Jump to content

The Real Deal - A Young Working Cowboy In Today's World


Recommended Posts

southplains

Edit: I am sorry to say that many of the photos I posted straight from Facebook are no longer visible on this thread. Therefore, I won't be posting that way any more. I'll just post from photobucket. 

 

Edit #2: Well, since Photobucket went kaput, I guess we'll go with postimages.org now. As I can't figure out which photos were deleted, I'll just start up again in the newer posts.

 

 

 

My oldest son, Dakota (known on Brand as Top Hand) earns his livelihood as a cowboy. There are people in the world who are under the mistaken impression that cowboys don’t exist today, and that they are a thing of the past. Worse, there are even a few people who believe that cowboys and The West are an American myth, something that existed only in people’s imaginations and in Hollywood. Still others are fully aware that cowboys did exist and still do, but aren’t sure what parts of a cowboy’s life have changed from the 19th century and what parts are essentially the same as they were back then. Some, particularly Bonanza fanfiction writers, may simply be interested in learning about details of the cowboy life.

In that vein, I’m introducing this thread as a place for Dakota (Top Hand) to post details about his daily cowboy life—photos, thoughts, and other details as he goes about his business on a 70,000-acre ranch in southwest Kansas, about an hour from the Colorado border. Some of you will have already read the first few posts, as they were originally in the April 2015 “Tales From the Bunkhouse” thread.

Questions from all of you are encouraged; we know that the majority of today’s population knows little about cowboy work, so nothing will be considered a “silly” question. Feel free to ask. However, please remember that Top Hand has irregular (and few) days off, and spends the majority of his day in the saddle; therefore, he won’t always be able to post, and he won’t be able to immediately answer every question posed. If he misses a question or forgets to answer one (and it will happen) don’t be shy about giving him a nudge and asking again.

We hope you enjoy The Real Deal and find it both entertaining and educational. If you have any suggestions for additions to the thread, let us know!

Link to post
Share on other sites
southplains

Sending my Easter greetings through my eldest son; it seems appropriate to do so here on a Bonanza site since he is living a Cartwright kind of life. He didn't make it to church this morning because cows don't take off for Easter. His picture and caption from this morning, verbatim:

I didn't make it to church this morning. But, I can talk to God at a long trot and see all that He has made. I am by myself but I am not alone. I have a good horse under me and God is with me. Happy Easter kids.

Easter%202015_zpsegn8jzc9.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
southplains

Looks like he's riding a dun. Great shot!

Yes, she is a dun, but a rather interesting one with some white on her. Wish I had a clear picture showing her, but I don't. His daily string also includes a gray, a bay, and a sorrel.

Hubby and I were just saying how we just love Dakota's "selfies"--instead of the same old photo of oneself that most people take, he does these wonderful little cowboy's-eye-view things showing his world. I've been trying to talk him into taking at least one a day so I can edit them all into a video or something.

You might be interested in this little bit of his day too, Michele--he begins each morning by riding a 20-mile circle checking on cows. Twenty miles, just to start his day!

Link to post
Share on other sites
southplains

There are two other guys out here but I'm the only one horseback. They kinda handle more "farmer" type stuff like keeping the pivot irrigators running and there's 125 cow/calf pairs they take care of. Pretty soon we'll turn steers and heifers loose in the sandhills. Then the real cowboying begins.

Link to post
Share on other sites
southplains

Its been a fun couple of days. Friday started at 5:45 AM, settled truckload after truckload of steers in new pastures all day, stayed up till 1 AM Saturday digging a cattle truck out of the sand BY HAND. Back up 5:45, check steers that were settled yesterday, branded and worked 174 calves, turned them out. Done "early" by 6PM. Back up this morning, run out to the west pasture to check Friday's steers, fence down, spent 4 hours gathering strays on a mare with a lot to learn. Building fence this afternoon. Did I mention I get paid by the month? lol. You have to love this lifestyle or it'll kill you.

Link to post
Share on other sites
southplains

Okay, hopefully I get all these details right. If not, Dakota will correct me. ;) When a truckload of cattle is unloaded at the ranch, they are wild and skittish and the first thing they want to do is blindly run at full speed. The entire herd of them will charge off and will run right through a fence. So when they are unloaded, Dakota has to race along on his horse and turn the herd back into itself. He has to keep doing that until they calm down or get tired of running. I would LOVE to be able to post a video of that, but unfortunately, he doesn't have that GoPro camera yet. :D So instead, here are a couple of photos of him working this week. (Dakota is the one in the light blue shirt.)

work1_zpsmjsm3t7h.jpg

work2_zpst447yd3g.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
southplains

Are they castrating the animal?

Bull calves get cut. They get a shot of LA200 to prevent infection. Everybody gets a brand and two booster shots. The cowboy word of the day is "Flatassing" v. meaning the action of placing your boot against the calf's leg while stretching the other back towards you, giving the boss man plenty of room to cut without getting kicked. All while flat on your ass.

No anesthesia?

Best medicine is going back to momma. It's all done in under 30 seconds.

Link to post
Share on other sites
southplains

I still can't believe that you work as a Cowboy and that in the 21th century. This is so far away from my live here. When I tell my friends they look at if I would be crazy. They say I watch to much Western/Bonanza :yuck:

:lol: Hear that, Dakota? The people in Germany believe you are fictional! :rotfl:

(Now you have to get that GoPro camera to strap to your hat!)

Link to post
Share on other sites
southplains

What's the ranch's grazing acreage, Dakota? How much acreage does a single steer or heifer need for grazing? And how many hands were needed to move 553 steers?

Looking forward to seeing the pics!

It's hard to put a concrete number on a head to acreage ratio because lots of pastures are different. Some are in the Sandhills, some are irrigated, some are by the river so they all grow at different rates. I'd have to put a pen to paper on that one.

We kinda cheated on the steer driving. We own the road here so we just kicked them out on to it. One guy in front to slow them down, one guy behind to push on them. The fences do the rest.

Link to post
Share on other sites
southplains

I still can't believe that you work as a Cowboy and that in the 21th century. This is so far away from my live here. When I tell my friends they look at if I would be crazy. They say I watch to much Western/Bonanza :yuck:

I talked to a family who raises quarter horses in Germany and put on a few cuttings. They said their cow cost for the cutting is the same for a day as ours is for a whole month here and roping is against the law. Crazy.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sending my Easter greetings through my eldest son; it seems appropriate to do so here on a Bonanza site since he is living a Cartwright kind of life. He didn't make it to church this morning because cows don't take off for Easter. His picture and caption from this morning, verbatim:

I didn't make it to church this morning. But, I can talk to God at a long trot and see all that He has made. I am by myself but I am not alone. I have a good horse under me and God is with me. Happy Easter kids.

Easter%202015_zpsegn8jzc9.jpg

This picture reminds me so much of the old "Rick O'Shay" syndicated cartoon strip that appeared in The Chicago Tribune from 1958 to 1981 (and in color on the front page of the Sunday comic section). The strip focused on life in a small western town. Hipshot Repercussion was Rick's best friend. From Wikipedia:

The strip is set in the Western town of Conniption where Rick O'Shay is the deputy sheriff, since the town is too small to have a full sheriff. His best friend is gunslinger Hipshot Percussion. Other key characters include gambler Deuces Wylde, dance hall owner Gaye Abandon, physician Dr. Basil Metabolism (and his nurse, Ophelia Pulse), gunsmith and Civil War veteran Cap'n Ball, banker Mort Gage and a kid named Quyat Burp. The neighboring Indian tribe includes Chief Horse's Neck, his ugly but sweet daughter Moonglow and her persistent suitor Crazy Quilt.

The backgrounds were realistically drawn; the characters were originally cartoonish (Rick's nose was pure cartoon), but became more realistic over the years. There are surreal themes mixed in (such as the pun-laden names). The strip was originally a humor strip set in the present day West, but in 1969 the setting was changed to the year 1869. Strong elements of adventure, philosophy, morality and tragedy (such as Hipshot teetering on the brink of death following a gunfight) were then added to the storyline.

Breathtaking scenery is often shown in single panels in the Sunday strip, with an unusual slant. Hipshot is frequently referred to as an "outlaw," and in one strip he decided to regain his losses at poker by holding up the local bank. But sometimes in the Sunday strip he is shown alone, on horseback, in the Western background, speaking to his Maker, whom he addresses as "Boss." He does not attend church and prefers to recognize his God in a privately styled fashion.

I've always remembered those Sunday strips with Hipshot.

Link to post
Share on other sites
southplains

I've got several photos from Dakota that I need to upload to Photobucket and post, but haven't gotten to it yet. Uploading is pretty slow at our house. In the meantime, here's a cowboy's eye view from last winter in Kansas. Being born and raised in tropical south-central Texas, he was pretty surprised to find out how alone a guy can feel when it's snowing so hard you can't see more than a few feet. He also learned--the hard way--how important it is to protect yourself from frostbite when you have to be out in the elements all day. This particular snowstorm wasn't that bad, though.

DAKOTAINKANSAS_zps7761f86b.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites