For many, meat, eggs and milk come from the grocery store and are bought with little thought of where they came from. For 21 cowboys who were honored at the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo as part of National day of the American Cowboy, the groceries many take for granted is their way of life.
Tom McCourt grew up “in 90 days” while working on a ranch in South Eastern Utah and was honored as the cowboy from Carbon County at Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo as part of National Day of the American Cowboy. While he grew up a ranch hand and cowboy, McCourt now writes about Southeastern Utah history, cowboys and other topics of Western interest.
While McCourt admitted that the life of a cowboy isn’t the easiest one, he said that the values learned from ranching, like the value of hard work and an appreciation for the land, are invaluable.
“God and country is tied up in (ranching), and we’re losing a lot of those values,” McCourt said. “I think a lot of that comes from the urbanization of the country. More people are living in cities now, and they’re kind of losing their feel for the land.
While it may seem that those values are fading in the world and the family unit seems to be in jeopardy, cowboys have what they think is a solution to that problem. Rowland Yardley, the cowboy honored from Beaver County, said that the hard work and determination it takes to work closely with the land has helped strengthen him and his family, despite troubled times.
“It’s a way of life, and you can get a lot of joy and happiness out of what you do, and a feeling of accomplishment,” Yardley said. “I always say I’m the richest guy in Beaver. I haven’t got any money, but I’ve got a lot of good kids.”
In addition to being a great way to teach important values to children, many of the cowboys honored at the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo said ranching and farming helps the farmer and their family connect with the earth.
“The environment is what we’re trying to protect,” Cliff Blonquist, the cowboy from Summit County honored at the rodeo, said. “If you really look at the environment and protect the land, it protects you. Do the right thing, and it’ll take care of you.”
All the cowboys honored said that they were deeply humbled by the award, and many considered other cowboys and cowgirls more qualified for the award. Each, however, said that they were very grateful for the honor.
“All the men and women who’ve been nominated for this over the years and this year too have been very influential in a lot of people’s lives,” Jeffrey Madsen, the honored cowboy from Box Elder County, said. “They’ve worked hard in their counties to promote horsemanship and the western way of life … They’re all a great bunch of people.”