Cowgirl Sass & Savvy: The camaraderie of country women

Julie Baker Carter is a New Mexico writer and author whose column appears weekly on Rio Grande Digital.

Julie Carter

There are many women who inspire me to write about a lifestyle that sets them apart from the majority; one that finds understanding only from those that share the same.

When they tell me their stories, I use their experiences along with mine to weave a word tapestry depicting the lives of cowgirls, ranch wives and country women.

These are strong, independent females who can ride, rope, cook, shoot and laugh even when it takes a special effort to find something humorous in the moment.

They clean up quite tolerably for polite company or a trip to town and often surprise the gentry with their ability to carry on an engaging conversation on just about any topic.

We like to think there is a calling for bright, beautiful, and brassy ranch women, each with a great sense of humor. It’s our story and we are sticking to it.

We’ve all had a job or nine in our lifetimes, other than ranching or during ranching. In my particular group there are several teachers, a realtor, a title person, along with some very accomplished business women. And then there is me with the many hats, all of which give my stories a twist of real-life views.

Ranch life creates within each of us an ability to view the world from a different angle —

usually from the bottom looking up. More often than not, we end up with the jobs that nobody else wants and that keep us working long past when everyone else is gone.

We sort our priorities on a survival rating scale and we don’t give much energy to those pesky little moments that plague everyone’s days.

Our survival gear includes a Bible and the ability to easily name what we are thankful for each day. Our early morning prayers cover rain, cattle, children and the occasional dream of a faraway vacation. Or, just an hour of “me” time is most appreciated.

We soothe our souls with laughter, primarily in laughing first at ourselves but with no fear in finding humor in each other. We have no patience for whiners but will spend our last breath helping someone truly in need.

We greet our day long before the sun does and tackle each situation as it comes. Those rarely arrive single file and often create the need to “cowgirl up”.

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, britches and children’s broken hearts.

We live in places where the driving directions include roads with no names, and the words cattle guard, gravel road and gate.

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. 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.

We discuss the books we have read and the movies we like. Potluck recipes are a given, as is the brand and style of 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 would be right back.”

I will never take for granted the influence in my life these women are or that they inspire me in an untold number of ways.

May we always find a way to laugh together and may our stories bring laughter to someone who needs it.

Julie can be reached for comment atjcarternm@gmail.comVisit her website at





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