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The Cowboy Way

One of my husband’s life-long friends from Arkansas visited the ranch and observed the cowboys at work in the Texas Panhandle. They gathered the herd, sorted off the bulls, and preg tested the momma cows. We couldn’t possibly run a cow/calf operation without the skills of day workin’ cowboys; men who rotate from ranch to ranch doing the work that needs done, usually from the back of a horse or in the pens. The busiest times are spring branding and fall weaning.

Our friend told one the workers, “Chris and Natalie really appreciate the hard work and all of the extras you do for them.”

“It’s the cowboy way,” he replied.

What Is the Cowboy Way?

The cowboy way is a set of values and code of ethics that have been passed down for generations. You’ll discover that many rural ranching and farming families, no matter the state, hold true to this code. Kindness, respect, and good manners still rule. It’s a work ethic and a life’s philosophy. An unwavering independence of the individual and making do with what ya got. It means doing the right thing, even when no one’s watching.

Cowboy Rule #1: Be on time and ready to work.

Cowboy Rule #2: Do not rope a cow unless the livestock owner or boss says it’s okay. And with that rule, common sense dictates that you don’t rope anything that weighs more than your horse. But as they say in cow country, don’t let the beer or common sense hold ya back none.

Cowboy Rule #3: NEVER ride ahead of the ranch foreman or cow boss. The cow boss decides what the cowboys will do for the day, which route to take through the pastures, and makes assignments for each task that needs to be done.

Cowboy Rule #4: Cowboys make their living in the saddle, his equipment includes a horse, saddle, reins, and rope. NEVER touch another man’s horse and never use another man’s gear without asking.

Cowboy Rule #5: “Cowboy Up” in everything you do, with loyalty to the brand, or ranch, that’s cutting the paycheck.

Cowboy Rule #6: Nice and easy does it. Cattle run when they get excited and then you might have a few horses get excited too, and then you’ve got a rodeo where you don’t intend to have one. Also, when cattle run, they loose weight and that’s gonna affect the bottom line when they’re sold. Cowboys don’t do everything at a gallop.

Cowboy Rule #7: Always leave a gate how you found it.

Cowboy Rule #8: Caring for your livestock and the land is a priority.

Ride up. Hold up. Shut up.

That’s the cowboy way!

Photos taken by N. Bright, Sanford Ranch, Texas Panhandle.

To read more about cow camp rules and etiquette, check out my book KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook. Find it wherever find books are sold.

book cover
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Wal-Mart, Burrowing Owl Books, Canyon and Amarillo
Find it wherever fine books are sold.

Natalie Cline Bright is a blogger and author of books for both kids and adults. Visit her Amazon Author Page here. For middle grades, ages 8-10, the historical western series TROUBLE IN TEXAS, is a fun family adventure. The Rescue Animal series features true stories about horses with second chances. And the best selling romance westerns, The Wild Cow Ranch series, are available in eBook, print, and audio formats. Heartfelt stories with small-town humor.