The Photo Album
The author shortly before she took the job of camp cook at Douglas Lake. A university drop-out, her life-style was somewhat, ah, counter-cultural. Unsure of what she wanted out of life, she was open to any kind of new and unusual experience. Life in a remote cow-camp appealed to her sense of adventure.
Most of her extensive riding experience to this point had been bareback. Here she was still of the smug if silent opinion that cowboys only used saddles because they weren't good enough riders to stay on any other way. However, the first time she chewed snoose, she was thankful to be in a saddle because when the nicotine hit her bloodstream, she suddenly didn't know which way was up. She then discovered a very basic use for the horn and decided now that this was the real reason cowboys preferred to be firmly settled in a pair of stirrups.
Her guitar was a constant companion in those days. Song-writing was a way of wrestling with thoughts, emotions, conflicts and life itself. Here she is singing in the Dry Farm cookhouse.
"I never thought that I'd ever be a cowgirl
Never thought I'd ever give a cowboy the time of day
But you know, it wasn't long
Before I sang a sweet country song
No, it wasn't long before it seemed I'd never go away"
-from "Farewell to the Cowboys"
Her favourite camp, Raspberry: "The camp comprised a cluster of dilapidated buildings sprawled at the bottom of a long, steep slope. The scene was wild, deserted, and beautiful in a haunting sort of way. Tall, unruly rye grass was everywhere. There wasn't a tree in sight. Clumps of bushes gathered here and there along the edge of the creek, which flowed about twenty paces from the cookhouse porch. This time, my personal outhouse had a peaceful view of the creek. As for amenities, it was the same as Dry Farm there were none." (Page 13)
One of the cowboys taught her to rope. With this skill she was able to stay on one winter, helping daily with first roping and then doctoring any sick ones among the 2500 weanling steers. With lots of practice under her belt, she was ready to try competitive team-roping the next summer. Here she is ready with a heel loop as her boss is snapping one on the head. They "stretched" this one lickety-split.
"I was always so independent
Liked to rely only on myself
I never would have admitted
I really needed anyone else
It took a long time for me to realize
I was really not so strong
And now that I've found the strength of Jesus
Don't know how I used to get along"
-from "I Found the Love of Jesus"
"My new boots fit like a glove. And speaking of which, I ordered a tight pair of leather roping gloves from the Home Ranch store. They came with the next grub order. I took the bandanna off my head and put the new hat in its place, refolded the bandanna and tied it around my neck. It had taken some time, but the hippie really was becoming a cowgirl." (Page 198-199)
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