Code of the Cow Country

The following poem is something I found in a barn many years ago on a feed sack. I tore it off and have since found the poem in various places; sometimes it was signed anonymous. In 1954, it was published in Songs of the Saddlemen by S. Omar Barker.

They are still appropriate rules to live by.

It don’t take such a lot of laws

To keep the rangeland straight,

Nor books to write ‘em in, because

There’s only six or eight.

The first one is the welcome sign –

True brand of western hearts:

“My camp is yours an’ yours is mine,”

In all cow country parts.

Treat with respect all womankind,

Same as you would your sister.

Take care of neighbors’ strays you find,

And don’t call cowboys “mister.”

Shut pasture gates when passin’ through;

An’ takin’ all in all,

Be just as rough as pleases you,

But never mean nor small.

Talk straight, shoot straight, and never break

Your word to man nor boss.

Plumb always kill a rattlesnake.

Don’t ride a sorebacked hoss.

It don’t take law nor pedigree

To live the best you can!

These few is all it takes to be

A cowboy – and a man!

Snake Proofing Your Dog

It’s sad to lose your four legged friend for any reason, more so from a painful rattlesnake bite. Even if your dog successfully completed snake avoidance training, as discussed in my previous blog post, they still can be bitten by a rattler in the field or on a hike in the great outdoors. With snake avoidance training and annual rattlesnake vaccinations, the chance of death by a rattler bite is greatly reduced for your dogs.

Daisy and Lulubelle, my yellow labs, received two shots each of the rattlesnake vaccinations the first year and then once annually. The shots don’t prevent a snake bite, but immunizes the dog to the snake’s venom. My longtime vet Dr. Pat Richardson, DVM at Broadway Oaks Animal Hospital, San Antonio, Texas says “should a bite occur, the rattlesnake antivenin will reduce the severity; allow more time to get to a vet with fresh vials of the expensive antivenin, which has a short shelf life, cost about $500.00 a vial. A large hunting dog that has not been vaccinated could require three to five vials. A dog on antivenin may not need any and can be treated with steroids and antibiotics.” My dog’s vaccine was $35.00 per shot at Broadway Oaks, inexpensive protection for my best friends and outdoor companions. Dr. Tom Vice, DVM; founder of Broadway Oaks Animal Hospital and avid outdoorsman, was one of the first vets to utilize the snake vaccination for dogs.

 Guy holding snake2

This is the snake that ruined the picnic for the bluebonnet pickers.

Snake Avoidance Training

Living in Texas with dogs bred to hunt, it’s a sure bet that you or your dogs will encounter a poisonous snake. My yellow labs, Lulubelle-9 and Daisy-13, both graduated from Snake Avoidance Training (S.A.T.) by the time they were a year old. It’s a good way to ensure your best friend doesn’t stick his/her nose into a rattlesnakes business.

 S.A.T. is simple; the trainer puts a shock collar on your dog, the only time I have ever allowed one on my dogs. The dog is put in a pen with a live defanged rattler. When the dog gets within striking distance and the rattler lunges at the dog, the trainer gives the dog a good shock at the moment of the strike. Fortunately, my dogs got the idea the first time. I don’t think I could watch my girls take the hit a second time. The collars were taken off and never put on again. Sometimes a refresher course may be needed.

Twice, this training has kept me from tangling with a rattler. Lulubelle encountered a rattler shortly after her training, which may have saved me from a snake bite. She was ahead of me on a seldom traveled trail, with lots of growth. She went on point…that tail went up as did the hair on her back. She didn’t bark, but made a nervous growl. There was a 6 foot long rattler curled ready to strike. She made me aware of the snake’s presence, but made no attempt to go near it. We both made a wide detour and my girl earned her treat.

Don’t try this yourself—ask your vet, breeder, or check with a hunting club. Hire a trainer with lots of experience in S.A.T. See my next blog about further snake proofing your dogs.

Daisy and Lulubelle in flowers2


A Writer’s Words

Most authors have little concept of product development and limited marketing skills. They are writers and were taught to create literary art, not sell.  Writers conferences do a great job of helping aspiring authors to write better prose and poetry, but fall short on marketing books in this new age of book publication and distribution.

Craftsmen of the written word, like all producers of consumable products, should sample their writing as the pot boils. A writers group is a good place to do that. I try to spend an hour each week with another author discussing the other’s works in progress.

At book signings, I meet readers from all walks of life. I ask them if they would like to be advance readers; not named for their reading skills, but experts in certain facets of my story. Children of the Revolution, ca 1796-1815, had several scenes aboard a ship. Fortunately, I knew someone who was an authority on nautical terms during that time period.

Authors can’t be an authority on every subject. Whatever the subject, there are always experts available provided you reach out to them. Describing a river flowing the wrong way can ruin the scene for a book buyer that knows otherwise. I would never have known Roanoke was called Big Lick during the era of my story. Use all resources available to ensure the details are correct. Share your work as you write the manuscript and once it is complete, ask your experts if they would read the first draft.


You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

We often hear you can’t judge a book by its cover. True, you can’t tell the literary quality of a book by its cover.

With the help of a graphic artist, the author’s story can be depicted on a books cover. It can provide the reader with; time period, location, and a glimpse at the protagonist. The title should also tell the story. In the Westward Sagas, I had in mind a different name for the first book. Once the manuscript was finished and I read it from start to finish, I knew it must be named Spring House. Book 2, Adam’s Daughters, was named from the start because the story was about Patriot Adam Mitchell’s three oldest daughters growing up in Jonesborough,TN. The Chester Inn, the town’s oldest existing building, is on the cover with Peggy, Ibby, and Rebeckah sitting in a farm wagon dressed as farmer’s daughters in 1790 dress. Time, location, and vocation are visually established.

Book 3 in the Westward Sagas, was originally to be Adam’s Sons, as I traveled and did book signings, buyers of the first books asked about Peggy. I brought her back into Book 3; Peggy soon became the protagonist. The book was renamed Peggy, which I announced on this blog and elsewhere.

Those who have read advanced copies of Book 3 say this is truly a book about The Children of the Revolution who; survived a great battle on their farm, witnessed the destruction of their home, and became part of this nation’s first generation.


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