August 25, 2014
Call of the West

By Julie Carter, Cowgirl Sass & Savvy
The siren’s song of the West is not audible and yet it pierces the heart of men in every walk of life.

The sirens of Greek mythology lived on a rocky island in the middle of the sea and sang melodies so beautiful that sailors passing by could not resist their lure to disaster on the rocks.

That same silent song in the West pulls, tugs, woos and creates an unexplainable desire within men. It calls them to a way of life in a place where renewed hope springs eternal for a better life in a less cluttered world.

Horace Greeley is credited for popularizing, 150 years ago, the idea of "Go West, young man, and grow up with the country." Today, the West is still a magnet to men and women of all ages.

A June 2014 “Money” article related that 9 of the ten fastest growing states in the U.S. are in the West, led by North Dakota and followed by Wyoming, Oklahoma, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Texas, South Dakota and Nebraska. West Virginia, the only eastern state, landed in the number three spot.

A study of Western culture revealed three out of five men and nearly half of women would like to be cowboys for at least a day. Many have opted for complete lifestyle changes. In droves, they have packed up their lives and moved to the West, finding a place in the open spaces much like the 100 years of homesteaders.

The sheer number of transients to the West dictates that not everybody can be a cowboy. But a good number will take on the trappings of the trade, buy a 40-acre ranchette, and put a rocking chair on the wrap-around porch to watch the sun set over a small barn that houses two horses, a 4-wheeler and a couple of llamas.

It is a new West and is clearly an amalgamation of the many phases of an evolving genre. While the West does not own the cowboy, it is the cowboy that epitomizes the West in the minds of those that seek him.

It is a West where cattle are still king and four door pickups and aluminum trailers ferry the cowboy crew miles across ranches, counties and states - a West where ranchers hang on to an ever-changing way of life necessitating better practices in order to physically and financially stay on the land.

There are those who come to feed their soul from the history created by those who came a century or more ago to grow with a new country. These were men who rode hard, shot straight and died young. Their ghosts walk the boardwalks of old towns in western territories and call to a breed of modern man who believes they are living a hundred years past their time.

While the siren of the West may not lure man to disaster as did those of Greek mythology, the man that heeds the call will find today's cowboy life is not in the clothes he wears or the substance of his dreams.

To this day I have not ever seen the visiting pilgrim come to the ranch, dressed out in his version of cowboy clothes, begging the boss to let him drive the feed pickup, fix a broken float on a water tank or built a 5-mile stretch of barbwire fence.

That in itself is proof of a complete lack of understanding about how the West is really won in this new millennium.
Julie can be reached for comment at