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Spring Branding on a Texas Ranch

Posted by on May 10, 2019

The Work Begins! Every spring throughout ranch country, cowboys and cowgirls gather the cow/calf operation herds for branding.       Some people claim that branding of livestock is a cruel practice, but it is necessary to establish ownership. The practice was introduced to North America by Cortes when he landed at Veracruz in 1519 with a few head of Andalusian cattle. He branded Three Christian Crosses on the hip of his small herd. Today, the only thing separating our calves from the neighbor’s herd is a few strands of barbed wire, and they do find ways to get lost on the other side. Bulls tend to have of mind of their own, and so do cattle rustlers. Sometimes fences and pad-locked gates aren’t enough. The new beef crop is too valuable. Branding is still the most humane way...

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Help A Horse Day!

Posted by on Apr 25, 2019

National Help a Horse Day is celebrated annually on April 26 to raise awareness of the people who work tirelessly to give abused and neglected horses a second chance. And they need your help! There are two equine sanctuaries in my area that have made a huge difference in providing shelter, food and medical treatment to rescued horses in an effort to rehab them for adoption. Your dollars makes a huge difference in the efforts of these facilities. Caring for an abused horse is so much more labor intensive than a a dog or cat. It’s not just the tremendous amounts of feed and mucking out stalls. There are mental issues as well. Horses are highly tuned to their environment,  extremely smart, perceptive to people’s emotions, and can suffer from a wide range of mental conditions. The time and...

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Myths of the Working Cowboy: No Skills Required

Posted by on Apr 12, 2019

While researching the Texas ranching industry, I’ve uncovered some interesting information based on assumptions of the ranching lifestyle and the work of the American cowboy. One historian referred to the cow hands of the great cattle driving era as “glorified cow walkers” because “cows are dumb” and they generally move in the same direction that everybody else is moving. I would like to argue that notion. The men who moved 27 million head up the trail between 1856 and 1896 were unique. Those cowpunchers had skills. UP THE TRAIL Let’s remove the dumb cow element for a moment and talk about the man and his horse. Around about April or May, saddle your horse in central Texas and ride it all the way to the railway station in Dodge City, Kansas. Along the way you can eat and sleep...

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An Obsession with Cows

Posted by on Apr 5, 2019

“Have you checked the cows today?” After moving eight miles from town and down the road from my in-laws, I wondered at my father-in-law’s compulsion to drive through his cattle every single day, sometimes twice. My husband did the same. We drove through the steers he fed out on leased grass most every day until the fall when they were taken to the sale barn.   Watching the herd graze under an endless blue sky from our new front porch was enjoyable, but nothing special. It’s not like you could actually pet a cow or form a bond like you can with a dog or cat. On occasion, my father-in-law included my sons in his craziness by stopping on his four-wheeler and taking them along. They eagerly watched for him at the end of the drive, absolute joy sparkling...

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Cowboy Gear: Ropes

Posted by on Mar 2, 2019

Slang terms for Cowboy Ropes included Line, string, ketch-rope, clothes line, throw rope, saddle rope, grass rope, twine, whale line, hard twist, hair rope, or pepper-and-salt rope.   Whatever you call it, they say that a range cowboy did everything with his rope but eat.   Vaqueros in early New Spain (Spanish empire established in North America) made their ropes from braided strips of untanned hide. The ropes were thick and stretched up to 20 yards in length.  Other early materials included silk manila, a hard-twist rope, inexpensive to make and good for all-around roping uses. There are also maguey ropes, made from the fibers of the maguey plant, from which the popular drink mescal is also produced. There were ropes made from linen or braided cotton. Mane-hair ropes were called cabresto. Lariat is the Americanized version of la...

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