KEARNEY — Miss V The Gypsy Cowbelle looks backward through time to help her audience find a sense of self reliance.
“I try to encourage the homesteader mindset, which is basic problem solving on an individual level,” she said during an interview while taking a day off from her tour. “In this day and age, we’re so conditioned to always look elsewhere for help on every level. People lose track of doing things for themselves.”
Miss V understands that children and adults often have the ability to solve problems — but just need some encouragement to try.
“But we’re conditioned to not do that,” she said. “If something breaks, the first thing we think of is who do we call to fix it?”
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She uses something like a first-aid class as an example.
“Mostly we’re taught to get to a phone to call 911,” she said.
Miss V will share some of her homesteader insights while visiting central Nebraska for shows and workshops including:
- 6 p.m. – Monday — Introduction to Leatherwork, Kearney Public Library, $10 materials fee
- 2:30 p.m. – Tuesday — Homespun Instruments, Kearney Public Library, a chance for children to make musical instruments, free
- 6:30 p.m. – Tuesday — Genuine Cowbilly Music, Kearney Public Library, a concert of Miss “V’s” musically, free
- 7 p.m. – June 6 — Genuine Cowbilly Music, Gothenburg Public Library, Gothenburg, free
“I’ve had a homesteader bent throughout my career as a performer,” Miss V said. “With the whole idea of making instruments out of what you can, with whatever is on hand and entertaining yourself; that is germane to the idea of the immigrant trails.”
Miss V currently lives in Thermopolis, Wyo. She lived for 15 years on a remote ranch in the Cowboy state where she learned a homesteading ethic.
“It’s how we gain confidence in ourselves, by having experiences,” she said. “We don’t really learn when things just go right. We learn when things don’t go right.”
Miss V looks to the lives of homesteaders for inspiration.
“The way that homesteaders led their lives, they had the ingenuity to solve their own problems,” she said. “When you look back at everything, at all of the things that people have invented and how we settle the West — my gosh, we have so many resources. We’re so clever in so many ways. Indeed, the modern world has steered us so far away from that. So it is a great thing to foster youths, and everyone else, too.”
Something as simple as seeing the stars might be lost to future generations.
“In a hundred years, we won’t be able to see the stars because of light pollution,” Miss V said. “We’re living at a very important time when we can still get to a place where there’s a night sky, unaltered by a distant glow.”
Miss V moved from New York to Wyoming at the start of her career 25 years ago.
“I always say I got bigger in New York but grew up in Wyoming,” she said. “I came out to Wyoming in 1995. Prior to that I had a normal, suburban life. I ended up at the old homestead ranch. I think I was headed in that direction before that. I had been living in caves and abandoned houses along the way. I guess throughout my adult life I had never really had electricity or indoor plumbing until about three years ago when I turned on the power at my house. So now, I’m on the grid.”
Looking back, she sees a connection between her younger self and her adult life.
“Throughout this adult life it seems that there’s a been a continuity of seeking a closer connection to the land, along with a simpler life,” Miss V notes. “I guess I have a weird propensity towards roughing it.”