Time to (Urban) Cowboy Up!

"You have to be born one, you have to be raised as a cowboy," said Freddie Spencer, Jr. "And it's a difference between a cowboy and I would say, a trail rider; I'll probably get a little flack from that, but it's a big difference, real big difference."

Freddie Spencer, Jr. is no ordinary cowboy - he's an urban cowboy.

"Working cattle, it's now on four-wheelers or Kawasaki mules, but it's not on horses anymore. There's very few [cowboys] that use horses."

He said real cowboys are born, not made. And if you think you know the life of a cowboy, think again. They rope and ride, herd cattle and cows, but they also operate businesses and own companies.

After majoring in forestry at Stephen F. Austin State University, Spencer now keeps four rural water supply systems up and running around East Texas. He's at the Nigton water plant seven days a week, but always manages to make plenty of time to cowboy up.

"The Nigton plant is an everyday job," Spencer said. "It's a new plant and we're trying some things with it, but it's an everyday job."

Spencer comes from a long line of cowboys, but is now one of the last cowboys in his family. He learned how to rope and ride from his father and Lee Hicks, a 72-year-old cowboy legend who was also the first black man in Nigton to own a truck and trailer.

Some cowboys believe there are not more cowboys in this area these days because there are not as many ranches in East Texas as there are in west and central Texas.