(Before I get started, let me point out that all of these differences apply to farm girls and cowgirls as well.) (Because girls are just like boys. Except different.)
A cowboy must wear cowboy boots. This is not optional. A farm boy can wear cowboy boots, but he doesn't have to do so. He might also wear work boots or even tennis shoes, so long as the shoes are able to handle some dirt/mud/cow manure.
A cowboy must wear a cowboy hat. If he is cowboying at all, a cowboy hat is required. (He doesn't have to wear it if he is inside, but he can if'n he feels like it.) A farm boy can wear a cowboy hat, or any other kind of hat he wants. The most common hat is a trucker's hat/baseball cap, although some old-timey farm boys have been known to sport a straw hat. (I even knew one who wore a metal hardhat!)
|Farmer. (Note the tractor and the hat.)|
|Cowboy. (Note the horse and the hat.)|
In fact, though it's not necessary for a farm boy to have animals, they most likely do, ranging from cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, and maybe even an alpaca. The only animal a cowboy needs is a horse and something to rope.
A cowboy is likely to be a participant in a rodeo. A farm boy is most likely to be a member of the FFA (Future Farmers of America) and have animals entered in the county fair.
A cowboy doesn't have much need for a tractor. A farm boy might spend more time in his tractor than in his car or pickup truck.
A cowboy is slightly more likely to listen to country western music than a farm boy, but neither is obligated to do so. (And no one can be called a cowboy or a farm boy just because they listen to country music.)
Having said all of this, it is possible to have overlap. A cowboy can also be a farm boy, and a farm boy can be a cowboy. Or, people can be a little of both. But most line up on one side or the other.
A cowboy works with ropes and lassos. A farm boy deals with crops and food.
I guess the biggest difference is that these days being a cowboy is mostly just a hobby, but being a farm boy is a job; a way of life that helps feed the world.
There's nothing wrong with being a cowboy, but I'm glad that I grew up as a farm boy.
*Pictures are from the website Pixabay. I don't personally know this farmer or cowboy, but they do remind me of people I have known.