Opinion, Discussion and Analysis

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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Mr. Truck: Denali 2015, GMC luxury and electronic overload

February 23, 2015 — 

Climbing inside the cockpit of the Yukon XL Denali, I first thought I needed a different driver’s license for running the electronics, but after driving this luxury SUV for a week, I understood most of it. The coolest is the HUD, head up display; you look out the windshield and in the air you see the speedometer, tach, lane departure, navigation and radio station. Once you use it, you’ll want one.

This Yukon Denali vibrates your seat if you are too close to crossing the lane lines, and tells you when someone walks behind you, is driving in your blind spot or too close in front of you.

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Mystery Photo for February 23, 2015

February 23, 2015 — 

Do you know what this is?

Ray Warren of Ainsworth, Neb., is wondering if any of our readers know anything about this mystery object.

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Guess the Year for February 23, 2015

February 23, 2015 — 

Winnie Mandela was sentenced to six years for complicity in kidnapping and beating of four youths, one of whom died, she is freed pending appeal.

President Bush takes Queen Elizabeth to Oakland A’s-Baltimore Orioles game.

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Lee Pitts: An Unsung Hero

February 23, 2015 — 

I have always felt that professional musicians weren’t plugged into the real world amplifier. Years ago several British rockers raised some money for famine relief for the hungry in Africa and after they solved the worldwide hunger problem, they turned to converting everyone to vegetarianism. Now days, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney is leading the veg head revolt and rockers are preaching about the dangers of eating meat. I don’t imagine the concept will go over that well in Africa.

I wonder, how do you feed people and make them not hungry when you dismiss the most nutrient-rich food on earth? I also find it hilarious that rockers, a strata of society generally known for their out-of-control drug use, are now telling the rest of us what’s good to put in our bodies.

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Baxter Black: Some headline oddities

February 23, 2015 — 

“Whole Foods Sale of Rabbit Meat Sparks Protest!”

Humm? Animal activists compare rabbits to dogs and cats. They are often kept as pets. So are mice, pigs, guppies, weasels and snakes. Do these protestors sit around brain storming their next great cause?

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Mad Jack Hanks: No bragging, just facts

February 23, 2015 — 

Well, gentle readers, you guys know how proud we Texans are of our birthplace, right? Well, we are. At least all of the native Texans that I know are. And yes, sometimes we take it too far when it comes to “bragging” rights. I have come across some interesting facts about the “old country, Texas” that even I didn’t know. I was, of course, aware of some of them, but not all. Please don’t consider this “bragging,” just facts.

The name “maverick” comes from Samuel Maverick (1803-1870), a Texas lawyer and pioneer.

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Amanda Radke: Where’s the red meat?

February 23, 2015 — 

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) has proposed to drop red meat from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The recommendations are updated every five years, and the current proposed version is advising against red meat consumption for a multitude of misguided reasons including a fear of saturated fat, the misconception that meat production is bad for the environment, and the notion that eating meat isn’t sustainable for future generations.

The Washington Post recently published an update from the DGAC, sharing the committee’s intentions to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol in the 2015 recommendations.

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Steve Suther: Coincidental opportunities

February 23, 2015 — 

I just got around to reading “Outliers,” the 2008 book by Malcolm Gladwell on how coincidence, opportunity and hard work spell success. It made me think — probably its main goal.

Calving season was the backdrop, starting nine days earlier than expected because one of the calving ease bulls apparently succeeds by transmitting a very short gestation period. Cows were due to start two weeks after the heifers, but one of them calved to that same bull 15 days early.

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Gwen Peterson: Gentle, aerobic exercise

February 23, 2015 — 

My neighboring rancher friend, Hermione, claims that working cows is “good aerobic exercise.” “Working” cows generally means making bovine critters move where you want them to go — such as pushing into branding chutes, herding from pasture to pasture, rounding up, calving out — generally annoying them at stated times and places.

This particular evening I received a phone call from the above mentioned Hermione and a lecture. To maintain the tone of one’s body, to stay flexible and eternally strong, one must exercise. Exercising rids the body of excess fat, high blood pressure, sleeplessness, crossed eyes, saddle-bag thighs and incontinence. Exercise increases a minuscule bust line, decreases a big belly, improves a bad attitude, peps up sluggish lower intestines, cures mental imbalance and alleviates stress.

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On the Trail: All Trails Lead to Santa Fe

February 23, 2015 — 

I am a lifetime member of the Oregon-California and Nez Perce Trail associations, and recently also joined the Santa Fe Trail Association. I’ve had the great good fortune to travel most of the major overland trails by wagon train, and in fact this column began in 1999 when I was traveling with Ben Kern’s wagon train headed from St. Joseph, Mo., to Coloma, Calif., on the California Trail during that year’s sesquicentennial.

My wagon adventures have primarily been along the major overland migration routes. In addition to the California Trail, I traveled on the Bridger Trail (1990), Oregon Trail (1993), Mormon Trail (1997), Bozeman Trail (2001), Cherokee Trail South Branch (2002-2004) and Overland Trail (2006). I’ve been across much of the Santa Fe Trail in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico, though by car and not in a wagon.

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Candy Moulton: Books provide inspiration for young readers

February 23, 2015 — 

The American Kestrel in colorings looks a bit like a rufous hummingbird with a tawny, golden back and upper tail that contrasts with slate-grey wings, punctuated with white dots on the wing feathers, and white-tipped tail feathers that have a layer of black contrasting with the rufous hue. These raptors are colorful, noisy and brash, often called “killy hawk” for their distinctive klee, klee, klee call, which can be heard for miles.

Kate Davis uncovers the story of this bird in “American Kestrel: Pint-sized Predator,” published by Mountain Press Publishing Co., in Missoula, Mont. A renowned bird expert, Davis opens the world of the American Kestrel in this lavishly illustrated, full-color book. Using her own photographs and images by Rob Palmer, Davis shares the story of the Kestrel, showing and telling you about favored habitats, hunting tactics and prey, breeding strategies, and migration paths and patterns.

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Baxter Black: It was so cold this winter ...

February 16, 2015 — 

It was cold this winter. How cold was it?

It was so cold every calf north of Cabool, Mo., that was at least 1/8 Bramer sold himself and bought a ticket to Brownsville!

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Lee Pitts: British cattle barons

February 16, 2015 — 

Being a son of a proud member of the Daughter of the American Revolution, it pains me to say this, but the British played a big role in the founding of the range cattle industry in this country. Because the number one son in England inherited everything, the “bastard” sons occasionally got shipped here. I think it was kinda like being the middle child, of which I am one.

The Brits wasted no time in trying to take back America by running their animals on free public rangelands. Being without money of their own, they were often subsidized by an allowance or a remittance from home, thus the name “remittance men.” Soon they were selling stock in cattle companies to stupid first-born sons back in England. As one Brit said, “Americans sent us all their worthless securities and we sent them all our high-class criminals.”

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Milo Yield: Words and sayings from long ago

February 16, 2015 — 

Ol’ Nevah and I put a little pizzazz into our recent dual birthdays by attending a country music concert featuring Sammy Kershaw, the legendary country-western artist from Louisiana. The concert wuz held at the elaborately ornate Granada Theater in Emporia and it wuz a delight because the seats were comfy and the seating wuz roomy. Our seats were five rows from the stage, so we could see Sammy and his band pretty up close and personal.

The place wuz packed with the majority of the crowd old-timers like me who still enjoy good old time country music. Although Mr. Kershaw is definitely part of the over-the-hill gang of country-western artists, he still put on an entertaining concert.

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Mad Jack Hanks: The scoop on Mad Cow Disease

February 16, 2015 — 

Gentle readers, it has been a while since I’ve heard any discussion about Mad Cow Disease, BSE or the correct name, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. Wow, that’s quite a handle would you agree?

According to those in the know, it is caused by an infectious prion. It is believed that when cows eat contaminated feed that contains animal proteins in bone meal, containing blood, etc., they can become infected and it causes a cow to become unstable, nervous, and they may even stumble and fall. In many cases according to the information I read, it can be terminal within three months. It was first discovered in the UK in the 1980s and then again in Washington state in December of 2003. I, myself, have seen Mad Cow Disease up close and personal on many, too many occasions as illustrated in my recent poem. Enjoy:

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Ryan Taylor: Hair today, gone tomorrow

February 16, 2015 — 

I’ve always kept my hair pretty short. I was even born with short hair. Well, there was that one period of time, immortalized in my second grade school photo, when I let my hair grow so long that it went over my ears. Hey, it was the 70s. Wild times.

Actually, I didn’t start life with short hair. When I look at baby photos, I’d say I was plain old bald. While my hair has been growing as best it can for the last 44 years, it’s a safe bet to make that I’ll return to my day one baldness at some point in the future.

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Gwen Peterson: How to attract a cowboy

February 16, 2015 — 

Valentine’s Day was this weekend, a perfect time to start thinking about, well, you know, love, and if you’re young and nubile, how to attract a cowboy.

In earlier days, when men out numbered “gurls” by a whole lot, a woman, with very little effort, could pick the cowboy of her choice from a pretty big herd. Finding a tall-in-the-saddle required some research and some selective travel, but the trail was easy to follow. Back when — before the infiltration of feed-store caps — cowboys wore wide-brimmed, tall-crowned headgear for all reasons, making the wearer easy to spot without binoculars. Today’s puncher, sadly, has taken to saving his “good” wide-brimmed Stetson hat for special occasions such as his wedding or his funeral - whichever comes first.

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

February 16, 2015 — 

Chuck and Ruby Rickgauer first met one another when they were 16 years old. Chuck was a city boy, but worked as a farmhand on Ruby’s folks’ farm near Mitchell, S.D.

“When we were 18 years old we dated for two months,” Ruby said. “Then we were engaged for two months before we got married in July of 1964. Since Chuck wasn’t 21 yet, he had to have his dad sign paperwork, giving him permission to marry me.”

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Benchmark milk prices falling, California takes step toward a federal order

February 9, 2015 — 

The first Federal order benchmark milk price of 2015 starts on a down note. The Agriculture Department announced the Class III price at $16.18 per hundredweight (cwt.), down $1.64 from December 2014, $4.97 below January 2014, but is $2.43 above the comparable California 4b cheese milk price. It equates to about $1.39 per gallon and the lowest Class III price since June 2012.

Class III futures tell us this is not the bottom. The February contract settled Friday at $15.88, March at $16.00, and April at $15.91, with a peak of just $17.28 in October.

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Milo Yield: My walking cane of life

February 9, 2015 — 

Wow! Today is my birthday and I just put the 72nd notch in my “walking cane of life.” Plus, ol’ Nevah shares a birthday with me, but she doesn’t have quite as many notches.

Normally, the last two weeks in January are the coldest weeks of winter. But this year (thanks to global warming and climate change, I’ll bet), the last two weeks have been unseasonably warm.

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Lee Pitts: Work Outside the box

February 9, 2015 — 

Those who study such things say that in the future people who work for a living can expect to change their career once every seven years. Notice I didn’t say change your job. I said, change your career! It’s like a friend of mine who was a vice president of resource imaging. In other words, he ran a copy machine. He thought he had a job for life but was put out of work by home printers and today he is transitioning into the booming field of pet therapy and canine hypnosis.

Evidently, if you want a regular paycheck, in the future you are going to have to be trained to do more than one thing so that you have a career to fall back on.

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Peggy Sanders: Burning alternative

February 9, 2015 — 

In 1980 we had a professional build a block chimney and install a wood stove. When we used the stove, we often ran the fan on the furnace, circulating the heat throughout the house. Having a wood stove necessitates equipment to rustle the wood. Being farmers, we had the chainsaws, pickups and everything else we needed.

The biggest drawback of the wood stove was the mess, when wood was brought in and when ashes were cleaned from the stove and taken out. Sometimes it was literally breathtaking to clean the stove. We used it until 1998 and apparently we were lucky the house didn’t burn down. When the stove was removed, we found a mass of charred wood next to the metal stove that fed into the block chimney. We lived with just the propane furnace and the occasional generator since that time.

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