Category Archives: Cowboy Stuff

How Did You Get Here?

So, there’s a feature on wordpress.com that lets me look at all the phrases people have typed into a search engine that led them to my blog.  There’s the standard “jolyn laubacher” and “jolyn laubacher blog.”  There’s people who searched for my friends “tilly van norman” or the name of a specific blog post “sagebrush telegraph.”

Some people found me by searching for a blog’s specific subject, such as “national cowboy poetry gathering,” “jordan valley rodeo,” or “winnemucca ranch hand rodeo.”  Others found me while looking up completely unrelated topics, like “hot wheels 2011,” “cough cough hack hack,” “a virus with a silent cough” (what’s with this?), “hand engraving,” and a personal favorite: “old can openers.”

They really got to the heart of my blog: kitchen tools.

Wow, some people really got lost in cyberspace here!  My apologies to all of you who were looking for “performance horse breeders,” “buckaroo gift wrap paper,” “chuck milner music,” “paint rodeo pickup horses,” or “i’ll be your huckleberry montana t shirt.”

Some of the search phrases had a Native American sound to them.  Check out “gray short hair women walking a horse,” “make cuts saddle strings,” and “riderless horse.” 

Then there’s the plain bizarre.  “bridals with cows,” (what the heck was this person looking for, anyway???), “my daddy wears bras,” (sorry, Dad, I seriously have no idea how that led a person here!  You can read back through my archives – there is no mention of such a thing.  Besides, if there was, I definitely wouldn’t blog about it), “suicide attempt, elko nevada, august,” “lesson plans on river rocks for young children” (because I TOTALLY write those all the time), and a category winner: ” what is the difference between two title eat to live and live to eat.”  I don’t know the answer….because I can’t really figure out the question.

Finally, there are the dirty searches.  “lap dancing winnemucca,” “obscene cowboy poetry” (really?  And MY site came up???), “the yp and tim kershner,” (ok, that one’s not really dirty.  I just wanted to point out the Tim has a stalker), plus one that definitely wins the category but definitely won’t be printed because I’m a lady and neither say nor type such vile words.  Plus, I’m a tad embarrassed that such a search led someone here. 

So, next time you search the world wide web for “dear family christmas wishes,” ” cow camps owyhee desert nv ore,” “bed roll big lots” (do they sell bed rolls there?  Where, like right next to the flat screen TVs?  Or over by the Shakira CDs and half-priced DVDs?), “annie maddalena” (Annie Banannie, sorry for dedicating a post to you!  And for including your name again here.  Shoot), or “jolynn laubacher wa” (yeah, no clue what’s with the ‘wa’), you just might end up here.  Stay a while – read a few posts, laugh if the feeling strikes you, block me from your computer forever if you want.  It’s cool.  Ultimately, we’re all searching for the same thing: “jesus wrapping paper.” 

 

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Cowboy Stuff

My Life as a Minnow

           Geographically speaking, Elko is aproximately 4 1/2 hours from anywhere.  It’s that far to Reno, Salt Lake City, and Boise.  I guess Twin Falls, Idaho (locally known as “Twin”) is a touch closer, but I’ve never been there so it doesn’t count.
           Being from California, where a person can go to Victoria’s Secret and buy a fancy bra any old time she wants, the distance of Elko from a shopping mall took some adjusting.  I have figured out the secret: shop online and don’t admit that I secretly love the remoteness.  You can’t go to Raley’s, church or the post office without running into someone you know.  The Sagebrush Telegraph never rests, churning out false truths and outright lies quicker than you can say, “Did you hear about….”  It’s like living in a fish bowl.

    The central gathering place for modern-day buckaroos.  10 minutes in here and you’ll be transported to a state of mind where hats are flat, the band is loud, glasses are filled with whisky, and the party stops when it’s time to catch horses for the day’s work.  Don’t wear your good jacket – you’ll never get the smell of secondhand smoke out of it.

      Conveniently located across the street from Stockmen’s, this is a fun place to play pool.  Drew and I like to run the table.  Never play shuffleboard with Tayler and Twain; they will annihilate you.  It’s not fun, and your self-esteem will suffer.

         Everybody loves a historic Basque house, especially one that’s smoke-free, clean, and serves Scotty’s delicious beverages.  Great place to play some Ian Tyson and listen to Chase Chapin sing “M.C. Horses” really loudly after 6 kalimoxtos.  Can be a highly entertaining section of the fish bowl.

        No one really goes here anymore, as it is no longer 1983.  Sad that I missed that era.

       Another terrific Basque house.  There certainly is no shortage of lamb chops, cabbage soup, fries, and garlic-based salad dressing in Elko County.  Great place for a first date, but only if you want to make a really good impression 🙂

        They make a delicious array of salads and have an extensive wine list; the menfolk call it the “chick bar.”  Katie and I love it.  Like, two-glasses-of-wine-say-hi-to-everyone-at-the-bar-as-you-walk-to-your-table kind of love it. 

        My Saturdays and holidays place of employment.  Come check out the gear, museum, and floor upstairs.  I scrub the floor with a rag and bucket of water, so I like to show it off.  I Pledged it once, but then the first person up the stairs instantly fell to the floor, so now I no longer use Pledge.  Just in case, better wear rubber-soled shoes.

       Perhaps the most fun place in the fish bowl.  You can ride, rope, brand, cut, sort, win, lose, or draw.  Bet on the ponies and drink an ET and water for the full Elko County experience.  Or, skip the ET because it’s nasty.  Either one. 

      The people in here are warm, welcoming, smiling, singing, and God-loving.  The place really does radiate God’s love and true joy.  I dig it.  Jim digs it.  Branden digs it.  Katie digs it.  Everybody digs it. 

So, there’s a little tour of my fish bowl.  It’s a great place to live – wonderful people, huge sagebrush flats, lots of miles to long trot, and branding contests practically every month.  It’s not bad, for a fish bowl.  Until the winter storms commence; then it turns into a snow globe.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cowboy Stuff

A Cow Camp Diary

This gal's cow camp necessities. The chocolate bar and reserve chocolate bar are not pictured, because I ate them.

After Week 2 at cow camp, I decided to keep a Lewis and Clark-style diary of my adventure, minus the bloodstains on the parchment paper pages and references to Sacajawea. 

Day 1: We depart from town to-day to ship cattle and spend a week at cow camp.  We are traveling with no doctor, translator, or scout.  This may be perceived as foolish by Eastern scholars, but we press on unafraid.  The cows do indeed outnumber us, but we have ropes.
         We have secured provisions such as wool socks, whisky, corn tortillas, and 3 pounds of Halloween candy originally secured by my boss’s children.  Our spirits are high; as of yet we do not know any better.

Day 2: This morning so cold I could not feel my fingers, complicating the process of checking my cinch after saddling my horse.  I finally resorted to jabbing my whole hand in the general direction of my latigo, then guessing that it “looked tight.”  After my lips turn blue, I cease to care whether I hit the ground.
          Shipped 5 truckloads of Mexican steers before noon.  Was wishing we had brought a translator.

Day 3: Traveled to Wells, Nevada to-day via a primitive gravel road.  The rigors of the journey were eased somewhat by the FM radio stations, padded seats, and diesel engine of a Dodge pickup, but complicated somewhat by my boss’s and my inability to agree on a comfortable setting for the heater.    
            Returned back to camp and no cell phone service, Internet or cable TV this evening.  Am wishing I had brought a ball to throw against the wall.

Day 4: Have exhausted all possible topics of conversation with my boss/camp-mate.  Am wondering exactly how many times per day the heater kicks on, how the chipped dinner plate received its chip, why we only have VHS movies from the late ’90s in the living room, how many rotations per mile a ’96 Dodge front tire makes on a gravel road, and why we didn’t pick up more toilet paper while we were in town. 

Day 5: Am learning to eat lunch in 7 minutes and 35 seconds while walking back to the pickup, as that is the time allotted by my boss for such things.  Am wondering why we get up at 4 AM when the sun does not provide enough gray light to see our horses until 6:25 AM.  Am wondering whose stupid idea it was to be a stupid cowboy and stay in a stupid camp.  Am grateful for my every-evening , long-distance phone calls to a certain Mr. Young.

Day 6: To-day proved to be the most ardurous and exhausting day.  We processed cows in inadequate facilities with an inadequate amount of help and an inadequate number of daylight hours.  I exhausted my body, my patience, my supply of curse words, and a plastic flag.  Upon arriving at the camp house, I devoured three tacos and a glass of red wine.  Upon discovering my life had improved considerably, I went to bed before it could deteriorate again.

Day 7: Why am I still counting days?  I no longer care.  Time has stopped; I could not report the actual date if requested to.  I return to civilization today, and cannot wait to experience all the conveniences again: cell phone service, my own shower, the latest issue of People at the grocery store, the grocery store, lines at the grocery store, stoplights, traffic, pages of  junk mail cluttering my inbox, overpriced restaurant food, secondhand cigarette smoke on public sidewalks, 2 for 1 bargain buys on items I never use, and nightly newscasts centering on kidnappings and murders.
            Camp really wasn’t all that bad.  I wonder if they’ll be needing more help any time soon….

Leave a comment

Filed under Cowboy Stuff

Cow Camp, Week 1

Cow camp essentials. They're practically mandated by the state of Nevada.

 

I just returned from day-working in the North Spring Valley, which is between Ely, Nevada and the Utah line.  The camp house was a very clean and comfortable 3-bedroom modular home assembled in 1972.  My favorite part was the neon orange Formica countertops in the kitchen.

Actually, my truly favorite parts were the pear and apple trees in the backyard.  They were next to a now-defunct satellite dish so large that I could’ve turned it upside down, thrown a tarp over it, and taken shelter for the night.  Fortunately, my sleeping arrangements didn’t come to that, as I brought my bedroll and had my own room.

The first morning, our go-getter of a boss man had everyone get up at 4:00 AM.  It wasn’t even light enough to see until 6:20.  I actually took a nap between breakfast and catching horses. 

Nights and early mornings were dirty cold.  Half the crew wore straw hats; I wore my Scotch cap with the earflaps down all day.  I pulled part of my 40″ wild rag up over my chin to shield my face from the icy wind.  Every time I turned my head while we held rodear, my wild rag fell off my chin.  I considered hooking it onto my ears.  Maybe next time I’ll bring a couple safety pins and attach it directly to my ear flaps.

I didn’t freeze in vain; I was fortunate enough to spend time with 2 handy cowboys who savvy the business world as well.  I tried to listen quietly and absorb their discussions concerning futures contracts, 10-year leases, the benefits of late calving and intensive pasture rotation, but my kindergartener-like hypercuriousity could only be restrained for so long.  At one point I had to ask, “Are all pivots the same length?”*

A handy, ambitious 16-year-old kid works for one of the cowboy/businessman.  Jonas (the kid) and I moved some pairs to the next field one day.  Not wanting to be a non-gate-opening princess, I trotted ahead to set a wire gate.  I wrestled and strained to open it.  I took my rope down on it.  I couldn’t budge it.

After Jonas opened the gate, I thanked him for helping me.

“Oh, shoot, it’s no problem,” he said.  “It’s getting me broke in for cowboying with my girlfriend.”

“Oh, does your girlfriend like to ride?” I asked.

“I don’t know, I don’t have one yet.”

His forward-thinking optimism isn’t totally unfounded; he has a nice yellow colt, a check from selling some cows in the bank, and a date on Saturday night.

I’m going back for more next week, with a little rougher cowboy company….as long as they don’t eat all my corn tortillas, we’ll get along fine 🙂

 
 

 

*The answer is “no.”

1 Comment

Filed under Cowboy Stuff

The Joys of Fall

Autumn is upon us, with its crisp fall air that makes a person want to long trot several miles first thing of a morning.  Ahh, those frosty mornings – wild rags are fluttering in the breeze, cotton gloves are holding the reins, and guys are getting bucked off at the Span. 

I have decided that the American cowboy population constitutes a subculture,and not just because I substitute teach in the winter and cowboy in the summer.  (Get it…SUBculture?  Nevermind.)  There are notable cultural differences.  When fall arrives, other demographics in America (the blue-collar working class, the white-collar working class, celebrities) hold football parties in each others’ homes.  Cowboys (the dirty-collar working class) hold shipping parties at Basque restaurants.

Mainstream American citizens (hereafter known as “regular people”) enjoy getting themselves purposely lost, and hopefully subsequently found without dialing 911, in corn mazes.*  Cowboys (hereafter known as “cowboys”) could do the same thing with willow patches.  How fun would that be – an exciting adventure of thrashing around in the willows, wading through mud bogs, swatting mosquitos, and getting your hands bloody with scratches!  Before entering, participants would receive a list of inventive cuss words, as they’re sure to use all the ones they already know, and a Border Collie.  Hey, you never know when they might find a remnant steer.

By this time of year, regular people’s children have been back in school for several weeks.  Cowboys’ children are back in school, too.  We’re brushy, not dumb.  Plus, it’s a federal law.

In a couple weeks, regular people will hand out gobs of candy to neighborhood children.  Cowboy-type people, not having any neighbors (no, the pack rat in the mud room doesn’t count), will watch Good Old Boys and eat all the stale Snickers bars left over from last Halloween, when (big surprise) no trick-or-treaters arrived.**

Right now, regular people are carving pumpkins.  Right now, cowboy people are, too.  Dude, they sell ’em at Raley’s. 

Regular people are currently raking fallen leaves.  Cowboys have leaves to rake, too.  Except they won’t actually rake them because 1) the 3 total trees on the high desert don’t generate too many leaves and 2) that’s rawzin-jaw work.

As we plod through fall (aka “the fall works,” aka “no sleep ’till Thanksgiving”), I am overcome with an urge to bake fresh apple pies on a regular basis – like, every 3 hours.  Elko County residents have to purchase apples at the grocery store like lowlife scum, unlike in my native California where we picked them freely at will from the tree in the front yard/back yard/cow pasture up the road.  Purchasing fruit goes against the grain of my moral being; it’s worse than voting for a Democrat or wearing sunglasses indoors.  I won’t do it!

Okay, maybe I will.  I really want an apple pie.

*Am I the only one who thinks it’d be more fun, if not somewhat redundant, to call them “corn maizes”?  Get it….MAIZE?  Nevermind.
**Avoid eating the ones with obvious pack rat teeth marks in the wrappers.  Unless you’re really craving chocolate.  Then, pretend you didn’t see them and chow down.

2 Comments

Filed under Cowboy Stuff

20 Things To Do While Waiting

While buckarooing, a person oftens finds his or herself waiting.  Sometimes one waits for 10 minutes; sometimes one waits for 3 hours.  You just can’t know. 

I would like to formally dedicate this post to Mrs. Tipton, aka “Annie Maddalena,” aka “Annie Banannie,” aka “Little Sam.”  It sounds like you can relate 🙂 

20 Things To Do While Waiting

  1. Hobble your horse and take a nap. First, make certain sure you are waiting in the correct place.

  2. Make your partner guess your boot size/middle name/cost of your saddle/horse’s age/favorite country song

  3. Tell a joke. Q: What did the old Indian say when his horse ran away over the hill? A: “There goes my horse.”

  4. Guess what time it is. No one actually wins, since no one wears a watch.

  5. Utilize the sun dial method to determine what time it is. This will kill a good twenty minutes while you argue with your partner about which direction is north.

  6. Discuss which foods would taste really delicious. “Mmmm, prime rib from Lone Mountain.” “I could really go for a cheeseburger and chocolate milkshake from Mattie’s right about now.” “Doesn’t a gin and tonic sound delicious?” This is especially fun if breakfast was 10 hours ago.

  7. Cut off a saddle string and re-lace your stirrups.

  8. Cut off a saddle string and make a stampede string for your hat.

  9. Cut off a saddle string and make a friendship bracelet.

  10. Re-string your saddle.

  11. Blow your nose. This works best with a handkerchief, but don’t be afraid to improvise.

  12. Adjust the seams of your socks so they are in perfectly straight lines.

  13. Braid a piece of pink flagging ribbon into your horse’s mane.

  14. Scan the countryside for mountain lions

  15. Whip out a mouth harp and play When The Saints Go Marching In until your horse hates you.

  16. Adjust the knot on your get-down rope several times, until it is exactly the way it was when you left the barn.

  17. Make up a list of things to do while waiting.

  18. Memorize the grooves in your horn wrap.

  19. Invent middle names for your horses, i.e. Bojangles “Whitey Face,”  Cat “Elizabeth,”  Shorty “Short Hair,”  Jubilee “Many Freckles,” Owyhee “River,”  and Muley “Fatty.”

  20. Sing The Battle of New Orleans.

    Me and ol' Banner, just a-waitin'

2 Comments

Filed under Cowboy Stuff

A Shoeing Saga

“I shod a whole horse for the first time last week,” I told a friend over the phone.

“What did you do, a foot a day?” he asked.

“Of course not!” I replied.  “I did half on Monday and half on Wednesday.”

The front feet took me roughly 3 hours, give or take 45 minutes.  I used to think it was really gross when I saw a man with sweat droplets running off his nose and down his hairline while he shod a horse.  On Monday, I was too busy sopping up my forehead with my shirtsleeve to pass judgment on anybody else’s loss of bodily fluids while performing manual labor.

The hind feet took me approximately 2 hours, so progress was made.  Halfway through, Katherine paused in shoeing her horse to flop down in a chair we keep in the barn.

“I’m just going to sit here and hurt for a minute,” she said.

I suppressed a deeply felt urge to lay down on the barn floor, picked up a rasp, and resumed my attempt at leveling a foot.  My personal technique, not currently taught at any professional horseshoeing school, is to rasp the foot until I can no longer stand, then tack a shoe on.  I’m not afraid to set the foot down and rest in between nails.

While shaping a shoe, I held it up to my horse’s hind foot and realized it was slightly off.

“Oh, shoot,” I said.  “I brought the heel in a bit, and now the rest of that side is too far in.  Well, I guess he does have a little flare I can take off.”

“That’s the spirit!” called Katherine.

I thought I would feel immense and complete satisfaction after tacking iron on a horse in my string.  After I clinched my last nail and straightened my back, I didn’t think, “Wow, check out what I did!”  Instead, I felt the onset of total-body soreness, surveyed all the faults in my shoeing job, and thought, “Oh, crud, I hope nobody looks at his feet.”

When guys finishing shoeing, they look at their friend’s horse and say “That looks like $#!*@.  Are you sure you want to take him to town?”  When a girl finishes shoeing and laments how lousy her work looks, another girl looks at the horse and says, “Don’t worry, he looks fine!  You’ll get better every time.  Just keep practicing.”

So far, it’s been one full week and my horse still has all his shoes and is sound.  At this point, those are pretty much my main two requirements in a Jolyn Laubacher shoeing job.  As time goes on, I may add more, such as Does Not Look Like a Beaver Chewed on The Front of His Hoof, but for right now, we’re going for sound and still there.  It’s something to build on 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Cowboy Stuff