The last desert cowboy

Watts, Peter and Childerley, Zoe [Photographer] (2016) The last desert cowboy. Independent on Sunday, 21 Feb, pp. 22-25. ISSN (print) 0958-1723


This is an intimate portrait of a charismatic ranching family in the high desert that struggles to find meaning and moments of grace in a hostile environment. Less then a decade ago there were 16 ranching families in Lucerne Valley. The Mitchell family at Rattlesnake Ranch are one of a handful left. Billy Mitchell has brought up four daughters on the ranch, all but one have now left. There are constant changes in policy for grazing rights and leases have to be renegotiated every 10 years as well as the 8-year drought blighting California. There is a resilience forged by life in a merciless clime that is not nearly as empty as it looks. The Mojave desert is a paradox demonstrating an intensity and delicateness, isolation and accessibility, fragile and contrary landscape.

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