Opinion, Discussion and Analysis

Milo Yield: Unearthing treasures from the past, passing them on to the future

March 23, 2015 — 

I’ve mentioned before that living at Damphewmore Acres for nearly 11 years has been like living smack dab in the middle of a minor league archaeological dig. Between my tilling the soil for gardens and wildlife food plots and the chickens’ vigorously scratching the soil, constant wind and the occasional downpour, a steady stream of “days-of-yore stuff” has emerged from the ground.

Mostly, I find only rusty nails, screws, nuts and bolts laying on the soil surface. Also, pretty frequently I unearth mowing machine sickle sections and guards, abandoned spark plugs and oil filters, and door hinges.

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Amanda Radke: Bachelor Chris Soules puts national spotlight on agriculture

March 23, 2015 — 

ABC’s “The Bachelor” wrapped up recently with Iowa farmer Chris Soules giving the final rose and proposing to fertility nurse Whitney Bischoff. But before he made his final decision, Soules took his soon-to-be fiancé in a ride on his combine, explaining to her the ins and outs of harvesting corn.

While a little hokey at times — ABC’s prop department went a little crazy in decorating the barn for the final rose ceremony — it’s very rare for agriculture to have an opportunity to be in the spotlight in such a big way.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Quotes for Cowboys

March 23, 2015 — 

Gentle readers, have you ever stopped and wondered who said or wrote a quote that you found to be of some interest?

For example, here are a few quotes that I remember that just sort of jump out at me right now. “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” “The harder I work the luckier I get.” “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.” “The older the violin, the sweeter the music.” “Either lead, follow or get the heck outta’ the way.”

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Black Ink: Feeding the 'Millennial' generation

March 23, 2015 — 

A decade ago I was in college and heard the same sad story over and over: young people just didn’t know how to cook, and that was sure to spell disaster for beef demand. Industry professionals would tell stories of how their mothers slaved in the kitchen all day, and they verbally mourned the loss of domestic skills as women entered the commercial workforce in large numbers.

Then I’d go home from lecture and my roommates and I would whip up home-cooked meals in our trailerhouse kitchen. I thought we must be anomalies.

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Lee Pitts: The muddy concept of dirt tasting

March 23, 2015 — 

Wine tastings are so over. The trendy thing now in California and Europe are dirt tastings in which folks with seemingly too much money and not enough to do swirl a muddy concoction of dirt in a glass, hold it up to the light, stick their snout in a soil slurry full of humus and then make sophisticated statements such as, “It’s a bit dusty but I taste an echo of loam with just the right notes of compost. And was that a hint of clay on the mid-palate?” Or, “I simply love the creamy and complex texture, with a surprising vegetative nose and a barnyard finish that is simply divine.”

And you thought eating snails and bugs was bad!

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Baxter Black: Calving season gets muddy

March 23, 2015 — 

January 1980 is a month I’ll never forget. It all started out about January the 7th. The previous spring I had a big hand in selecting the bulls we were gonna use on Albert and Louie’s heifers. Albert had 400 head and we decided to artificially inseminate (A.I.) them one cycle, then use clean-up bulls. After much discussion with the local A.I. man, I chose a Brangus bull - an easy calver, the book said. For Louie’s 125 heifers, I bought him six brown swiss bulls.

That fateful morning I called Albert on the phone.

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Gwen Peterson: Rural perspectives of fun

March 23, 2015 — 

This is a true story. Only the names of the guilty are changed. A friend, who resides in a Midwest big city, sent me an e-mail detailing the many activities she enjoys. She described going to a variety of city attractions such as an eatery surrounded by a gorgeous flower garden. Diners sit at wrought-iron tables artistically set amid blooming blossoms. She included a photo — and I happily admit the setting was spectacular.

My friend also mentioned several events — these amazements to be found only in an upscale, sophisticated environment such as where she and her life-partner live. She finished the communiqué — with a not-too-subtle hint — that she felt a trifle sorry that I live such a dull life in the country where “there isn’t much to do.”

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Candy Moulton: Exploring homestead history

March 16, 2015 — 

When my grandmother arrived in Wyoming in March of 1903 and moved into the two-room cabin her first husband had built, she must have believed her life in the American West would be better than what she would have found in her homeland.

Certainly they had more land on his homestead than they could have imagined in Bruges and the surrounding countryside of northern Belgium. Peter Verplancke had been the first of the Belgian immigrants to claim land along Antelope Creek in southern Wyoming. He was on the Wyoming land by 1893 and found other homesteaders already living in the area.

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Candy Moulton: Presenting the Wranglers

March 16, 2015 — 

“The Poacher’s Daughter,” by Michael Zimmer, will receive the Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for Best Novel during the 2015 Western Heritage Awards in April. The book is published by Five Star/Cengage Gale.

First presented in 1961, the Western Heritage Awards were established to honor and encourage the legacy of those whose works in literature, music, film and television reflect the significant stories of the American West. The awards program also recognizes inductees into the prestigious Hall of Great Western Performers and the Hall of Great Westerners, as well as the recipient of the Chester A. Reynolds Memorial Award, named in honor of the museum’s founder.

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Peggy Sanders: Acquiring a family farm dog

March 16, 2015 — 

When it comes to pets our family has a long history with collies.

My great-grandmother, Hattie, wrote a long article concerning their trip from Iowa as they moved to homestead in southwestern South Dakota. They started the trip with their standard collie named Bruce. On the first leg of the trip the entire family, their animals, wagon and all their possessions were in an emigrant car on the train. During their train transitioning, the men had to check on some things and walked away from the train. The dog followed. Somehow he got separated and he had not shown up when it was time for the train to move again. That was such a blow to the family.

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Shelli Mader: Ridge Roberts wins first place at Colorado Fiddle Championships

March 16, 2015 — 

I’m always amazed when I meet someone who is not only talented, but also has the hard work ethic to back it up.

Ridge Roberts is one of those people. Not only is he wildly talented, but he is also one of the most determined, charming boys I’ve ever met.

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Lee Pitts: Mailbox rivalry goes postal

March 16, 2015 — 

Column writers, publishers and dogs who like to bite mailmen have a love-hate relationship with the post office. They keep us occupied, but at an ever-increasing cost.

People have always complained about the post office, from the constant postage increases back to its inception when folks complained that it cost the same to ship a one ounce letter from New York City to Troy, New York, as it did a barrel of flour over the same distance. But postal delivery has gotten better over the last 165 years, at least that’s what I’m told. In the 1850s, mail service was so poor that in the time it took the mail to go from Washington D.C. to San Francisco notifying a politician he was a new congressman, he might find his term of office was over by the time he got to our nation’s Capitol to serve.

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Baxter Black: Vegetarian's guide to cowboys

March 16, 2015 — 

Many myths have been promulgated that have fostered a misunderstanding of cowboys by herbivores. It is incumbent on me to shed some light on this subject for my vegetarian readers.

Myth No. 1: Cowboys are mean to cows.

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Milo Yield: Bucket calf not a sure bet

March 16, 2015 — 

This true story happened quite a few years ago. A young rancher, Bill Melater, had crafted a reputation as a sound businessman. He wuzn’t what you’d call “tight” with his money — more like “savvy frugal” — willingly to spend money when necessary, but not until after “more frugal” alternatives were weighed.

Well, it happened that ol’ Bill had a couple of children who had arrived at an age when they wanted to show a 4-H Club bucket calf at the local county fair.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Warm days nudge spring along

March 16, 2015 — 

Yep, I know, gentle readers, I am a little premature on the subject of spring. I reckon that I am jumping the gun because I see bright sunshine and we will be in the 40s today and maybe in the 60s in the next few days.

Heck, I even wore my straw hat to coffee this morning. I am doing my darndest to nudge spring along as fast as possible.

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Ryan Taylor: Good help need good equipment

March 16, 2015 — 

I’ve been planning a trip to Boston for a couple of months. Actually, the invitation was for a meeting that was supposed to be held in February when they got their first epic blizzard and it was rescheduled. I think they’ve had an epic blizzard every week out there this winter. It makes me glad to live somewhere with a reputation for nice winters ... like North Dakota.

Being gone for a couple of days when we’re feeding cows means maintaining good relations with my wife who’ll be feeding cows by herself in my absence. It also means maintaining good equipment to make sure the work goes as smooth as possible while I’m gone.

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Farm benchmark milk prices well below a year ago

March 11, 2015 — 

The Department of Agriculture announced the February Federal order Class III milk price March 4 at $15.46 per hundredweight, down 72 cents from January, $7.89 below February 2014, $1.68 above the comparable California Class 4b cheese milk price, and equates to about $1.33 per gallon, down from $1.39 in January. It is the lowest Class III price since May 2012’s $15.23.

Class III futures indicate this will not be the bottom for 2015 as the March contract settled Friday at $15.42. The turnaround would begin in April, which settled at $15.50 and peaks at just $17.32 per cwt. in October, $7.28 less than the 2014 peak which occurred in September.

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Lee Pitts: Driving 25, going on 70

March 9, 2015 — 

I’m starting to feel older than dirt. And I swear there is soil in our garden that I knew when it was rocks. Oh, how a few decades can change your outlook on life.

At age 25 ... “Sure I can ride that horse. Haven’t you got anything tougher than that?”

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Baxter Black: Cowboy's guide to vegetarians

March 9, 2015 — 

In an effort to foster an understanding between cowboys and vegetarians, it is crucial to debunk certain myths.

Myth No. 1: Vegetarians are all left wing, liberal Democrats who were hippies in the 60s.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Just keep it simple

March 9, 2015 — 

I think, gentle readers, that I may be reacting out of fear. That could be part of it, however, I find myself longing for what some would consider the “long ago.”

As I have mentioned, I don’t have a smart phone ’cause I don’t think I’m smart enough to operate one. Most likely they scare me and I’m convinced that my flip top phone I got a year ago is good enough for this old cowboy. I use it rarely, very rarely. I have to admit that when I see a child seemingly comfortable “thumbing” their way through these phones with their chubby little hands, I’m intimidated. Yes, I am!

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Gwen Peterson: Mischievous pinky prank

March 9, 2015 — 

Jemima is a town girl, but she loves helping out on her grandfather Calvin’s ranch. Gramps, as Jemima calls him, raises cattle and farrows out sow pigs, then raises weaners to finish out and sell. Calvin docks piglet tails when he has a pen full of weaners. When pigs get bored, they tend to gnaw off a fellow porker’s tail so Calvin clips tails to discourage tail chomping.

Thus it was that Calvin was snipping piglet tails on an afternoon when Jemima was expected to visit. As a former hard-riding cowboy and rodeo hand to boot, Calvin has built up a fondness for practical jokes. Which might explain why, when he saw Jemima stepping off the school bus at the far end of the lane, he stuck a piglet tail in a side pocket of his chore jacket. As Jemima drew closer, Calvin pretended to whack off a pig’s tail. Then he yelped and shouted, “Ouch!” And surreptitiously extracted the tail from his jacket and tossed it aside into the dirt of the pen. Then, hiding his pinkie finger on one hand, he held up only four fingers.

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Milo Yield: Pricey fundraiser miscalculation

March 9, 2015 — 

We had one day of semi-warm weather this week and I took advantage of the weather blip to clean out my chicken house. I hired a new friend, Ben denPichett, to help me. He did the heavy lifting. I helped with the light stuff ... and together we completed the onerous task in only three hours. My compost pile has been enormously, nutritiously enriched.

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Lee Pitts: Establishing the Cow Hall of Fame

March 2, 2015 — 

When I grow up, I want to be curator of the Cow Hall of Fame. The only problem is I don’t think there is one. There’s a hall of fame for roadkill, roller derby, croquet, fish, bowling, robots, polka, hot dogs, candy, mascots, dogs, even insurance, for gosh sakes. Yet no hall of fame for cows! Sure, there’s a fantastic hall of fame for cowboys but there’d be no cowboys if there were no cows. So where is the cows’ hall?

This is a pet project of mine I’ve thought about for years. It’s not right that for most Americans their only interaction with a bovine is when they eat a Whopper. A Cow Hall of Fame would change that. And when I say Cow Hall of Fame, it’s just because it sounds catchier than Bovine Hall of Fame. My hall would be for all cattle regardless of sex. Heck, I’ll even take Holsteins.

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Baxter Black: Fetal Eye View: A poem

March 2, 2015 — 

“Say, anybody got a light?

It sure is dark in here

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Ryan Taylor: Dumb luck or good marketing?

March 2, 2015 — 

I once saw a ‘demotivational’ poster that said, “Mistakes, it could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.” Pretty inspirational, huh?

There have been times in my 23 years of post-college cattle ranching where I felt my marketing decisions were best used as a warning to others. Kind of a ‘whatever I do, do the opposite,” piece of marketing advice for others.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Seeking the value of your job

March 2, 2015 — 

You and I have heard it said, gentle readers, “If you love your job, you will never work a day in your life.” I think there is a great deal of truth to that in many cases.

I have had a number of different jobs since I was but a mere lad of 14 — oil field roustabout, pump repair man for oil well pumps, salesman for Sears, district sales rep for Proctor and Gamble, and cowboy/ranch manager. Which one was my favorite?

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Milo Yield: Vanishing phones

March 2, 2015 — 

Folks, I have bad news about my new Farm Bill Ouija Board. I’ve discovered that I can’t gear up to produce and ship the boards until after the last sign-up date. Hence, there’s no need to keep trying to make them, since they won’t be any good to use for another five years. Sorry, because I know they’d have been a big help in making your farm bill decisions.

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Peggy Sanders: Are you prepared?

March 2, 2015 — 

The Boston area has been hit over and over by severe snowstorms. One of a city’s biggest problems is what can be done with the snow. At least in rural areas, most people have equipment to move snow and just push it out of the way onto pastures or fields. The recent news tells that cities dump the snow into melters, large receptacles that look like dumpsters, but are heated high enough to melt the snow, turning it into liquid so it can go down the storm drain.

I have been reading about the Blizzard of ’49 and it isn’t pretty. In truth, it should have been called the Blizzards of ’49 because multiple storms are what really caused the trouble. And it could happen again. Would you be prepared for something even half as long in duration?

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Gwen Peterson: Perceiving perceptions

March 2, 2015 — 

Perceptions depend on who’s doing the perceiving. Let me explain.

Margaret, wife of a cattle rancher and therefore also a cattle rancher, saddled up her horse to ride along with Kip, her 11-year-old grandson, a child of ranching parents. They rode to check the heavies as calving was nigh.

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Shelli Mader: Chuck and Ruby Rickgauer and their windmill farm, Part II

March 2, 2015 — 

When Ruby Rickgaur was born in the late 1940s near Mitchell, S.D., her family didn’t have running water or electricity. Getting water to the house for cooking, drinking or bathing meant carrying buckets over 100 yards from the windmill to the house.

Ruby remembers the day when her family got electricity. She was about 5 years old. She was used to the dim evening light of kerosene lamps, so the electricity was an exciting change.

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