Hi everyone, my name is Sandi Hampton, and I write western romances. This is my VERY FIRST BLOG, and I’m delighted it’s for Petticoats and Pistols, a fantastic site for readers, and writers, of western romances. I think we love our westerns because they epitomize the American spirit, full of emotions and passions, the sacrifice and struggles of those pioneers and their courage to triumph over hardship.
My love affair with westerns began a long time ago when John Wayne and Claire Trevor rode a stagecoach through Monument Valley. I thought Ringo’s and Dallas’ story was so romantic. I think I’ve watched the movie Stagecoach at least five times and will probably watch it five more.
Before I sat down to write this blog, I took a look at some of the previous blogs in the archives and was immediately INTIMIDATED. What could I possibly say that these multi-talented, multi-published ladies (and all you readers) would like to read since my first novel is not even out yet?
One event in my novel “Last Chance for Love” is a trail drive. The hero helps the heroine get her herd to market to save her ranch. So, not knowing very much about a cattle drive, I did a little research. In the 20 year period from 1867 to the mid-1880s, approximately ten million cattle were driven north from Texas to railheads in Kansas and Missouri, Wyoming, Colorado and even into Canada over five main routes: Shawnee Trail, Chisholm Trail, Western Trail, Goodnight-Loving Trail and Fletcher’s Route. Most drives lasted about four months.
During those four months, the drovers faced incredible hardship and danger. The weather was always unpredictable: scorching heat, freezing cold, hail and drought. Prairie fires, quicksand and riding accidents added to the danger. And, of course, there was always the dreaded stampede. In addition to facing those hardships, a cowboy usually spent 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, in the saddle, and it was an unwritten code that they couldn’t whine or complain. And all this for about $100 per trip.
The size of the herd determined how many drovers were necessary. The ratio of men to cows ranged from 1 man per 250 head to 1 man per 400 head. The trail boss (remember Mr. Favor!! on Rawhide) led the drive, riding ahead to find water and pasture, with the chuckwagon also near the front of the herd. Point riders rode behind him, followed by swing riders, then flank riders and drag riders brought up the rear, as well as the remuda (spare horses). A wrangler was in charge of the remuda.
The chuckwagon was a remarkable vehicle. Although it had been in use for some time, Charles Goodnight remodeled it into a unique vehicle by adding a chuck box at the rear of the wagon facing out. A hinged lid pulled down onto a leg to form a worktable. The box contained any drawers and cubicles for utensils and supplies. The meals served to the cowboys included dishes such as Sonofabitch Stew, Cowboy Beans, Sourdough Biscuits (made from sourdough starter), Red Bean Pie, Vinegar Pie, Range Riders Stew, Chuckwagon Stew, Cowboy Fry Bread, Dakota Fried Tomatoes, Indian Breakfast, and Lazy B Corn Fritters, just to name a few. The cook was called the Old Woman, Skillet, Old Pud, Coosie, Belly Cheater, Biscuit Roller, Dough Puncher, Grub Worm, Sourdough and many more.
1. Since this was my first blog and I felt very intimidated, have any of you readers been scared to death to try something for the first time? And if so, what?
2. What was the worst fear you ever faced? One of the worst fears I’ve ever faced is public speaking. It petrifies me, and over the years I’ve never gotten any better at it. Anyone else?
3. My heroine didn’t like her first name and refused to use it: my nickname growing up was “Pug” and I hated it. Anyone else got a nickname or first name you dislike?
4. Has anyone ever been to a dude ranch, or a working ranch, and gone on a trail drive?
Let us know, and you’ll be eligible for a $10 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble!