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.