The day starts early on the J Bar W Ranch in Frederick County, Maryland. Rebecca and Sonny Williams wake up at 5:30 a.m. and within the hour are busy at work. She feeds the horses, gets their daughter ready for daycare and, by 7 a.m., is out the door in her Chevy Tahoe. On her way to her job, Rebecca drops off her daughter at her mother's house and then drives an hour to work at the Maryland State Fair. The one-way trip is 53 miles (85 kilometers), primarily on highways, with few stops in between. In the afternoon, the routine reverses, and Rebecca is home by 6 p.m.
Sonny, who begins his workday at 6:30 a.m., also drives a truck to work, but his workhorse is a Dodge "dualie" (dual-wheel pickup truck) and the 75 miles (121 kilometers) he accumulates daily are within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of his house. Sonny works 12 to15 hours a day caring for the 600 to 700 rodeo cattle he raises on six properties. He also uses his truck, with a trailer, to transport bulls to rodeos across the country and into Canada.
Both the Chevy Tahoe and the Dodge are about three years old. Rebecca's Tahoe is in good shape, thanks to regular maintenance. In comparison, Sonny's Dodge has had three new clutches and four new sets of tires.
For a rancher, a truck is a necessity. For a truck, life on a ranch is hard work. Today, a truck is a tool of the trade on a ranch. Let's look at how trucks are used by modern cowboys.