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Views and opinions: How to shake out the dudes from the genuine cowhands


In the sorting alley, it's easy to separate the dudes from the real cowboys. You may be a dude if any of these apply to you:

There are sheets on your bed in the bunkhouse.

The camp cookie is a 3-star Michelin chef.

When you set out for the day's work, you are provided a sack lunch and a wine cooler.

The ratio of riders to cows exceeds 2:1 and the "trail boss" sends you and three others to go retrieve one old wayward arthritic cow.

You have to pay for the privilege of getting baked past well-done by the sun, bucked off, gored or losing your finger in a dally or a squeeze chute.

Your horse has one speed: Slow. And, there's a seatbelt on your saddle.

Instead of waking up the rooster, the rooster wakes you up.

You must sign a stack of waivers before working cattle, absolving the owner of all responsibility in case of your death.

In the evening you sit around a campfire and roast your wienies, burn your marshmallows, toast your buns and sing old cowboy songs like: "Happy trails to you/Until we meet again."

There's more than one course for supper and one of the courses is pheasant under glass; you're given a full setting of silverware to work with; and the chef lights your dessert on fire.

The ranch where you "hired on" has a gift shop.

After a long day of riding you "get your kinks worked out" by a gorgeous Scandinavian massage-babe who doesn't speak English.

Instead of playing poker for matchsticks in the evening, you sip wine while playing chess or backgammon.

You and your fellow hands are all wearing matching "scarves.”

There is heat in the bunkhouse that doesn't originate from someone chopping wood.

One of the afternoon activities includes a seminar titled "Living With the Wonderful Wolf."

You spend all day pushing the same pathetic, trail-broke set of reject misfit cattle right back to where you started that morning.

The resident cow dog is a hairless Chihuahua, miniature toy poodle or Bichon Frise.

There is a bidet in the bunkhouse.

There is a bookshelf in the bunkhouse with titles by Danielle Steele or Nora Roberts and at least one copy of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

You don't have to shoe your own horse or roll your own smokes.

Your remuda consists of one or more of the following: A Paso Fino, miniature horse or BLM reject.

There is no place to hang your twine on your saddle, which is okay because there's no horn either where you could take a dally. If you knew how.

Before you arrive you are reminded to bring lip gloss, swimsuit and sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

There is time during your day set aside for either a nap, meditation or an hour in the kitchen learning how to cook French pastry.

There is no one in the bunkhouse named One Thumb, Stinky Pete, Lupe Rellano, Bowlegs, Skeeter, Lippy, Horse Face, Post Hole, Coyote, Booger, Eatumup, Tex, Lying Jim, Thunder Butt, Gloomy or Dirty Shirt Smith.

You are invited to eat up at the Big House on more than one occasion.

There doesn't appear to be a haystack anywhere on the ranch.

You look around and everyone is wearing gloves – and it's not even below zero.

On your last night everyone goes around the fire and says how their stay has affected their “inner cowperson."


The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers may log on to to order any of Lee Pitts’ books. Those with questions or comments for Lee may write to him in care of this publication.