Heaven has gathered up a fine collection of good cowboys during the years. You have to know they are sitting around on hay bales in a circle, spittin’, whittlin’ and telling stories.
With great detail they recall the wild wrecks they lived to tell about that almost always involved a horse, cow and a rope. They remember every good horse they ever rode and a few that they wished they hadn’t.
They look out over green pastures that will never run out of grass for the fat cattle on a thousand hills. There are a couple of cowboys in heaven that hardly a day goes by I don’t think about them and acknowledge that place in my heart where “missing someone” is stored.
Every week when I sit down to write another story about cowboys and their way of life, I give them a moment of silent gratitude, because those cowboys were my foundational education for cowboying.
Both were fine men who are remembered with honor for their knowledge and abilities in ranching in an era that is no more. They are my dad, followed by my stepdad some years after my dad passed away.
I have realized that what they taught me was not just about punching cows and riding a good horse right. They passed on a wealth of understanding about honor, right living, and loving the life that so few ever get to experience.
The things they taught were lived out in front of me, but not always spoken about. But the lessons were for everyone, not just the cowboy.
Slow is fast. Work cattle slow and your day will get over sooner and in better shape. Exercising quiet patience is good with cattle, horses, kids and women.
A very few well-placed words carry more authority than a long speech. Polite ways will open doors and keep many from slamming shut.
Good horses, good grass and a good cow dog will make a cowboy about as content as he can be. Throw in a wife who can cook and a pickup that will run and it is bliss defined.
Laugh every day about something. It soothes the soul and feeds the spirit.
Mother Nature has the upper hand. Know it, respect it. Don’t fight her, it’s a fixed fight.
Wet saddle blankets make good horses and respectful kids. Hard work is a solid foundation for the cowboy and the horse he rode in on.
Enjoy the little things. Take time to pat the dog, soothe the colt, watch the sunrise and the sunset. Tomorrow is not promised. Make good memories. It’ll keep you too busy to make bad enemies.
Honesty and integrity are two of the best horses you’ll ever ride.
I look around me and see so few of that generation of cowboy still living. But those that are still have an ornery twinkle in their eyes and a look that says “wisdom of the ages.”
Don’t be deceived by his labored walk and his bent hands. Inside, he stores more of life than most of us will ever see. Next time, and every time you get a chance, give that old-timer a hug or at the least, a good solid handshake.
His value has already been established up “yonder” in the big corral in the sky. He’s just hanging around here a while longer hoping some of us will learn a few more lessons.
All we have to do is listen.
Julie hopes she has listened well, and can be reached for comment a email@example.com.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.