Monday, February 04, 2013

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Looking to make a buck

 by Julie Carter

While the world’s economy seem to be in a free-fall, I’ve been doing some pondering of the same pattern I seem to see in my personal financial history along with a little help from my beloved government.

Always a short-term goal setter and long-term optimist, there have been a number of projects-for-profit that I’ve taken on through the years to help along that bottom line.

Among them were raising Blue Heeler puppies, raising colts, cattle and kids-- none of which ever became a viable profit center. Raising kids, while never actually thought of as a profit maker, should be something one can “bank” on in a kind of end-of-the-run security.

Blue Heeler puppies come 18 to a litter and quickly become giveaways in the parking lot of the next rodeo.

The colts are first cute, then fun, and all too soon become grown up horses that eat more and need broke to ride. The best ones either have a strong inclination to buck or come up mysteriously lame.

The bucking pay-off was that I met some nice orthopedic physicians and chiropractors along the way and the equine lameness kept some veterinarians viably employed -- both assuring a negative on my profit line.

The cattle business takes longer in which to go broke because the cycles offer the occasional profit (enticement). Using that to buy a few more head to help the next year’s bottom line, the profit and loss perpetuates itself until getting out of the business is not an option. Unless, of course, you want the bottom line to look like the national debt of Argentina.

The kids are an ongoing project. While I didn’t ever actually forget one at the laundromat, their experiences taught them to stay pretty close. Maybe it was my early threats to leave them in a basket on a doorstep before they were old enough to positively identify me. The last child in my brood got plenty of advice (warnings) from his older siblings and managed to keep a cell phone handy for emergency help.

Raising ranch kids throws a few more “opportunities” into the mix. One cowboy I know, as a young button, grew up working on ranches. He loved the work but particularly loved the horses. All of them.

He loved riding the ones that would buck, the ones that were a challenge and the ones that were, supposedly, off limits to him. One particular high-dollar stud horse, the pride and joy of the ranch owner, was such a horse. As soon as the rancher was out of sight, the lad and another young’un, would saddle the stud and ride away.

The stallion was not “kid” material and it was truly just dumb luck that kept the pair from getting killed.  Danger was near at hand from either the stallion or the owner had he caught them.

These same boys also loved to rope. They’d been warned about roping the cattle unless it was absolutely necessary. The boss told them if they needed to do something with their ropes, they could drag up firewood for the winter.

Like most cowboys, young or old, these two were broke. A new rope cost money and needed to be treated carefully, used expeditiously.

One year for Christmas the rancher gave each boy a new rope. In the spring, he happened to notice one of them was considerably frayed and had a small break in it.

He questioned the young cowboy carrying the worn rope, asking if he’d been dragging firewood with his new rope. Knowing he was in trouble for roping the cattle or for dragging firewood with a new rope, the lad elected for the truth.

“Why would I want to drag firewood when I have all these cattle of yours to rope?”

I haven’t given up my long-range optimism for a return on my investment in the kids. The last one has been sent off to college where his chosen career path will let him send money home to his mama.

Or, at the very least, it will help pay for the old folks home about which I know he’s been plotting with his sisters.

Julie can be reached for comment at

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