I grew up on a homestead somewhat like the one described in this book and now, years later, I am working with my husband and children to get back to that lifestyle once again.
We do have miniature line-bred cows which came from a herd east of Albuquerque (BeltBuckleCattle.com).We raise heritage breed chickens, grow our heirloom seeds in a straw bale garden, and sometimes we bake in a mud oven.
The characters in this story are fictional, although personalities and some conversations have been borrowed from real people in my life. I am not part Navajo but we are surrounded by that humor-rich people-group and speak with them daily.
Ramona’s Grandpa is a lot like my great-grandfather, Papa Reed, who was half Cherokee. He told me many funny stories and was one of the people in my life that influenced me to love cattle and land.
Most of the individual stories in the book are true: I did teach my horse to jump as described in the book. I did cook on a wood burning stove and ride far into the forests for picnics. There really is a wonderful Navajo flea market where you can buy chile ristras, jewelry and herbs.
There are still several Indian fairs and rodeos in the area that are rich with Western culture and entertainment. The ghost town and the other forest places I mention are real but the names have been changed.
Gallup, New Mexico is a real city. It is the heart of Navajo land. Gallup is known for its mountain bike trails, hot-air ballon festivals and Native American jewelry.
Zuni Pueblo lies only forty miles to the South, nestled among the beautiful, red Zuni Mountains.
The facts and stories about genetic modification are true (see the end notes) and are just the tip of the iceberg. I tried to restrain myself from pointing a finger at the companies that I feel are responsible for these atrocities, because ultimately, we also bear the blame and the change starts with us. Like Will says,
“I don’t know what their motives are, what are yours?”
Holy Cow was a joy to write, thanks to the inspiration and constructive criticism I found in my children. As I completed each chapter and read it aloud, they were always faithful to inadvertently guide me with comments like:
“What does that mean?”
“That’s my favorite part!”
“They seem so real to me, Mom! I feel like they’re people I know and I wonder what’s going to happen to them next.”