Just rambling thoughts about anything that happens to be on my mind and that usually isn't much!
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Friday, April 25, 2008

Cowboy or Cattleman

"I'm a cowboy, Pappy!" stated Andrew after returning from feeding the cows, sporting his western style hat.
"A cowboy or a cattleman?" I asked. 
"What's the difference?" asked a confused grandson.
Well now at 6 years old, maybe that difference is somewhat a moot point.  But for someone like myself (who has spent a lifetime in animal agriculture and in "fly over country") there is a difference.  So I set out to explain, "A cowboy is a chosen lifestyle, a cattleman is a profession.
"Cowboys" I went on to explain, "may or may not be in animal agriculture as a profession.  They may drive trucks; drill for oil; dig ditches; CEO's of major companies; or may even be president of the United States.  Cowboys have as their heroes people like John Wayne, Hoss Cartwright or maybe Will Rogers; men known for standing on the right no matter the consequences and are known for shooting from the hip with extraordinary accuracy.   They remove their hats and stand when the flag passes by in review.  They'll take off their hats and bow their head when a prayer is said.  Their closest kin is a redneck and they're proud of it.
"A cattleman on the other hand is a profession and he is probably a cowboy at heart.  He can guess the weight of a steer in an auction ring within 10 lbs before the scale can settle.  If he comes up one short on his cow tally, he can look over the group and tell you which one is missing, how many calves she has had and probably what bull she was bred to this year.  He goes out in a blizzard to see that the cows are fed, cuts ice holes to see she is watered and works long hours in the heat of summer to keep fences fixed and hay baled.  He's not a member of PETA and finds disgusting anyone who believes he would mistreat the animals under his care.
  "Huh?" responded Andrew.
Someday he'll understand.
PS: To those who wrote emails and left comments recently during my "block" with concerns, suggestions and words of encouragement ... thank you.


Anonymous said...

At the ripe old age of 54 (which is OLD as a working cowboy) I have to disagree with you. Like the old song said "Don't call him a cowboy til' you see him ride." The media description of "cowboy politics" and other countries calling un-ethical businesses "cowboy contractors" reflects badly upon us who make our living as cowboys.

As one who has ridden more broncs and green colts than than broke horses to do a job most people can't do on a broke one infuriates me. Cowboy is MORE than attitude, it is a PROFESSION which doesn't pay in money, but in job satisfaction and clean air ('cept when its dusty). Don't call them a cowboy unless they are one (and shoot the Rexall Rangers.)
Bob Kinford


Anonymous said...

Glad you're back - even at the expense of my son (who looks a little like his mom in that picture...) rdw

Jenni said...

Great post! As the fellow above mentioned, I think there are two definitions for cowboy. A "real" cowboy is as he described, but I think there are many more who are cowboys at heart. Perhaps they go through life singing that Toby Keith song:o)

What a cute little cowboy you have there, too. I love that expression on his face!