Today, I’m sharing more about the upcoming release of Smitten Historical Romance Novella Collection: The Cowboys, all four novellas feature adventure and fun romance with hunky cowboys. Jennifer Uhlarik, award- winning author and lover of all things western set her novella Being Brave on a cattle drive. It is so exciting and swoon-worthy. Jennifer is sharing her knowledge of all things cattle drive and more about our novella collection.
The Jobs on a Cattle Drive
One of the most enduring and iconic images of the Old West is the cattle drive—where cowboys moved several thousand cattle from Texas to a rail town in Kansas. There, the herd was sold and transported to stockyards in the east. This major undertaking happened yearly after the spring roundup, and typically, several ranches pooled their cattle into one large herd and hired men to drive them north. But what were the specific jobs or positions on a cattle drive?
Trail Boss—The head honcho of the outfit. This seasoned cattleman plotted the day’s course, including any breaks, watering holes, and the end-of-day campsite. He was also in charge of keeping track of the brands in the herd. Likewise, the Trail Boss’s job was to make decisions on how to handle injured animals, newborn calves, any strangers they came across along the trail, and mediate any disputes that cropped up among the crew.
Point Rider—The Point Man rode out in front of the herd, setting the pace for the day and acting to lead the herd in the direction the Trail Boss had told them to go. The Point Rider became the focal point for the herd, and everyone else followed after him. In larger drives, there might be two Point Riders.
Swing Riders—The Swing Riders were situated about one third of the way back in the line of cattle where the herd began to widen out. There would be one Swing Rider on either side of the herd. This position helped keep the herd bunched and also helped the Point Riders turn the herd as needed. The men riding Swing would constantly watch for any animals trying to make a break away from the herd. It was their job to catch them before they got too far away and turn them back in with the main group. If, for any reason, the point rider left his position, a Swing Rider would move up to lead until the Point man returned.
Flank Riders—Similar to the Swing Riders, these cowboys rode one on either side of the herd, although about two thirds of the way back. Their main job was to back up the Swing Riders and keep the herd from fanning out across too wide an area.
Drag Riders—This was the least desirable position in the cattle drive, often reserved for the greenest cowboys. The Drag Rider rode behind the herd, driving the back end of the herd to stay up with the front and rounding up any stragglers or strays who break free from the tail of the herd. The Drag Riders had the unfortunate daily experience eating the dust that the thousands of cattle in the herd kicked up.
Wrangler—The Wrangler was in charge of the remuda (or horse herd). An average cattle drive would require some 100 or more horses to keep the cowboys mounted and moving each day. The Wrangler’s job was to drive the horse herd along the day’s course, doctor any sick or injured mounts, as well as help with camp chores, such as collecting fuel for the fire, washing dishes after the meal, and the like.
Cook—The cook’s job was to provide the food for the crew each day. He rose hours early to prepare breakfast, then arrived at the evening campsite before the herd to start dinner preparations. In addition, he would cut the crew’s hair, act as a banker, help the Trail Boss mediate disputes, and most importantly, act as doctor for any health issues with the cowboys.
Average pay for those on the cattle drive were as follows: the Trail boss earned roughly $100-$120/month. The cook could count on about $60/month. And a typical drover (any of the other positions) would earn roughly $40/month. All were paid at the end of the trail after the herd was sold.
Coy Whitaker the hero of Being Brave.
This photo inspired the character of Aimee Kaplan
It was a load of fun to write about a cattle drive in my latest release, Becoming Brave, one of the four novellas in The Cowboys novella collection. In the story, cowboy Coy Whittaker stumbles across the lone survivor of a terrible attack, Aimee Kaplan, while moving his boss’s cattle through Indian Territory to Kansas. He and the crew band together to get Aimee to safety while defending against the outlaw gang who killed her family. In addition to my story are three other wonderful novellas by award-winning authors Cindy Ervin Huff (our host today!), Sandra Merville Hart, and Linda Yezak. Hope you’ll take a few hours to read these fun romances!
Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list numerous times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers, Women Writing the West, and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.
Taming the west—one heart at a time.
Healing Hearts by Cindy Ervin Huff
Lonnie Holt’s external scars remind him of his failures, his internal scars torment him. Genny Collins seeks safety at the ranch once owned by Lonnie’s uncle. When Lonnie and his brother arrive, sparks fly and distrust abounds. While Lonnie and Genny fight the love growing between them, his past haunts him, and her past pays them a visit.
Becoming Brave by Jennifer Uhlarik
When Coy Whittaker stumbles upon a grisly scene littered with bodies, he wants nothing more than to get his boss’s cattle out of Indian Territory. But when a bloodstained Aimee Kaplan draws down on him, his plans—and his heart—screech to a halt.
Trail’s End by Sandra Merville Hart
Wade Chadwick has no money until his boss’s cattle sell, so he takes a kitchen job at Abby’s Home Cooking. The beautiful and prickly owner adds spice to his workday. Abby Cox hires the down-and-out cowboy even though the word cowboy leaves a bad taste in her mouth. Just as she’s ready to trust Wade with her heart, money starts to disappear … and so does her brother.
Loving a Harvey Girl by Linda Yezak
Eva Knowles can’t imagine why the local preacher doesn’t like Harvey Girls—women who work serving tables instead of finding a husband and falling in love. But if Eva can get the handsome and wayward cowboy Cal Stephens to join her in church, maybe the reverend will accept the girls. Or maybe she’ll forfeit her job for a husband, hearth, and home!
Next week we’ll hear from Sandra Melville Hart and Linda W. Yezak as they share some historical tidbits about their stories. If you missed it here’s the link to my post about Healing Hearts, my novella in this collection. And don’t forget if you post below regarding your favorite cowboy you’ll be entered in a drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card.