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

December 5, 2009

While you slept …

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 8:50 am

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy Julie Carter

There is absolutely not anything funny about a grass or forest fire but often in the midst
of the firefight, humor arrives.

One night on the remote plains of the far side of the county, a lightning strike started a
fire in a ranch pasture.

Not anything much out there except miles of ranchland and what remained of a teensy
town that had retained only a few deserted buildings and a name.

It was also at least two hours by highway from any real fire-fighting agency.

The nearest rancher to this ghost-stop on the highway served as mayor and fire chief by
title and reputation. High desert ranching requires a great sense of humor and the
occasional ego boost that an elevated title can sometimes provide.

One of the items remaining in the long-deserted town of Ramon was an ancient fire
truck. The battery required constant charging, which didn’t happen, and the water tank
leaked so it was never full. Other than that, it was in fine shape.

The night of this specific grass fire, the phone calls went out to a few ranchers. Waking
up the chief of the Ramon Fire Department took some doing, but he finally answered the

Pulling on his britches and his hat, the usual rancher’s lid that needed an oil change
months ago, he hollered at his nearly adult son and out the door they went.

The process of charging the battery and finding a hose to fill the water truck began.
Meanwhile, over the hill back to the west, another cowboy who had always been a
addicted to farm sales, knew he had a cattle sprayer parked somewhere “over yonder on
the hill.”

The most recent endorsement of this piece of equipment had been at a cattle-spraying

A cowboy commented that he could pee further than the sprayer could spray, leaving its
validity as fire fighting equipment certainly at least questionable.

However, it did hold water, so after the tires were aired up, the cowboy hooked onto it
with the pickup and off he went over the hill to fight the fire.
By this time, the fire had gotten so big, that in the dark, it alone summoned folks from
near and far.

Back at the Ramon Fire Department, aka the chief’s house, the fire truck was revved up
and headed out to the fire. It was very dark and hard to see where exactly to drive as the
truck made its way through the pasture toward the flames.

The chief was at the wheel of the truck, barreling through the night to the rescue like a
caped crusader, while his eldest son was riding fireman-style on the truck fender
hollering “EEEE, HAAWWW,” at the top of his lungs.

About that time, the chief drove the truck off in a wash and it came to a sudden, solid
halt, nose down. The son on the fender was tossed through the air, landing somewhere in
the near vicinity. But he came up dusting himself off. No harm done. Nothing broke,
except the fire truck.

Nearly everyone in close proximity of the fire left what they were doing to go check out
the fire truck wreck.

Meanwhile the cowboy with the sprayer, coming to save the day, blew out a tire. So
when the chore of dragging the chief and his fire truck out of the wash was finished, the
crew all went to see what the problem was with the cowboy.

In the meantime, the rancher with the fire on his property had put his road grader into
operation and made a fire-line circle around the fire. The flames eventually died out on
their own.

It was still the wee hours of the morning, everyone was wide-awake and nobody wanted
to go back home. So they circled their rigs, drug out the food they’d brought (another
standard thing for country folk) and had a version of a block party.

The rancher thanked everyone for their help, and exhausted, headed off to tend to his
livestock and ranch chores.

All this while you slept.

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