Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Monday, August 18, 2014

Using Protection

Big Sister modelling the new chaps.
And yes, something (footwear?) is missing. 
Dad. Ditto.

In the calving field at the Stringam Ranch was a large patch of bullberry bushes.

Or at least that's what we called them.
I don't know what their 'official' name is.
It doesn't matter.
Whatever their name, they're deadly.
Spikes – I am not exaggerating – up to two inches long.
Against a tender and unprotected human hide, they could do some real damage.
The cows in the field had learned to use them.
When a *gasp* human appeared, they would charge into the bushes.
And chuckle with their friends.
I know.
I heard them.
Moving on . . .
The first time or two, my horse decided to charge in after them.
I should explain that a horse's hide is equally as tough as a cow's.
A human's? See above.
Inevitably I would emerge from such incidents rather the 'worse for the wear'.
As my mother was so fond of saying.
The second time I showed up at home with bloodstains on my shredded jeans, my mother drug out Dad's moose-hide chaps.
Now, I should mention here that chaps look really good on a tall slim cowboy.
Really, really good.
Ahem.
And certainly they have their uses.
The chaps, not the cowboys.
Okay yes. A cowboy, too, has his uses.
But that is a completely different sort of post . . .
Back to my story . . .
Chaps provide protection from the ravages of ranch work.
They have saved many a pair of jeans from wear during haying.
And many a cowboy from damage when things get up close and personal.
But they are perversely hard to ride in when one is doing so bareback.
I know.
I tried.
Bareback riding requires balance.
Intuition.
And a good grip with the knees.
Chaps, especially heavy ones, prevent the all-important knee grip.
And actually make balance a bit more difficult.
Sigh.
What to do?
Protection won out.
I wore the chaps.
And they sported the scars to prove it.
Picture leather nearly a quarter of an inch thick.
With cuts that went almost all the way through.
That could have been me.
Years later, I showed them to my children.
Who expressed proper and well-deserved awe and amazement.
Yesterday, my Husby and I were wandering through a store in cattlemen country.
Hanging from the rafters just inside the front door were a pair of chaps.
But not just any chaps.
These were made of leather, dyed green and purple and gold and pink.
With silver fringe.
I stared at them.
Chaps had obviously changed.
Not just for protection any more.
Now they could be worn to scare cows out of the bush.
Or so that their rider could be seen by satellite.
Ranching has come a long way.

18 comments:

  1. Oh and I thought chaps were only for a certain category of gay guy! LOL Very informative post today, D!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're talking way back. At their ultra-practical roots.

      Delete
  2. I'm impressed that you did ranch work while riding bareback! Those bushes sound nasty - so do the garish chaps!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never could use a saddle . . .
      Yeah, nasty. How do you say Ewww? Oh. Right. Ewwww!!!

      Delete
  3. I think I'll check Google Earth and see if I can find someone wearing those colourful chaps.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Someone bought them, so the image is out there!

      Delete
  4. I'll be back when I've finished rolling on the floor laughing at this one, especially that label!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very cute and very funny; thanks for the LOL moment today.
    Blessings for these fun stories!

    ReplyDelete
  6. So THAT's what chaps are for ;)!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great post! I learned something about chaps and who knew they could be so colorful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. Chaps. Back before they were used for decoration . . .

      Delete
  8. You've lead an amazing life Diane! Oh Cowboys be still my heart.

    ReplyDelete
  9. green and purple and gold and pink. With silver fringe. So, circus chaps?
    I was never into ranching, being more of a beach bum kid, but I know about thorns and the damage they can do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yikes! Imagine them while dressed in the typical attire for a beach bum! The mind shudders . . .

      Delete

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