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In Celebration of Ranching

PEOPLE stick to ranching because they love the feel of a quick little horse moving intently after cattle, or the smell of greasewood after summer rain or new-cut alfalfa on a spring morning, or the stretch of damp rawhide as they work at braiding a riata, or the look of a mother cow as she trails her dusty way back to her calf after a long walk to water. People stick to it because they enjoy the feel and smell and sound of things, and because they share those mostly unspoken loves with other people they can trust as being somewhere near to decent.

All over the American West cowboys and ranchwomen and farmhands and sheepherders have been gathering to declaim their verse to one another. Such gatherings are heartbreaking in their openness once all the hype and nonsense has slipped aside. Like the other side of that bloody-knuckled coin which is rodeo, these are celebrations of things ranchland people respect and care about most deeply - the land they have chosen to live on, their work, and, right at the center, one another, this companionship.

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As the economics of ranching deteriorates, our good people seem driven to open themselves. We can all take heart from their willingness to have a try at naming those things they take to be sacred.

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