Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Lazy B - Book Review

The Lazy B - Growing up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest
By Sandra Day O'Connor and H. Alan Day
Random House 2002

This is an excellent book about life on a cattle ranch throughout the 1900's.

Sandra Day was a country girl. She grew up on her fathers family ranch in south west New Mexico and south east Arizona.

The ranch covered both states and was located in the high desert country south of the Gila River. The Ranch House itself was in Arizona, but the access road was from New Mexico. The family did their shopping in the county town of Lordsburg (Hidalgo County, NM) but the cowboys went to the bar in Duncan (Greenlee County, AZ). And yes there were cowboys on the ranch.

Sandra learned to ride a horse as soon as she could walk and she learned to drive a car before she was even in high school. Sandra was born in El Paso, Texas in 1930 and raised on the ranch. When she was 6 years old she was sent back to El Paso to live with her grandparents. There she attended a small private school for girls. She spent her summers and vacations on the ranch. Sandra's two younger siblings, Anne and Alan were born 9 and 11 years respectively after Sandra. I beleive that Alan and Anne were educated in Duncan.

This books describes Sandra's life as a country girl. It also describes her parents, the various cowboys - especially those who lived and worked on the ranch permanently. There is also a chapter on Sandra's younger brother Alan who is the co-author. Sandra describes what life was like at school in El Paso. she even persuaded her parents to allow her to attend school in Lordsburg for a year, but the long bus ride to and from the ranch gates, as well as the long drive from the ranch house to the gates was just too exhausting. After that year, Sandra went back to El Paso.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this memoir is that Sandra and Alan describe very vivid and detailed scenes. One of the other blogs I read regularly, is Pioneer Woman. Ree lives on a ranch in Oklahoma and some of the things Ree describes in her blog, match Sandra's stories almost word for word, even though they are taking place 50 years apart.

Sandra describes the Bureau of Land Management and how the bureaucrats started interfering and making decisions that made absolutely no sense. Most of them had not lived in farms at all. They had no idea of the impact of their decisions. This is partly why ranching is no longer the lucrative career that it used to be.

The LAZY B no longer is a working ranch. In 1986 the decision was made to sell off the land - a process that took several years. By 1993 the last block of land was sold, and with it went 113 years of DAY family history.

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