Sunday, March 4, 2012

Some Hang On Tight to Cowboy Life


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Part of the appeal of Arizona for many is the western culture. Question -- when is the last time you've gone horseback riding, been to a ranch, enjoyed a campfire or for that matter, seen a cowboy? The real West is fading, but how far gone is it?

It was a typical weekend night at a Scottsdale watering hole, with a country band, cowboys and cowgirls in full swing -- part of the cowboy culture that some say is all hat and no cattle -- so-called Urban Cowboys.

You can also find many Western cowboy experiences aimed mostly at tourists.
“It’s really nice to be in nature on horses, because you don’t get to see them every day, and you don’t get to see Arizona mountains,” said one person.
But where's the real deal? Does it still exist in the valley?
“A southwestern culture, maybe, but the cowboys are getting pushed out more and more these days -- making it hard for them to make a living,” said Rusty Bates, of the D Spur Ranch.
At 27, Bates makes a living working for Shelley Donnelly on her D Spur Ranch, just East of Gold Canyon, in the east Valley.
Bates is the only ranch hand on the ranch.
“You know, we’re not in it for the money. It’s the lifestyle,” said Shelly Donnelly.
Donnelly is a true western woman who loves the cowboy way so much that after her husband died, she continued to operate a 6,000-acre ranch.
It's not an easy life.
“No heat, no electricity -- for AC, I run on generators, and of course, the price of fuel makes it pretty expensive. So I don’t run my generator a lot, yet when I step out on my front porch and look at this, it’s worth it -- absolutely worth it,” she said.
The Superstition Mountains are her front yard. She raises about 50 head of Texas Longhorns because she likes them, and the tourists like them too.

It helps that the breed can practically survive on nothing, Donnelly said.

“They’re survivors. They’ve been around for many, many years. They’re really, really good beef animals – healthy,” she said.
Bates takes care of the cattle, the horses, the visitors -- and does just about every thing else. He doesn't complain, and as for relaxing, Fox 10 ask him where he hangs out.
“I work seven days a week, so I don’t have time for hanging out,” he said.

Out at the ranch, there are no computers, no smart phones, no TV. He doesn't go "into town" often – the town, Scottsdale.

Bates said some people he meets are a little perplexed by his lifestyle.

“Their first question is, ‘What do you do at night?’ I say, ‘I go to bed at night.’ It seems like a foreign concept. We've been out all day. It’s time for dinner, time to clean up and time to go to bed. That’s the simple life cowboys are known to live,” Bates said.
Donnelly and Bates make the most of the simple life. They fear that with the houses from nearby subdivisions getting closer, it may not be around for much longer.

They hope some pure form of the cowboy culture survives.
“I do believe it may not be as popular as in past years, but yes, I think there will always be a certain element that wants their horses and wants to be able to ride out and enjoy the countryside and chase some cows and throw a few ropes and live the cowboy lifestyle,” Donnelly said.

The Spur D Ranch is a working ranch that welcomes visitors every day of the week.
Arizona Cowboy:

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