Boys grow older, and, for most, a small part of them doesn’t want to grow up—I can attest to that myself. I can feel it when I watch how some cowboys behave, with all the hoopin’ and hollerin’ and “git along, little dogies” stuff—that’s part of the reason some of us (no matter our age) have a secret wish to be a cowboy. Something about that wild nature is appealing to me and hearkens back to those childhood fantasies of rough-and-tumble glory.
But no experience quite brought this into focus as much as my meeting with Becky Smith in 1991 at B-C Ranch. That rough-and-tumble cowboy behavior—she didn’t subscribe to that. She ran her ranch differently, with a crew of all women who prided themselves on taking a gentler approach.
“We’ve used guys before, trying to help us do the roundup,” she told us, describing how the men’s antics would stir up the cattle. “So, I just called it quits.”
We tagged along as Becky and her hands drove the cattle from one pasture to another. The volunteer team consisted of a teacher, a motel manager, a veterinarian and her assistant, and a few other friends. The whole process seemed orderly, well planned, and, well, oddly calm.
I’ve been on my share of cattle drives in the last fifty years of traveling Texas. I rode with Charlie III on the YO. I helped drive cattle across the mouth of the Colorado River. I even saddled up a time or two with Tom Christian at his place on the edge of Palo Duro Canyon.
But Becky Smith’s approach on the B-C made this episode one to remember.