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Soul of the Desert

Cowboys Don’t Sunburn

You know those nice cover shots on romance books where the cowboy isn’t wearing a shirt? Or those shots where he’s standing in his boots on the porch with nice clean jeans? Fiction. TOTALLY FICTION.

If you ever wondered how cowboys avoided sunburn back before sunblock I can tell you the answer. When you’re out ranching, whether by truck or horse, the first thing you encounter is gates. You have to dismount or get out of the truck to open and close gates. If you’re on a horse, the horse tends to stir up dust. If you’re in the truck, the truck wheels let loose a powder dusting as it eases through the gate. The person opening the gate gets a fine covering of delicate sand across every spare inch of her person. Nature’s sunscreen.

When you throw hay out the back of a truck so that you can entice the cattle to the corral, you get large bits of hay, dust and dirt showered across your person. More natural sunscreen. By the time you leave the ranch for home, you are actually wearing the equivalent of sunblock 152. Trust me, I calculated it on the last trip. There was enough dirt on my person to start a garden. And at the end of the day, if I’d had the energy to prop my boots on the porch railing for a picture, I guarantee you neither the boots nor my jeans were pristine. Those cowboys on the covers are TOTALLY fiction.

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Posted: March 1, 2014
Filed in New Mexico, Walks in Life

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