How are you spending today? If you're a western aficionado, you're probably at some event commemorating this 7th Annual National Day of the Cowboy.
But the nonprofit National Day of the Cowboy group (yes, it's a registered 501(c)(3) organization and will happily take your tax-deductible donation) supports the cowboy and cowgirl way and is working to convince Congress that there is enough national interest in preserving America's cowboy culture and pioneer heritage so that Cowboy Day can be made permanent.
To that end, the group has focused on getting states to recognize the National Day of the Cowboy. Legislatures that have done so include my native Texas, as well as Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma and New York.
Hard working cowboys: I grew up in West Texas where ranching and oil ruled, so it goes without saying that I'm all for an official Cowboy Day.
Much of the world knows of cowboys (and yes, I know there are women who own and work on ranches, but continual equity references in writing gets tedious, so I'm going to use "cowboy" to acknowledge ranch hands of both genders) only through popular culture. I love television and movie westerns as much as anyone; they are America's mythology.
But in real life, ranching is just like most jobs: hard.
And the current drought conditions across most cattle and horse land is making things even more difficult. The persistent severe weather conditions have forced some cattlemen to sell more livestock than they planned and sooner than they had anticipated.
Tax help for cowboy livestock sales: There is, however, some tiny bit of relief from the Internal Revenue Code for ranchers facing tax bills because of weather-prompted sales.
A rancher or other agriculture enterprise owner who sells livestock because of a shortage of water, grazing, feed production or other consequences of a weather-related condition may postpone the payment of income tax on the taxable gain from the sale.
There are two separate and distinct tax ways to deal with weather-related livestock sales.
- A livestock owner can elect to postpone the sale's taxable gain by purchasing replacement animals within a two-year period. This option applies to draft, breeding or dairy animals. It does not, however, apply to poultry.
- Or the rancher or farmer can elect to defer the sale income for one year. This applies to all livestock transactions.
Now we are talking taxes, so there are lots of other rules to follow. The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service has put out a detailed fact sheet on the tax consequences of weather-related livestock sales.
I hope these tax rules help a little as ranchers and farmers cope with this dang drought.
Keeping cowboy: If you simply enjoy the cowboy way, the National Day of the Cowboy website keeps track of various Western themed events across the county, many of which extend well beyond today's celebrations.
Even if an event is over, you can still check out the museum or gallery where it was held for future exhibits and demonstrations.
I personally recommend two cool places.
The West of the Pecos Museum in Pecos, Texas, has lots of neat Old West items. Plus, the museum itself is a 19th century hotel with it's very own saloon.
If you're closer to the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area than my West Texas homeland, you've got to go to the Amom Carter Museum. It has a fantastic collection of works by two of the greatest artists of the American West, Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell.
Or you can just settle down to some good ol' Texas tunes. A great play list comes from today's celebration of cowboys on KUT-FM's Folkways program:
- The Flatlanders, South Wind of Summer
- Joe Ely, Circumstance
- Delbert McClinton, Lone Star Blues
- Ryan Bingham, Southside of Heaven
- Robert Earl Keen, Ready For Confetti
- Buddy Miller, Cattle Call
- Don Walser, Casting My Lasso
- Asleep at the Wheel, Big Ball's in Cowtown
- Don Edwards, The Master's Call
- Michael Martin Murphey, I Ride an Old Paint/Whoopee Ti-Yi-Yo, Git Along Little Doggies
- Willie Nelson, Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly (Fond of Each Other)
And on those notes, I tip my Stetson to all y'all current, future and wannabe cowboys.
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