John Hendrix drew upon his own varied experiences for this panoramic view of West Texas ranch life, presented here in an integral compilation of flavorful articles written originally for The Cattleman. Touching upon virtually every facet of the cattle industry, they examine economic influences and technological changes as well as the personal and emotional aspects of range life.
Here are accurate, detailed, fascinating descriptions of the day-to-day life of the cowboy, the chuck-wagon cook, the range boss: narratives rich in human interest, in pathos, comedy, drama. Some tell of the organization and operation of the cow camp: the activities of the men, their duties and their entertainments, the clothes they wore, the food they ate, the horses they rode, the language they spoke. Some compare West Texas cattle-handling techniques with those of other sectors, or contrast early techniques with later practices. Others give biographies of cattlemen and cowboys. Still others study the operation, development, problems, and achievements of typical ranches of various types: the early open-range ranches, the large ranches which successfully made the transition to modem operation, the unsuccessful company-owned ranches of the 1880s, the pioneer cattle-feeding projects. Several articles describe the geography of the West Texas cattle country: the vast, arid expanses; the brown-green hills and Cap Rock; the life-giving springs; and the fickle weather. These are all considered in terms of their physical appearance and emotional impact, their importance as economic factors, and their effect on the duties of the cowboys.
Written in direct language and savoring of the life they describe, these articles capture the beauty of the cattle country—as well as its violence, hardships, drudgery. John Hendrix’s affection for the land, the people, and the life gives his writing a special warmth that his readers are sure to recognize and admire.
Texas artist Malcolm Thurgood has provided delightful illustrations for the text, and Wayne Gard, author of The Chisholm Trail and The Great Buffalo Hunt, has written a valuable introduction.