New Cowboy Styles

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

We recently traded the snow drifts and sagebrush of northern Nevada for the milder winters and prickly vegetation of northern Arizona. Going from buckaroo country to cowpuncher territory is a big change for a cowboy family who has lived in Nevada for years, but we are looking forward to seeing new country and learning new methods.

I’ve heard that cowboys and their families used to travel around more than they do now. Nowadays, it seems that people get locked into one style of cowboying, whether it’s long ropes and dallying up north or horn knots and taco hats down south, and remain married to it for life. Devoting yourself to a particular style is admirable, but my husband and I are both invigorated by learning new ways of doing things.

We are working for the O RO Ranch and living at Mahon, the most remote and rugged cow camp in the state of Arizona. To get around in the rough, mountainous terrain, Jim either rides from the house or uses a stock truck. He has two pack mules to carry salt to cattle in the most remote canyons. In addition, he is learning how to silently sneak up on wild cows at a walk, then rope and lead them out.

It’s a lot different than working on a ranch in the Great Basin, where you whoop and holler when you see cattle so they’ll line out and travel quickly over the sagebrush flats. In these canyons, even the clatter of horse hooves on rocks can spook cattle into hiding spots where they won’t be seen again by human eyes for months or even years.

As a ranch wife and mom of two little kids, I’m learning how to shop for groceries and household supplies when the nearest town is located 4 ½ hours away. Stocking up like a prepper is vital. Mail order services don’t even take the edge off the distance, because our mail is delivered to the ranch headquarters, which are located 3 hours away. It’s a big change from our last home at the Spanish Ranch in Elko County, where I was just a one-hour drive down a paved highway to town.

I’m also learning to help my daughter look for chunks of quartz, which look shiny and pretty in the windowsill. I’m learning how to pick burrs out of the kids’ mittens when they’re playing outside. Note: You must remove your own gloves before performing this task, or you will simply be transferring the burrs from one glove to another.

Like Jim, I glance at the horses’ legs each time I walk by the corral to do a quick soundness check. With so many rocks and ravines, it’s easy for a ranch horse to twist a fetlock or get a stone bruise. Riding back into camp with a sound horse each day is an accomplishment in itself.

Like the Spanish Ranch, the ROs also pull a spring wagon to brand calves. Unlike the Span, they heel and drag calves. That is another change for Jim, but openmindedness is the key to happiness and success here. Cowboys often get prideful about the way things are done in their home region and are unwilling to change. Luckily, Jim is open to doing cowboys things different ways. As long as it’s work done with cows from the back of a horse, he’s down to give it a try. And as long as I’m with Jim and the kids and can do a little writing, I’m down to give it a try.

The deep canyons of the ROs provide plenty of hiding spots for cattle.

Prickly pear and Spanish dagger. So pretty, but so pokey!

There are lots of horned cattle down here. The cows all winter outside and calve unassisted, so they need some kind of defense from the natural predators who also live on the ranch.

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

About Jolyn Young

Jolyn Young lives near Montello, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit

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