Friday, February 28, 2014

The Origins of the Cowboy

As American as Tapas
by Alison Bruce

The cowboy is an American icon. But the cowboy was adapted from the Spanish American vaquero and the vaquero had it's origins in the Spanish Reconquista.

Before the Spanish could build its empire in the Americas, it had to reconquer the Iberian peninsula which was under Islamic rule. In order to hold onto the lands, the Castilian king granted vast tracts to his nobles and military officers. Similar to the American South West (as we have seen in so many westerns) these lands were best suited to raising cattle and sheep. Because of the expanses involved, working from horseback was essential. The resulting hacienda system was the forerunner of the American ranch.

Coincidentally, the last Moorish kingdom fell in 1492 - the same year the Columbus "sailed the ocean blue."  Soon after Spain established colonies in Mexico, caballeros (gentlemen) started training Mexican to work their ranches. They were called vaquero, cow men, almost as an insult and certainly as a term to differentiate them from the Spanish-born caballeros. In time, the name was used with pride.
"One of the highest stations you could have in life was to be a caballero," said Chavez, a resident of New Mexico whose lineage can be traced to the Don Juan de OƱate colony, the caballero who was among the first cowboys in the U.S.
"Even the poor Mexican vaqueros were very proud and there were few things they couldn't do from a saddle." 
"Vaquero is a transliteration of the words 'cow' and 'man.' Vaca means 'cow,'" said Chavez. "Interestingly enough, in Spanish, we call ourselves cowmen; in English, it was demoted to cowboys."
 Vaqueros: The First Cowboys, National Geographic

With the missions, vaqueros spread west to California. When pioneers from northern European stock spread southwest, they adopted and adapted the Spanish way of ranching.

In their origin countries, raising herds of sheep and cattle were a different business altogether. Instead of vast tracks of semi-arid land, the people of central Europe and Britain moved herds by foot from pasture to pasture, usually on foot, using dogs to herd. This wasn't practical in the American west.
One out of every three cowboys in the late 1800s was the Mexican vaquero, says Kendall Nelson, a photographer from Idaho whose recent book, Gathering Remnants: A Tribute to the Working Cowboy (was made into a movie.)
"All of the skills, traditions, and ways of working with cattle are very much rooted in the Mexican vaquero," Nelson told National Geographic News. "If you are a cowboy in the U.S. today, you have developed what you know from the vaquero."

Like tapas, pizza and Chinese food, the cowboy culture has its roots outside North America. Also like those dishes, the culture has evolved in the melting pot of America.

Monday, February 24, 2014


When I began watercolor lessons, the first scene I painted was of a windmill at sunset. Not original nor very good, but I love both windmills and sunsets. Although they’re difficult to find now, I love the old wooden frame style windmill best. I also miss the song a windmill sings during a breezy day or evening. With the windows open, the sound is a lullaby at bedtime. Don’t get me wrong, I love modern conveniences, but they’re a trade-off. We lose something with each part of our past that disappears.

Due to my love for the life-giving machines, I included them in two of my books. BRAZOS BRIDE has been released in 2012 and re-released as part of a boxed set: MEN OF STONE MOUNTAIN: MICAH, ZACH, JOEL. And TEXAS LIGHTNING, a time travel in progress, in which the heroine loves the sound of windmills. These books led to research about windmills which involved more than just loving to look at and listen to them.

Over 80,000 working windmills are estimated to be working now in Texas. You can’t drive on any road without seeing them in the distance. They are of particular service to ranchers in the arid regions. Land that once was almost useless to ranchers became valuable once windmills were erected. The windmill has come to be one of the symbols of ranching and cowboys. Once I started researching them, I was surprised the type I have come to love was not as old as I’d suspected.

Range windmill
purchased from Kozzi

Before the introduction of windmills to Texas and the West, inhabitable land was confined to areas where a constant water supply was available. There was no way for vast areas to be settled without a life-giving supply of water. The coming of the windmill made it possible to pump water from beneath the ground, and soon whole new areas were opened up to settlers. The first windmills were of the European style, built by Dutch and German immigrants for grinding meal and powering light industry. What settlers needed most, however, was a windmill that pumped water.

Because of its bulk and need for constant attention, the European windmill was impractical for this purpose. The solution to this problem came in 1854, when Daniel Halladay (Halady or Halliday) built the first American windmill in Ellington, Connecticut. He added to his mill a vane, or "tail," as it was called by cowhands, that functioned to direct the wheel into the wind. The wheel was a circle of wood slats radiating from a horizontal shaft and set at angles to the wind, designed so that centrifugal force would slow it in high winds; thus, the machine was self-regulating and operated unattended. Its simple direct-stroke energy converter consisted of only a shaft and a small fly wheel to which the sucker rod was pinned. This compact mechanism was mounted on a four-legged wood tower that could be constructed over a well in one day.

Triple windmills
purchased from Kozzi

Railroad companies immediately recognized windmills as an inexpensive means of providing water for steam engines and for attracting settlers to semi-arid regions through which they planned to lay track. By 1873 the windmill had become an important supplier of water for railways, small towns where there were no public water systems, and small farms. Many of the very early mills were crude, inefficient, homemade contraptions. One of the popular makeshift mills was a wagon wheel with slats nailed around it to catch the wind, mounted on half an axle. The axle was fastened securely to a post erected beside the well. A sucker rod was pinned to the edge of the hub. It was stationary and worked only when the wind blew in the right direction. The windmills used later on the big ranches were the more dependable factory-made windmills.

Windmills moved to the ranches with the use of barbed wire in the late 1870s. At first the water holes, springs, creeks, and rivers were fenced, so that the back lands had no access to water. In the midst of the fence cutting and fighting, some ranchers began drilling wells and experimenting with windmills. Most of these experiments were unsuccessful, however, due to lack of knowledge concerning the proper size of the windmill in relation to the depth and diameter of the well. One of the earliest successful experiments was made eight miles north of Eldorado, in Schleicher County, Texas by Christopher C. Doty, a nomadic sheepman. Doty moved his flock into that area and found abundant water in shallow wells. By 1882, however, a drought had dried his wells; he ordered a drilling rig from Fort Scott, Arkansas, bored a fifty-two-foot well, and erected a Star windmill, which successfully supplied water for his 4,000 head of stock.

Lone windmill at sunset
Purchased from Kozzi

Watering stock with windmills spread rapidly. Eastern land speculators began buying, fencing, and running stock on the land until it became ripe for colonization. Among the first of these speculators to indirectly bring windmills to North Texas was the Magnolia Cattle and Land Company, organized by Maj. Willa V. Johnson, In 1884 the company bought two-thirds of the state-owned land in Borden County, land which had natural water resources and had long been unofficially claimed for grazing by Christopher Columbus Slaughter. Once Johnson fenced the land, Slaughter was forced into the use of windmills to supply water for his cattle. By 1886 the Matador Land and Cattle Company (where years later my husband’s uncle worked) began using windmills to water stock.

The largest of the Eastern land speculators, the Capitol Syndicate, began using windmills on its XIT in 1887. One of their windmills was believed to be the world's tallest; it was made of wood and was a total height of 132 feet. A Texas historical marker at Littlefield marks the site of a replica of the world's tallest windmill built on the XIT Ranch. The original windmill blew over in 1926. By 1900 the XIT had 335 windmills in operation.

Not until the King Ranch began extensive use of the windmill in 1890 did that the practice began to spread rapidly over that area. By 1900 windmills were a common sight in the Texas and the West. Inhabitable land was no longer limited to regions with a natural water supply. The windmill made the most remote areas habitable.

The use of windmills brought about two of the most colorful characters of the West, the driller and the windmiller, and altered the lifestyle of another, the range rider. The driller was usually a loner and seldom seen by anyone except the range rider and windmiller. He followed the fence crews and guessed at where he might find water, then bored wells with his horse-powered drilling rig. When the driller was successful the windmiller followed and set up a mill. Owners of the larger ranches usually employed several windmillers to make continuous rounds, checking and repairing windmills. The windmillers lived in covered wagons and only saw headquarters once or twice a month. The early mills had to be greased twice a week, and this was the range rider's job. He kept a can (or beer bottle) containing grease tied to his saddle. When he rode up to a mill that was squeaking, he would climb it, hold the wheel with a pole until he could mount the platform, and then let the wheel turn while he poured grease over it.

The lonely windmiller

The range rider was always in danger of attacks from swarms of wasps, which hung their clustered cells beneath the windmill's platform; there was the added danger of falling from the tower when such attacks occurred. The windmill industry's shift in 1888 to the backgeared, all-steel mill caused heated debates in Texas livestock and farming circles. Most ranchers and farmers welcomed the new steel windmill because its galvanized wheel and tower held up better in harsh weather; also, its gear system was better able to take advantage of the wind, thus enabling the windmill to run more hours per day. The backgeared mill could also pump deeper and larger-diameter wells. Those who favored the old wood mill argued that the steel mill was more likely to break because of its high speed, that it was not as easily repaired as the wood mill, and that when parts had to be ordered the steel mill might be inoperative for days. Though sales of wood mills continued, they declined steadily, so that by 1912 few were being sold.

The last major development in the windmill came in 1915. A housing that needed to be filled with oil only once a year was built around the mill's gears. This relieved the range rider of his biweekly greasing chores and somewhat diminished the windmiller's job. Because of the dependability of this improved windmill, worries over water shortages were eased for the rancher, farmer, and rural dweller. This mill was the prime supplier of water in rural Texas until 1930, when electric and gasoline pumps began to be widely used.

Though Texas became the largest user of windmills in the United States, there were never more than three active manufacturers of windmills in Texas at one time. Windmills remain an important supplier of water for Texas cattlemen. The King Ranch in the late 1960s kept 262 mills running continuously and 100 complete spares in stock. Stocking spare mills is a common practice among ranchers who depend on the windmill to supply water for cattle in remote pastures. One important ranch worker is the man who rides—or drives—from windmill to windmill lubricating the gears and making repairs.

Because the windmill has been confined for the most part to remote areas, it has become a symbol of a lonely and primitive life, fitting for the pioneer Texans it first served and the cowboys about whom we love to read. Let me leave you with one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite groups: Sons of the Pioneers with “Cool, Clear Water.”

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

To Kiss or Not to Kiss, That is The Question - By Ginger Simpson

In 2013, when I first started Cowboy Kisses, I posted a blog that dealt with whether or not American Indians during the 1800s really kissed, and was their courting something we commonly read about in Romance novels.  I indicated that I was seeking the answer, and after exhausting all my own avenues, I sought an answer from "Ask the Experts." I'm sharing the answer I received here, but first...the following is the blog I posted in early 2013.

There has long been controversy over whether or not Indian lovers kissed.  Of course, no one can forget Kevin Costner (Lt. Dunbar) and his beautiful Indian woman, Stands With a Fist, and their toe-tingling liplocks in Dances with Wolves.  Did the writer take creative license and expand the romance for the sake of making the movie more appealing?  I know, as a romance author, I've had some pretty passionate scenes in my books, but I can't find much written about the "custom."  I recently sent off an email to an American Indian forum and I'm waiting for a response, but what I discovered in by book, The Sioux by Royal B. Hassrick casts a little black cloud over my passionate nature.  :)  NOTE:  I never received a response from the forum.

I quote, "Lovers were never to be seen holding hands, and man and wife never showed any affection in public.  There is no intimation here that the Sioux failed to know all that is necessary to know about the intimacies of marital affection, but this knowledge could not be bandied about.  Any overt expression of affection would be uncouth."

The author further states that in events where women and men were both in attendance, they sat separately, with the women keeping their eyes downcast and whispering only to their neighbor.  Likewise, the men did not exchange glances with the females as modesty and reserve "were the essence of fortitude." -
It sounds to me that what went on behind the closed tepee flaps shall forever remain secret, but the fact that it wasn't uncommon for young married couples to spend years with their elders might have provided less chance for intercourse or romance of any type.

It's great to be a fiction author.  Although I can guarantee most of my facts are historically accurate, I cannot with any certainty say that kissing was indeed a custom practiced in private by the Lakota.  I hope to get an answer from someone who might know.  :)  Feel free to share any resources here in the comments.  I think we'd all like to know. I'll share with you the questions I asked, and the answers I received.  May I say, I have no idea why I referred to an OAK tree when I correctly researched the type and have it in the opening chapter of Yellow Moon, my current WIP.

Subject: Intimacy & Kissing among early American Indians
I'm an author, and as someone who writes historical fiction, I try to keep my historical facts straight.  I've been able to research most of what I need in order to be credible, but very little is available about the intimacy among Native American couples, specifically whether or not they actually kissed.  I've written mainly about the Lakota and do realize that public displays of affection were frowned upon, and courting usually took place beneath a blanket away from prying eyes.  Of course, as most authors, I've taken creative license to create romance scenes as shown in movies such as Dances with Wolves, but the two main characters were both of white heritage.  I really would like an answer or an idea where I might find written resources that I can share with my peers via my blog.  Thank you in advance for your help.

Ginger Simpson

ANSWER: Dear Ms. Simpson;
Your question is a bit difficult, as it does vaguely date the people in question to the historic past, as if they remain an anthropological study in several folders in a storage bin somewhere. The answer is as individual as your characters will be when your work is completed. I can only answer from my own experience, as you have already stated how reserved and apparently devoid of public expressions of affection the Lakota traditional culture is.

In my relationships with many different people and families of the Hopi, Zuni, Pueblo and Navajo cultures, bear this out. A light touch on the hand or shoulder and a quick hug were all that were ever displayed in our presence. Even after many years of friendship. We attended a wedding of a Zia Pueblo couple in Zia Pueblo in the ancient adobe church there. A quick peck on the lips, and the marriage was sealed. While I've never seen an Indian couple "making out" in public, we don't think there is any social compulsion to behave differently than any other race when in private.

One tip off was experiencing the lustiness of their humor. The Hopi were the fastest to rise to "testing" us with "off-color" humor which we enjoyed immensely and when we had known Navajo families a bit longer, they too, would pull our legs and poke fun in a decidedly sexual nature from time to time. So it's pretty clear they enjoy it. They just don't show it off. The people we knew made a point of providing space and time to courting couples, so they could be alone and out of sight as necessary.

In terms of the Lakota, there are some well-documented examples of the difficulty, especially for women, within their culture, for free expression. I would recommend a book, Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog for it's personal view of Lakota culture and how it has confronted the modern society and consumer culture. As long as you're not doing Fifty Shades of Red, or some such equivalent, I think portraying your characters with a certain degree of shyness between the sexes would do the trick. Best wishes for your ongoing research. I hope this is helpful;

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you...this was indeed helpful, and I have ordered "Lakota Woman" by Mary Crow Dog as you suggested and I'm really hoping to find standards as they applied during the 1800s when the Sioux Indian were still plentiful on lands promised them by the US...specifically the Lakota in the Black Hills  My work-in-progress, Yellow Moon, is the story of a young Sioux maiden who is selected to be among those virtuous women searching for the proportionate COTTONWOOD oak  to use for the sun dance.  Since most of my reading has been of other "romance" type books about the Indians, and restricted to research based solely on the rituals and cultural life of the tribe at that time, I'm totally in the dark as to how courting would have occurred.  Would a young man have approached her at the river while she filled buffalo bladders with water? Would he have hinted that he wanted to know more about her and that the feasting during the first four nights of the sun-dance might be the appropriate time to ask her more?  I wasn't very clear in my original question, and for that I apologize, but I'm hoping between your expertise and the book, I can learn what is appropriate to history.

Thank you so much.

Ginger Simpson
The proper forked tree for the Sundance would have doubtlessly been a Cottonwood, which are know to draw lightning strikes and live. Courting, is still very similar, in that the initial approach is through an elder female of the intended's family. Even her name, would only be revealed under proper conditions. For example, a young man might approach one of her friends to ask who he might ask about her. The referrals would progress up the chain to an elder -- probably her mother's oldest sister, who might suggest the introduction to her mother. It is complicated. Young men in that day, would not have the right to approach directly, nor would the two be seen in public unless accompanied by an elder woman. However, at night, the ritual of the Courting Flute arose, to provide an audible clue as to where the young man might wait under cover of darkness, for his intended to meet him. She would hear the melody faintly, from inside her parents' lodge and would give some excuse to rise -- bathroom call, etc. -- go outside and follow the sound of the flute to him where they might share a few moments before she returned to her parents lodge. At some point in their courtship, Once his interest in her had been accepted by the elders of her family and her parents, he would send her a gift, which, if she accepted him, would be accepted publicly in front of her parents, at which time, his identity and familial connections could be shared: clan, honors, etc. At this time, she would have accepted his betrothal. I'm not sure if anything beyond the slightest, least important contact could be arranged during Sundance, when the dancers as well as the entire community are on their best behavior, focused upon the needs of the greater community to assure the success of the intercession of the spirits upon seeing the purity of the sacrifice. Stray thoughts even, personal matters such as this, would be considered as working against the ritual, so they would be kept to chance meetings, and little else. For more detail, I suggest you contact a Lakota Community such as Rosebud, SD. The tribal government may have a public information officer who can pout you in touch with appropriate elders. Glad to be of some help.
Richard Sutton
Kiva Trading Company

Needless to say, I have some serious re-writing to do.  So much for my opening where Yellow Moon meets him at the river because he's followed her there.  Shucks!  I guess "Watch for you wish for," could also be translated to "Don't ask unless you really want to know!"  *smile*  I guess Thunder Eyes is going to follow the chain of Elders to find out more about the woman of interest to him.  Boy...this story is taking a serious turn and I hope my character knows where she's going, cause I certainly don't.  I'm hoping Mary Crow Dog can be of help. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Stitch In-time 

Elias Howe's 1846 sewing machine
Inventions of all kinds have changed our lives, and those of our forefathers. One of those was the sewing machine. In 1846 Elias Howe patented his sewing machine, however, it failed to gain the interest he’d imagined, so he took his machines to England. Although though the idea was well-received, sales didn’t meet his expectations, and during his time abroad he received news his wife was gravely ill. Howe sold his machines and his patent papers to a local pawn shop in order to have enough money to return home. His wife died shortly after his return, and in time he realized sewing machines were becoming more popular. He also discovered the new machines being sold were based on his design. He scavenged up enough money to purchase back his machines and patent papers from the London pawn shop and instantly started sending out letters to the suspected patent-infringers.

Isaac Singer was one of the men Howe took to court. Howe won, however, due to the increased popularity of sewing machines and how they mechanically all used the same general needle and bobbin design, a business ‘combination’ agreement was reach in 1856. Ultimately, Howe was granted the rights to receive $5.00 for EVERY machine sold in the United States and $1.00 for EVERY machine shipped overseas. Between 1956 and when his patent expired in 1867—the same year Howe died—he’d earned over 2 million dollars. His two sons-in-law took over the business, but the Howe Machine Company went out of business in the mid 1880’s, and Isaac Singer’s machines went on to dominate the industry.

During his ‘sales pitches’ Howe challenged the best seamstresses to go up against his machine. Publically he demonstrated how his machine could sew five seams before a seamstress could finish one. His marketing also included comparisons of how long it took an average seamstress to sew specific articles verses his machine. 6 hours and 37 minutes of stitching time to hand sew a calico dress, whereas his machines stitched the material together in 57 minutes. A gentleman’s shirt took 14 hours and 26 minutes verses 1 hour and 16 minutes, and an apron, 1 hour 26 minutes, verses a mere 9 minutes. 

The time saving abilities of the sewing or stitching machines drastically changed the clothing industry. 

Currently I have a free read up on Harlequin’s website, The Stolen Kiss, where the heroine is a seamstress.

Copyright © 2014 by Harlequin Books S.A.

From rivals…to lovers!

The moment beautiful Cassandra Halverson arrives in Tulsa, Micah Bollinger knows she'll be trouble. No sooner has she set up her dressmaker's shop than she starts poaching his customers. Determined to beat Cassandra at her own game, Micah decides to keep his enemy close!

Cassandra wants nothing more than to create a new life doing what she loves and to leave her past behind her forever. But the presence of her infuriatingly gorgeous competitor threatens it all. When an unexpected kiss takes them both by surprise, it's not long before fury turns to red-hot passion!



Oklahoma Indian Territory

Faded by a sun as relentless as the wind, the red letters on the side of the weathered building announced she'd arrived. Cassandra Halverson hitched the skirt of her olive traveling suit and stepped off the MKT train amongst a splattering of Army men, Indians, and those she'd rather not notice.

The last depot before entering Indian Territory. Trains didn't even go west from here. Only Indians, horse thieves, Mexican traders, whiskey peddlers, desperadoes and those associated with the U.S. Army were brave or crazy enough to do that.

She'd chosen Tulsa, or Tulsy town as some called it, because of that. People here didn't question others about their past. The town was growing fast, and would continue to now that the railroad was here. Every man, woman and child would need clothes, and she was here to sew them.

She was making a name for herself, and a living, but could make much more if not for Micah Bollinger. Besides his golden-brown hair and gold-flecked brown eyes, Micah had a silver tongue, which he used to wrangle customers out of her shop and into his.

A flit of elation put a smile on her lips. She'd outsmarted him this time. No longer Gambling Irv's daughter or Wesley's poor wife, she was Cassandra, and no man would ever get the best of her.

She found a spot near the building, where porters unceremoniously dropped luggage and cargo of the travelers ending their voyages while others scurried to load trunks and bags for those departing. The train didn't depot here for long, and to her sensible mind, something she prided herself on, it would be more prudent to wait for the chaos to slow rather than attempting to rifle through it.

Before long, and in between two loud steam-filled blasts, the conductor shouted a boarding call, which had the crowd dispersing.

"How was your buying trip?"

Despite air so hot that the feather on the new straw hat she'd purchased in Wichita drooped over her left eye, every drop of blood in Cassandra's veins froze. She hadn't told anyone where she'd gone, especially not Micah.

"Missed me, didn't you?" he drawled.

Without glancing his way, she asked, "Would a dog miss fleas?"


The Stolen Kiss is related to my February 1st release, The Major’s Wife.


Major Seth Parker knows his wife, and the woman standing before him isn't her. The manipulative vixen who tricked his hand in marriage could never possess such innocence—nor get his heart racing like this! 

Millie St. Clair has traveled halfway across the country to pull off one of the greatest deceptions ever. But with everything at stake it soon becomes clear that the hardest part might be walking away from the Major when it's all over…. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Milk Cows in the Old West, by @JacquieRogers #western

Dairy Farming in the Old West

Whether it's Valentine's Day or Christmas, if you own a dairy farm, there's work to be done all day, every day, 365 days a year. Of course, all farms are work-intensive, but once you enter into the stock business, life gets a lot busier. Dairy farming has the added onus of milking — twice a day, twelve hours apart. I repeat, that's 365 days a year.

No, you don't get any days off.

We'll talk about milking in a minute. There's a whole lot more to operating a dairy than milking. All the care that's required of horses, beef cattle, hogs, or chickens is also necessary to maintain a healthy dairy herd.

Your 19th century dairy farmer most likely had Milking Shorthorns. These cattle came from the British Isles — Milking Shorthorns from Britain and Beef Shorthorns from Scotland. Originally, they were one breed but the Brits bred for milk production and the Scots for bigger steak cuts. Because of their widespread popularity for both milk production and beef, most of the oxen that pulled the wagons west were Shorthorns.

An experienced farmer knows the right mix of feed, and that's just by looking at his animals. Are their coats shiny? Are they energetic? Has production increased or decreased? Cycles on schedule and breeding program without glitches? If the answers to all these questions are favorable, then the farmer has the right mix. If not he'll have to adjust. Need more roughage? Feed alfalfa hay. Need more protein? Corn silage is good for that — but it will change the flavor of the milk, as will certain grasses. I'm not going to go into it here but believe me, there's a lot to know about dairy animal nutrition.

Here are the basics, although the 19th century farmer wouldn't have had access to much of this information. Still, they did a lot of these things anyway just out of common sense.

A cow has to birth a calf, called freshening, before she produces milk. A dairy farmer has to have proficient veterinary skills in order to maintain his herd. Losing a cow would be a disaster to a family trying to eke out a living on a homestead that's two day's ride from anywhere. First there's the risk of breeding. A too large bull can break a cow's back (called stifling). After a successful breeding and gestation, here's how the freshening is supposed to go:

A Jersey cow freshens (gives birth to a calf):

But sometimes things don't go so smoothly. Then what? We'll go to Ireland and see. I thought this video best explained how to help a cow in trouble give birth. Several times a year, my dad did the very thing that this veterinarian shows us. Yes, I assisted occasionally. We had ropes but not that other fancy contraption. Usually, my dad planted his size 10 on the cow's butt and pulled.

How to pull a calf:

He doesn't mention it, but you also have to make sure the cow expels the placenta, and if not, you have to stick your arm in there and get it. Leaving one small piece could cause an infection.

Now that we have the calf, we'll get some milk. The first few days, the cow produces colostrum and that's the most important food the newborn calf will ever get. It's low in fat, and high in carbohydrates, protein, and antibodies. A calf who drinks colostrum is a healthy calf. The cow is still milked because you always want to empty the udder, and the extra colostrum is fed to other calves. After that, the calf is removed from the cow and bottlefed.

In the 19th century, cows were milked by hand. I'm not sure why there aren't a lot of dairy farmers as romance heroes because these men are generally stronger than other men, have broader shoulders, and they have great hands.

Pretty decent how-to, Part 1:

Part 2:

Actual handmilking motion:

Hoof care
Now you've fed your herd, milked them, and provided comfortable living conditions for them — a good shed and a nice layer of straw for them to rest in. But there's a lot more to dairy farming than that, and one of them is hoof care. Hooves grow just like our toenails do, only we don't walk on our toenails and cows do. They have cloven hooves and trimming can be quite a bit more complicated than trimming horses' hooves.

This video annoys me a bit — we always washed the cows' hooves before we started trimming. There are two reasons for that: 1) handling manure is never pleasant, but more important; 2) it's easier to see if your cuts are correct and the bottom of the hoof is nice and even.

Okay, so I don't have any romance heroes who are dairy farmers, either, but I do have a family in the Wolf Creek series who own a dairy, and the head of the family is Gib Norwood.

Here's an excerpt that shows just how precious each calf was to this family whose very existence depended on the health of their herd.

'Twas the Fight Before Christmas
by Jacquie Rogers
a short story in

Gibson Norwood melted the ice off the newborn shorthorn heifer’s nose. “Looks like you’d better spend a few days with us. Your mammy won’t like it, and neither will Glory, but maybe Santa will bring you a little something.”  That wasn’t really true about Glory—she’d been a good sport and had endured a lot since the Recent Unpleasantness.

Born a mulatto slave to Gib’s mother’s family, she was in fact, Gib’s mother’s half-sister. After his mother had died giving birth to him, his father kept Glory as the head housekeeper—and to warm his bed. Two years later, she’d given birth to the twins Peter and Paul—Gib’s half-brothers, and half-cousins, too.

Gib always suspected that his father was as much in love with his slave as any man was with his wife. They’d seemed to be dedicated to each other. Glory, only a hand taller than five foot, had run the plantation house with skill, and during the war, she’d done everything possible to nurse Gil’s ailing father while the Yankees burned and pillaged the farm.

Gib gathered up the baby calf, tucking his left arm under the calf’s brisket and his right arm around the heifer’s hind quarters. He headed toward the soddy, choosing his footing carefully through the four-inch snow. Then through the dusk, he saw Paul, who also carried a calf, and the race was on. Whoever got there first would have Glory’s sympathy—but two calves in her house, especially on Christmas Eve, would set her to scowling for sure.
♥ ♦ ♣ ♠
Oh wait, this is Valentine's Day!  
Yes, there's a book waiting just for you.  I have a pig farmer in this one.  Okay, so he's a former bounty hunter.

A Flare of the Heart
by Jacquie Rogers
a short story in
Hearts and Spurs

Celia Valentine Yancey has no illusions she’ll ever enjoy wedded bliss, so chooses marriage over spinsterhood even if she has to marry a man her father picked. On the way to meet her groom, she endures armed robbery, a stagecoach wreck, a dozen hungry baby pigs — and an incorrigible farmer.

Ross Flaherty retired from bounty hunting to become a farmer but now Celia has brought his worst fear to his door — in more ways than one. A ferocious wolf-dog and a dozen piglets are no match for this determined lady.

Which is more dangerous — the Sully Gang or Miss Celia Yancey?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Count The Cookies - Contest - Ginger Simpson

A Karen Cote Design
I'm stealing a space on this blog to advertise my Countdown to Valentine's Day Contest, promoted and hostessed by Karen Cote.  I'm so fortunate to have all the beautiful art work she's created for my work and to have this contest appear on her beautiful blog, complete with her sexy avatar and voice.  Hope you'll visit and count the Cookies.  Yee Haw...and mosey on over to

Camp Floyd, Utah

     Camp Floyd was established in 1859, in Cedar Valley, Utah by Colonel Johnston, as the final headquarters of the Utah Expedition and approximately 20% of the entire U. S. Army, sent to control the "rebellious" Mormons, though not what had been originally planned. Salt Lake City was the objective, but the arrival there proved a disappointment. The city seemed abandoned.
     The Army's march through Salt Lake City did not go unnoticed, however. Mormen men everywhere were prepared to set fire to the buildings if soldiers began looting, unaware of Johnston's orders that his men not enter private property. With the army rode Phillip St. George Cooke, leader only ten years before of the Mormon Battalion, whose sympathies lay with his Mormon brethren. The Army camped first at what is now the general area of 21st. Street South and Redwood Road. Soon, they moved 18 miles west of the city, while searching for a permanent site, since Brigham Young insisted they not camp within forty miles of any town.
     Cedar Valley was 40 miles from SLC, but only a few miles from Lake Utah where nearly 20,000 Mormon refugees had camped. The troop train and the Mormons began on their respective ways at the same time, resulting in a tangle of saints and soldiers.
     The five-mile valley where Camp Floyd was situated had neither enough room for the 3,400 men there, in September, 1858, nor sufficient grazing for the horses, mules and beef cattle they had brought with them. Forage areas had to be commandeered elsewhere which resulted in conflicts between the Army and Mormon citizens. The Spencer family ran a herd of their own on one of the selected sites. An intoxicated Howard Spencer questioned the ability of two soldiers to evict him and charged them with a pitchfork. Sergeant Pike knocked the man over the head with a rifle, fracturing Spencer's skull. Citizens forced Pike's arrest and trial, which was interrupted when Spencer shot Pike. Recognizing the potential powder keg that seeking revenge might ignite, Johnston chose to ignore the incident.
     Camp Floyd soldiers spent their time trying to control the Mormons and patrol the Indian population as well. Only 700 men remained through the final days of the camp. With the Civil War approaching, fractions broke out between the soldiers who took sides. On February 6, 1861, the post was renamed Fort Crittenden. Five months later the Mormons breathed more easily as the Army left Cedar Valley. $4 million worth of improvements were auctioned off for less than $100,000.
     Little remains of the fort now. There is a museum and the cemetery and not much else. This author has visited the site in it's broad, barren valley, "A hot purgatorial spot where winter was long and rigorous, summer hot and uncomfortable, a place where alkaline water curdled soap, and dust storms proved almost unendurable," according to one description. The wind blows continually and sagebrush reins supreme.


Charlene Raddon’s first serious attempt at writing fiction came in 1980 when a vivid dream drove her to drag out a typewriter and begin writing. Because of her love of romance novels and the Wild West, her primary genre is historical romance. Kensington Books originally published five of her novels which are now available through Tirgearr Publishing.