Opinion, Discussion and Analysis

Ryan M. Taylor: Cowboy Logic 7-19-14

July 21, 2014 — 

I’ve always tried to do my part when it comes to benevolent causes in my community and around the region. I work hard to raise money for student scholarships through our Dollars for Scholars chapter, I’ve donated a little of my time as an entertainer to help people fight cancer at Relay For Life events, I agree to donate blood whenever I can and I always buy raffle tickets, popcorn, candy bars, fruit and most anything else kids sell to support their FFA chapter, 4-H club, scout troop or church group.

But I’ve never been asked to be the target at a dunking booth ... until last week. As the country song says, everyone’s kind of famous in a small town. I guess I was the closest thing to a local celebrity they could think of in my nearby town of Rugby, N.D., when the Lutheran church was recruiting victims/honorees for their dunking booth at the Pierce County Fair.

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Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 7-19-14

July 21, 2014 — 

The night before we left Scott City was full of tearful goodbyes and supper at our favorite local restaurant (and one of the few non-fast food restaurants in town) — El Dos. Though it was hard for us to move from Hays to Scott City two years ago, the move away from Scott City was even harder.

Though there are definitely drawbacks to living in a small town — things like gossip and clichés are common — it is also so much easier to make close friendships and feel integrated into the community in a small town. The people my kids went to school with were many of the same ones we went to church with, did 4-H with and just generally lived life with. I know that we will always stay in touch with people in Scott City, but it is never the same once you move away. I was not ready to go back to a large town and feel anonymous again.

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Amanda Radke: A Cowgirl’s Perspective 7-19-14

July 21, 2014 — 

In the 1970s, USDA Food Pyramid guidelines called for an emphasis on cutting the fat. This low-fat diet stressed the importance of grains and minimized servings of animal proteins and fats. At the same time, obesity rates skyrocketed. Shockingly, the medical establishment has yet to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Slowly but surely, the times are changing, for the better, might I add.

I recently ran across an article on NPR entitled, “The Full-Fat Paradox: Whole Milk May Keep Us Lean.” Written by Allison Aubrey, she rounds up a couple of studies that show keeping the fat in our diets may actually help us manage our waistlines.

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Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 7-21-14

July 21, 2014 — 

Life is good in the summer in the Flint Hills of Kansas if you can somehow force yourself to overlook the heat, humidity, grasshoppers and chiggers. And adding fresh sweetcorn — ambrosia from Mother Nature in my books — to the garden mix of green beans, zucchini, new potatoes, and a few tomatoes right off the vine makes it easier to overlook those negatives listed above.

Plus, I butchered the “big half” the “dumb meat chickens” this week and will do the other half in a few days after they grow a bit more. It’s always a pleasure to be rid of those ignorant, grub-gobbling fowl, but it will be more of a pleasure when ol’ Nevah starts popping them into the skillet to add fried chicken protein to our summer cornucopia.

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John Mattingly: Socratic Rancher 7-21-14

July 21, 2014 — 

Getting on means that you find yourself hiding things from yourself. For example, it is handy to have a land line in the house to locate a lost cell phone, which has ended up in unexpected pockets, ledges, laundry tubs, behind seasonal plants, or, the all time favorite hiding place: somewhere in the slim chasms of vehicle seats which are exactly wide enough for wallets and cell phones and keys and other vital objects to fall and disappear, but too small for a normal human hand.

When you misplace something, a good rule of thumb is look for something else, which greatly increases your chances of finding what you were not looking for. While looking for, say, your keys, you will often find the long lost nut that fell off tan appliance, years ago.

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Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 7-14-14

July 21, 2014 — 

The latest ploy of the animal rightists is to get people to think of horses as pets, rather than livestock. The Animal Welfare Council wants teachers to incorporate into their lesson plans the question, “Is a horse more like a dog or a cow?”

The animal rightists shot themselves in the foot on this one, after all, when is the last time your Quarter Horse curled up in your lap or sat beside you in your pickup, like some teenager in love? Tell your horse to roll over and lay on his back so you can scratch him in his secret spot and see if his leg jerks uncontrollably like a dog’s does.

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Baxter Black: On The Edge Of Common Sense 7-21-14

July 21, 2014 — 

In the movie “Forrest Gump,” the hero is a nice man with a low IQ, whose simplistic reasoning usually made sense. His response to anyone who called him stupid was to say, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

My interpretation of that phrase is, “You don’t have to be stupid to be stupid.” One can have a high IQ and still be stupid. Which leads me into my observation that we in America have the “luxury to be stupid.” And we seem to take advantage of that freedom on a regular basis regarding the Endangered Species Act (ESA), for instance. Another idealistic dream gone septic. Remember the Snail Darter?Extremists have used and continue to use the goofiest reasoning to achieve their goals which usually means, if something is productive and people make money from it, it must be evil. And the most unbelievable thing is that the appointed government regulators cower to the lunatics.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Tales From The O-NO Ranch 7-21-14

July 21, 2014 — 

Do you consider yourself to be a polite person, gentle reader? I think that I am as I make it a point to speak to most folks that I come in contact with. However, too much of the time they are engaged in looking down into that little box that has all those configurations and icons in it, for me to get their attention. They don’t want to be spoken to I reckon when they are busy with whatever. For me, too much of that type of behavior too much of the time is being impolite.

I always make it a point to open and hold a door for the person coming in behind me or the one coming out towards me. Most folks here where I live in this little burg of Wellington, Colo., seem to be pleased when I do that for them. I know that it pleases me when someone does it for me, especially a young person. I believe that being polite is a virtue.

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Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 7-21-14

July 21, 2014 — 

In the play, “Older Than Dirt, the Musical,” most of the songs, poems and situations tend to reflect foibles and follies from the feminine point of view. But never let it be hinted that age-related vicissitudes happening to individuals of the male persuasion are ignored! The following demonstrates that Older Than Dirt is an equal opportunity spoof. (Tune: “Old folk song — Grammaw’s in the Cellar”)

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Black Ink 7-21-14

July 21, 2014 — 

Psst ... do you want to know a secret?

Kids aren’t very good at keeping them.

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Quackgrass Sally: On the Trail 7-14-14

July 11, 2014 — 

Traveling across Wyoming, you can come upon tidbits of history everywhere. Recently I was taking the road from Lander to Evanston, over South Pass, along the National Historic Pony Express Trail. It’s always fun to gaze out across the wide rolling landscape on top, from east to west, recalling the thousands of emigrants who traveled through this area on their way to Oregon or California. The two-track trail can still be seen here, carved into the soil by the wheels of wagons and handcarts, marking forever the determination and power of the dream of a better life out West. There are several marked historic sites, including one at Simpson’s Hollow, its monument marker stating: “Here on Oct. 6, 1857, U.S. Army supply wagons led by a Capt. Simpson were burned by Major Lot Smith and 43 Utah Militia men. They were under orders from Brigham Young, Utah Territorial Governor, to delay the army’s advance on Utah. This delay of the army helped affect a peaceful settlement of differences. The day earlier a similar burning of 52 Army supply wagons took place near here at Smith’s Bluff.”

While traveling this highway, you will notice, every once in awhile, white stone markers out in the sagebrush. These mark the sites of one or more of the historic trails that cross this area. I stopped and walked out to one of the 3-foot high obelisk. On each of the markers’ four-sides there was carved the name of one trail, this being an area where they all were the same route ... the Oregon, Mormon, Pony Express and California Trails. I looked across the vista of sagebrush and grass and wondered ... what would an emigrant wife have thought, the Wyoming wind grabbing her bonnet and blowing her apron and skirts with its normal firm ferocity, as she gazed west towards tall snow-capped mountains, knowing she still had hundreds of miles to go. Gosh, what strong spirits these women must have had ... heroic in my mind.

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Candy Moulton: Reading the West 7-14-14

July 11, 2014 — 

There is a story in Texas that back in the 19th century a single Texas Ranger could handle just about any situation. Taking that premise, a new book from William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone, follows Texas Ranger Hank Cannan after he is shot twice when tracking an outlaw.

Cannan makes it to the town of Lost Chance, located in the Big Bend country of southern Texas, where he begins to recover from his wounds. Once in the town he learns that Baptiste Dupoix, a gambler he really needs to arrest, may be more useful to him as a free man because there are other forces at work that threaten the people of the town, and the town’s very existence.

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Lee Mielke: Monthly Dairy Prices 7-14-14

July 11, 2014 — 

The Agriculture Department announced the June Federal order Class III benchmark milk price this week at $21.36 per hundredweight, down $1.21 from May but $3.34 above June 2013, and equates to about $1.84 per gallon. The half-year Class III average now stands at $22.68, up from $17.74 at this time a year ago and $15.90 in 2012.

Looking ahead, Class III futures settled Thursday as follows: July, $21.38; August, $20.58; September, $20.32; October, $20.25; November, $19.81; and December, $19.50.

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Peggy Sanders: Confluence Chronicles 7-12-14

July 11, 2014 — 

Law and lawyers have fascinated me for a long time and at a recent meeting it dawned on me why. Words. How they are perceived, what they mean, how many ways they can be interpreted, not just by lawyers but to each one of us. One of the words we frequently hear now is ‘cowboy,’ but with a negative connotation. Around this part of South Dakota, ‘cowboy’ does not usually conjure up a contrary personality. So I did what any wordsmith would do, I looked the word up.

In addition to the definition of a cowboy as one who herds or works with cattle, is the colloquialism, “an unscrupulous or reckless person in business.” With this definition in mind I do not believe the people who use the word as a negative have a grasp of the definition. Mostly, it grates on me to hear the word we locally use to denote a hard-working cattleman, to describe someone in a negative light.

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Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 7-14-14

July 11, 2014 — 

I’m starting to write this column late on the Fourth of July — Independence Day! And a wonderful day it was — plenty of family and friends, scads of fireworks, and way-y-y to much to eat and drink.

Founding Father John Adams would have been proud of the way the Yield family upheld his vision for celebrating the birth of the United States of America with feasting and illuminations.

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Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 7-14-14

July 11, 2014 — 

What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas ... or so the saying goes. While there my muse became inflamed with inspiration. I didn’t leave it in Las Vegas; I brought the inspiration home. Twas caused by attending a performance of “Menopause, the Musical.” Hilarious presentation of The Change that women go through ... and you all know what I mean. Having passed the Change mile marker a century or so ago, I decided I’d write a musical: “Older Than Dirt, the Musical.” I’m starting with tunes on topics pertinent mostly to those of us shuffling along in our dotage years. Many are parodies to familiar songs; a few are original tunes. Here’s edifying, enlightening, completely off the wall tunes so far:

■ “Can’t Remember Squat” (parody to “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”)

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Baxter Black: On The Edge Of Common Sense 7-14-14

July 11, 2014 — 

It’s a pairing I never thought I’d see. Chip and Al. Al was a cowboy I worked with for ten years. He was an example to lots of the young buckaroos. He was 25 years older than me. We met one spring when he was in a cow camp on the Brown Place in North Fork, Nev.

The ranch manager took him supplies once a week and paid him the first of every month. The manager put half his pay in a bank and gave Al the other $150 in cash. Al would climb in his old car and drive to Elko and he didn’t come back till he ran out of money. FYI, he was never gone more than three to four days.

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Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 7-14-14

July 11, 2014 — 

Signs these days work as well as an eight term Congress person. If a sign says wet paint, people touch it, and how often do you see an abandoned couch beneath a “No Dumping” sign? If your “No Trespassing” sign isn’t stolen, it only serves as an invitation to party and picnic on your private property. “No Hunting” signs only remind hunters to clean their gun in anticipation of hunting season, and if they see a big buck on your property there isn’t a sign in the world that will keep them off of it.

Let’s be honest, who amongst us when they see a 65 miles per hour speed limit sign doesn’t drive 68 or 69 just to see what we can get away with? In every restaurant that has a sign that says, “No shoes, no shirt, no service” you’re bound to see diners wearing tank tops and flip-flops because none of us like to be told what we can, or can’t, do. Some people see a “No Parking” sign and their reaction is, “Well, we’ll just see about that, won’t we now? No one is going to tell me where to park!”

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Robyn Scherer: From the Edge of the Ring 7-14-14

July 11, 2014 — 

The last month has been pretty busy around the farm. All of the remaining does with kids were weaned, which means the beginning of the milking season. To make things easier I did order a basic milker.

It takes a long time to milk seven goats, but thankfully the vacuum pump milker helps to save my hands. It also allows me to do other things such as feed while I am milking.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Tales From The O-NO Ranch 7-14-14

July 11, 2014 — 

That’s what we have, gentle readers, FREEDOM! I would like to say we have absolute freedom, but alas we don’t.

I am writing this on the Fourth of July, Independence Day. I am also listening to a speech on the radio by Ronald Reagan in 1986 on July the Fourth. It makes me so sad to see where we are today in this wonderful land of America as opposed to where we were in 1986. So much has changed and not for the better in this old cowboy’s opinion.

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Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 7-7-14

July 8, 2014 — 

Volunteering as a “tour guide” for the famous Kansas Flint Hills is an activity that I savor. Last week I enjoyed taking a 22-year-old farm lad from New Zealand on his first tour of the Hills. The young man, Cameron Scott, had been visiting my friend ol’ Canby Handy and his “Kiwi” son-in-law for a few weeks and Canby brought Cam down from Kansas City for a one-day quick tour of the Flint Hills.

I might mention that Cam and his family background 5,000 Holstein heifers on a contract basis for four large “Kiwi” dairies. Since New Zealand’s bovine industry is largely forage based, Cam felt largely at home viewing the Flint Hills while they are at their lushest.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Tales From The O-NO Ranch 7-7-14

July 8, 2014 — 

Gentle readers, I have been sitting on my back deck drinking my third cup of java and just taking in the morning. As I write it is a Saturday and appears to be shaping up to be a glorious day. A little windy right now but otherwise, just right!

I was out early to feed my ponies. I like to give them a little grain just to keep them coming into the corral in case I need one of them for any reason. I came back in, ate breakfast, visited with my brother from the old country, Texas, and retreated to the back deck. Ol’ Clancy, the wonder dog, old like me, was settled in on the cool grass in the shade of a Cottonwood tree. A momma bird who has a nest above him keeps dive bombing him and coming within inches of taking his head off. He just lifts an eyebrow and seems oblivious to her intentions. After the ponies ate and returned to the pasture ol’ Nugget, my latest addition and a beautiful red zebra dun he is, headed towards the fence that seperates him from his girlfriend.

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Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 7-7-14

July 8, 2014 — 

Many of the great cattle auctioneers and ring men of yesteryear were “fully figured” men. Most of the road agents today seem to be in better shape but a lot of the men I traveled with were well marbled big men with booming voices and little chance of ever becoming thoroughbred jockeys. One of the greatest was a man the ring men affectionately called behind his back the “Round Mound of Sound.” I won’t tell you his real name because I liked him too much, but I will say this: he blew a button off his shirt once and it darn near killed the clerk. It was later found imbedded in a wall.

Being a purebred livestock auctioneer or ring man has never been a wise choice from a health standpoint. Because a fellow needed his energy for a long grueling day, theirs would start with a buffet breakfast in a chain motel with croissants, bagels with cream cheese, a self-cooked waffle and three glasses of sweet tea. One Texas ring man friend of mine started each day off with a big can of caffeinated cola. I suppose today he’s drinking 5 Hour Energy instead.

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Baxter Black: On The Edge of Common Sense 7-7-14

July 8, 2014 — 

I have been a travelin’ man a good part of my life. Most of my speakin’ jobs are Friday and Saturday nights, so Sunday means I’m usually on the road and headed home.

For me, Sunday morning on the road is a good part of bein’ me. Nine times out of 10 I’m in a rent car drivin’ to an airport where I board a flight to a major hub where I connect to another flight that gets me within an hour of bein’ home.

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John Mattingly: Socratic Rancher 7-7-14

July 8, 2014 — 

One of the things you have to do as you get older is get in touch with your inner old man, or inner old woman. When we were middle aged, we were told to get in touch with our inner child. Well, we did that, and we spanked it, and send it to its room, and now we have to put that inner child to bed.

The common wisdom is that getting old is “no fun.” My inner old man has checked his birth certificate and there is no mention of fun. As one of my octogenarian buddies pointed out, “In the U.S., you have the right to the pursuit of happiness, but no guarantee that you’ll catch it.”

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Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 7-7-14

July 8, 2014 — 

Often, newcomers, tourists, sightseers, vacationers and others assorted beings who drive, hike, walk or thumb through western states are confused by the spoken word — which is to say — the word spoken, by cowboys, sheepherders and plain pig farmers.

Lexicon of CowboySpeak (abridged):

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Ryan M. Taylor: Cowboy Logic 7-5-14

July 8, 2014 — 

I grew up with a garden, not that I was always appreciative of the fact or thrilled with the idea of pulling weeds or picking beans. I did like the tilling. Like most young boys, the tiller with its noisy gas motor and the ability to power pulverize dirt and old plants and weeds had it’s allure.

Mom was a gardener, as was her mother before her. I remember Dad spending some time in the garden, too, and it never seemed strange for me to see my cowboy father step off a horse and walk into the garden to hoe between the rows or pick a hat full of fresh tomatoes to take to the house and enjoy.

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Ryan M. Taylor: Cowboy Logic 6-28-14

July 8, 2014 — 

Not everything in this world is made for speed. Like the old horses we put our kids on, the turtles we see out in the pasture, and the farm implements we pull down the road from time to time.

I spent a little quality time on the open road last night with the speedometer pegged between 25 and 30 miles per hour. I was pulling a new ‘V-rake’ home behind my pickup. It’s a 20 wheel contraption made for raking hay, a real time-saver in the field, but a bit of a time-consumer when you’re heading down the highway.

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Peggy Sanders: Confluence Chronicles 6-28-14

July 8, 2014 — 

The term “sustainable agriculture” is frequently bantered about. When I first heard it being discussed, it seemed logical to me that “sustainable agriculture” simply meant an agricultural producer who managed to stay in business over a sustained period of time. How nice to finally have farmers and ranchers recognized for the fact that their livelihoods feed the US and much of the world. It was understood that the phrase meant those who work the land had to must make enough of a profit to keep themselves in business, or in other words, their operation must be sustainable.

That seemed logical to me and of course I was wrong.

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Rocky Mountain Ugliest Truck Photo Contest 5-26-14

July 8, 2014 — 

We are proud to bring you the winners of our Ugliest Truck Photo Contest.

After much deliberation around the photo display, the following entries have been chosen as the winners:

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