As you all know, I’m the in-house nostalgia guy, I love (for a lack of better word’s) old shit! I think it is more of a nature over nurture situation then anything, but I will surely validate the parking on both sides. I drive a truck that most people would have put out to pasture long ago, I still don’t own a smart phone, I cook in a cast iron skillet, my favorite pistols *gulp, losing credibility* are single action REVOLVERS. I love new technology, but I don’t believe that it answers anything that we didn’t have answers for already. It’s just easier…
The cold bitterly rips at your face, as the bright white tundra draws water from your eyes. “Well I guess it is pretty enough to cry about” you mutter to yourself as your horse mindlessly gallops across the barren frozen ground. The meat supply is getting tragically low, and grocery stores are not going to be a reality for 100 years. This is the frontier, and you are ” A COWBOY”, limitless possibilities are before you and there is only one thing that determines how far you go. YOU! Hugh Glass, Jim Bridger, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Jedediah Smith, Toussaint Charbonneau, Meriweather Lewis, William Clark, Jim Bowie and Theodore Roosevelt, all cowboys. Call them frontiersmen, explorers, revolutionaries, or whatever you deem fit, but they were all cowboys. Long days in the saddle, a warm meal meant being a successful hunter, and a proficient fire builder. Bedding consisted of a Hudson Bay blanket and a hat you could turn down over your ears.Red meat is a commodity, that not only sustains the hunger in your guts, but also the drive in your heart. It is literally everywhere, antelope, deer, bear, elk, and buffalo. From Hugh Glass’s Angstadt rifle (not Anstadt) to Teddy Roosevelts hoary .405 Winchester, The Peacemaker… anything with 4 legs and made of meat was fair game, and ripe or the taking. Your livelihood, and your lineage tetters on your ability to make the best of an opportunity rich environment filled with hardships. Smallpox, diphtheria, whooping-cough, tuberculosis, and cholera all lurk right in front of you, as you stare upon a horizon of limitless possibility. You know why you never see a picture of an overweight frontiersmen? Because if you wanted a snack you had to go kill it! We can patent this, we can call it the “Cowboy Diet”. Wake up with the sun, build up your fire, perk some coffee (No international delights creamer here), eat a handful of dried meat, work your ass off until the sun gets real low in the western sky. Then, you guessed it, more jerky! If you want a more substantial meal, you have to head off on your horse and kill some. No man can eat a whole buffalo in one sitting, so you would latch together sticks with short lengths of rawhide and, you guessed it… Make jerky, or if you were of the forward thinking side, you would make a happy little concoction called “pemmican”. For those that don’t know, pemmican was, and is, the powerbar of the working man. Dried meat (ground after drying to the consistency of powder sometimes), dried fruits (blueberries, choke cherries, cranberries, saskatoon berries, raisins or huckleberries) to that you would add fat rendered from your game in a ratio of 1:1:1. These little bundles of high protein, good fat, and sweet-tart fruit last for 10 YEARS. In the 1800’s your life expectancy was only 58 years, or 6 batches of this great stuff! But beyond the food (sorry about the fat kid tangent), the old west was full of life, sustainable goods, and it was a complete blank canvas. No man wore only one hat. You were the hunter, the gatherer,the butcher. The logger, the saw mill, the carpenter. You are the beginning and the end. The Alpha and the Omega. As the early morning horizon shows its hues of purple and orange, you are in charge of your destiny. You make your own clothes ( if you’re looking for a new read try “deerskins into buckskins” by Matt Richards), you derive your own food pyramid, and you make all your own rules. The rifle in your scabbard, and the pistol on your gunbelt, are both reminders of your day-to-day struggles. Every item that you poses is a need, not a luxury, and you have pride in all of it. A good hat, good leather boots, quality arms and the ability to maintain them… It is the most simple/complicated life imaginable.
Cowboys were the first survivalist, the first preppers, the first 2A advocates and the first conservationists. The cowboy stood for the ideas of AMERICA. The constant fight, the grind. Bust your butt till the day runs out of hours, take in a few episodes of a good fire, then turn in for the night. Go to sleep tired from your works, not from the stress of expectations. When the weather gets tough, pull down your hat and keep going. The only thing that you can truly rely on is you! Every little boy wants to be a cowboy… This one still does.
-Grant Willoughby 02/12/2017-