Cowgirl Sass & Savvy: Batteries not required

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

Julie Carter

Is the world a whole lot more complicated, or is there simply more of it to understand? That can be argued by the boys in agriculture, leaning on the hood of a pickup while waiting for the brand inspector to show up.

The cow business might possibly be the last bastion of commerce conducted on a man’s word. Cattlemen of good repute can still buy and sell cattle over the phone.

A generation has passed since the day of signature loans for large amounts of money for cattle, equipment, feed or whatever. Now you need to have a credit report from some place in the sky. You will also need to mortgage whatever you were using the money for and sometimes even throw in the first-born male child for security.

And counter checks?  Remember when you just walked into any place of business and filled out a blank check they had on the counter and then signed it? Now you have to have three picture IDs, your home and cell phone numbers, your blood type and recent dental records to cash a $12 check in a business you frequent three times a week.

Along with the economic changes we have also lost an entire language that was common to rural living. If you hear it now, it is usually prefaced with “my grandmother used to say,” or “my Dad used to call it that.”

“Store bought” was an indicator of a slight increase in financial status, usually indicated extra-value and often came with bragging rights. If one was eating “light bread” as opposed to biscuits or cornbread, it meant it came from the store.

Getting big enough to reach the “foot feed” in the pickup so I could drive was a milestone. I remember my first “picture show,” and when my brothers got their “ears lowered.”

Does anyone get lumbago anymore or self-medicate with castor oil and prune juice? And remember Metholatum rub and that stinkin’ rag around your neck if you had a cough?

There was a time when the saddle was the workbench for making Western history. Later it became a throne in a tradition of “cowboy” that endures today.

But just as fishing became a sport, so also did cowboying. Horses have gained recreational value and saddles are created specific to the job (cutting, steer roping, team roping, calf roping, barrel racing, reining).  A one-saddle-does-all is an endangered species.

And remember the horse racks that fit in the bed of the pickup? The fancier ones had a hood right over the top of the cab to protect the eyes and head of the horse.

These memories are like the “I remember when Hershey bars were a nickel and I walked five miles to school, uphill both directions” discussions. There is no ending and it serves no real purpose other than reminiscing the “good old days.”

We now live in a high-tech fast-paced world that swallows up time faster than we can get comfortable with each new thing. Most fads of the new millennium involve some sort of electronic, computerized, digitized gadget that your grandchildren have to show you how to use.

Anyone recall Big Chief tablets with pages of paper that had wood chips embedded in them so big that your pencil skipped when you wrote over one? However, no batteries were required.

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



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