Farmers, cowboys look for the bright side of life

By Glenda Price

There’s a famous cartoon. A cowboy’s horse is bucking across a rock pile interspersed with cactus. He’s lost his bridle reins – and his stirrups. He’s hanging upside down on the horse’s side with one hand on the saddle horn. His friend is loping toward him, looking worried.

The cowboy in the wreck yells, “Nah, nah, I ain’t in no jam. This is the way I always shade up.”

A bull rider makes the 8-second whistle, even though he’s hanging off the side of the bull the last two seconds, then lands on his head in the dirt. The sports medicine guys rush out and ask, “You okay?” When he doesn’t answer they say, “Who’s the president of the United States?”

Slowly, he sits up, looks at the worried faces around him and says, “I don’t know, but I’m sure it oughta be me.”

They laugh. He’s okay.

Later, the interview girl asks, “How did you manage to hang on like that?” He grins and says, “I didn’t see no good place to bail off.”

A cotton farmer watches a hail storm take out his whole crop. Asked later what he plans to do, he says, “Next year I’m gonna plant all the cotton I can.”

My theory is so much of life with animals and plants is beyond their control, country people learn to search through the darkness till they find at least a glimpse of better things to come. Weather can be drouth or flood or hail. Grasshoppers and other ugly little beasties can destroy a crop. Disease or accident can kill without warning.

Next year, or next time, will be better.

There’s even an old Carter family song: “Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side. Keep on the sunny side of life. It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way, if we’ll keep on the sunny side of life.”

Sometimes, animals die and we never figure out why. That’s especially true of sheep. The 23rd Psalm begins “The Lord is my shepherd…” We are compared to sheep, and that’s not a compliment, in my opinion.

When my favorite heifer died for no reason we could figure except maybe she got into poison weeds, my dad told me this story:

A father gave his son the pick of the new lambs one spring. The one he chose grew up to be a fine ewe, and she gave birth to twins. The boy was thrilled. However, a couple of months later one of the twins died. The dad said, “Everything happens for the best, son. Now the other lamb will grow bigger and healthier since it doesn’t have to share the mother’s milk.”

The next month the other lamb died. His dad said, “Everything happens for the best, son. Now the ewe will grow fat, and maybe she’ll even have triplets next spring.”

Then the ewe died. Dad said, “Everything happens for the best, son. Danged if I can see how, but everything happens for the best.”

Glenda Price has been a contributing editor to New Mexico Stockman magazine since 1982. Contact her at