Cowboy Jam Session by Jeri Dobrowski : Christmas Gift Ideas: Part 1 |

Cowboy Jam Session by Jeri Dobrowski : Christmas Gift Ideas: Part 1

What’s on your calendar? A whimsical cow jumping over the moon greeted me when I turned mine from October to November. The change reminded me it’s time for my columns devoted to Christmas gift suggestions with a western flair. Look for more in December.

Last week a friend showed me her 2014 Real Buckaroo Calendar from RANGE magazine. The large-format calendar features superb color images of cowboys, cowpunchers, buckaroos, horses, cattle, sheep, and dogs. It includes moon phases and has generous spaces in which to write. Whether you’re shopping for your home or someone else, be assured this calendar represents the “cowboy spirit on America’s outback.”

At only $10, the Real Buckaroo Calendar is a great value. Order 10 or more and pay just $9 each. For phone orders, call 800-RANGE-4-U (800-726-4348). Send mail orders to RANGE, PO Box 639, Carson City, NV 89702. (Nevada residents MUST add sales tax. Add $8 per calendar for postage to foreign addresses.)

Jan Swan Wood, South Dakota rancher, writer, artist, cowboy poet and equine pedigree announcer, has two collections of her Outtagrass Cattle Company cartoon that would fit nicely in a stocking: It’s A Great Life If You Don’t Weaken (2010) and A Miss By An Inch Is As Good As A Mile (2012). The series appears weekly in Tri-State Livestock News, published in Belle Fourche, SD.

Thumbing through the two books, I found myself chuckling at the things Wood’s characters were doing, thinking, and saying, largely because I’ve done, thought, and said many of the same things myself. The single panels run the gamut of experiences in a ranching and horseback world–calving, turnout time, chopping ice, markets, fences, tall horses and tight pants–with an occasional piece of mechanical equipment thrown in for added amusement.

Wood’s books are $15 each plus shipping: $2.50 for one book; $3.50 for two. (SD residents, please add 60 cents sales tax per book). Send orders to Jan Swan Wood, 13340 Hope Rd., Newell, SD 57760; 605-456-2559.

Likewise entertaining, but filled with oodles of experiences I never had, is Montana Stirrups, Sage and Shenanigans: Western Ranch Life in a Forgotten Era (Flying Diamond Books, 2013, 408 pages, 260 b/w photographs, paperback ISBN-13: 978-0918532763). Written by three ranch-raised sisters, Francie Brink Berg, Anne Brink Sallgren Krickel, and Jeanie Brink Thiessen, the book is a collection of nearly 100 stories from their growing-up-years on the family’s eastern Montana ranch (approximately 1939-1950). Enhancing these gems are an incredible array of family photos and sidebars on topics such as preparing a cowboy bedroll and how a cream separator works.

Suitable for all ages, the stories capture a time when children were given a great deal of responsibility and relied on their imagination for entertainment. The book is brimming with tales of hard work, adventure, near misses, and resourcefulness that set the sisters on a course for professional success. In addition to providing hours of personal enjoyment, it would be an excellent choice for reading aloud to students or seniors. (See

Montana Stirrups, Sage and Shenanigans is available in softcover ($29.95 plus shipping) or hardcover ($39.95 plus shipping) from Francie M. Berg, Flying Diamond Books, 402 South 14th Street, Hettinger, ND 58639; 701-567-2646;

Festooned with a holiday wreath, Little Buddy the Christmas Steer graces the cover of this year’s compilation of classic and contemporary cowboy poetry produced by A double CD, The Bar-D Roundup Vol. Eight: 2013 features 48 Christmas poems by artists from across the West. Many were recorded especially for the series’ first Christmas compilation. (See a complete track listing at

Among the classics are those penned by Charles M. Russell, William Lawrence Chittenden, Badger Clark, and S. Omar Barker. Jimmy Dean’s 1965 recording of Barker’s “A Cowboy’s Christmas Prayer” is the album’s vintage highlight. Ranging from serious to humorous, the offerings give voice to those who often find themselves tending animals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, tossing the stock a little extra hay in celebration.

In one aspect, the mix of voices and material brought back memories of Christmas programs staged in schools and churches, where nervous children flanked by white-sheet curtains recited selections for family and neighbors. Again, recognizing many of the voices as my friends, I got the sensation that it was Christmastime and they had come to spend the day, joshing, laughing, and telling stories in our living room. In either instance, I felt the joy and commitment of those who proudly carry on the ranching tradition.

To order The Bar-D Roundup Christmas compilation, send $25 to, PO Box 695, St. Helena, CA 94574. For online orders, go to

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