Saturday, September 14, 2019


          I’ve just finished reading a full-page article in Bloomberg Businessweek about the correct length of pants.
“The correct length of a pair of pants, like a well-made martini, is a question of proportion.  And like martinis, there are strong feelings about the right way to blend taste, trend, and tradition.
          Historically, a wider trouser has been worn long enough to rest on the top of the shoe, which creates a break in the fabric in front of the shin.”

          The article goes on – and on – about what was once considered to be “a good break”, and the modern “fashionable” trend for shorter “slim-fit” pants that expose even the ankles.

          I’m a cowboy.  I don’t care about “fashion”.  I care only about practicality.
I wear only Wranglers.  I wear blue denim Wranglers for work on the ranch, and colored Wranglers when operating incognito as a healthcare administrator and business executive. I’ve worn black Wranglers and a wool frock coat to the governor’s inaugural ball. I’ve worn black Wranglers and a tuxedo coat to a wedding.  And I’ve recently purchased a light merino wool and silk dress-coat that I plan to wear with brown Wranglers.

My pants don’t “break” – they “gather”.

Cowboys don’t wear their jeans long to make a fashion statement.  They wear them long because they spend time in the saddle.  When knees are bent to provide proper support in the stirrups, all the slack in those pants legs is taken up.  When cowboys stand upright, those jeans – which were the proper length when ahorseback – are now a couple of inches too long for the “good break” that was once demanded by “fashion”.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Trips to Town

            I make the trip to town as seldom as possible.  The ranch is on a rough gravel road that literally beats a pickup to pieces.  Every trip to town takes up an hour and a half of my time, and consumes expensive tires and fuel.  But yesterday I went to town not just once – but twice.
            In the early days of this ranch, Grandpa went to town only a few times a year.  Once in June to haul in the wool sheared from his sheep, and once in September to trail in his lambs to sell.
            In my early years as a cowboy, we went to town every month to cash my paycheck to buy clothing and groceries.

            Yesterday I was finishing up the last of the hay-stacking when a chain on my stackwagon came apart.  I had no repair parts on hand.
A call to the parts store in Big Timber assured me they had the master link and half-link that I needed. 
Big Timber is a smaller town than Livingston, but the road is much better: only six miles of gravel and sixteen miles of paved highway – a half hour driving time.  They had the parts laid out for me, but I still had to stop for fuel.
But when I started to repair the chain, I found that they had sent a #60 half-link rather than the #2060 I had requested.  The links were in plastic packages with printing on both sides, and I hadn’t examined them carefully.
I made another call to be sure they had the 2060 half-link, and it was 5:30 when I arrived back at the parts store.  Someone had put the #60 link in the wrong bin, they told me apologetically.
I was able to make the repair and finish stacking all the hay before dark.

What with meetings, town business, and parts runs, I end up in town a couple of times every week these days – even though I hate to make the trip.  But I had reason to do some work with the road department in Gallatin County a few years back.
Bozeman is the epitome of urban sprawl.  People move there to enjoy the “rural” lifestyle.  But these people apparently don’t enjoy the rural environment enough to stay in the country.  With mom and dad driving to work, and the kids in sports and dance class - the road engineers in Gallatin County figure the average “rural” family makes four trips per day to town.

I would be happier if I never had to leave the ranch.  Why do people bother to live in the country if they are going to spend all their time in town?