Sunday, February 08, 2009

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Making a new friend

Julie Carter

Cowboy life is as much about the stops made as the road traveled. The same applies for the cowgirl.

Her cowboy had, all his life, been restless and ambitious. As a couple, they had cowboyed in every corner of their home state of Texas. Twenty-some-odd years into the partnership, they landed on a big ranch they bought in New Mexico. It was their just rewards for the thousands of long hours in the saddle during their formative years.

She had made at least one very good friend at every stop on this Western road of life. And each new place taught her that in every hundred miles across the country, the customs and the cowboys changed.

She learned, sometimes the hard way, that you can't out-native the natives. She discovered that the best way for survival in a new place with new folks was to find a seemingly responsible local and listen to his stories.

Now she was a mighty far-piece from home, so was on the lookout for such a candidate.

She learned that her nearest neighbor was quite familiar with their new ranch. He had worked there as a button and been the foreman for a number of years. When moving to their new ranch, she had noticed the neighbor's ranch entrance sign with his name and brand on it.

As she gradually got settled in and unpacked, she had planned to go meet this new neighbor. However, it happened a little quicker than expected. Her best friend, Heidi the cowdog, also a Texan, had discovered the local porcupines in an up-close and most serious way.

The cowgirl needed help for her Heidi and her head cowboy wasn't in the state. She loaded Heidi in the pickup and headed to the neighbors.

Over needle-nose pliers and everybody that happened to be there helping to hold the dog, the acquaintance was made.

Like all ranchers, they first had to establish a couple of things of common ground. First, it isn't ever a good idea to look in the old cistern. You never can predict what might be in there looking back at you. And second, with the drought, the government and the cattle market, they would all be lucky to still be alive by the end of the year.

Those requisites safely handled, the cowgirl and the neighbor got down to some regular neighborly visiting.

The new neighbor allowed that he knew their place pretty well from working there and would be happy to show her a few things.

They went back to her outfit, saddled up, and rode to a picturesque canyon where he related the history of the area and the fact there were remnants of Indian artifacts and petroglyphs.

She studied the ancient signs that translated to fending off witchcraft, the sign for water, hunting, directions, water carrier, danger, snakes and many of the other special graphics that the Indians had embellished on rocks around their encampments.

Finally she got to one that looked obviously newer than some of the ancient symbols carved in the stone. This resembled a diamond bar diamond.

She thought about that a minute and it finally came to her what she was looking at.

She realized that this was her neighbor's ranch brand.

With a grin that matched his when he saw the recognition in her eyes, she knew things were going to be better now. Knowing cowboys and the ornery nature that often qualifies a friendship, she knew she had a new friend.

No words were needed. It was carved in stone.

Julie treasures her few, close friends, even if they don't have their own petroglyphs, although some of them are that old. Reach her for comment at

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