What makes a cowboy?

When my kids were little, they used to travel with me when I went to nearby ranches to purchase cattle for the feed yard.

Looking back, it is hard to believe that my kids used to be this little!

One of the ranches that they visited was AL Ranch.  I’ll never forgot riding around in Al’s pickup truck looking at cattle that were about to ship to the feed yard, and my middle daughter (Megan—she was probably about 3) looking at Al and announcing, “You aren’t a REAL cowboy, you don’t have on the right hat…”. (Al was wearing a baseball style hat, instead of a cowboy hat).  I waffled between wanting to laugh and being embarrassed, but I was proud of Al—he took it right in stride like any good grandpa.  He looked at Megan and said,

“You know, it’s not the hat that makes the cowboy”.

Playing “cowgirl” is fun…

So, what makes a real cowboy?

Webster defines the word ‘cowboy’ as, “one who tends cattle or horses”.  I define it as a responsible and knowledgeable caregiver for cattle.  At the heart of any good cowboy is a love for both his animals and the land.  He (or she) puts the needs of his animals before his own needs.

I remember another time that I was up at Al’s place.  It was April and a spring snow storm had brought cold temperatures and bad weather conditions.  Al was in the middle of “calving” which means that his mama cows were having their babies.  The gestation period for a bovine (calf) is roughly the same as for a human, and a mama cow has a calf once per year.  Most calves in Nebraska are born in the springtime as the grass greens up and winter goes away.

The ice and snow can be beautiful, but they make "life" on a farm very difficult...

Springtime in Nebraska is notorious for being inconsistent, and this particular year we had very cold temperatures and snow even though it was April.  Al and his son-in-law were busy taking newly born calves into the “heat box” in the barn so that they would survive the weather.  They worked diligently for several long days until the weather cleared up.

Al is a good cowboy, no matter what type of hat he wears…

It's not the hat that makes the "cowboy"...

Calf #718 was born March 17th on a grass pasture close to Al’s house and corrals.  He spent the first couple months of his life in a place where Al could check on him frequently.  His mama took good care of him, and so did his “cowboy”…


Filed under Animal Welfare, Beef Life Cycle--Calf #718, General

3 responses to “What makes a cowboy?

  1. I just found your blog and love reading it, I have learned so many interesting things reading it. I live in central. florida now, growing up in Ohio. The cattle business here is very different from Ohio. I can see by blogs that I read it varies where ever you go.

    • Hi Ellie-

      I am glad that you like the blog and hope that you will continue to follow it! Thanks for your feedback.

      Anne Burkholder
      “Feed Yard Foodie”

  2. Hi Anne, thanks for the comments on my blog from the Nebraska corn-fed beef mission to Japan. I have been a follower of your blog for awhile and you do a great job of explaining things – especially terms that are easy for us ag folks to understand, but not for everyone. Keep up the good work and would love to feature your blog sometime on mine!


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