Opinion, Discussion and Analysis

Mr. Truck: 2015 Ford F150 went all out, even down to the bed

July 29, 2015 — 

My pickup is my office, the cab is my desk and the bed is my workbench. Glad to see Ford understands how we work on the tailgate like a bench.

Previous Ford tailgates with the slide out step, have had the hand rail fold on the face along with plastic ridges to hold the hand rail. This made a useless tailgate to work on or just sit on. Finally on the 2015 Ford F150, the tailgate step and hand rail all slide inside the tailgate for a smooth flat tailgate face. My work bench and park bench is back.

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Baxter Black: A stockdog demonstration, before the demonstration

July 29, 2015 — 

Pete was invited to put on a working stockdog demonstration at the agricultural fair in the nearby town of Perdue, Saskatchewan. He could have brought his own lambs that were “dog wise,” but his hosts offered to furnish the sheep.

On arrival in Perdue that morning Pete peeked into the dark trailer at the sheep. Six big black-headed Suffolk ewes glared back at him malevolently. It was like looking into a cave full of bank examiners! He stationed his wife Pam and his dog Jock at the back and opened the tailgate. The ewes charged in a flying wedge and bowled over the defense!

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Gwen Petersen: 'Cowboy Encyclopedia' has tons of treasures

July 29, 2015 — 

The history of the cowboy. Jillions of words have been written; millions of songs have been sung; bazillions of thoughts have been thunk about what makes a cowboy. “They” claim he’s a dying breed. But hey, as long as there are cows, chances are you’ll find a cowboy somewhere in the vicinity.

Here in Montana, and I’d wager in other western states as well as in Florida, the cowboy culture flourishes. No matter which state or Canada or Mexico or Brazil or Argentina, or wherever, there’s cowboys taking care of cow critters, seeing to the business of raising food.

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Milo Yield: It's a good thing I don't think seriously about working outside

July 29, 2015 — 

Folks, it’s finally “Nectar of the Gods” season here on Damphewmore Acres. By that I mean that for awhile, I can eat ripened-on-the-vine tomatoes and freshly husked corn-on-the-cob every day. And, if I want to, I can throw in some new potatoes, too. Eating wise, it just don’t get much better than that.

However, the current spate of weather is altogether another thing. Folks, it’s been sauna muggy outside for a week. When I say humid and muggy, I’m sayin’ it don’t take much to get me sweating.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Straw cowboy hats are two of a kind

July 29, 2015 — 

Actually, there is nothing little in Texas unless it’s a little regard for folks with no common sense. Does that make sense, gentle readers?

I was in MacBreakfast this morning having breakfast and I noticed a couple come in about my age and the feller was wearing a straw hat (cowboy style) just like mine. This type of hat I have only seen on cowboys, not Dairy Queen Dudes or Rexall Rangers. As we stood in line I commented, “Well sir, I know of two fellers that look good in cheap hats!” He “laffed” and we agreed that this particular hat is very durable, cheap and looks good all in one. As it turned out they were from Amarillo and had come up to Cheyenne Frontier Days and were headed home. We got in a short visit and even though it’s been over 40 years since we lived in Amarillo, he and I discussed certain cowboys known in that area. What fun.

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Lee Pitts: Charley Royal was working class royalty

July 29, 2015 — 

I’d be willing to bet that not two dozen people who regularly read this column have ever heard of Charley Royal. He wasn’t “famous” by any stretch of the imagination, but we can’t all be celebrities, athletes, tycoons, junk bond kings, politicians or sustainability consultants. Someone has to do our dirty work and that’s what Charley did.

As a kid sitting in the passenger seat of my dad’s Kenworth, I used to see auction markets along the road and I thought, “What a great job. They only work one day a week!”

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Amanda Radke: Building character is more important than trophies

July 29, 2015 — 

Across the country, junior members of several breed organizations are attending their respective breed’s junior national show, where they will compete not only in the ring with their steers and heifers, but will also participate in contests such as sales talk, public speaking, beef cook-off and other team leadership skill building events that keep the kids engaged during a long and busy week at a national show.

It’s my sister’s final year in 4-H, and as this chapter in my family’s life comes to a close, some of my favorite memories of showing cattle weren’t the times our stock did well in the show ring, they were the early mornings spent in the barn, the long drive to the shows, the days spent together with my sisters and parents. Showing cattle to me was learning how to win and to lose gracefully. It was gaining a greater appreciation for genetics, nutrition and breeding seedstock cattle that would work in the show ring, as well as in the pasture and in a feedlot.

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Candy Moulton: Western rendezvous experience still exists in several towns this summer and fall

July 20, 2015 — 

Every summer from 1825 until 1843, the mountain men of the West gathered to trade the furs they had collected during winter trapping seasons for the goods they would need for the next year. This annual gathering or rendezvous was instituted as a trading opportunity, but it was undoubtedly the most important social event for hundreds of mountain men who attended each year.

The first rendezvous took place on the Black’s Fork of the Green River not far from a site that would become a permanent trading post known as Fort Bridger. Other gatherings also took place in Pierre’s Hole (today’s Island Park, Idaho), at Bear Lake in northern Utah, along the Popo Agie river in central Wyoming (today’s town of Riverton), and at lesser-known sites such as Camp le Grande (today’s town of Encampment, Wyo.).

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Candy Moulton: Q & A with Author Chris Enss explores the Custer marriage

July 20, 2015 — 

A nagging little question about one of the West’s greatest power couples of the 19th century — “Did they fight?”— led California writer Chris Enss to dig into the correspondence and love letters of George Armstrong and Elizabeth Bacon Custer. She chronicles the Custer relationship in “None Wounded, None Missing, All Dead: The Story of Elizabeth Bacon Custer.”

Among Chris Enss’ list of recently published books are: “Wicked Women: Notorious, Mischievous, and Wayward Ladies from the Old West” and “More Tales Behind the Tombstones: More Deaths and Burials of the Old West’s Most Nefarious Outlaws, Notorious Women, and Celebrated Lawmen.” These follow such titles as “Bedside Book of Bad Girls: Outlaw Women of the Midwest,” “Tales Behind the Tombstones: The Deaths and Burials of the West’s Most Nefarious Outlaws, Notorious Women, and Celebrated Lawmen” and “Buffalo Gals: Women of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.”

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Shelli Mader: A valuable lesson in contentment

July 20, 2015 — 

My kids have very different ideas about possessions. My 9-year-old daughter Shayla is great at de-cluttering and is always excited about getting something new. On the other hand, my 6-year-old son Garrett is very sentimental. He doesn’t like to throw anything away and he definitely doesn’t want us to get anything new. He likes old things and is already planning on making my husband’s 1999 Ford Ranger his first vehicle (I don’t mind that part — that will save us a lot of money. Hopefully he will feel the same way when he is 16!).

So, needless to say, when my pickup broke down a few weeks ago, my kids had different opinions about what we should do. Shayla was secretly thrilled. For years she has wanted an SUV or car like many of her friends. She imagined how great it would be to have a truck. Garrett was sure we could fix the pickup and hated the idea of going to car dealerships and looking for something new.

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Ryan Taylor: Going viral is OK for YouTube, but not for the cattle herd

July 20, 2015 — 

There’s a lot of crossover between work and pleasure here on the ranch, and that’s a good thing. We have horses on the place for work, but they’re also a pleasure to use. Others might say the same thing about their four-wheeled ATV, or a nice shop where they service tractors for the farm and tinker with old cars for fun.

Life is good when the things you use to make a living also help you have a life. When I bought my last iPad, I knew it was another tool with a lot of crossover potential.

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Milo Yield: Explosive detecting rats

July 20, 2015 — 

We’ve had another soggy week in the Flint Hills. Damphewmore Acres received a short 5 inches of rain. Thankfully, on one of the cool days between rains, I braved the mud and dug the rest of my spuds and I picked the first cutting of sweet corn.

Next up on the garden-harvest schedule are the first ripe tomatoes and more green beans.

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Lee Pitts: A few cosmetic changes could straighten out a lot of things

July 20, 2015 — 

Despite hating mathematics in general, there was one math class I liked: geometry. I think this is because I have always liked shapely forms, if you get my drift! Couple this love of geometry with the fact that I have visited every state in the nation and you can see how I developed a hypothesis that has come to be known in scientific circles as Lee’s Law of Rectangles. Simply “stated” it says, “The more rectangular a state is, the better that state is to live in.”

My theory has pretty much replaced Plato’s Principle of O’s which judges the worthiness of a state by the number of O’s in its name. Residents of New Jersey and Texas may have noticed that they come up short in both their shape and spelling, but before Texans fly off the handle, please hear me out.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Don't judge a man by his appearance

July 20, 2015 — 

Gentle readers, by the time you receive this publication, Cheyenne Frontier Days will be in full swing.

I exhibited my cartoon art work there for, as memory serves me, 15 years or so. Not only did I have original full color, nicely framed cartoons, I had prints of those, cartoon books, calendars, coffee mugs, T-shirts and on occasion place mats. I had so much fun doing CFD all of those years. It’s only a 30-minute drive from the O-NO. One of the pleasures of doing such an event are the folks you meet and friendships that you make and in some cases for many, many years to come. I try to run up each year and visit with some of those old friends, some who had booths next to mine or close by. I usually jump on the Harley as it’s easier to find a parking place and run up for a few hours.

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Baxter Black: 'Cowboyin's all I know'

July 20, 2015 — 

I’m closin’ in on 60 with a vengeance, Mister Jim,

And I wouldn’t ask no favors if I weren’t out on a limb

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Gwen Peterson: Pickup talk is new form of 'facebook'

July 20, 2015 — 

While it’s currently not winter, sooner or later, it will be. Regardless of season, the social group around a cowboy’s pickup is pretty much the same scenario. Combine a pickup with a passel of lingering cowpokes and you have a “facebook” not found on the Internet. No particular skills are required; basic palavering, spitting and b.s.-ing will get you by.

Pickup Talk

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Milo Yield: Strange weather becomes the norm

July 13, 2015 — 

Strange weather became the norm during late spring and early summer here in the Flint Hills. Early drought was followed by a couple weeks of near-solid rain and floods, which wuz followed by high heat and humidity, and that’s now being followed by several days of cloudy, cool, dry weather.

Inasmuch as I’m writing this column on July 3, after spending the cool, pleasant morning in the garden and doing chores, I’m thankful for a few days respite from the drenching humidity.

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Lee Pitts: The quest for the perfect 'kid's horse,' aka equinis kidicus

July 13, 2015 — 

It is the most endangered of all species, the rarest form of animal life in existence. I am referring of course to the equinis kidicus, otherwise known as “the kid’s horse.” I think there are only two in captivity.

The requirements for a good kid’s horse are that it won’t buck, kick or run fast while the child is learning to ride. Then, once the adolescent has mastered the art of horsemanship the parents expect that same horse to carry their child around the barrels in 13 seconds breaking Charmayne Rodman’s record of 10 world championships and allowing the parents to retire in the lap of luxury. Needless to say, this is a very hard horse to find.

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Mad Jack Hanks: The outside of a hoss is good for the inside of a man

July 13, 2015 — 

Gentle readers, I reckon that any morning that I roll out of bed is a good morning. This morning was a little extra special.

I woke up actually a little sad and depressed for some reason. I remembered that today was the day my daddy passed away in 1987. With “Little Miss Martha” also departed, it just sort of slapped me up beside the face. I think as we get older we dwell on this sort of thing on occasion.

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Baxter Black: Cowboys who march to a different drummer

July 13, 2015 — 

Have you ever been drivin’ a set of pasture cattle down the lane? Then you notice them stringin’ out longer and longer, driftin’ over into the ditches along the side ’til pretty soon you’re a half mile ahead of the lead steer.

You look back at the feller you put ridin’ drag. Over the backs of the wanderin’ herd, through the dusty haze, there he is. He’s got his 2-year-old brown gelding spinning in a tight circle to the right. The colt’s head is pulled to the inside, butt down and tail tucked in. Then the colt’s nose is pulled down against his chest and he’s backin’ up in quick steps. Suddenly the horse and rider burst forward like Custer’s charge and reach a gallop within a few strides! He leans all the way back. The colt’s whole body tips back, head up, front hooves locked straight. The hind legs stiffen and reach plum under the head. He sticks his butt nearly to the ground and skids to a sliding stop.

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Sow's Ear: A metropolisis of cottontails is under my barn

July 13, 2015 — 

This is the year of the rabbit. I have learned that rabbits are: long-eared, short-tailed mammals with long hind legs born naked, blind and helpless, especially cottontails.

There are entire metropolises of cottontails dwelling under my barn and in the haystack. Bailout the Cowdog doesn’t even bother to chase a fleeing adult rabbit. It’s the nests of newborns where she shines as exterminator. Only last week, she exhumed an entire litter of lagomorphs. She’d grab one at a time, then run around behind the barn where I couldn’t see her. A few moments later, back she’d dash, snatch up another bunny and zoom out again.

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Peggy Sanders: A four-legged chicken would solve the world's problems

July 13, 2015 — 

What this world needs is a four-legged chicken. Just think of the many times you’ve gone to the grocery store deli to pick up roasted chicken and how many of those times did the clerk tell you there were only breasts, thighs and wings left in the case. Drumsticks are the favorite part of the chicken, yet for some reason stores don’t seem to grasp that fact. Four legs instead of two would be a boon to the chicken industry, not to mention more many happy families.

We have miniature cattle and horses, so we know downsizing is not a problem. Poultry scientists just need to get excited about the possibilities and get going on this project.

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Candy Moulton: Nebraska plains inspire two native writers

July 6, 2015 — 

Two of the West’s best-known writers found inspiration in the landscapes of Nebraska, and in both cases both the literature and the landscape endure.

Mari Sandoz grew up in the Sandhills of northwest Nebraska. She is best remembered for her biographies, “Crazy Horse” and “Old Jules,” a story of her father, plus other books drawn from the landscape: “The Buffalo Hunters,” “The Cattlemen” and “The Beaver Men.” Her “Love Song to the Plains” pays homage to the landscape that shaped her and influenced everything she ever recorded with pen or typewriter.

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Candy Moulton: Tour Yellowstone with Wylie Camping Company

July 6, 2015 — 

It is summer and as a result you may be out exploring, hiking, camping or otherwise enjoying the Rocky Mountain outdoors. Since at least 1872 when it became a national park, Yellowstone has attracted tourists to explore its geyser basins, rugged back country and see the plethora of wildlife. Not everyone has the time to make a visit to Yellowstone each year, but that does not mean you cannot enjoy tales of the park.

“Yellowstone Summers: Touring with the Wylie Camping Company in America’s First National Park” is the detailed story of the Wylie Camping Company, which operated from 1896 to 1905. School superintendent William Wallace Wylie first visited Yellowstone in 1880, just eight years after Yellowstone was declared as America’s first national park. He would take his first group of tourists to the park just weeks later, and continue to guide visitors throughout the 1880s and early 1890s. Then in 1896 he organized the camping company that fed, sheltered and guided thousands on week-long tours of Yellowstone’s geysers, trails, hot pools and other natural attractions.

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Ryan Taylor: Calf season brings own beauty

July 6, 2015 — 

I’m not sure how many calves we’ve roped and branded in our neighborhood in the last month or so. If I did know, I probably wouldn’t say anyway. It’s not polite to ask someone how many cattle they have, and I don’t suppose it would be polite to tell anyone how many calves there are in the neighborhood in case they know how to do division. It was quite a bunch anyway.

A lot of people would say it’s the best time of the year on our part of the prairie. It’s usually our best weather of the year. The skies are blue, the grass is green. It’s easily our most social time of the year. People, pickups, horse trailers, kids, horses and food all descend on a place like a cowboy sting operation.

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Milo Yield: Combating summer chiggers

July 6, 2015 — 

As I write this column, I’m scratching three oozing, itchy chigger bites. Yep, it’s that time of the summer again when — try as I might to thwart chiggers with bug spray and powdered sulphur — those pesky red mites break through all my defenses and inflict me with their irritating bites in all the wrong places.

We’ve had a week of hot, dry, windy true Kansas summer weather, so I have high hopes that the weather will dry up most of the chigger habitat. That’s the one good thing that happens when the ground begins to crack open and the vegetation begins to shrivel.

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Baxter Black: No balls, no respect for Baxter

July 6, 2015 — 

A good friend from the Texas panhandle sent me a printed poster of a new program enacted by the Amarillo Humane Society. It is designed to encourage dog and cat owners to spay or castrate their pets. On the front is a picture of a frightened, bug-eyed brachygnathic Pug. The accompanying headline says, “No Balls For Baxter — Matching Spay/Neuter Initiative!”

I admit I didn’t know how to take it. Was it a compliment? Was it a signal to the pitcher to only throw strikes when I was at bat? Were they revoking my invitation to attend the dance in Cow Town? Did they make specific restrictions on what certain people would bring to the beach? Would I no longer be allowed to answer, “I’m havin’ a b______?”

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Mad Jack: Grazing steers turn batty

July 6, 2015 — 

Gentle readers, I’m sure you have witnessed Felix, your cat, or Sargent, your dog, do something that seemed completely out of the ordinary. I am going to relate some really unusual observations I have made in the last few weeks just watching ordinary critters.

I had a farrier come out a few weeks back to trim my pony’s feet. My dun horse is a real character. You no more than have him tied to brush him or throw a saddle on him before he starts to untie the lead rope. He never seems to get it done, but he does work at it. The farrier started on Nugget’s left front foot when Nugget reached around and tried to unbuckle the shoeing apron.

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Lee Pitts: The line between east and west

July 6, 2015 — 

Up until a few years ago I spent my professional life crawling all over this country. I’ve been in all 50 states and although I’m a biased, born-and-bred Westerner there’s much I also like about the East. But I must say, the geography and the people are as different as Al Sharpton and Trevor Brazile. The two regions probably ought to be two separate countries. I’m not lumping the South in with the East because we’re all aware of their feuds. On second thought, maybe we ought to be three different countries.

Although Easterners and Westerners are of the same genus we are two separate species. The East is skyscrapers and Disneyworld while the West is suburbs and Disneyland. The West has disasters like earthquakes, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and the East has hurricanes, Obama and the Kennedys. Westerners gamble in Las Vegas with their bank’s money while their Eastern brethren gamble on Wall Street, and D.C. with your money.

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Mystery Photo for June 29, 2015

June 29, 2015 — 

Lyndon Burnett of Deer Trail, Colo., is wondering if any of our readers know anything about this mysterious object.

If you think you know what this is, then send your answer to the Fence Post Mystery Photo Contest. Please include your address and phone number.

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