I don’t see myself as a liaison between the ranching world and city dwellers. I don’t use my blog or Facebook posts to explain our way of life to non-agricultural consumers. I mostly blog to amuse myself and make fun of my friends. I always blog with a pretty strong self-censor, too, because if outsiders knew what really went down in the buckaroo world, they would freak out. Heck, if I knew what really went down I probably freak out, too, and I’m married to a buckaroo. I know I only hear about the wife-approved gunfights and bronco rides.
On Saturday, February 1st I’ll be on a panel with two other ranch women discussing what it means to “be cowboy in a digital age.” It doesn’t seem terribly different from being cowboy in a non-digital age; there still is no app for doctoring calves or how to shape your hat.
This stock truck is definitely from the pre-digital age.
Roulette is like, “Hey, guys, what’s a digital?”
More and more cowboys are creating Facebook profiles. There are pages for buckaroos, cowhands, trading gear, buying horses, and finding jobs. With more cell towers popping up across the sagebrush sea, more cowboys are packing cell phones next to their cans of chew in their shirt pockets. I have a Facebook page, and am so grateful for the one-dimensional daily social interaction.
Social media and the Internet takes the edge off the isolation and help keep me sane out here 100 miles from town. Without those connections to humanity, I would either be a nutcase or a drunk. Just for fun, maybe both. But after I check the stats on my latest blog post or respond to a new Facebook comment, I realize I’m out of fresh fruit and it’s still 10 days until my next trip to town. I say the f-word, open a can of pears, and realize that being cowboy in the digital age hasn’t changed the reality of being a cowboy.
Cowboys and their families still live miles (and sometimes miles and miles and miles) away from the conveniences of town, including but not limited to grocery stores, movie theaters, hair salons and babysitters. Sure, I can post a cute picture of my kid and a barn cat on Facebook and glow with parental pride reading the comments, but when I want to go on a date with my husband and have some time away from the baby, I can’t. It’s a four-hour round trip to town, so figure in dinner and a movie, that’s about a 7-hour trip. Add in another hour for fueling up the pickup and picking up the inevitable few groceries, and that’s an 8-hour date.
We’re not that different from the cowboys of the pre-digital age when we grill some steaks, crank up the Moe Bandy*, and play Dominoes while the baby is occupied with smashing peas in her high chair. When the baby is done with her dinner, our “date” is also done.
We enjoy our ultra-rural lifestyle. It’s not an accident; we chose to live in isolation because we don’t like people. Just kidding! We like people, and it’s fun to visit friends while in town and drink too much while telling stories at the Cowboy Bar. It’s fun to look at pictures and leave comments on Facebook, but it’s also fun to log out, walk outside, and rope the dummy for dish washing duty. Being cowboy in the digital age gives isolated ranch dwellers the choice of increased social interaction.
This is my backyard. No cell towers, no power lines, no highways, no convenience stores with $0.79 burritos. Just miles and miles of beautiful desert.
I’m smiling because I know I’m lucky to live here. That, and my baby fell asleep on my chest. I love it when she does that.
If you’re around Elko, Nevada next weekend, stop by the Convention Center on February 1 at 2:30 PM for the discussion on Being Cowboy in a Digital Age. Smart phones are allowed; we’re in town, so there’s cell service 🙂
Look for the Nevada Rancher magazine on Facebook and call 866-644-5011 to subscribe. We’d love to have you as a reader.
*Becky: Jim and I (mostly me) like to periodically yell out “Who is it? Moe Bandy!” and then laugh hysterically. Look what you and your husband started 🙂