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

September 20, 2008

Open season on winter warmth

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 1:19 pm

Julie Carter — Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Since winter seems to be just around the corner, the subject of “meatier women” has frequently begun creeping into the cowboys’ vocabulary.

It has to be a throwback gene to the cave man days and the survival of the guy with the “warmest” wife.

Dan the team roper is reminding his friends that he lives alone and has an old, drafty trailer house which is conducive to, and an incentive for, snuggling for winter survival. He is clear that, under those circumstances, the anorexic-type woman is completely out of the question.

With all his good friends, you are sure to know they will fix him up better than he could ever have imagined.

One idea was that he troll the buffet lines in town for the love of his life, but that scared him speechless when a photo preview was included with the email suggestion.

Another offered herself up with the caveat of considerable age, an extremely accurate cowboy B.S. detector and a large cast iron skillet.

Dan thought it might be OK, but she had to bring her own microwave. You ll recall he recently blew his up in the tater tot explosion.

Not long ago, Dan’s ole buddy Donnie called him and said he was moving back to the area. Dan began recalling “the best of Donnie” stories.

Dan and Donnie were working on a ranch, but not living there. In money-saving mode, Donnie rode a Moped to and from his job.

A Great Dane on the route liked to chase the motor-scooter cowboy.

One morning, Donnie came limping into work, somewhat bloodied up. “You know, I have no idea if that Great Dane is still in the ditch underneath that Moped,” he said.

At lunch, they took a ranch truck down to the crash site and sorted everything out. Dog 1, Moped 0. Donnie got a truck.

Donnie invited everybody over to eat one night. He was going to cook it up himself. The gang showed up and he handed them each a bowl teeming with unidentified ingredients. Someone finally asked. Ranch Style Beans and tuna fish.

When he called, Donnie told Dan he had been shopping in the horse trading magazines because as soon as he moved back, he wanted to take up roping again with Dan and his pals.
He said, as he understands horse ads, there are two categories, “He’s a good’un,” and “He has a world of potential.”

“Don’t want none of them potential ones, that sounds like work,” Donnie said. When Dan asked him if he was looking for heading or heeling horse, Donnie said it didn’t matter, he had decided to get the cheapest “he s a good ‘un” he could find.

Dan reminded him that he never was very good at roping and Donnie’s response was, “Don’t matter. I’m mostly in it for the beer drinkin’ . I figure six or eight 12-packs and I’ll have this team roping thing down.”

When Dan asked Donnie how many times he’d been married, he said, “Four and half.”

“How do you figure to have been married a half a time?” Dan asked.

“Well,” Donnie explained, “I’ve been married four times in a church building. Then one time I got drunk in Oklahoma and had some sort of Indian ceremony with a fat woman. I might have been getting married then.”

Likely, it was close to winter when that happened. Wonder if she had a microwave? Dan, perhaps, could give her a call.

Julie has already put in an order for firewood. It’s just simpler.

August 27, 2008

The tater tot explosion

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 6:55 pm

ByJulie Carter
Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Any cowboy will tell you that bachelorhood has its advantages, but cooking isn’t always one of them.

A fella is usually pretty busy all summer – in a hurry and trying to get his work done so he can do his other stuff that involves horses, saddles, trailers and ropes.
The recent monsoon rains forced through the area by the landlocked hurricanes have left Dan the team roper fending for himself for days on end because there is no roping practice at his partner’s and therefore no home cooked meals from his partner’s wife.

For Dan, rain brings on some of the issues that become glaring in bachelorhood. No one to visit with except the dog, and while that’s acceptable most of the time, there is also no one to cook for him except … himself.

Proof of the danger in that came one night this week.

Leaving his work at the farm implement dealership quite hungry, Dan said he had stopped on the way home and bought a bag of frozen tater tots with a plan to make a tater tot casserole.

Upon arrival at his humble homestead, he placed them in the bottom of a casserole dish, added a can of Wolf Brand Chili on top and then a nice covering of grated cheese for the next layer.

Thinking his culinary creation was looking quite good, he added a few sliced-up wieners on top and then yet another layer of some diced jalapeños.
To his way of thinking, this had to be about the best supper ever.

Knowing he had piled a lot of food into the one dish, he shoved it in the microwave and cranked it up a ways, thinking it would take awhile to get it all warmed completely through.

He wasn’t sure exactly how long he needed to set it for, so he allowed plenty of time for his masterpiece to get totally done.

Then, remembering he needed to go check on Pittsburgh’s water, he headed out to the horse corrals while his delectable dinner cooked nuclear-style.

He got sidetracked, as cowboys are wont to do, and it was a good 30 minutes before he got back to the house.

What he found inside his kitchen was the aftermath of the complete explosion of his microwave and its contents.

There was chili, wieners and tater tots all over the ceiling with tendrils of cheese hanging in various places around the room.

His first move was to pick up the microwave and deliver it to the trash, knowing it would never be the same again. Too tired to care much about the mess, his main concern was still the fact he was very hungry.

Like most cowboys in cow camp after long hard day, he resorted to the old stand by – canned peaches. He first drank off the liquid, then, he filled the can up with whiskey, sat down, and ate his supper of “pickled” peaches.

None of this would have happened if it hadn’t rained for days and days and he had just been able to rope.

Heard after the roping

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 6:37 pm

Leo: “Man, I get so tired of roping quick and setting up cattle just perfect and those damn heelers missing everything.”

Tommy: Say, let me tell you something about headers – there ain’t no telling where they are going to take those cattle if they catch them. You just keep ’em in the arena and I’ll heel ’em.

May 5, 2008

Aristocrats of the range

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 7:01 pm

Cowboys are the aristocrats of all wage earners. As such, there are two or three things which are absolutely essential for their well being: well-trained, prestigious looking horses, a good hat and a good rope.

Dan had the horse department covered with Slats. And he was following Tex’s advice about roping.

Since the last problem had been roping his heel horse’s front feet occasionally, Dan went to see what Tex had to say.

Tex advised getting a rope his horse could see and then he wouldn’t step in the loop. So Dan went down to the feed store, looked over all the brightly colored twines and came out with one of the new Roper Vision ropes – a glow-in-the-dark lime green.

This iridescent wonder came with a pair of matching sunglasses, the theory being that the roper would better focus on his rope when wearing them.

Dan didn’t follow this logic as it he wasn’t the one having trouble seeing a regular colored rope, but most definitely, Slats wasn’t going to get the sunglasses.

He decided that a little pasture roping might help Slats out with his difficulty of stepping into a heel loop. Tim came to help him out. The project was not a wasted effort. They needed to doctor a few yearlings who had picked up something at the sale barn.

At the pasture they rode through all the new cattle slowly and doctored each one who needed a shot. Job well tended to they decided to practice with Dan’s new rope a little. The owner of the cattle had just driven up to the pasture fence and was just watching the entire operation, but the cowboys weren’t aware of their audience.

After watching the operation through the initial doctoring, the cow boss walked out to the ropers and asked, “What you boys doing now?”

“Why, we’re roping and doctoring the sick cattle.”

The owner allowed he had seen quite a bit of roping, but he hadn’t seen any shots given.

Dan, quick with his wit, answered sincerely, “Last night I soaked my rope in a bucket of penicillin and there’s no need to give a shot. And, besides that, we been looking at these cattle and thought we might need to check and see if some of them had a bone in their leg.”

Good help is hard to find, so begrudgingly, the cow boss decided to tend to some of his other business.

Change of seasons will dictate straw hat time. While he was putting his paycheck in circulation with the rope, Dan had picked out a brand new straw too.

He really hated to part with the extra money, but there were some awful pretty girls at the team ropings lately, and he knew that one of the secrets to good looks is a good hat. They are pretty hard to get to fitting right, and he was wearing it a little to get the sweat band broke in before going to the Saturday arena roping.

This morning’s job was to do a little tractor shredding in the horse trap. Dan got the shredder hooked up, was moving right along with the blades cutting down the old grass neatly when a little puff of wind hit. Lifted that new straw right off his head and next thing he heard was “Brrrrrrtt,” shredding more than he had planned.

Those pretty girls were just going to have to be impressed with Slats and the new lime green rope. Two out of three ain’t bad for an aristocrat.

© 2008 Julie Carter



April 28, 2008

Barrel Racers – the arena darlings

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 5:20 am

By Julie Carter
A horse race of a different kind. That’s barrel racing.
The event that was once open only to the ladies has found its own place in the major leagues beyond rodeo in co-ed futurities and other series events.

Through the ages, barrel racing, the clover-leaf pattern around three barrels, was heralded as the “beauty event” of rodeo.

While indeed the competitors represent the prettier side of the sport, they are no less committed to their event than those that pay big-buck entry fees to throw their rope in the dirt or have their head stuck in the same by a bull or bronc.

What appears to be hard-lined independence in these women is actually, more accurately, necessary capability. It takes a fair measure of intimidating grit to maintain the pace to keep self, horse and rodeo rig ready for the road.

While young boys were riding stick horses and wearing pot-metal pistols planning to be the Lone Ranger, girls in braces and braids dreamed of being a barrel racer. That included pretty clothes, fast horses and a cheering crowd as she raced through her pattern, riding hard to be the champion.

That dream grew to the reality that included a drained checking account, a four-legged sorrel standing in the corral eating a hole in her wallet with feed bills, vet bills and assorted expenses such as tack, a horseshoer and, of course, entry fees.

It has never been a secret to any barrel racer that barrel horses plot 24/7 to find a way to ruin your day. Winning the world in the practice pen on Friday can become dashed hopes the next day when that prize equine comes completely untrained at the rodeo.

When the champ runs by the first barrel like he doesn’t see it, all there is left to do is begin with the rodeo queen wave as you loop the arena before making an exit out the gate.

Even though it is a highly frustrating sport because so much of the ability lies with the horse, barrel racing has done nothing but grow in numbers and popularity.

That happened in great proportions when a place for them to compete as a stand-alone sport was created. Barrel racers have never had the reputation of playing well with others.

Veterinarians and farriers are privy to the most demanding side of “can chasers.” Vets will attest to the need for a degree in equine pediatrics as there isn’t a horse in the world that gets babied more than barrel horse.

Paranoia lives at the same address as every barrel racer. She can spot a limp, a cough, a twitch or a belly rumble in her horse before it even happens. And she lives in constant fear it will – just before she’s supposed to be at a “big one” 500 miles away.

Ask any shoer who has put iron on a barrel horse how much “retraining” he received from the owner. When things go wrong in the arena, the shoer is at top of the list to get the blame, and the first phone call.

Every barrel racer carries with her on the road a complete veterinary pharmacy to ward off any possible ache, pain or ailment in her steed.

To find where she parked at the rodeo, one needs only to smell the air for a whiff of an assortment of liniments and secret concoctions surely cooked up in a cauldron.

On a more serious side, decades ago, Chris LeDoux recorded a song about barrel racers called “Round and round she goes.” In it he said, “Silver buckle dreams don’t leave time for standing still.”

The chorus summed up the spinning world of a down-the-road barrel racer.

Round and round and round she goes
Where she stops nobody knows.
The miles are getting’ longer,
The nights they never end.
Old rodeos and livestock shows
Keep the lady on the go.
Lord, she loves to run those barrels,
And it’s the only life she knows.

There isn’t a die-hard can chaser anywhere that doesn’t identify with the truth in the song, or with the final lines:

As she drove into the morning
It slowly dawned on me
How hard it is to tell a dream goodbye.

And so it is.
 Julie is a recovering can-chaser in a 12-step program.

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