Getter Done Gals


Friday, October 29, 2010

The cowboy and the skinwalker

The cowboy and the skinwalker
Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter

It happened on a high desert ranch in Navajo country. 

The mesa lands surrounded the canyons and the cedar-covered hillsides and all were painted in layers of bold colors. 

The day wore a hushed stillness broken by the occasional flapping sound of a crow on the wing.

A lone cowboy was checking cattle, riding along at a slow trot when a movement caught his eye. 

Across the canyon, very deep and wide, he could see a man walking. He pulled his horse to a stop, squinting to make sure of what he was seeing.

In the distance, he could see what he knew to be an Indian dressed in the traditional animal-hide apparel of a century ago. 

The fact that the Indian was afoot so far from civilization raised a curiosity in the cowboy. 

He navigated his way across the canyon in one of the few places that it could be crossed. There he found some old cliff dwellings and "picture rocks," bringing him to the thought that perhaps the Indian had been praying there in an ancient place of worship.

The cowboy looked around but the man seemed to have disappeared. He rode to the spot where he saw him from across the canyon and found not the man, but where he had been sitting, along with another curious sight.

Hanging on a large cedar, like ornaments on a Christmas tree, were little figurines made of grass and bound with string. One of them, swaying only slightly in a non-existent breeze, was quite clearly a man on a horse. 

A cold shiver went down his spine. He shook it off and began to look around for signs of the man he'd seen.

He found the Indian's tracks and followed them for a short distance. They all but disappeared in the rocks so he circled the area looking for more tracks.

All he could find were the tracks of several coyotes.

"I figured he was hiding in the huge cracks in the rocks so as not to be bothered," the cowboy related in telling the tale "So I rode away respectfully, crossed back over the canyon and went on to finish my day's work."

The next night, the cowboy was joined in camp by a Navajo friend of his named Bobby. They sat by the fire and over coffee, the cowboy told Bobby about what he had seen the day before.

Even in the dim firelight, the cowboy could see Bobby's deep brown skin turn very pale.
He was visibly spooked when he asked the cowboy if he believed in witches and demons or devils.
The cowboy, without hesitation, replied a simple, "No."

Bobby, his voice shaking, began to tell the cowboy about skinwalkers. Although they are most frequently seen as a coyote, wolf, owl, fox, or crow, the yee naaldlooshii is said to have the power to assume the form of any animal they choose, depending on what kind of abilities they need.

Some Navajo also believe that skinwalkers have the ability to steal the "skin" or body of a person. 
The Navajo believe that if you lock eyes with a skinwalker they can absorb themselves into your body.

Bobby told the cowboy that his lack of belief in bad spirits made his soul too strong for the skinwalker. 
"The little doll on the horse that was hanging in the tree was the tool he made to call you over to his side of the canyon," Bobby told him. "When you lost his tracks, then found several sets of coyote tracks, it was him and his clan leaving when he couldn't enter your body.

"Only one of them will change shape and be seen," said Bobby. "That's why you only saw one man. They didn't want you to feel outnumbered. Stay away from them, and they'll move on."

The legend of skinwalkers comes with many stories and warnings, all common with their elements of evil and elusiveness that are magnified by the dark of night. 

But there is one cowboy that knows what he saw in broad daylight. 

Never again did he ride the desert canyon lands without feeling there were many eyes upon him.

Julie can be reached for comment at or at her website at

Cowgirls don't cry

Cowgirls don't cry
Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter

Little girls are not all born "cowgirl" tough. They also don't have to be a cowgirl to have the trait. 

However, many of those lessons are taught in the dust of a corral or at the end of a day so long that her saddle becomes a torture chamber and the dark has overtaken everything.

Daughters and their daddies have a special relationship that is an unpredictable mixture of tenderness and toughness. 

With a soft heart he will give in to her natural wiles that turn him to putty with the sound of her voice and the batting of her eyelashes. 

With an iron-tough determination, he will go beyond the bounds of good sense to protect her, even when it means evoking her anger and forcing a daughterly pout directed at his resolve.

With a soft voice reserved only for her, he will tell her that life will let her down and like the falls she has taken from her saddle horse, it'll hurt, but only for a little while.

"Honey," he'll say, "cowgirls don't cry."

In his guidance, he'll tell her, "When you fall off, you get right back on and ride. Don't wait, don't think about. Just do it. And honey, cowgirls don't cry."

Those life lessons will always serve her well. 

The taste of dirt in her mouth, the pain of a hard-ground landing and the sting of the tears as she fights them back are physical memories that translate to that "grown-up living" everybody talked about.

True to her training, she never let the world see her heart break; she was determined there would be no of a "fall apart." In the recesses of her mind, those words echoed like down a long canyon, "Honey, cowgirls don't cry."

Life gives no quarter to those in boots and jeans. It batters and buffets, tosses and slams. Whether natural or man-made, the storms in life keep coming. 

There have been times in my life when, in spite of that stainless-steel badge of courage I was handed as a very young girl, I cried.

I cried when my first horse, Ranger, died. I was 5 years old, he was 20-something and in a running fit of his last breaths of life, he raced the length of a meadow and then lay down as his heart stopped beating. I lost my first best friend that day.

I cried when my best buddy, our blue-eyed Australian shepherd, Sally, was no longer at my bedroom window every night to be let back into the house after my dad had put her out. 

The loss surpassed all the usual teenage heartbreak brought by peers, boys and the drama of growing up.

I cried when my dad sat before me and told me that we were moving from the ranch I'd known as home all my life. 

I was 16 and recall the moment still with a sharp pain in my heart and tears waiting to fall, not because of his words, but because it made him cry too.

Until that moment, I'd never seen my dad cry.

Through the years, there have been other occasions for tears. Happy tears and heart break tears. 

Sometimes I let them fall, but more often, I did not. "Honey, cowgirls don't cry."

When my dad lay dying at the age of 50, cheated of the life he worked to create, I cried every tear I hadn't cried up until then. 

It seemed as if they'd been stored for that moment when the pain of the loss far surpassed the indoctrination of "cowgirls don't cry."

And when it was over, so were the tears of that magnitude. I knew the lesson was not in the "not crying." It was in the determination to get back on and ride again. 

I finally understood that he wasn't telling me not to cry, not really. He was telling me to not quit and not stop trying.

What he was really saying was, "Cowgirls never give up."

Julie can be reach for comment at

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bits and peices from the boot box

Bits and pieces from the boot box
Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter

As short, funny stories fly through my life, I latch on to them and save them in a boot box to be shared with the world at some point. Boot boxes are the perfect place to store about everything.

Destination weddings
Missy and Randy planned to get married just as soon as she finished her Finance final at college. They had a "destination wedding" planned. Their destination was the local courthouse.

As they were leaving the courthouse, the deed done, signed and sealed, Randy told Missy she needed to drive, he was tired. New-wife dutiful, she obliged. 

About a block away from the courthouse he said to her, "You know, I don't have a big old money tree like your daddy."

Missy slammed on the brakes bringing the pickup to an abrupt halt. "My God Randy, couldn't we have had this conversation about 10 minutes ago? I'm already married to you now."

Women get the last word in every argument. Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument. Missy has proved that to Randy for 38 years now. 

Happily ever after
Not long ago a Southern Belle barrel racer was given her Senior Association Gold Card for being 75-plus years old and still competing.
She thanked the committee for their recognition and told them how much she appreciated the gesture. 

The association president assured her it was their pleasure. He mentioned how much they enjoyed seeing her and wished they could catch up with her a little more often. 

She replied, "Hopefully I'm going to be able to go to more rodeos now, because last week I put my husband in a rest home."

The president nodded and thought, "This lady makes team ropers look human."

Turning blue
Cleverness abounds when it comes to cowboys. Team ropers, contrary to common misconception, are no exception.

Tim had "had it." Every time he went to a roping, someone stole his roping gloves out of the back of his pickup. 

Standing before his washing machine, he dumped an entire bundle of new white cotton gloves into the tub along with a box of blue Rit dye.

Quite pleased with himself and this grand idea, he said, "Now I'll know immediately who's stealing my gloves."

Soon after, he called his girlfriend up and asked if she'd like to come along to a roping. He suggested she could sit in the grandstands where she could easily spot those who were wearing blue roping gloves. He'd appreciate her help and the information. 

Situating herself with a good viewpoint, it wasn't long before she was nearly rolling off the bleacher seats with uncontrollable laughter. Everybody that rode in the arena was wearing blue roping gloves.

No one would admit to stealing his gloves, even when Tim waved around the empty box and pointed out everyone had on blue gloves. 

Nope, no siree, didn't steal them, they told him with conviction. Bought them at the feed store right there locally. Didn't he know? Blue was the new fashion color.

Tim rode away muttering something about "I swear to Jesus, next time I'm dying them pink!"

The blue story wasn't over. Soon after the blue-glove roping, Tim called up his girlfriend in some distress. He didn't know that the blue dye would stay in his washer and he now had all blue shirts, all blue socks and all blue underwear.

In complete sympathy, sort of, she laughed and asked if there was any chance he thought someone was stealing his underwear? She suggested a Saturday night at the local honky tonk, checking to see who else might have blue underwear.

He was not as amused at the idea as she thought he should be.

Reminiscing about his rodeo career, a handsome 40ish cowboy stated, "I started riding bareback horses and bulls when I was 15. I rode both until I turned 22. Quit the bulls because I was a little better at the horses. And besides, I didn't like waiting around after the bareback riding to ride a bull at 10 p.m. I had to get to the dance!"

Julie can be reached for comment at

Whispers of the cottonwoods
Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter

A single cottonwood tree, gone bright yellow in the season, its leaves and branches framing a deep blue sky, looms above gently waving prairie grass wearing muted shades of beige and rust.

The scene is timeless both in reality and symbolically. The cottonwood tree is woven into the fabric of our lives, our history and better yet, our memories.

Whether you played in a schoolyard lined with them like sentries, or as a youth you lay in your bed on a summer night and listened to rustle of the leaves in the breeze through an open window, for most of us the cottonwood trees serve as reminder of the distant past.

And so it is with our country. 

In 1718, Franciscan monks and Indian converts built San Antonio de Valero, later to be named the "Alamo," the Spanish word for cottonwood, and referring to the stand of cottonwoods that line the nearby river.

Lewis and Clark stopped along the Yellowstone River on their return trip in the summer of 1806, "to make two canoes" out of cottonwood trees. A reference in their journal to the towering cottonwoods later gave name to the town of Big Timber, Montana.

Historically, travelers making their way across the vast and deserted plains scanned the horizon for the sight of cottonwoods, indicating a water source and possibly civilization.

The virgin forest of cottonwoods that once formed a rounded grove, the Bosque Redondo, was cut in the 1860s to build Fort Sumner, New Mexico. They served as fuel for the fires for hundreds soldiers and civilians who lived at the fort, as well as the 9,000 nomadic Native Americans who were forced to live on the surrounding reservation.

In three years, the groves were completely harvested causing a fuel shortage and severe soil erosion in the surrounding farm grounds. A year later the fort commander ordered 5,000 trees to be planted on the ditch banks and lining all bordering roadways.

America has a dozen or so towns named after the tree including Cottonwood, Arizona, a town birthed in 1874 and famous for bootlegging, feeding the miners and later, filming movies.

New Mexico had at least 12 towns named Cottonwood, none of which exist today.

Southeast of Abilene is Cottonwood, Texas, founded about 1875 by J.W. Love, who didn't think his name lent itself to town-naming, so the local abundance of cottonwood trees directed a second choice.

A reported rash of shootings with fatal results during the town's embryo period provided for a brief but colorful history. However, Cottonwood, Texas came only close to a real claim to fame in the Wild West. The Newton Brothers, train and bank robbers from Uvalde, Texas, used to live near Cottonwood. 

In 1937, Kansas officials adopted the cottonwood as the official state tree, most of which were planted by early pioneers.

My own history with cottonwoods is that of those friendly giants in our yard on the ranch in Colorado as well as the endless number of them lining miles of creek banks and hay meadows. 

In the fall, as children we played in the leaves, and in the spring, we endured the beaded strings of "cotton" that brought a season of sneezing. That perhaps was offset by the right-of-passage in learning how to fold a cottonwood leaf and make a whistle. 

They provided shade in the summer, wore a tire swing in perpetual motion, endured makeshift ladder rungs nailed to a trunk, and gave way to endless hours for countless years of boys climbing up and down and around.

They canopied a magical playground limited only by our imaginations as we built forts and had secret hideouts in the groves of the living as well as the dead trees. 

As a teen, my daydreams were brought to life when I became Velvet Brown, the girl who rode her horse to victory in the Grand National steeplechase. 

I would select a path through the fallen trees that allowed my horse to gather enough speed and momentum to jump over the larger deadfall. I soared in my dreams as I soared in the saddle.

I still love to lean against the trunk of a grand old cottonwood, slide my back down the rough bark to sit very still and quiet on the ground. And then listen.

Shhhhh, you can hear the leaves as they whisper secrets from the past.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Friday, October 1, 2010

The ultimate farmer

The ultimate farmer
Cowgirl Sass & Savvy by Julie Carter

The realtor’s invention of the 40-acre ranch brought agriculture holdings to town, so to speak. Those that dreamed of being landowners, ranchers and yes, even farmers, gained a way to fulfill that fantasy.

On a recent trip, I learned the dream is alive and well.

A well-heeled couple walked through the door of the Southern Colorado tractor store and explained to the man at the counter that they were setting up a big farm and needed to buy some equipment.

Dutifully he walked them through all the sizes and styles of tractors available as well as the assorted attachments. The missus emphasized their requirement for the “heavy duty” stuff so it would hold up to the hard use they planned to give it.

The tractor she picked out had nine steps to get up in the cab -- one of those really big monsters.

They also bought discs, hay rakes, balers, blades, plows, harrows and everything else that the dealership offered, taking advantage of the ongoing special -- “Buy one, get 3 percent off the next one.” Can't be too cash conscious when you're going into farming.

The next day the couple invited the implement dealer down to see their farm and for him to bring the papers to sign for all the equipment.  Jake arrived at what he assumed to be only the headquarters of the farming operation, not knowing for sure just how far toward the horizon the borders of this “big farm” went.

He looked around and the lady came out of the house, saying, “Come on, I'll show you around the farm.”

He walked with her to a brand new (still with the paper license plate) Grand Cherokee which had a trailer attached. He noticed the trailer had one 12-inch tire and one 18-inch tire on it. 

She complained that the trailer was not pulling very well at all. Kindly, he explained what he thought the problem to be. But just as if she didn’t hear him, in her next sentence she declared that since she is obviously going to have to buy a new trailer, she might as well get a new pick-up too.

Rather than unhook the trailer, she suggested they just walk around the farm. The tractor dealer was a little taken aback in that he really didn’t plan on spending all day hiking to look at a farm. It was then he found out the farm was 58.2 acres.

So as not to discourage the sale he was making, he indeed walked around the farm, even managing to keep a straight face.

During this stroll around the farm, the lady asked, "What do you think we should raise on our farm?"

Jake’s thoughts were, "You couldn't raise hell with a jug of whiskey. This is nothing but a rock pile."

But he said nothing, just shrugged and maintained a blank look.

Before he departed, the couple set up a time with him to get some tractor driving lessons, since neither of them had ever been close to a tractor except the day they were at the implement dealership.

He secured permission from a guy he knew to use a vacant 80 acres for the tractor driving lessons. His plan was to put the tractor and driver square in the middle of it and let them practice. He also promised to replace any fences that might get torn up.

Later that same day, he the missus driving a new Ford King Ranch pickup. He assumed that she is now also a rancher. 

Read on The Ultimate Farmer this Green Acres duo put more money into circulation faster than a Wall Street bailout plan. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Julie can be reached for comment at

The ultimate farmer continued

The ultimate farmer continued
Cowgirl Sass and Savvy by Julie Carter

Farming wasn’t their first choice for a new “retirement “career.  You will recall, this couple moved from the city to the country, purchased a farm (something less than 60 acres) and were buying every farm implement available, ready to go to work.

The farming plan was initiated by health issues suffered by Dr. Hicks, a pediatric surgeon. He graduated valedictorian from medical school in Ohio, migrated to a big hospital in Denver and until recently, enjoyed a lucrative successful career.

Now in his mid-50s, he had some sort of come-apart nervous wreck. The verdict was that he should retire, not be allowed around sharp objects and should take up a hobby.

Fishing was Dr. Hick¹s first choice. That went very well through the gearing up and making plans phase. However, when he actually got in his newly purchased boat, he just as quickly fell out of the boat, taking with him any delusion that this was the sport for him.

Next, Mrs. Hicks decided that he should take up hunting. He couldn¹t be trusted with a knife, so she got him a gun. Makes perfect sense to me.

She bought him a canned hunt on a high-fence game ranch and he shot one little doe. In his delight, he agreed that, indeed, this was the hobby for him. He had bagged this marvel with a .223 and promptly decided he needed a bigger gun. So he bought a .30-30 which seemed to be more appropriate for him.

Mrs. Hicks didn¹t want him having all the fun, so she opted to go along on the hunts. In preparation, she bought a .45-70, which is a genuine buffalo gun and certainly adequate for your average size elephant, should you encounter one. If she actually managed ever to hit anything she was hunting, it would need picked up with a stick and a spoon. Beyond that, guaranteed, it would knock her on her citified rear and dislocate her shoulder in the process.

Details aside, they now had a hobby.

Next they needed some place to shoot. That would explain their purchase of the rocky 58.2 acres. It came with a small herd of deer that called it home.

Immediately they planned to high fence the new farm, trap all the deer inside and shoot them, said Mrs. Hicks. It had not yet occurred to them that because of the high fence, once those deer were gone, no others would be able to access the farm.

They bought bundle after bundle of 15-foot T-posts for the high fence, making sure they had plenty. A quick use of a calculator, which they did not, indicated that if all the posts they bought were used, they would be about 9-1/2 inches apart around the entire perimeter of the 58.2 acres.

Jake, the man from the tractor store, had so impressed them with his knowledge of farming, fencing, tractors and all things necessary to their new life, they offered to hire him as their farm foreman.
He told them that as attractive as that sounded, he was pretty well tied to the tractor store.

The first tractor driving lesson went exactly as suspected.

Jake put Mrs. Hicks in the tractor in the middle of the borrowed 80-acre hay field. He reported that at one point, he and Mr. Hicks were running as fast as they could. When asked if they were trying to rescue the Mrs., he said, “Hell no, we were running for our lives. She was about to run over us.”

After the lesson, Mrs. Hicks asked Jake if there was any good place nearby to eat. Noting that Mr. Hicks was looking kind of pale and needed nourishment, he recommended a Mexican restaurant not far away.
Mr. Hicks got a happy look to his face just before Mrs. Hicks said, “You can¹t have Mexican food, it gives you gas.”

Jake, thinking it would be OK for Mr. Hicks to pass gas on his own farm, didn’t say so, but suggested a greasy spoon place on the square in town. “The hamburgers are pretty good,” he said.

Mrs. Hicks asked how to get to the square and Jake told her to drive to the center of town where the big courthouse was and it would be right there.

When they didn’t return after lunch, Jake wondered if perhaps he should have given the return directions as well.

The need for more tractor driving lessons was quite evident, but unfortunately Jake deducted that he is booked solid for at least the next year and is very unavailable.

Julie can be reached for comment at Visit her website at