September 12, 2014
Telling your story---the FULL story

By Julie Carter, Cowgirl Sass & Savvy
For whatever reason, this cooling off curing season always makes me nostalgic. I find my thoughts often wander to memories of fall in place far away and a time long ago on a high mountain ranch where summer ended abruptly, usually just after Labor Day.

It was a big outfit by mountain-ranch standards that pastured 4,000 yearling cattle from spring until fall. The yearlings arrived small and waspy and left fat and sassy.

Mental images remain of long lines of cattle trucks waiting their turn at the loading chute, dust boiling high above the pens as the cattle milled. Clear in my mind is the profile of a cowboy horseback with the rising sun behind him and the dust forming a hazy filter of light around him.

The sounds of a banging scale gate as each bunch passed through to be weighed for the final tally, a cowboy hollering as he drove them down the alley and the deafening sound of cattle bawling that never stopped until the last truck pulled away.

It wasn’t history at the time. It was life lived in a different era.

Like the period of time remembered in stories from my dad and my granddad. An era when they still rode horses to a one-room school house, an era when babies were birthed at home and maybe the country doctor got there, but usually not.

It was a time when owning pair of shoes was almost a sign of wealth and a dime might mean the difference between eating or not.

Back then, a cowboy wasn’t an icon but just a man doing a job.

We in the West have a history that is a chapter about the immigration and emancipation of this country and yet it is a story unto itself for there is nothing else like it.

The best tell-it like-it-was stories are from the old guy sitting under the shade of his hat watching what he can no longer do. He will tell you about cowherds so big you couldn’t recognize the cowboy on the other side. He will recall horses that bucked and what each was named, horses that could run the wind and horses that died in the line of duty.

He will detail cattle markets of that day and speak of a day’s wages that wouldn’t buy a cup of coffee in today’s world. He will recall droughts, floods, and winters of record breaking cold and snow. He will share stories about great friends, fine men of character and heartbreaking losses.

He remembers the time before there were fences and cattle that ran on ranges the size of three counties. He watched the West surveyed with a wheel that delivered an accuracy that still astounds men today. He was entertained with music and song by the campfire or better yet, at the good-eats of an ice cream social.

Now when I write the stories of my childhood, my daughter tells me, “Mom I have learned more about your life from those stories than I ever knew before.”

It is important to listen to the stories from those that went before us. It is equally as important to take the time to tell those stories. They are part of a history that for most of us won’t be written in a book.

Save a piece of history and tell your story to someone.
Julie can be reached for comment at