← Back to library

The Cowboy Way: Seasons of a Montana Ranch

By David McCumber

The Cowboy Way: Seasons of a Montana Ranch

You can view this book's Amazon detail page here.

This book is linked with the post “Oh Happy Day, Oh Happy Day!”.


Started reading:
5th September 2010
Finished reading:
11th September 2010


Rating: 10

Look, I’ve read this before. Hell they say it’s out of print, but you can easily get it off of amazon.com and by following the link of this blog.

My copy is kinda tattered… partly because I found it in a stack at our dump in Cali… but also because I’ve read it 3-4 times now. This book is REALLY, REALLY good. What can I say, I’m usually not into this kind of thing, but it is just a damned good read. Here is what Publishers Weekly has to say about it (you didn’t expect ME to write a frigging book report did you??):

Newly divorced, having left his job as assistant managing editor of the San Francisco Examiner, David McCumber (Playing Off the Rail) set out to see what life as a cowboy was like. The guest was part of what he calls “a rather thoroughgoing midlife metamorphosis.” It is telling that he chooses the word “metamorphosis” rather than “crisis,” for McCumber eagerly embraces his new life and spends hardly any energy mourning his old one. He soon found out that the cowboys of a real working ranch are not the stuff of popular culture. For starters, they rarely use horses (they often use what McCumber calls “Japanese quarter horses,” a nickname for four-wheel all-terrain vehicles). Death is a constant threat to the herd and to the area’s wild animals. Because of that, perhaps, McCumber and the other men of the ranch have a genuine respect for animals. But it’s a tough respect, one that inspires McCumber to slit the throat of a doe who has cut an artery on a barbed-wire fence. What McCumber reveals of himself, he does so indirectly, through his descriptions of life on the Birch Creek Ranch, where the seasons are marked by the extremes of weather and the stages of cattle ranching?calving, branding, fencing, etc. Even his brief journal entries, interspersed throughout the book, look outward rather than inward. McCumber can be salty in one sentence, lyrical in the next, whimsical, stoic and, only occasionally, wistful. His book will creep up on readers, who will come away with admiration for McCumber and a strong, vibrant sense of the ranching life he has come to love.