‘Hated Farmin’ Loved Cowboyin’. Osage County Man Collects the Old West

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BURBANK, OKLAHOMA -- The topsoil is a little thin for farming in these flinty hills near the small town of Burbank.

The only thing to really hold to usually has horns and fights back.

But that's always been fin with Steve Barnard, who grew up in the Osage County bluestem grasslands, and who fell in love with all things cowboy early on.

"I grew upย on a ranch," he says, "Cowboyin' and ranchin' too."

"I hated the farmin' and loved the cowboyin'," he continues. "Still do."

He collected arrowheads as a kid.

He collected spurs and makes them himself, appreciating other makers like Clapper and the Kelley Bros.

"J.J. Smith, August Beirman," he says of other spur makers. "I know what feels good on your foot if you've got a pair on."

He collected the boots of cowboys he knew, famous guns like an 1873 Springfield.

Of his wide array of interests, Barnard says, "Whatever turns me on and most of it turns me on."

Look around the barn he made and you'll see old chaps, gauntlets (gloves), and saddles like Ben Johnson's winning rodeo rig.

"From when he won the world (championship) in 1953," says Steve.

He doesn't nave a use for the buffalo coat hanging high on a wall.

He could never wear all the hats.

Steve doesn't have a practical use for the metal chuck box.

"There's more junk here in boxes," he says, "And trying to find some of it isn't easy."

He collects and keeps these treasures because he loves this life, not just the life he's led here, but the life every good cowboy lives under tall grass and blue skies.

"If it pertains to the Old West or cowboys I like it," he says. "and I always will."

Barnard slowed down on his collecting because of some work he had around the ranch.

He is sometimes willing to give tours to interested visitors but he'd appreciate a heads up.

For more information call Steve at (918) 648-5398.

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