hpst at EARTHLINK.NET
Tue Dec 27 17:11:33 UTC 2005
Cowboy humor always had as far as I can tell a measure of self deprecation
especially in terms of the animals they tended.
Here are two verses from the dirty probably original version of a song you
probably all know: Come a Yi Yippi Yippi O.
I jumped in the saddle, and the saddle wasn't there.
I rammed nine inches in the old gray mare.
I'm gonna time my pecker to a tree to a tree.
I'm gonna tie my pecker to a tree.
I laid on the ground and counted sheep
So goddammed pretty that I couldn't go to sleep.
> [Original Message]
> From: sagehen <sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM>
> To: <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Date: 12/23/2005 2:19:21 PM
> Subject: Re: gay cowboys
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: sagehen <sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM>
> Subject: Re: gay cowboys
> arnold writes:
> > ........but the issue about "cowboy" is interesting. the
> > dictionaries i have to hand all make the connection to cattle
> > explicit, but i believe that in the world these guys come from,
> > "cowboy" is a cover term for ranch workers, rodeo riders, and herders
> > in general. it might be that it covers only jobs done at least in
> > part on horseback... i'll see if anyone on ADS-L has some insight
> > into this.
> > [ok, ADS-Lers: anyone have any evidence of this extended sense of
> > "cowboy"?]
> > the image i get for "shepherd" *never* has the herders on horseback,
> > but that just might be me. now i'm wondering how the basque
> > shepherds of nevada go about their job.
> > [anyone know the answer to this question?]
> > the perfect parallel to "cowboy" would be "sheepboy". and it's
> > attested, but is obviously not common or current; from OED2:
> > 1842 S. C. HALL Ireland II. 81 The *sheep-boy saw him go in. 1859
> > MEREDITH R. Feverel xix, Pipe, happy sheep-boy, Love!
> > "sheep(-)boy" sounds irretrievably silly, i'm afraid. "sheepherder"
> > would be transparent and serviceable and would avoid the religious or
> > somewhat cutesy connotations of "shepherd".
> > [now that i think about it, i have the impression that the basque
> > keepers of sheep are more often referred to as "sheepherders" rather
> > than "shepherds". but certainly not as "cowboys".]
> > -----
> I turned this over to Martin, knowing he would have something to say on
> subject. His reply:
> Proulx called them "ranch kids." Correct, but that can cover any family
> member of either a sheep ranch or a cattle ranch. (There is a faint
> tinge of condescension in her description of those guys).
> The interviewer has to cut to the issue: the two ranch kids are on a
> summer job herding sheep; therefore, they are definitely not cowboys;
> they are sheep men or sheepers or herders, or just kids doing a summer
> job. See Skip Rawlins for a non-fiction account of two kids herding
> sheep one summer in the Wind Rivers of Wyoming.
> I suppose cowboys sometimes use the term herder for working cattle, but
> usually they are "driving" them or "cutting" single animals from the
> herd for branding, shipping, vaccinating etc. or rounding them up from
> summer range, or loading them into trucks, etc. There are other terms
> for working cattle and probably for working sheep too, but one of the
> interesting lacunas in western history is the dearth of writings about
> sheepers, compared to the mountains of stuff re cowboys.
> For Northern Nevada cowboying see Owen Ulph's "The Fiddleback," or his
> magnum opus, "The Leather Throne."
> Sheep herders are also horsemen. My daugher and I met such a one in the
> Jarbidge Mountains, northern Nevada. He happened to be from Peru, but I
> would hazard a guess he was working for a sheep rancher.
> An interesting confusion that might play into the language confusion is
> that ranchers sometimes alternate between sheep and cattle, depending
> on market prices.
> A&M Murie
> N. Bangor NY
> sagehen at westelcom.com
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