Shoulda’ Been a Cowboy

In the dark of the Cowboy Cabin, Larry Butler—faced with my city-boy ineptness—strikes a long match. The owner of Seventy-four Ranch, a working cattle ranch operated by real cowboys in Jasper, Georgia, ignites the Coleman lamp hanging from the rafters. His lanky body is suffused by the soft glow, and the cedar quarters, hide rug, wood-burning furnace, and bed are illuminated in rustic charm. As it happens, the Cowboy Cabin, part of the ranch’s bed and breakfast, is the only room without electricity. Unlike the other accommodations, which are Western-themed but still possess modern amenities, the Cowboy Cabin is a realistic replica of an 1880s Wyoming cowboy’s line shack. I chose to stay there because it seemed the most conducive to understanding the cowboy point of view, the purpose for my visit. Set against the fence cordoning the bucolic pastures from the rest of the grounds, the shack has one shuttered window that peers directly out onto some 30 head of grazing cattle. “Pasture art,” Butler says, gesturing with one hand toward a Texas longhorn emblazoned against the sinking sun among the other nondescript steer.

Written by Ezra Salkin

Photography by John Fulton Photography