How To Roll Your Bed

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

If your boss tells you to “roll your bed” in the middle of the workday, it’s not a good thing. It means you got fired. There is nothing left to do but pack up your bed roll and personal belongings, then stop at the ranch office on your way out to pick up your last check.

But, there are also plenty of times in a working cowboy’s life where he has to roll his bed, such as when he’s packing up to go to camp, staying at the neighbor’s for a few days to help, going to a ranch rodeo for the weekend and sleeping in the nose of a horse trailer, or visiting relatives who are short on guest beds.

The hubster, Jim, recently returned from helping the neighbors finish up calving over the weekend. Being a good wife, and a little curious where the tube of toothpaste was, I unrolled and washed the bedding in his bed roll. Well, it’s actually my bed roll, but his bed roll is currently being used as our daughter’s bed and the tarp needs to be patched, so he used mine. We’re married; what’s mine is ours and what’s his is mine.

Inside the bed roll, I found his dirty laundry (of course), the missing toothpaste, $0.55, a lot of dirt, and one of our daughter’s baby blankets. I know that it wound up in there from the last time it was unrolled and Grace was playing on it, but I can’t wait till he gets home tonight so I can tease him about that! Little known fact: seasoned, competent cowboys never go anywhere without their favorite rope, a comfortable saddle, and a small handmade pink and green blanky.

To roll up your bed, first place the mattress exactly where you want it on the tarp. This is important, because it is a son-of-a-b to reposition the mattress on the canvas once it’s laden down with blankets. Flipping the bottom of the tarp up to check your position before committing to adding the bedding is helpful. Or, you can be like my husband and use your brawny muscles to wrestle the tarp and snaps into submission, regardless of where the mattress was initially placed.


Did I choose purple sheets because a) purple is a super manly color, b) it is Jim’s favorite color, or c) this was the only set of twin sheets we had in the house? Yep, you guessed it – always go with c. I also always go with flannel, as this is the high desert, and nights are cold from December through November.

Next, add a pillow or two. I put them on before I add the blankets, so they’ll stay cleaner. I feel like the future user (hubster Jim) will not care about this detail, but I care.

Cowboy bed roll

Then, add the top sheet and all your blankets. In this bed roll, I put a wool blanket that used to belong to my Uncle Danny in his Navy days, a denim and flannel quilt that I made, and a down sleeping bag. You can always throw the blankets off, but you sure can’t go and get any more when you’re out on the wagon/in camp/freezing your bum-bum off at Jordan Valley the third weekend of May.

Cowboy bed roll and blankets

Next, tuck the edges of all the blankets underneath the mattress.

Cowboy bed roll and sleeping bag

Pull the bottom of the bed roll tarp up over the whole works…

Cowboy bed roll and tarp

…then pull the shorter top piece down over that.

Cowboy bed roll and tarp

Pull the straps in from each side and buckle, tie or somehow fasten them to their partners on the other side of the tarp.

Cowboy bed roll and tarp

Starting at the top, roll the whole thing up as tightly as you possibly can and buckle the straps around it and you’re done! It’s weird, but the bed roll winds up much smaller when Jim rolls it up than when I do. It’s like he does manual labor for a living and I write articles and eat leftover Easter candy all day.

Cowboy bed roll and straps

Regardless of how the finished product looks, it’ll dang sure keep a person warm and comfy on the next trip.

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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