Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
Cowgirl Sass and Savvy
by Julie Carter
The world today is inarguably infiltrated with technology
and the realm of the cowboy is no different. The majority of them have mastered
the use of a cell phone, even won the humbling battle of the “smart phone.”
They have an email address and those on the younger end understand Instagram,
Snap Chat and Twitter. Selfies in cowboy hats are not uncommon.
I won’t venture to say it’s progress, however, there are
some things a computer can’t do. And a cowboy who doesn’t know a thing about a
computer will quickly tell you exactly what those things are.
As technology perseveres into the pasture, science becomes
part of cowboying. Select cattle are implanted with computer chips that hold
all sorts of individual data. As the need to track cattle origins from the
pasture to the meat counter tops and feed efficiency info hits the priority
list, “data based cowboying” is on the rise.
Feed programs, breeding programs, market watch and cattle
sales are a few items on a long list of things in the cow business that have
gone computerized. In all this, what happens to the everyday run-of-the mill
denim-garbed, leather-shod, felt hat wearing, colt riding cowboy?
Some years ago Dan Roberts, a Texas cowboy, singer and song
writer wrote and released an album and song called Cowhand.Com. The title cut takes a humorous look at the adventures
of a cowboy who hires onto an outfit that is basically run by computers, not
The misadventures of this technologically challenged cowboy
who longs for the old days tell a story that was perhaps more prophetic that
Roberts ever dreamed it would be. His intention was a witty take on the concept
but the result was an outline of the real dilemma of crossing a cowboy with a
The lyrics point out that no machine ever shod a horse,
pulled a calf or broke a bronc to ride. The laptop in his saddle bags got dusty
riding drag and all that talk about menus, a mouse and booting up had the
cowboy telling his boss to stick that Pentium right in his AOL and pointing out
that megabyte-ram-thing sounded inbred.
Book learnin’ as they would call it, isn’t foreign to
cowboys, it just comes from books and takes place after dark when the work is
done. My cowboy dad was a fiend for learning and was an easy mark for the
encyclopedia salesman that somehow found us at the head of Muddy Creek where
not many strangers trod.
We had not one, but several sets of encyclopedias just in
case we four children needed to look something up. He also bought every update
published for years after and several sets of assorted “how to” encyclopedias.
He learned taxidermy, beer making, electronics, mechanics,
veterinary and many other useful things from his “how to” books. I often wonder
what he would have done with the wealth of knowledge offered in today’s world with
the touch of keyboard.
Computerizing the cowboy way will only go so far. Technology
has extended to providing data for the genetic, nutritional and medicinal
history of a cow as well as her history of residence for her lifetime. The good
news for the cowboy is it still takes man to bring the cow to the corral.
The statistical information can be downloaded from computer
to computer, from hard drive to cd, flash drive or even sent to the printer. But
the paper trail through the office will never completely replace the cow trail
through the pasture.
And that cow? She is going to download her own nutritional
history into the same green pile she always did. And so far, there isn’t even
an “ap for that.”