Writing our lives

By Julie Carter, Cowgirl Sass & Savvy


The West is dead, my friend
But writers hold the seed
And what they saw
Will live and grow
Again to those who read.

– C.M. Russell, 1917

Like C.M. Russell, I believe the West will continue to stay alive in the words of those who paint the pictures both with ink and paint.

Each story I tell comes from a gift of inspiration that gives me a new idea, a new story. Without the gift, without the inspiration, there would be documentation of the stories that rolling around the West like the dirt on a windy day.

My stories come from the heart, come from my memory and come from the people in my world. They are stories about growing up on a ranch in the mountains of southern Colorado, of my experiences on the rodeo road and more ranch living and cowboy life in New Mexico. I am blessed with a number of friends who share their ranch-wife, ranch-life stories with me knowing they will end up in print at some point. These are bright beautiful strong independent women, each with a great sense of humor.
Ranch life creates within each of us an ability to view the world from a different angle, usually from the bottom looking up. It sorts out priorities on a survival-rating scale. We don’t have much time to spend worrying about things that don’t really matter in the big picture of life. Our survival gear includes a Bible and the ability to find something to be thankful for daily. Most days we sooth our souls with laughter and the best of that is when we laugh at ourselves.

We have no patience for whiners but we will spend our last breath helping someone truly in need. We get up early each day ready to tackle the next 24 hours, one situation at a time. Rarely do our situations come in single file but we “cowgirl up” and get through it.

We doctor children, pets, livestock and husbands. We have bottle fed babies, birds, puppies, kittens, rabbits, calves, colts and the occasional fawn. We mend fences and torn britches.

We live in places where the directions to get there include the words miles, last, cattle guard and dirt road. Our early morning prayers cover rain, cattle, family, friends and an assortment of 4-H projects that will include a goat or a pig.

It is the norm to find our conversations far from the usual “woman talk” of hair color, the latest fashion in pumps and purses or a Saturday night concert. We learn about that stuff from the magazines.

Most often we talk about feeding cattle, calving heifers, a new baby colt, the veterinarian’s last visit, and sometimes the location of the next county fair pig sale. Of course there is always the moment given to a story about “what was he thinking?”

Occasionally we share funny books we have read and movies we liked. Potluck recipes are a given as often as the brand name for the most comfortable work boot.

We understand each other. We know that fixing supper and fixing the stock tank float is not an either/or choice. A knowing nod always follows the first line of a story that begins, “We went to check a gate and he said we’d be right back.”

It is for these women and the thousands like them that I write these stories, putting their life on paper. I write for those pioneers who came before us and for those that, with fresh excitement, are now embarking on a first adventure in ranch life. I write for those that don’t write, but their lives are very foundation of my words.
May we always find a way to laugh together.


Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com