottom line, the initial grass rope to start this process cost only $4. The 100 hours of work put in the construction was valued at a quarter an hour. That brought the complete production cost to $29, which is, coincidentally, the same cost as today’s no-count nylon and poly ropes. Progress is wonderful isn’t it?

Other technology gains have been as major as the invention of the horse trailer, pop-top cans eliminating the need for keeping track of the “church key” opener and the integration of sports physiology and sports psychology.

Video cameras allow for taping and analyzing runs to find places to shave off a
hundredth of a second. It also gave the fence sitters a viable job instead of using the afternoon to empty the requisite resident cooler while telling the other ropers how it should be done. This may account for some of the roping runs, which are over before you can say how much it would pay to win.

I’m a fairly technological person. I’m thinking I could easily upgrade to this more technological cowboy world.

In fact, I bet I could run the chute with that new electronic remote control, or operate the cooler lid and possibly both at the same time.

October 22, 2007

The power of shadows

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 9:56 pm

Today I drove to White Oaks (1800s mining ghost town now semi-revived with 20 residents) –to re-create a still-shot taken from a movie that will debut in Lincoln County Nov. 3–Requiem for Billy the Kid, a French made film about the Kid, Lincoln County and developments using forensics to prove what happened in the Lincoln County Court House the day the Kid escaped and killed two deputies, including James Bell. These are a couple shots I got that matched the eerie setting of the old town set in the hills, still off the beaten track of civilization. A shadow is only a shadow of life, but seen alone, they seem to have a life of their own.




and another just because I took it —


October 8, 2007

There went my dignity

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 7:14 pm

It was bound to happen. That moment in time that keeps you humble and well, humble.

Things have gone SO well in the book promotion/selling department. I have been accepted to Western Writers of America — qualified by the articles about the West and people in it and, of course, the book, Cowgirl Sass & Savvy.

The book has been picked up to sell by two prestigious museums –the Hubbard Museum of the American West and the Oklahoma City National Cowboy Hall of Fame.

While my ego was not inflated, it was, let’s say, boosted. It seemed I was on my way to being an internationally known author. I did sell a book in Australia, England, Belgium and Canada. That’s international, right?

Nothing like a goat to take that “inflation” right out of a girl.

First, there WERE 4 goats. After the Eastern New Mexico State Fair last week, they did their thing in the show ring and three of them were sent packing, literally, to wherever it is market (meat) goats go to become whatever it is they make out of goat meat.

But the pretty little girl (nanny, to be more correct) came home to become the momma of future show goats. Catching a ride home with the Ag teacher, she was to arrive late Saturday night, sometime after Lane, the goat herder, and I arrived home from the fair. But she never showed up.

Knowing the Ag instructor had other critters aboard his trailer, I deducted they likely had all been deposited at the FFA Ag farm on the outskirts of town. But I had no way of hauling her home (no trailer) –she will later be transported  to the ranch where her “goat family” and future mate awaits.

She was happy to see a familiar face and bleated and jumped and hopped like only a goat can. She jumped right up in the back of the pickup, nibbled on some hay stems she found in the corner by the tool box and obligingly let me tie her lead strap to the tie-down loop in the corner.

Off we went–with no way to get home but right smack through the middle of town. She quickly realized this trip was a little different than the prior ones and there were NO friends of like-goatness to console her. She began bleating in somewhat of a panic and looking out around the cab like a dog will do as the pickup travels down the road.

Ears flying like a Snoopy dog, the little darling’s bleating called considerable attention to us as we motored through town. Any dignity I THOUGHT I had as a writer, author and book promotor fell to the floor of the cab as I tried to make the pickup a stealth vehicle –with a bleating goat tied in the back. I was as common as any other goat herder in the world. Me and the Nanny.

I’m humble again. Never will I get too big in the biz, too good at anything I do, to not find the humor in the sight of such as this. And it was only one humbling moment in time. My life is filled with so many more. I should see the pattern by now and expect nothing more.

October 5, 2007

Goat roping, state fair and homecoming

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 6:51 am

Okay, no body actually roped the goats. They did get hauled to Roswell to the Eastern New Mexico State Fair where Lane, my #1 man-child, showed them Monday night at the fair. Since his leg was in a cast in August, he missed showing at the county fair so this was his last shot for the year, and it was a BIG fair. About 200 goats entered up (along with a long list of sheep, beef cattle, dairy cattle, and hogs).

The animals have to be there at the fair grounds all week long so the feeding chores get passed around while people come and go to jobs and kids to school. We are making our third trip to Roswell today and tomorrow we’ll come home with it ALL OVER!! (Can I hear a hallelujah chorus here!?)

And then my loyal blog readers will get to hear about other things than county fairs, critters and kids in the show ring. I could launch into the plethora of homecoming events that are happening right on top of everything else, and that keep things interesting, on the move and no body has any clean clothes, the house is a mess and I can’t remember when I last had long sound night’s sleep.

But who’s complaining. It’s a great life and I’m getting the full benefit of it!!

I’ll check back in later –Long live the West!



September 27, 2007

Their stories are our history

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 8:11 am


For whatever reason, the Fall season always makes me nostalgic. I find my thoughts often wander to memories of this time of year in place far away and a time long ago on a high mountain ranch where summer ended abruptly, usually just after Labor Day.

It was a big outfit by mountain-ranch standards that pastured 4,000 yearlings from spring until fall. The yearlings arrived small, waspy, and left fat and sassy.

Mental images remain of a long line of cattle trucks waiting their turn at the loading chute, dust boiling high above the pens as the cattle milled and the profile of a cowboy horseback looking like a picture postcard with the rising sun behind him and the dust forming a filter of light around him.

The sounds of the banging of the scale gate as each bunch passed through to be weighed or the final tally, a cowboy hollering at each bunch as he drove them down the alley and the deafening sound of cattle bawling that never stopped until the last truck pulled away.

It wasn’t history at the time. It was life. The stories told by my dad and granddad back then were their history. It was about life lived in a different era. An era when they still rode horses to a one-room school house, an era when babies were birthed at home and maybe the country doctor got there, but usually not.

It was a time when owning pair of shoes was almost a sign of wealth and a dime might mean the difference between eating or not.

Back then, a cowboy wasn’t an icon for what had been. He was what he was. Later he became that which is memorialized in stories in books and movies.

We in the West have a history that is a chapter about the immigration and emancipation of this country and yet a story unto itself for there is nothing else like it.

The best tell-it like-it-was stories are from the old guy sitting under the shade of his hat watching what he can no longer do.

He will tell you stories of cowherds so big you couldn’t recognize the cowboy on the other side. He recalls horses that bucked, horses hat could run the wind and horses that died in the line of duty. And he will be able to give the name of each of them.

He will detail cattle markets of that day and speak of a day’s wages that wouldn’t buy a up of coffee in today’s world. He will recall droughts, floods, and winters of record reaking cold and snow. He will share stories about great friends, fine men of character and heartbreaking losses.

He remembers the time before there were fences and cattle that ran on ranges the size of three counties. He watched the West be surveyed with a wheel that delivered an accuracy that still astounds men today. He was entertained with music and song by the campfire, or better yet, at the good-eats of an ice cream social.

Now when I write my stories of my childhood, my daughter tells me, “Mom I have learned more about your life from those stories than I ever knew before.”
Case and point. It is important to listen to the stories from those that went before us. It is equally as important to take the time to tell our stories. They are part of history that, for most of us, won’t get written in a book.

Save a piece of history and tell your story to someone.



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