Opinion, Discussion and Analysis

Lee Mielke: Monthly Dairy Prices 4-14-14

April 14, 2014 — 

The U.S. Agriculture Department announced the March Federal order Class III milk price Wednesday at $23.33 per hundredweight (cwt.), down 2 cents from its record high last month but still $6.40 above March 2013, $1.17 above California’s comparable Class 4b milk price, and equates to about $2.01 per gallon. That put the 2014 Class III average at $22.61 per cwt., up from $17.44 at this time a year ago, $16.28 in 2012, and $16.63 in 2011.

Class III futures settled Friday as follows: April, $23.94; May $21.96; June $20.56; July, $20.28; August, $20.02; September, $19.78; October, $19.35; November, $18.92; and December settled at $18.53 per cwt. If realized, the Class III would average $20.93, up from $17.99 in 2013 and $17.44 in 2012.

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Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 4-14-14

April 14, 2014 — 

Spring is assuredly coming, but it’s coming in fits and starts. The birds think its spring. The killdeers, doves, robins, bluebirds, grackles and Harris’s sparrows have arrived, but the purple martins, orioles and hummingbirds are still absent.

I finally planted some of my early garden and my food-plots for the chicken flock, but the promised 80 percent chance of rain turned out to be zero chance, so I really just dusted them in. Of course, I have to temporarily fence the plots to keep the cluckers out until the new planting gets started. I’ve also got my tomato plants started in the garage.

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Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 4-14-14

April 14, 2014 — 

A cowboy friend of mine went into an antique store the other day and the owner tried to buy the hat right off his head because they “fly off the shelf” when offered for sale. But it’s mandatory that the hats have to look used. A well known hat maker is also selling “pre-worn” cowboy hats.

Ever since John Stetson started turning beavers into hats people have been wearing cowboy hats to convey the rough, tough image of a cowboy. That’s why we have radio DJ’s, politicians and designers wearing cowboy hats; hence the saying, “all hat, no cattle!” But a real cowboy is not measured by the plumage or X’s in his or her hat, but by the sweat and dirt that have accumulated around the hat band over a life’s worth of work. You know what I’m talking about. If you don’t see a nearly black band around the base of a work hat you are probably dealing with a banker, lawyer, cosmetologist or country/western singer from New Jersey.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Tales From the O-NO Ranch 4-14-14

April 14, 2014 — 

Most folks that get a little “wasted” or a lot “wasted” somehow get the notion that thay are required to entertain whom ever is around them. That just happens to be one of the pitfalls of being beyond their limit of sober understanding.

Have I been drunk before? You querry ... yes, of course. When I was young, single and stupid, I have been exactly like the folks mentioned above. And gentle readers, I am not boasting about it.

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Baxter Black: On The Edge of Common Sense 4-14-14

April 14, 2014 — 

The legalization of marijuana in Colorado has brought to a head a common point of contention that has happened in state after state. It is a generational change, a population shift that is the result of the inevitable roll of civilization.

It also marks a shift from rural to urban.

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Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 4-14-14

April 14, 2014 — 

Skijoring: a sport usually involving skis, snow and either a horse, mule, dogs, motorcycle or automobile to pull the skier. You may have participated in or observed one or another of this form of recreational activity, but have you ever skijored behind a cow? Few have.

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John Mattingly: Socratic Rancher 4-14-14

April 14, 2014 — 

This column will be a temporary break from the prior running series about climate chaos. I had a heart attack about a month ago, and was lucky to be close to excellent treatment. Medical understanding and technology, when they collide with a bit of luck, can result in a happy ending for “unstable angina” also known as a heart attack.

My cardiologist was able to place a drug eluding stent in my left anterior descending (LAD, aka the widow maker) coronary artery when it was 99 percent plugged up. After that stent went in, I felt 35 years younger, and told the doc that the next day. He told me I needed to get enough monitored exercise for about four weeks to bring back the portion of my heart that had essentially atrophied — in the same way a limb shrinks when put in a cast and subsequently loses tone and muscle mass due to lack of action.

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Robyn Scherer: From the Edge of the Ring 4-14-14

April 14, 2014 — 

Finally, I am almost done with kidding season. It has spanned since the beginning of February, and I have had babies born nearly every week since that time. There are only two dairy does left to kid, and I can’t wait for those babies to hit the ground and to be done with birthing babies. I love the process, but I’m ready for it to be finished.

To date, I have had 31 live babies born on the farm. It certainly seems like a lot, but at this point is not overwhelming. The dams do a good job raising their young, and I have only had to assist with a few of the births, and only had one buckling that I had to help after birth.

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Candy Moulton: On the Trail 4-7-14

April 7, 2014 — 

The 12th Annual Grand Encampment Cowboy Gathering will be held July 18-20 in Encampment, Wyo., with activities ranging from a stick horse rodeo and dutch oven cookoff to cowboy music and poetry.

The annual Membership Drive for the Cowboy Gathering is now underway. This year the Cowboy Outfit urges people to pay for their memberships early in order to be certain to have a seat for the Saturday night show that will feature Cimarron, N.M., singer/songwriter R.W. Hampton, Trinity Seely, from Muddy Gap, Wyo., and South Dakota cowboy poet Robert Dennis, along with Chuck Larsen of Saratoga, Wyo., the show’s emcee.

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Peggy Sanders: Confluence Chronicles 4-5-14

April 7, 2014 — 

If you put 100 people in a room, chances are 80 of them had grandparents who were farmers or ranchers and maybe 30 of their parents were. (These are my “statistics” so accuracy is not guaranteed.) There would be a slim chance that even one of these 100 people is a farmer or rancher now. Only one percent of Americans are. Yet, there is a renewed sense of desire to get back to the land. Many people who have never set foot on a farm or ranch are getting the idea of an idyllic, easy life. Heck, all you have to do is get up, saddle your horse, and ride. They watch too many movies.

One of the objectives of this column is to open dialogue with those of you who have questions about country life, but don’t know anyone to ask. You can contact me and I will do my best to give an answer. I am not as altruistic as this may sound though, as I do have an ulterior motive. I am writing a book about what city people need to know before, during, and after they move to the country. The topic is loosely defined because I would like to hear from a variety of sources. It may mean that you moved from Chicago, bought a working ranch and are doing the actual labor yourself. It may mean that you moved from a house in town to a piece of raw land. In any instance you may be facing a steep learning curve. I am not from the government but I am here to help.

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Ryan M. Taylor: Cowboy Logic 4-5-14

April 7, 2014 — 

I should’ve written this column last night, but I was busy watching some Class B girls basketball on television. I don’t watch a lot of sports on television, honestly, so when I do it’s a special occasion.

Dad was more of a work outside guy than a watch sports on the television inside type, so I guess I picked up his habits. The only sports I remember him coming inside to watch was boxing and horse racing. He became a boxing fan in the army when they had a boxing ring on the ship that took him to the South Pacific in World War II, and all cowboys like to watch horses run around the track. Of course, we’d come in to watch a rodeo if one happened to get televised.

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Candy Moulton: Reading the West 4-7-14

April 7, 2014 — 

Henry Chappell has skirted the Spur Award from Western Writers of America twice before. His first book, “The Callings,” was a finalist for Best First Novel in 2002 and he was a finalist in the Novel of the West category in 2005 with “Blood Kin.” This year he hit it out of the park and will pick up a Spur in June for “Silent We Stood.” This is not your traditional story of the West. It begins in pro-slavery Dallas, Texas, in 1859, and takes the reader on a journey into the lives of abolitionists and the slaves they help as they travel the Underground Railroad.

The winner of the Wrangler Award as Best Novel, “The Son” by Philipp Meyer is a far-reaching story that centers on Eli McCullough, the first male born in the Republic of Texas, and takes a back-and-forth look at his life from his capture at age 13 by Comanche warriors, through the generations of his family. This book is a saga in the best sense of the word.

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Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 4-7-14

April 7, 2014 — 

Good grief, Charlie Brown! I’m starting to write this column on Monday, March 24, and it’s snowing again. Doesn’t Mother Nature know it’s spring?

Perhaps she didn’t get the memo. It’s time for sunshine and warmth.

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Baxter Black: On The Edge Of Common Sense 4-7-14

April 7, 2014 — 

John lives down the road from me. We have cattle across the fence from each other. He is good at a lot of things; carpentry, electronics, sports and hunting, but cows are not his strong suit. He runs a handful on 90 acres.

He called me one day askin’ if we had seen a cow of his. I told him we had cleared the pasture and had not seen her in with our bunch. I left town for a weekend and when I returned he had left a message to call. I did. “I found her,” he said.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Tales From The O-NO Ranch 4-7-14

April 7, 2014 — 

Yes, gentle readers, this past winter, in my humble opinion, was a winter that was. In fact, I don’t think it has fully left as of yet. I just started the woodstove on this March 31 date.

By the way, have you signed up for the Afforadable Care Act? As I write, this is the last day you can do that without penalty. Only thing that the ACA and my column have in common is that you have to read it to know what’s in it!

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Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 4-7-14

April 7, 2014 — 

I’ve made a career of making fun of chickens and the people who raise them. I take some small degree of pride and pleasure in the fact that my second best-selling book was the “I Hate Chicken Cookbook!” And I really do. Hate chicken, that is. As a writer I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think all fowl are foul.

Normally if a writer picked (or is it pecked?) on a group of people like I have he’d expect to get all sorts of nasty letters, but I’m disappointed to report that I’ve never received a single one from a poultry plucker. Not one! But I’ll keep trying. The only reason I can get away with picking on chicks is that although they used to be raised on 95 percent of the farms in this country, I think they are now all raised by four brothers in Arkansas. They must not read my column, or perhaps they can’t read. (Cheep shot!)

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Gwen Petersen: In aSow’s Ear 4-7-14

April 7, 2014 — 

I learn stuff from the Internet. My education improves with a mere click or two. Today, I increased my erudition by delving into the meaning and history of epigrams. Mr. Internet explains that: An epigram is a brief, interesting, memorable, and sometimes surprising or satirical statement. Derived from the Greek.

One dictionary definition reads that an epigram is: 1) A short, witty poem expressing a single thought or observation. 2) A concise, clever, often paradoxical statement. 3) Epigrammatic discourse or expression.

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Kent Sundling: Mr. Truck 3-31-14

March 31, 2014 — 

I’ve used CNG (compressed natural gas) on my diesel F250 for several years. It was a supplement to the diesel, increased power and dramatically lowered fuel cost per mile. Unfortunately you can’t buy a new truck diesel/CNG. The US has an abundance of natural gas, it lowers emissions and cost less than gas or diesel. CNG is over 33 percent cheaper than gasoline in Colorado now and cheaper yet in Oklahoma and Utah. How would you like to buy gas for $2.32 a gallon. That’s what I paid last week for CNG.

But there is a down side, on a new truck the CNG conversion added to a gas truck can cost from $6,000 to $9,500 depending on the size of the tank. And that tank can take up to a 1/3 of your truck bed space. CNG has 130 octane, which would seem like more power compared to 87 octane on regular gas. But BTU (energy) is less than diesel or gasoline. That means less power and acceleration on the same size engine. On the new Ford F150 I’m driving with the 3.7L V-6, 0-60 MPH time was almost 2 seconds slower on the V-6 using CNG verses gas.

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Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 3-31-14

March 31, 2014 — 

I goofed around this winter and let my hair (what I have left of it) and beard (pretty scraggly at best) (both totally gray) grow to lengths they haven’t been in decades, perhaps all my life.

As the weather began to warm up, I began to tire of my hirsute appearance.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Tales From The O-NO Ranch 3-31-14

March 31, 2014 — 

One of my special programs on the “telly” is Texas Country Reporter. There is the feller that drives all over Texas visiting with unusal folks in unusal places that do things that may be out of the ordinary for most of us. Of course, Texas being the large land mass that it is, this guy can find lots of subject matter and of course, me being from the “old country” Texas, I really enjoy this program most of the time.

This past Sunday morning was one of my favorite of all time shows. Gentle readers, that reporter made ole Mad Jack cry. Yep sure “nuff” I was brought to tears over a young girl, a freshman in high school, in East Texas. This lass was not only a beautiful young girl but she was legally blind. What was out of the ordinary about her you querry? She holds the record in pole vaulting for the track team. She also runs the 440, plays basketball and is a steller student. Just to watch her perform blew me away. How can she do all of that when she can only, as she describes it, like looking through a soda straw and then just seeing mostly a blur? He sat across from her and ask her what she saw when she looked at him? “Oh, I just see a white blur mostly, I really can’t make out your features,” she said.

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John Mattingly: Socratic Rancher 3-31-14

March 31, 2014 — 

Anyone who has seen footage of calving glaciers in Greenland has to be impressed with the scale and beauty of it. Whatever the cause, the International Panel on Climate Change confirms that the northern ice cap and northern oceans are warming significantly, meaning the famous Northwest Passage will probably see more shipping activity.

The significance of the Northwest Passage to shipping is enormous, shaving at least 1,000 miles, and as much as 2,500 miles, off a comparable passage from Atlantic to Pacific oceans through the Panama Canal. The Northwest Passage is currently only passable for about three months from late July through early November, and remains a difficult, if not perilous, journey requiring vessels with specialized equipment. But as the water warmed and ice melted, 46

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Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 3-31-14

March 31, 2014 — 

The accused entered the court room wearing an orange jump suit, with his arms shackled to his waist. He looked for his wife’s friendly face amongst the angry crowd while outside the courthouse the police and the National Guard kept an angry crowd at bay. They carried signs that read, “Free Food” and “Down With Ag.”

“Hear Ye, Hear Ye, the court of public opinion is now in session, The Honorable Liberal Wingnut presiding. The court will now hear the case of the U.S. Government versus Mr. Fodder Feeder who is accused of being both a farmer and a rancher.”

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Baxter Black: On The Edge Of Common Sense 3-31-14

March 31, 2014 — 

How does it strike you that the more concentrated agriculture becomes, the more rural/ag media is available?

Regional farm, ranch and equine oriented publications are still a very strong part of our print media. Many of them have been around for over 50 years.

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Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 3-31-14

March 31, 2014 — 

Ever thought about cheese? How it’s made, who invented the recipes, what is the country of origin, how does cheese get to be hard, soft, spongy, white, yellow, orange? If we had no cheese, what word would photographers use to make folks smile? What would we put on crackers? What would macaroni do without cheese? It’s claimed there are around 900 cheeses in the world. I’d wager there’s more. Should the government study the varieties, count ’em; make sure none are on the endangered species list?

Longhorn cheese is a style of American Colby cheese defined by its round, long, orange cylindrical shape. Invented in Colby, Wisc., it’s also called Colby Longhorn. It’s orange in color. Sort of.

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Candy Moulton: On the Trail 3-24-14

March 24, 2014 — 

In 1877 the Nez Perce Indians made a long journey from the Wallowa Valley of Oregon to the Big Hole in northern Montana in a quest to remain free and not move onto a reservation near Lapwai, Idaho. Initially they were actually relocating to the reservation lands, but after some of their young men attacked and killed Idaho settlers, the tribe retreated to an area around White Bird, Idaho. There military troops commanded by General Oliver O. Howard in turn attacked the Nez Perce setting off the flight of the Indians that took them across Idaho, Montana, and Yellowstone National Park.

Emma Cowan awoke early the morning of August 24, 1877, to the sound of strange voices coming from outside the tent she shared with husband George on their vacation in Yellowstone National Park. Peering from under the canvas, Emma saw Indians. She knew immediately they were Nez Perce, probably the vanguard for the 700 or so tribal members who had fled the reservation in Idaho two months earlier.

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Ryan M. Taylor: Cowboy Logic 3-22-14

March 24, 2014 — 

“Many hands make light work,” goes the old saying. We’ve probably all heard or lived those words. It comes from an old English playwright named Heywood, the Google tells me, but it’s as true today as it was in 1546.

I thought about it when I was folding and unfolding chairs for a township officers meeting, folding and unfolding chairs for coffee after church, folding and unfolding chairs for the Cub Scout pinewood derby ... you get the idea. If you’re part of a small town, a community or a group of one kind or another, you get to know the racks of folding chairs, and tables too.

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Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 3-22-14

March 24, 2014 — 

Our last few months have been full of lots of job searching and indecision about where to live, but thankfully we’ve finally made a choice and, most importantly, my husband has found a job. So, on May 1, we are heading to Granbury, Texas.

Granbury is a town of about 8,000 people. It’s located about 35 miles south west of Fort Worth. We don’t know a whole lot about the town (other than it has a lake with beaches that my kids are excited about visiting), but my husband has an aunt, uncle and cousin who live in Stephenville (about 30 miles away) and they love the area.

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Candy Moulton: Reading the West 3-24-14

March 24, 2014 — 

Anne Hillerman’s “Spider Woman’s Daughter” — which continues the popular mystery series created by her late father, Tony Hillerman — won the 2014 Spur Award for Best First Novel, while Mark Lee Gardner won two Spurs for works dealing with the James-Younger Gang, Western Writers of America has announced.

Gardner won in the Best Western Nonfiction - Historical category for “Shot All to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West’s Greatest Escape” (published by William Morrow/HarperCollins) and for Best Western Short Nonfiction with “The Other James Brother,” an article published in Wild West magazine that deals with Frank James, Jesse James’s older brother.

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Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 3-24-14

March 24, 2014 — 

As I mentioned last week, on our return trip to the Flint Hills after soaking up some sun in Tucson, Ariz., we traveled through the southern part of the Texas Panhandle. I’d like to mention a few of things that caught my attention through the area.

First, Texas is a big state with a lot of land and apparently the small towns long ago decided to use a portion of that land expanse to make wide streets. We traveled through small town after small town where the streets were probably 50 yards wide — two or three lanes going each way. It made all the towns seem airy, open and welcoming.

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Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 3-24-14

March 24, 2014 — 

“We don’t have any social life,” complained my wife the other day, “because we are always having to stay home to take care of some sick animal. The last time that we had friends over for dinner was in 1976,” she said.

As usual, my wife was exaggerating. It’s not like we don’t have any social life as I distinctively remember having a couple come over to our house sometime during the 1980s. The couple’s names were Walter and Cookie and as I recall, my wife got mad at me for inviting them over for dinner ... in about half an hour.

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