A wry, altogether likable account of the four years Erickson spent singlehandedly running a neglected 5,000-acre cattle ranch in the Oklahoma sandhills. (""I could call myself either the hired man or the manager. I functioned in both capacities."") As a working cowboy, Erickson is concerned chiefly with cattle, horses, and the weather--and all three give him a powerful lot of trouble. His cattle are wild and ornery (""The primary disadvantage of cattle is that they are alive""); his uppity horses throw him, drag him, kick him, and roll on him in a series of ""wrecks"" he seems to regard as just part of the job; and the weather, turning sour every time he summons help for a cattle drive, gives him a bad reputation for staging ""north pole roundups."" In the end the ranch owner, bedeviled by falling cattle prices and government policies responsive only to urban interests, sells out; and Erickson's favorite old horse narrowly escapes the meat-packers to provide a happy ending. Erickson himself notes with resignation that ""A cowboy is one who breaks another man's horses, feeds another man's cattle, digs another man's postholes, lives in another man's house, and occupies a piece of earth that belongs to someone else""; and then he moves on, leaving this informative, captivating yarn about the backbreaking labor, good-natured camaraderie, and rock-bottom line of the business of being a cowboy.