Old Cowboys and the Cowboy Way

by Tom Sidwell

This is well worth your time to watch these excerpts from the original 1916 cellulose nitrate film.  Old cowboys will appreciate this.  The setting is the Tannehill Brothers 92,000 acre lease on the Mescalero Apache Reservation in 1916.  It amazes me that this film even exists.  Having spent time on this land over the years, and working out there the summers of 1963 and 64, I recognize the locations quite well.  By then the Reservation was no longer leased for grazing, the Tribe had formed its own Cattle Growers Association which ran the cattle operation.

I can attest to three things.  One, there was a helluva lot less tree and shrub cover on that land in 1916 than there is now.  Second, they had more cowboys working in 1916 than 48 years later.  Third, as far as I can tell the only thing that changed with cowboying, at least on the Res., over the 48 years from 1916 to 1964 was that they no longer used a wagon and team of horses.  They had converted the chuck wagon to a trailer pulled by a 1955 Chevy.

The rest of the cowboy work basically remained the same.  The cowboys were each assigned a string of horses, usually none of them were broke, so a cowboy had to break his horses and work cattle at the same time.  The shoeing was usually done by a couple of the hands that were good at it, in exchange for other favors, such as topping off their worst horses.

I noticed that the cook wagon was set up pretty much the same way with a wagon sheet.  Also, please notice the cowboys had their bedrolls laid out near the wagon.  Also, please notice them penning the remuda with a rope corral, with cowboys going inside to catch horses by throwing a julienne with their rope.

The summers I was there, the wagon boss, or foreman, was a tough old fellow named Jim Campbell, born in 1900, 64 years old, no retirement in sight, had spent every summer of his life after age 10 sleeping on the ground in a bedroll.  He was one hell of a hand.

All of those old cowboys are gone now.  I treasure those experiences and memories.  Those experiences had a great influence on my life – I’ve always had a soft spot for old cowboys and old-time ranchers.  I hope you old cowboys and cowboy-sympathizers enjoy this as much as I did.

Also, following the Mescalero film, there is a longer video about ranching in Northeastern NM that is also excellent.

A Handbook for Ranch Managers Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual Environmental & Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian View Combat Shooter's Handbook Reconnaissance Marine MCI 03.32f: Marine Corps Institute The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other Misfits

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Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference ManualPlanned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual. This is the ideal squeal to A Handbook for Ranch Managers.  Although the ecological principles remain the same, what was originally known as “The Savory Grazing Method” now answers to a multitude of different names: ranching for profit, holistic management, managed grazing, mob grazing, management intensive grazing, etc. Land & Livestock International, Inc. uses “Restoration Grazing” under its “Managing the Ranch as a Business” program.” No mater what you call it, this summary and synopsis will guide you step by step through the process and teach you how to use it as it was originally intended. No more excuses for failing to complete your grazing plans.


About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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One Response to Old Cowboys and the Cowboy Way

  1. Rich says:

    The 1916 roundup film with those guys trying to work with scarcely broke horses reminds me of a day job I had once in the 1960s helping a guy who’d been hired to round up steers from a Kansas Flint Hills pasture. He had two horses: one broke to death, the other barely broke enough to allow a man to mount. Naturally, he gave me the latter, and that horse and I almost did more harm than good all day. When we galloped after a steer, he would run off and half the time when I pulled his head around to get him stop, it was on a ridge where we would soon be running downhill with his head pulled back, which was never my plan. It was a frustrating day and while the horse did get a tad bit better by the time we finished, I developed a great respect for cowboys on ranches where they were expected to work cattle on horses that were essentially unbroke.


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