Monday, December 03, 2012

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Holiday shopping for the rural minded

by Julie Carter

“Only a cowboy can get all his Christmas shopping done at the feed store,” says a A.W. Irwin’s Hooves and Horns cartoon. Standing next to a stack of range cube bags ready to load on the flatbed pickup that is already holding some hay, a saddle and cowdog, he reads from his list saying, “Don’t forget the cattle wormer for my mother-in-law.”

Truly the mercantiles, feed stores and tractor supply type stores will do a booming business over the next few weeks until Santa flies by the ranches and ranchettes across the country.

I've had my eye out for clever Christmas gifts all year, but like most years, I either forgot about it if I saw it in March or I bought it, hid it and don't remember where.

Early gift buying has its disadvantages. While spreading the cost of the holiday throughout the year, it also increases the odds of you paying more for the same thing that will be on sale later.

The Black Friday shopping expanded to Cyber Monday shopping some years ago and now it has all blurred to early Black Friday, extended Black Friday, Cyber Monday Eve and many “adding one more day for your bargains” that goes on a for a week. All this just before the “last minute” sales and the after-Christmas clearances. Useful gifts never go out of style and every year they take on a facet that makes them a little different from last year, but still very utilitarian.

Fad colors, embroidered phrases and rhinestones turn a regular cap into something that makes a fashion statement. While the market for "gimme" caps from feed, seed and implement dealers is still quite viable, nothing says” cutting edge” like a cap that announces, "Jesus ropes here."

Spur straps, once just a piece of leather with a function, now come in colors, animal print and of course, more bling. Some of them are so fashionable that the livestock will need sunglasses to stop the glare.

A favorite gift among the working cowboy set is the thoughtful offering of the cowboys' favorite beverage, usually in aluminum cans but sometimes upgraded to a glass bottle. The ropers refer to it as "aiming fluid," and have determined that the proper amount not only improves their roping but makes pastures greener and girls prettier.

This year's twist is the camouflage container that convincingly offers to those that imbibe the ability to become invisible if enough is consumed.

Then there is the never-ending list of "new" ideas for gifts designed to entice the giver to give to the guy that already has everything.

One gift of choice for the season is a giant beach-type umbrella with a base that attaches over the gooseneck trailer ball in the bed of the pickup. This allows spectators to sit in the shade next to the beverage cooler and watch the rodeo from the back of the truck.

Sometimes I spot something that just won't compute in my cowgirl brain. With decades of thinking I've seen it all, always, something proves me wrong.

Once it was seeing a big black Hummer pulling an aluminum horse trailer going south through town. The oddity of that combination left me speechless and yet only a couple years later it’s not a rare kind of sight at all.

Maybe I just need to get out more.

Julie can be reached for comment at

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