Saturday, November 21, 2009

WHO GETS THE TURKEY LEG?


Cowgirl Sass & Savvy Julie Carter

Everywhere I turn, I hear people making plans for next week. A trip, shopping, cooking and the inspiration for it all -Thanksgiving Dinner.
In the peripheral, there are bets on football games and plots for spending vacation time from school classes.
Paintball wars, cattle workings, roping, skiing and lots and lots of eating, napping, visiting and family togetherness. If the ropers aren't going to a roping, they will discuss at length, every roping they have ever entered in their life.
Somehow, a turkey drumstick, dressing and of course the traditional pumpkin pie, still have the power to bring the family home, even from afar.
Almost everything that takes place on Thanksgiving could happen on another day of the year. I'm fairly sure the Pilgrims at the first such event didn't look at the calendar and say, "Let's do this on a Thurs-day in November. Is that good for you?"
So what is it really that keeps us coming back to the historical observance of collecting a crowd, cooking up everything in the house and then some, eating until it's gone and then moaning our way back to our tepees and cabins.
I believe it is the tradition as much as the food that brings families together year after year, under all circumstances. And rural America re-mains steeped in tradition for many things, but none more than a traditional holiday.
We don't get too revved up about President's Day, Mother's Day (except to hold a branding) and Secretary's Day, but give us the 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas and we'll show you some genuine Yee-Haw down-home country tradition.
There are a few folks that hold with the thought that the Pilgrims more likely ate chicken-fried elk steak than turkey and chose to follow that menu instead of the bird.
Others have sought a variation to the roasted fowl and opted for the deep-fried version.
This cooking method generated a retail Tsunami of turkey deep-fryers followed by the landslide of warnings about how the combination of fire and hot oil can quickly turn a fryer into a vertical flame thrower.
This year, our family traditions will again be orchestrated by my mother, who started the entire thing for my generation.
She will cook a turkey, make the best stuffing in the world, ours anyway, and we'll gather to eat at her big oak table that will be stretched with extra leaves from round to a long oval.
We, as a family, have been putting our family traditions "on the table" at Mom's house for five decades, and all of those have been around that oak table. As we grew to adulthood, the next wave was the grandchildren, and then great-grandchildren. If that table could talk ...
This Thanksgiving, our newest family member will be introduced to roundtable family holidays. He is just six months old and making his debut to New Mexico and grandma's Thanksgiving.
It's not quite like the days of old when "over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go" offered images of horse-drawn sleighs and piles of snow.
We've evolved to pickup trucks, baby car seats, long miles of paved highways in a snow-free Southwest. But the destination promises the same as the song:
Over the river, and through the wood -
Now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!
Enjoy the holiday however you spend it. You are making memories for your family to treasure in the next generations

Sunday, November 15, 2009

COWBOY SHORTS

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy Julie Carter

Now that I have your attention, this is not about underwear, mostly. In the day-to-day nonsense and banter that whips through the cowboy world, there are always a few short stories that offer up a chuckle but aren't a volume on their own.
These are a few of those "shorts."
First, I will report that the buxom Fastenal nuts and bolts salesgirl that had our man Dan the Team Roper, aka farm store purchasing agent, so interested in fasteners, has quit. She's been replaced by just a regular guy.
Dan is broken hearted, bought no more bolts but did admit to having a three-year supply already in stock.
There seems to be a pattern here that keeps him in a state of bachelorhood with his dog Mary Margaret and cat Gato for company.
The upside is that all is well since he acquired the new toaster oven. He finds solace in cooking.
While the nuts and bolts business has plummeted at the New Holland store, Dan is admiring his friend Rob's operating plan.
Rob says he has three gals on the line and one on his "to-do" list.
While he seems to have one romantic disaster after another, it hasn't occurred to him that it could be his technique.
He told the current gal he didn't have any more time to spend with her.
This was while telling another that he had out there on the horizon and at the phone call stage, that he was out of a girlfriend at present because he mostly kept one around for recreational purposes.
She did not relate to that well at all.
From romance to ropers
Lloyd and Russell are both ace-high, in-demand heelers and the two of them seem to trade out winning it all at every event where they both show up to rope.
Russell is looking for a new heel horse and when Lloyd got word, he just happened to have a whizbang great heel horse for sale.
He wants a mere $17,500 for him.
In only the length of time it took to rope another steer, down the arena and back to the roping boxes, Lloyd decided he didn't want Russell to have that horse.
"Russell would be too hard to beat if he had that horse," he commented. "I better keep him for myself."
Seems the price or the quality isn't always what dictates a sale in the horse trading business.
Sometimes you have to find every edge you can to stay on top, even not selling the horse that was for sale.
OK, here's the underwear story.
It was a big roping, and a pretty flashy gal-roper named Lisa had drawn a steer with a guy she knew, but didn't see often.
The catch-up visiting commenced. The team knew approximately when they'd have to rope in their rotation, but somehow managed to miss their call and their steer was turned out.
When they finally wandered up to the roping box end of the arena and realized they'd missed their run, the guy-end of this team when up to the announcer fully armed with a plausible reason.
In case you missed it, team ropers are notorious for their excuses.
He told the announcer that the reason they'd missed the call was because Lisa's bra strap had broken and he'd been tasked with the chore of fixing it.
A twinkle in his eye and a nod toward the well-endowed Lisa, cinched the deal.
Whether the announcer really bought the story or not is doubtful, but he rewarded the effort by giving them another steer.
Only a male roping with a female would come up with a story like that to make it her fault. He was hilariously proud of himself. She was not at all entertained.
If you have a smile, share it. If don't own one, find one. Life is much better if you laugh.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A PRICKLY SITUATION


By Julie Carter/ Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

There he was, standing in all his glory, and his underwear, with his glow-in-the-dark white skin glaring in the late afternoon sun.
His spindly cowboy legs were still in his boots and his hat and sunglasses were in their places.
He was holding his clothes in his right hand and a set of broken bridle reins in the other.
His wife had been doing chores at home. That was the deal.
With 23 head of horses on the place, give or take a few depending if anyone had hauled any off to the sale, or drug a few home, there was never any shortage of work to be done - feeding or riding.
Each afternoon she takes on the feeding duty while he saddles up a young, green horse to put some miles on before sunset.
It is a good life for them, but it also keeps any dull moments from finding their way to the ranch.
The wife looked up from her work when a pretty bay Hancock filly came in a high lope up the road, still wearing a saddle but without the reins on the headstall and worse yet, without her rider.
Trying not to let fear overcome her, the wife ignored the alarms going off in her heart and in her head. She and the ever-present dog jumped on the Polaris Ranger and zoomed off to find the missing cowboy on the mountain.
Calling his name as she searched the hillsides, she soon heard him holler back at her. As she drove up on the scene, her first words were, "What in the hell are you doing?"
This, by the way, is a phrase of standard dialogue if you are married to a cowboy and one that both parties will use with wild abandon.
There is no good answer to that question in a situation like this, but the cowboy gave it his best effort.
"The filly spooked and when she jumped, I hung a spur in her accidentally," he said "She really went to bucking, and was really getting with it. Then all of a sudden, a rein snapped."
"I tried to pull her around with the other rein to get her stopped," he said. "But it broke, too. Then she was really getting with it and well, she just flat bucked me off."
His wife was obviously concerned for him, as he wasn't a kid anymore and those hard landings take their toll. However, she was somewhat more concerned about why he was standing there on the hillside half naked.
Asking about the obvious seemed called for. "So why are you walking home naked?"
"She bucked me off in a prickly pear cactus," he said as he turned to reveal millions of cactus spears sticking in the backside of his body.
It took his wife and daughter the better part of six hours to tweeze the cactus spines out of his back, arm, leg, head and other assorted assaulted spots.
The pain finally did subside.
However, the humiliation of his plight over those broken bridle reins will last for as long as anyone remembers the story. I'm just doing my part.
Julie can be reached for comment at jcarter@tularosa.net

Monday, November 2, 2009

CALL OF THE WILD

BY Julie Carter
There is something about the cool fall air that brings out the plaid jackets, crock pot recipes and the smell of cedar burning in a wood stove. It is also Mother Nature's call of the wild to the world of hunters.
The primal instinct to hunt and kill "a little winter meat" rises up like sap in a maple tree. It brings out in men the same stalk, kill and drag-it-home instinct as it did in the days of the cave men.
Die-hard hunters look offended if you should ask them, "You going hunting this year?" In their minds it is a national holiday and they really do believe that. Ask any crew boss with a few hunters in his employment.
Hunting season is marked on the calendar before anything else for the year. Vacation time is scheduled around the season's dates.
I've known men that actually would quit a job in order to be able to go hunting. And another who would injure himself just enough to qualify for some paid time off, which of course, he used to go hunting. Neanderthal instincts are alive and well.
I know. There was a time when hunting kept food on the table, whether the table was a rock in a cave or a crudely built slab table in a log cabin. Don't dare mention that the cost of the sport far outweighs any justification said hunter can ever give for the possibility of the meat he is promising for the freezer.
The sport remains a huge business in many states and is very big business in the mountain counties of New Mexico. I've never been able to put a solid Advertisement dollar value on the business statewide or what it pours into the economy in Lincoln County alone, but it's huge.
Between the hunters who come on their own and the guides and outfitters who import a good number from faraway points on the map, hunting brings income to the coffers of the businesses in town. Just try elbowing your way through the camouflaged shoppers at Walmart prior to or during a hunt.
Signs announcing the sale of licenses, food and beer flash up and down the streets and often free meals are offered to the hunters by grateful merchants. One fella said he spent $200 in gas driving from burg to burg to take part in the meals. He wasn't a hunter, just an eater.
The motels and restaurants are a sea of camouflage with parking lots filled with pickups and trailers loaded to the brim with coolers, 4-wheelers and camping paraphernalia.
As one local commented when he went into the grocery store to get a loaf of bread, only to find an endless checkout line, "I decided it was faster to go home and make biscuits."
I grew up in a family of hunters. We lived in the mountains, so the hunters hunted early in the mornings, did a day's work, squeezed in some hunting before sundown, and slept in their own beds each night. Camping was for the out-of-staters.
For us, hunting was a generational skill passed on from the days of truly needing winter meat.
My grandmother would laugh at the hunters when they arrived home empty-handed and telling tales of the big tracks they saw, but never spotted an game animal. "Well. I guess we'll just cook up some track soup," she would say.
One of the best things that has evolved over the years in this hunting deal is that now, the women can and do say "you killed it, you clean it." No Wilma Flintstone dresses hanging around this outfit. But I do have some of her jewelry!

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