Real Cowboys Are Dirty Old Men

by Kevin on January 4, 2012

The wagon boss on a ranch I used to work for was a uniquely “clean” cowboy. He was the only person that ever sported a cowboy hat that could pull a windmill and look like he was ready to go to a Sunday Meetin’ when he got done. I was fascinated by this and decided to see if I could pull off the amazing feat.

The day started off bright and early. Actually, it was as dark as the inside of a gallon of black paint, but it was darn sure early. Dad drove the windmill truck and I took the ranch truck as we headed out to pull a mill that had began its own version of “Occupy Stallstreet”.

I was wearin’ a white cowboy shirt. I was gonna put my clean workin’ to the ultimate test so I could clearly see the results. There would be no short-cuts and no Tide pens used to cover up any mistakes.

A ranch windmill truck is a rollin’ grease stain. Everything from the tools to the cables will get your dirty just by being in the same vicinity. It’s kind of like a jacked up form of static electricity. You don’t actually have to touch anything to get dirty, just get a little close and the mess will jump across space and time.

I avoided attacks like some super-human sci-fi movie character. The people that made the Matrix movies must have been watchin’ from a spy satellite because they reproduced my cowboy avoidance maneuvers for the world to marvel at on the big screen.

I had narrow misses from pipe dope, iron stained wooden sucker rods, windmill grease, and Copenhagen that dad kept spittin’ into a Kevin-bound wind. I didn’t dare tell Dad what I was doin’ or he would have bounced them elevators at the top and sent well water down on top of me.

Not counting my boots, which are a perpetual mess even on Sunday, I gave a spiritual fist-pump at my accomplishment when I put up the last of the tools at the end of the day. I was hot, tired, and ready to get home. I didn’t know that tryin’ to keep clean was so dadgummed tiring.

Dad got in the windmill truck and I got in the ranch truck to drive back to the house. I inspected my accomplishment with a sideways grin and a nostalgic “if-you-can-do-it-then-so-can-I” attitude. Sometimes it’s not about other people seeing your accomplishments, but about knowing that you did something and you don’t care if anyone knows about it or not.

I waited for him to lead the way and I would follow; just in case a tool tried to run off into the pasture. I sat back to enjoy my ride home and switched on the radio…and the air-conditioner.

It’s amazing how much West Texas dirt can accumulate in the vents of a Ford ranch truck.

The next time you see a cowboy and wonder how he got so dirty, just know that that’s the way God created him.

Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. Genesis 2:7

Have you ever tried to keep clean and got dirty?

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  • Ed

    I always thought if you didn’t get dirty then you weren’t working hard enough. Course that doesn’t pertain to being a pastor (some times anyway.)

    • Kevin

      Pastoring is the messiest job I’ve ever done…guaranteed.

  • Ed

    Messy yes, it just doesn’t always show on my shirt.

    • Kevin

      Wouldn’t it be easier if it did? Then we could just use the “Tide Pen” and go about our business.

  • Trey

    Sounds like me today. My left boot looks like I drug it behind a truck for about five miles. Texas says “Howdy.”

    • Kevin


      Howdy back at ya from Colorado!

  • You’ll find that a cowboy will tolerate you preaching the gospel to him if you’re doing it while you’re helping him get a job done and show you aren’t afraid to get as dirty as he is. Paul said he became all things to all people….so if you want to share the word with a cowboy, forget that white shirt and see just how dirty you can get. Jolly

  • Gave up tryin’ ta keep clean when I was about seven years old. ‘Cause no matter how hard me an’ my little brother tried, at the end of every day, our dad would set us in a tub a scaldin’ water, douse us down with half a can of Ajax an’ scrub us off with a stiff bristle brush. And don’t EVEN scratch yer head, that’s a sign a lice in dad’s eyes, entailed a scalpin’ and a rinse with kerosene. Dad claimed all this was necessary ’cause he didn’t allow hawgs under his roof, much less at his dinner table.

  • Doggone, you’re a brave man! I can’t even wear a white shirt to church without gettin’ it dirty! Keep preachin’, Brother!

  • Kevin, you have a way of punching me right in the gut and making me like it. Thanks for your words of wisdom and encouragement, not just with this post (which I think is deeper than most will realize) but for the past year. Blessings to you for a great 2012, my friend!

    • Kevin

      Thanks for seeing a glimpse “inside” the story Carl!! Blessings right back at ya friend.

  • Greg Box

    Thank you Kevin another awesome devotional! I’m one of those that seems to get something on me whether I’m eating, working, or just messing around, I just kinda laugh about it and if I do by some slim chance of luck keep from getting dirty, well I just still laugh about it and have come to realize it’s just a matter of time, because it would not be me any other way!

    Thanks for all you do and Blessings Always To You And Your Family!


    • Kevin

      We’ve been missin’ you Greg. Hope you and yours had a blessed Christmas and New Year.

  • Long time Twitter-follower, first time reader here. This post resonated a lot for me- I think it rings true for any ministry, hard work is messy but so so rewarding! I did about 6 years of camp ministries when I was younger and quickly learned that only owning white t-shirts was a bad idea for so many reasons xD

  • Jean Nelsen

    Hilarious! Thanks for the laugh..and the truth.

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