An opening line will come to me as I feed horses, and driving down the road, I’ll be struck by how to organize a certain section. It is truly a fun, invigorating process.
The feature piece (Not For Sale, p. 58) I researched, reported, and wrote for this issue was one of those experiences. In a nutshell, ranchers in Southeast Colorado banded together to prevent a local Army base from expanding on to 7 million acres of private property.
Sometimes, being a patriot means putting a flag on your porch on July Fourth; sometimes, it means signing up to serve your country when it’s threatened; sometimes, it means fighting against your government when they’re imposing on your rights.
The fact that these ranchers—and their allies—fought the government wasn’t my inspiration—how they fought the battle was. In a very basic way, they employed the Cowboy Code in everything they did; they were bold and unafraid, used our political process as designed, and changed their circumstances.
I’m beginning to wonder if that sort of resolve and commitment to a value system is left anywhere outside of the Western culture. In an effort to honor the principles and beliefs upheld by the American cowboy and rancher, we’ve dubbed this our Ranch Issue.
From a ranching legend in Hawaii (p. 20) to how to read a brand (p. 81) to a discussion on whether or not the future of ranching is bright or bleak (p. 24), these pages paint a full picture of what ranching means, yesterday and today.
Whether you ranch for a living, grew up on a ranch, or just wish you did, hopefully this issue can serve as inspiration for you. Our work in the following pages won’t fix all the problems our culture faces today in one fell swoop, but if you let it help you become a better cowboy, a more refined horseperson, more knowledgeable about the issues surrounding your food source, aware of land rights issues, or simply a better citizen, then we here at American Cowboy can shut our computers down each day knowing we made a difference.