Cowboy Life In Black And White

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

Today’s cowboy may use cell phones and transport livestock via stock trailers rather than undertaking multi-state cattle drives, but many aspects of their lifestyle haven’t changed over the centuries. Then as now, cowboys wear felt hats, ride leather saddles and rope bovines every day. If it’s raining, they get wet. If it’s snowing, they get cold.

Despite the passage of time, the essence of the cowboy remains the same. Here’s a collection of images with their contemporary color removed that illustrate the cowboy core: Horses. Cattle. Grass. Leather. Ropes. Metal. Wood. Patience. Hunger. Satisfaction. I hope you enjoy.

Spanish Ranch (Nevada) cowboss Ira Wines necks a calf at last year’s branding while Junior Harney comes in for a heel shot. Shawn Biggs has a loop shook out and is ready to neck a fresh calf or come in for a heel shot if Junior misses. Shortly after this photo was taken, Ira’s horse blew up and hogged around the branding trap. Ira looked way too happy about the incident. I guess bronc riders never truly outgrow their enthusiasm for the sport, they just hang up their rodeo chaps on the wall.

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Sam Marvel brands a calf in Elko County. Aside from the use of propane branding pots, this low-tech method of livestock identification hasn’t changed one iota over the centuries.

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Junior Harney always has a smile ready for the camera. Good thing he’s handy with a rope and can ride a bronc like nobody’s business; otherwise, he might look like he was goofing around all the time. He regularly ties a war knot to keep his horse’s tail up out of the brush and mud. Styles of horses, horsemanship and gear have changed since the first Spanish conquistador tied a knot in his mount’s tail and rode into the New World, but modern-day buckaroos tie the same knots as did those horsemen of long ago.

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Cedar stays remain a popular choice for fencing material in the Southwest. They grow abundantly and only cost labor to cut, trim, and install. Plus, they look super old-timey and West, which makes any good cowboy smile.

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All aboard! These horses are all saddled, loaded and ready to be hauled to the next allotment to gather pairs. Old-timers would probably roll over in their graves if they knew today’s cowboys often hauled horses by trailer rather than trot out from the barn every morning. Until the first time they jumped a horse into a pipe trailer, latched the door and covered 40 miles in 20 minutes. Then they’d be hooked on modern technology.

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A canvas roll of shoeing tools and winter boots are not as much fun as payday Friday and the weekend off, but they are vital survival tools for the northern cowboy.

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Was this picture taken in 1950-something? Nope, it was snapped this spring on a northern Arizona ranch. Horned Herefords usually conjure nostalgia of decades gone by, but these modern cows live outside year-round, so protection from predators are vital. Those curved hooks may look gnarly, but to a baby calf they mean “That’s my mama. You better respect.”

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Windmills are a cheap way to pump water for human and animal consumption. As long as the wind keeps on blowing, they will keep on pumping. Judging by number of ancient and new windmills out West, the wind has been – and will continue – blowing for a long time.

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Jim Young (aka “my taller half”) waits to work the ground at a fall branding last year. The Independence Mountains loom in the background, as they did in the late 1800s when the Altube brothers founded the Spanish Ranch and will continue to do long after Jim and his contemporaries have roped their last calf. Actually, that’s not true – Jim will probably come back as a ghost buckaroo and knock people’s loops out of the air at brandings. Because in the future, cowboying probably won’t have changed all that much, either.

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life


About Jolyn Young

Jolyn Young lives on the O RO Ranch in northern Arizona with husband and their two small kids. To learn more, visit www.jolynyoung.com....

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