Texas Ranch House on PBS


May 1, 2006, 10:55 PM
PBS is doing one of it's 'reality tv' series again.

This all started out when the BBC did a series about plunking a modern family down in the victorian era (this was back when victorian was all the rage in home decor) and exposed them to the realities of hardly any hot water, washing laundry by hand, no vaccuum, etc etc. Since then BBC has done a couple others.

PBS picked up on the idea with Frontierhouse, obviously set in montana frontier log cabin type stuff, and then Colonial House, set in New England, earliest American settlements, beholding to a company, a puritan settlement.

Now comes Texas Ranch House, you guessed it. One family (dad, mom, 3 teen daughters)Female laborer (25ish)Ranch foreman (50ish guy)Cook (50ish guy) Head ranchhand, (30ish guy) 4ish ranch hands (20s)

Now, so far none of these guys is carrying firearms. It is my understanding, contrary to popular TV, not all cowboys carried. Lots of times guns were just too expensive. Or on cattle drives, the employer was expected to provide firearms, which many times were kept with the chuck wagon and passed out only when the need arose. Of course, there were plenty of cowhands who did manage to have their own sidearm, and the ranch owner would for sure have a few rifles or somesuch in the main house.

Spoilers alert

Now, in episode 2 (MN PBS showed 1 and 2 back to back, first airing of either one) at the very end, the ranch is celebrating 4th of july. At the very end, when they are all asleep, Native Americans sneak in and steal all the horses. One native was carrying what appeared to be a tube fed leveraction rifle.

wonder if this raid will at least bring up the discussion of firearms. Now, being that it is a TV show with a bunch of greehorns, there have been some allowances (as well as a couple weeks of riding instructions etc off screen before hand) For example, these cowboys aren't branding 2 year old cattle, they are jsut too big for greenhorns to wrestle to the ground. For liability reasons, as well as local laws, probably cannot let these guys pack cap and ball loaded revolvers around, but IMHO, they should let them carry unloaded ones, and should deifnately have a familirazation fire episode.

I will note that at frontierhouse, while they could not hunt due to game regulations, which was somewhat false for history, they did take the families out and have them bust clays with some side by sides, and the family kept the side by side. Don't knwo if they gave them any shells or not, but still, it was there.

Side note, seems to me they should have been able to set up some sort of 'false hunting course' I.E. set up 3 small tolkens, hide them in the woods. For each tolken you find while carrying a firearm, it entitles you to one thrown clay, success means you get a bird, even if it is a chicken or somesuch (or even allows firing at a farm raised and released by hand pheasant or the like)

If you enjoyed reading about "Texas Ranch House on PBS" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
May 2, 2006, 02:03 AM
Akodo, my wife and I watched it this evening and for all practical purposes, I said the same to my wife. She, in fact, said "Where are the guns?", first.

At that time, 1867, many of the "cowboys" in Texas, were young men who had returned from the Civil War... and they would certainly have had either rifles, or pistols, which they'd carried in the War. That was rough, dangerous, unforgiving country.

Also, at that same time, there was a great danger from the Comanaches, Kiowas, and to a lesser degree, some Apaches out of New Mexico Territory, so in a real 1867 Texas ranch, the people there would have been armed.

Also, there would be a constant admonition to "Watch your topknot, boys," as it was very dangerous ranching there in the time.

I told my wife they should have the people either carrying (unloaded) pistols out in the boonies and have rifles, shotguns, around the ranch. Now on a film set, no real ammo is allowed, other than in a very highly controlled circumstance... but at least, there should have been unloaded (or fake studio prop) firearms with some of the actors.

I too, as you, wonder that as some Indians have run off all their horses, how the "We gotta get our nags back from them redskins," along with what would be a perpetual worry about self defense from same, will be handled.

Will it be typically Hollywood "politically correct?" :rolleyes:

Tune in, folks...............


pete f
May 2, 2006, 02:29 AM
1867 texas and the black cookie mouths off the lady of the house? Where is that horse whip. If you are going to be realistic, let show realism. I too commented about lack of firearms and I noticed too the pioneer house although they shot a shotgun, they were unable to hunt for seasons did not mess.

I found that completely unrealistic. This is Texas, they have game ranches all around. Go buy a few critters and release them. I am sure a Texas DNR/F&G permit could be had. And it is not because they are reluctant to have meat, on the pioneer house they slaughtered a hog and a calf.

Post civil war texas almost all the cowboys would have had private weapons. they may not have carried them on a day to day basis. but they would have been very available.

May 2, 2006, 02:52 AM
Regarding Frontier House:

Side note, seems to me they should have been able to set up some sort of 'false hunting course' I.E. set up 3 small tolkens, hide them in the woods. For each tolken you find while carrying a firearm, it entitles you to one thrown clay, success means you get a bird, even if it is a chicken or somesuch (or even allows firing at a farm raised and released by hand pheasant or the like)

No kidding. Our biggest pet peeve with that show. It was just ridiculous that they didn't seem have basic hunting as at least a supplement to their foodstocks/income in the frontier house.

No matter how they spin it as some sort of academic research aid, the whole "___ House" series' historical accuracy are always voided from the start by lack of familiarity with common knowledge of the era they are recreating. I remember the 1900 house lady struggling all day and failing to figure out how to light the stove and keep it going, as if a married woman in that time period wouldn't know the basics of keeping house since childhood!

Also, most of these folks seem to do almost NO research into the time period that they'll be "living in" beforehand. If you knew you were going to be living in another "time" for a month with your whole family, wouldn't you all delve deeply into the books to really be able to hit the ground running? (...yeah, I know that it would make less dramatic "reality" T.V., but can PBS at least try?)

May 2, 2006, 09:01 AM
These shows all seem to pick participants who are looking for an adventure. What most of them don't realize is they aren't even close to tough enough to endure what the hardy folks of that time went through. The rancher (Mr. Cooke) was complaining that his wife was cooking with lard (what is she supposed to use, PAM?)

The cowboys standing around while the "All Work Girl" struggled with the calf was beyond stupid. No man in that era (or where I grew up on a farm) would have let a woman work that hard and stand around laughing about it.

They don't seem to have any idea what they're supposed to do and how hard work actually was back then.

My grandfather (and probably my father) could/would have worked all day doing that kind of work and thought nothing of it.

May 2, 2006, 09:51 AM
watch reality shows. Cook with lard? Makes the best fried chicken, biscuits, and pie crusts you ever ate........chris3

May 2, 2006, 10:06 AM
Torpid I believe you miss the point. The purpose of these shows isn't to entertain us by recreating the past badly, (hollywood does enough of that) but to show how modern people with modern sensibilities might cope with the living conditions of past cultures. Educating the people in the time they're going to experience would defeat the purpose.

Big Larry
May 2, 2006, 10:13 AM
I too wondered where the guns were, and assumed for political reasons they decided against them. All the other comments about not helping women, and all the others: This show is about "modern" people living for a brief period similar to how our ancestors lived 139 years ago. The dipsticks standing around watching the girl struggle with that calf, have TODAY'S mentality of SOME of today's youth. Everything you see is not as it actually was back in the day. The show is just about modern folks attempting to live like our ancestors did. Just enjoy it for what it is.

May 2, 2006, 12:07 PM
My expectations came from watching one show where the historian certainly seemed to have the same expectations of the participant families having (or caring to learn) competency with technology/routines of the era they were representing. The family seemed mostly annoyed by his suggestions and guidance regarding living in the time. He seemed to be very excited about seeing how the people of the time "really" lived, and then watched modern whiners half-ass or ignore many of the things that he tried to teach them- so much for "living history".

I think it would be far more informative (though not as entertaining) to see how people actually lived in these eras. There are infinite opportunities in the current time to see inept folks struggle with basic tasks that their ancestors did without thinking, so why waste your recreation with seemingly barely interested folks looking for "adventure"?

I'm sure watching a recreation of a Revolutionary War battlefield with 300 folks gathered from the local mall would be more amusing to watch than seeing folks who actually are interested in the real history, but it wouldn't be as educational. (***ahem- PBS- ahem***) :)

These shows have so far turned out to be a view of a mostly gun-free past where firearms apparently had no real part in helping folks survive and prosper in daily life.

Educational!- taking notes, kids? :rolleyes:

Nathaniel Firethorn
May 2, 2006, 12:14 PM
I'm waiting for Future House.


- NF

May 2, 2006, 01:57 PM
I find these shows to be fascinating. Shows how lazy most people are. I watched Frontier House as it was filmed not very far from Bozeman.
The personal struggles and the realities of life in those days were just amazing.
I remember the one guy worked his butt off and they decided that he woudl have made it, although he would have been cold, because in addition to building his house, running a garden, building a shed he ONLY chopped (by hand) 8 cords of wood and he needed 12 to 15 to get through the winter.

I also remember that the california family cheated.

Fascinating show. The one guy who was henpicked to death (in Frontier House) actually quit his job in Tennesee and came to work as a real ranch hand on the ranch where the show was filmed a few years later.

Great stuff.

May 2, 2006, 08:10 PM
The "cook" did not know how to use a dutch oven to bake with. Serve tortillas to a crew in that day would have been suicide! :what: Sourdough biscets and cornbread were the norm.:D

Livin in Texas

May 2, 2006, 08:15 PM
Ranch life without firearms and hunting??? :confused: :rolleyes:

Silly. That sounds plain stupid. This show should be on OLN than PBS.

I am sure the PETA people aorund PBS are having a fit already anyway...

May 2, 2006, 10:48 PM
I have been watching PBS for about 35 years or so. (was my moms favorite channel). Let me tell you folks it has been "dumbed down" just like everything else. The "science " programs are the worst in this respect- filled with misinformation and false conclusions. logic takes a real left turn with most of the shows.

May 2, 2006, 11:04 PM
I generaly like their shows but I have noticed the lack of guns as well as the lack of hunting.

Even if it is a seasonal matter (on frontier house that was the reason they gave) they should then provide them with a certian amount of meat.

May 2, 2006, 11:14 PM
It is my understanding, contrary to popular TV, not all cowboys carried. Lots of times guns were just too expensive.

Repeating handguns? Yes, those weren't as common as they appear to be from TV. They tended to be very $$. But that doesn't mean drovers and ranch hands were unarmed. Scatterguns were neary ubiquitous. The muzzleloading shotguns were around for a long time and were only gradually replaced with single shot break-top style toppers and the less common side-by-sides. Though it's not common to see in Sillywood, a 19th century ranch hand might well have kept a scattergun handy for filling the meat bag or tossing some shot at predators. They were very light weight and relatively inexpensive. Rifles and rifle muskets in all forms were also very popular, from Civil War era bringbacks to more modern repeating leverguns. Certainly in in 1870's era west Texas you would have found a lot of iron. It wasn't exactly Ohio! It was wild country with plenty of bad men roaming around.

Let me tell you folks it has been "dumbed down" just like everything else. The "science " programs are the worst in this respect- filled with misinformation and false conclusions. logic takes a real left turn with most of the shows.

Sadly I agree. I've been watching PBS since youth, but now I almost never bother. "Red Green" was about the last funny show on there, and now it's wrapped up. Their attempts at reality TV with this ranch show or the British Upstairs/Downstairs takeoff have been almost unwatchably bad. Shows with an interestin premise such as "History Detective" end up being even worse, with stupid raegae music and too much handheld camera work (circa 1995). It's like watching your grandpa try to be "hip" by using out-of-date slang and breakdance. Not that History Channel, Discovery and A&E don't have stupid shows on as well. But nothing on PBS now is half as good as "Mythbusters" or "Deadliest Catch."
And even their lame shows like "OC Chopper" are worth watching once or twice. Watching that old guy scream at his kids has some entertainment value, and I'm sure I'll tune in again as soon as the young fat one goes nuts and beats him to death with a chopper frame.

May 2, 2006, 11:58 PM
i think these people are chosen because the don't know what they are getting into. Lots of people tend to romanticize these conditions. Those who are either realistic or well informed historically would say 'Hell No!' if asked.

I think that is why the first show of this type was victorian house, it appeared when victorian fassion was all the rage in home decor, and I think it was to show people that no, the victorian age wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

May 3, 2006, 12:20 AM
Those who are either realistic or well informed historically would say 'Hell No!' if asked.

I respectfully disagree with your opinion on this point.

If they were supported financially, I'm sure there are plenty of historically well-versed and passionate historical re-enactors who'd jump at the chance to spend a few weeks in another "time", and who'd also probably do a great job overcoming their inexperience as they learned (because they actually want to do it right).

Especially if the show was also done correctly and folks would use firearms as a daily part of their experience... ;)


May 3, 2006, 12:28 AM
I have to agree with Cosmo

I still watch New Yankee Workshop, Hometime, and This Old House. Beyond that there isn't much they have to offer.

May 3, 2006, 03:57 AM
If the pioneering fools can't start a fire or cook with a dutch oven...why would anyone expect them to intelligently use firearms? Idiots would probably shoot themselves and production crew making gun owners look bad. PBS producers have done the gun community a great service.

May 3, 2006, 09:32 AM
If they portrayed what really happened at a 4 of July Ho-Down when Commaches crashed the party and the ranch crew/owners did not have guns:uhoh: .... the cavalry is NOT going tobe riding to the rescue..... more like burial detail. But this is Hokeywood:neener: .

May 3, 2006, 10:49 AM
My understanding is tht after the Civil War the goverment sold off huge amounts of its small arms stocks.By the standards of the time the prices were very reasonable. Far more likely for somebody heading west to buy a surplus rifle and save the additional fifteen dollars for other equipment.

I've read that in the ten or fifteen years following the war it was very common to see folks out west armed with Springfield muskets and Spencers not to mention shotguns. I've also read that the various cap and ball handguns were a very common sight into the 1890's!

Most folks back then looked at firearms as tools. They weren't going to be disarmed, but they also weren't into firearms like we are. They didn't have the time or money.

Having said that PBS was taken over by the so-called liberal elite years ago. PBS just exsists as a mouthpiece for their agenda. Nothing more.

May 3, 2006, 04:19 PM
I'm TIVO'ing it, and so far I've watched the first installment. It's just silliness, and that's all it is. The lack of any kind of guns is more than a little incorrect, but I don't know what else we'd expect, given the medium. Now, real cowhands most likely wouldn't wear a pistol, but they would pack one in their saddle bag, and they probably would have a rifle in a saddle scabbard. But given the quality of the participants, would you really want them packing a gun? The 'Colonel', for instance, seemed a bit too excitable for my own tastes.

The only part of the show that I found unbearably awful was the scene where those punks were standing around watching that poor girl try and drag that calf to a pen. If my dad had ever caught me doing something like that, I'd'a been in a world of hurt.


Big Larry
May 3, 2006, 04:31 PM
I think PBS is doing the show exactly the way they want it to be. They are not trying to make this show historically correct for the "period". They are giving a brief example of what life was like back then, using modern folks who "romanticize" that period, that it was not as much fun as it appears to a lot of us. How many of us would be willing to go back in time, (knowing what we know now), and live like that? How about no toothbrushes. How about no deodarant. How about no clean underwear every day. How about butt rash with no corn starch. And in 1867, the average life span was 40 years old!!! I've done enough camping and hunting over the years, to know that 3 days is as long as I plan on going without a shower. And that's using baby wipes every day for necessary cleanliness for certain parts of the body. I don't believe PBS intends for this to be an exactness of life in 1867.

May 3, 2006, 06:35 PM
Have to agree with Big Larry. I like all of our modern devices. I spent many years in the Army and even with water resistant clothing, sleeping bags, toothbrushes, MRE's etc. I found spending ten or twelve days in the woods to be very unpleasent. Guess I wasn't cut out to be a mountainman.

Those folks who say thing like 'I was born in the wrong century' crack me up. The way I see it we live the way we do because our ancestors were looking for a better way. I like pasteruized milk and water treatment plants. Call me a greenhorn.:)

May 3, 2006, 06:55 PM
CHECKMAN - " Those folks who say thing like 'I was born in the wrong century' crack me up."

I'm with Checkman. I have spent too many days and nights out in the boonies, and also in the Army, where I realized just how fantastic it is to have hot running water, flush toilets, and Man's greatist achievment, the harnassing of ELECTRICITY!!!

Also, having done a tremendous amount of research on "the old days," I know how rough it was "back then."

(Not that I don't know how to "rough it," but it wears kinda thin after a few days. ;) )


May 3, 2006, 06:59 PM
I was born in the wrong century.

I feel deprived without a hoverbike and a blaster rifle.

Bruce H
May 3, 2006, 07:38 PM
If they are going to do a show about history they should follow history exactly. This will probably become a classroom instruction video someday. If it isn't factual and correct in all aspects then it is a lie. Chances are the no guns was for a reason. The ranchers will probably be shown as trespassers on the indians property.:cuss:

May 3, 2006, 10:40 PM
I like these "old reality" TV and how non-period people act in them. They are winny babies about things and don't want to act in the period.

It is still fun looking at the show. :)

May 3, 2006, 10:57 PM
Good grief, why am I watching the female ranch hand and the foreman arguing about "respect"? I almost expect to hear Aretha Franklin singing next.

Nathaniel Firethorn
May 4, 2006, 11:01 AM
One worthwhile PBS reality show, of a different kind.

I was watching bits and pieces of "Top Gun"* and remembered a special PBS did on the Navy Fighter Weapons School. That was worth seeing.

The best pilot in the class turned out not to be an arrogant maverick, but a devoutly religious family guy. I thought that was interestong.

- NF


* In retrospect, a very silly movie with some beautiful aircraft footage and a great soundtrack. I understand that anyone who did the things the Cruise character did would have a career measured in minutes.

Desk Jockey
May 4, 2006, 01:06 PM
I didn't see the show, but I did come across this article written by one of the characters. In real life, "Rattlesnake Bob" is a gym teacher near Denver.
The 1867 Experience (http://denver.yourhub.com/Story.aspx?contentid=76299)

May 5, 2006, 11:38 AM
The whole show reminds me of the old computer game "Oregon Trail" -the live version. Or survivor -the western. It is more of a show about sociology than on how the old west was.

If you enjoyed reading about "Texas Ranch House on PBS" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!