Opinion, Discussion and Analysis
When first opened to traffic in 1821 the Santa Fe Trail linked the American markets along the Missouri River with the long-established Mexican trade center of Santa Fe. The two points were culturally diverse and they supported a commercial road that not only connected those two nations, but also crossed the sovereign lands of the Kansa (Kaw), Osage, and other tribes.
The ethnic and landscape diversity of the early 19th century remains pronounced in the early 21st century. In Santa Fe the soft sounds of Spanish and Indian languages and the sights of men and women trading jewelry in front of the Palace of Governors are reminders of the long-standing customs and culture of this old Southwestern city. The hustle-bustle of the Kansas City metropolitan area has seemingly swallowed up the historic locations where the Santa Fe Trail originated, but deep down there are remnants and reminders of it.Learn more »
Usually my birthday day goes by and I merely check the dates on my driver’s license to know my correct age. Not this year. Some friends collaborated, schemed and organized a party to end all parties. The Fates were on my side. For three days, we had below zero temperatures, lots of snow, wind and discomfort. Then, as can happen in Montana, the temperature went from 15 below to 50 above in one day! Which day you ask? Well, naturally the day of the party! The occasion kinda choked me up and brought on a poem ... of sorts. I’m not shy; I’ll share ...
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Gentle readers, when was the last time you just had to holler “calf rope?” Meaning, of course that you had had enough. You give up, you surrender, ya just don’t want no more?
When I was a kid if someone, usually my older brother, got the best of me in a wrestling match or whatever, I would holler “calf rope.” I’m not really sure how that phrase came to be, just the same, that’s what we would holler.Learn more »
It was a Colorado winter afternoon when the boys spotted a big crossbred cow wobblin’ along with her calf trailing behind and a prolapse as big as an army issue duffle bag!
When they got closer they could see the calf had sucked but the prolapse looked a little worse for the wear. Merle and Earl were a’horseback two miles from the corrals. The cow was domesticated but certainly not tame! She was a range cow. They’re like K-Mart employees; you can’t actually walk up to one!Learn more »
OK, the snail mail and e-mails to me have reached the point that I need to clear them out. So, here goes.
In response to my column notice that I recently passed my 71st birthday, my old Missouri buddy Willie Joe sent me a birthday card which read (at least the parts I can print):Learn more »
The word “friend” just might be the most overused word in the English language. The word has been diluted like watered wine, a bar drink, and the American dollar. Take for example a “Facebook friend.” How can someone you have never met, and wouldn’t recognize if you were stuck in an elevator together, be a friend? Obviously there are different levels of friendship. There are fair weather friends, true blue friends and the aforementioned Facebook friends. Put your friendships to the test by selecting the appropriate answers to these questions.
1. You and your team roping partner, and best friend, have made it to the USTRC finals and all you need to do is rope your last steer in less than nine seconds and you’ll each receive $110,000 plus a gooseneck trailer full of fabulous prizes. After you miss the heels your partner (a) Slaps you on the back and says, “Let’s go have a beer.” (b) Advertises in the next issue of Super Looper for a new partner. (c) Slashes your ropes and your tires and says, “I never want to see you again.”Learn more »
This time of year is always fun if you like books, or are a writer since it is when the top awards for Western Literature are announced. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City will present the Wrangler Awards in early April and the Western Writers of America will confer the Spur Awards in late June.
As usually happens, the Wranglers are announced first, with winners identified just this past week. They include the following:Learn more »
I like the winter Olympics, even better than the summer Olympics. Maybe it’s because I’m a snow and cold, northern climate kind of guy with a pair of cross country skis leaned up against the garage.
Any Olympics will give us stark images and valuable lessons of winning and losing that we don’t get to experience every day. Most days here are pretty noncompetitive. I’m mostly satisfied to get our kids on the school bus and get the chores done on the ranch.Learn more »
When it comes to attitude the eyes have it.
I recall when researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada came to the conclusion that the more visible the color white is in a cow’s eye the wilder she is. They found that the color white ranged from 20 percent white being visible up to 50 percent. I was not surprised with this finding because I seem to collect cows with white eyeballs.Learn more »
When my old Texas friend, retired engineer Sly Drewel, wuz visiting last fall, we lamented the loss from language usage of many of the old down-home, colorful sayings and curious expressions that he and I grew up hearing in our rural communities and that we both still use today.
We both feared that many of those kinds of sayings that had agrarian roots would go into the language landfill because most of the millennium generation will never hear those sayings and phrases, nor understand them if they hear them uttered.Learn more »
Jobs, jobs, jobs.
There’s a lot of talk these days about job creation. I know a few old timers who shake their heads whenever they hear people talk about “creating” jobs. Our older generations usually didn’t worry about somebody creating a job for them. They found a job or made a job.Learn more »
Music has been with us since man decided he could kick up his heels, or so I opine. I love a lot of things about life and two of those things are little children and music.
You most likely won’t find me rattling my bones to rap music. Rap music is not in my wheel house.Learn more »
“I’m ticked off, I’m furious, I’m spittin’ nails!” grumbled Savannah.
“Oh, oh,” I said, knowing that when Savannah has a mad on, I’ll get to hear about it. “What’s goin’ on?” I asked.Learn more »
“We can expect to see extreme cold with increasing frequency as global warming continues.”
~ The President’s science and technology advisor - January 11, 2014.Learn more »
Not to slight schools, teachers nor formal education, but there are times that students who aren’t attending school can learn more, in a practical sense, than sitting in a classroom. Parents who use this choice wisely and discriminately can boost their student’s knowledge far beyond their years.
One 9-year-old missed school when she went on a bull-buying excursion with her parents. It was a trip that necessitated her “skipping” school and seemed a positive way for her to expand her horizons. Bridget has grown up on a ranch, has heard the financial discussions and knows the basic ins and outs of ranching.Learn more »
Do you know what this is?
Ken Kirkwood of Price, Utah, is wondering if any of our readers know anything about this mystery object.Learn more »
Do you know what this is?
Jim Holm of Sutherland, Neb., found this curious item and is wondering if any of our readers can identify what it might be.Learn more »
Dr. John H. Watson is introduced to Sherlock Holmes.
Ancient Egyptian obelisk “Cleopatra’s Needle” erected in Central Park, New York.Learn more »
Valentine T. McGillycuddy, weak and on the verge of becoming an alcoholic after a stint as a doctor at the Wayne County Insane Asylum in Detroit, started a new career as a topographical engineer and cartographer when he was in his early 20s. He worked on surveys of the Great Lakes and Chicago following its great fire in 1871, and first saw the Great Plains as a member of the Northern Boundary Survey in 1872.
McGillycuddy was with the United States Northern Boundary Survey team from 1872 through the summer of 1874 as the topographical engineers worked their way west 860 miles from Lake of the Woods in northern Wisconsin to the Rocky Mountains at what is now Glacier National Park in Montana.Learn more »
When Lottie Allbright, director of the county historical society and undersheriff in a rural county in Western Kansas, responds to a middle-of-the-night call to find a dead man floating in the clean-out wash pit at a cattle feedlot, you know Hidden Heritage by Charlotte Hinger is not your routine novel.
Allbright combines her historical interests with her inate investigative sense as she sets out to find out what happened. Admittedly when she was standing by the stinky wash pit (imagine for yourselves how it would be given that the pit is where the cattle trucks washed out once they’d unloaded), she did not see that the man had a slash across his neck. Sheriff Sam Abbott saw that little detail, not immediately revealing it to feedlot owner Dwayne Weston, who identified the dead man as Victor Diaz, a hard-worker who had climbed his way up from the ranks to become the feedlot foreman.Learn more »
When toy haulers first appeared, I knew they would be big. You can haul ATV’s, motorcycles, snowmobiles and golf carts. Toy haulers also make it easier to ship your stuff to trade shows. RV’s have less trouble with police and the questions of being commercial or civilian. So why not use a RV toy hauler to haul horses, the first off road transportation?
Stable Boy’s inventor Tony Distelrath thought the same thing and built a module stall for horses in his toy hauler. He used it hauling horses and his home away from home with one vehicle. You’ll see folks using expensive horse trailer Living Quarters or towing a horse trailer with one truck and a travel trailer with a second truck or SUV.Learn more »
When I was a young high school graduate, the thought of going to an expensive eastern Ivy League school never even crossed my mind. If it had crossed my mind, I’m sure I’d have chased the thought away from our modest and mortgaged ranch.
With my two siblings, we were the first generation in our family to even have a chance at college. Dad left school and began work after the 10th grade, Mom graduated high school but knew that was as far as she could go in her immigrant Norwegian family.Learn more »
Heard this funny true story last week. During the cold weather, a mother, her kindergarten son, and two family friends were playing a board game at the kitchen table.
As play progressed, the kindergartner wuz leading the game by a wide margin and wuz bragging loudly about his prowess at the game. That’s about the time the kid’s father walked into the room, saw the status of the board game, heard his son’s comments and made this comment of his own, “You’d better learn to be careful how you treat and talk to women, son.”Learn more »
Gentle readers, that big bright light that I have been keepin’ an eye on today has me lookin’ ahead.
Yep, the ole sun is out and warming up Mother Earth and melting all of this snow that lays in bunches all over the place. You most likely will have a hard time choking this down ... but I had a robin fly into one of my pine trees just outside the window on February the 10. It was one cold, froggy, nasty day with frozen fog and snow on everything including ole Clancy, my dog and Howdy, my fat paint hoss. It was also my deceased wife’s birthday and was a sort of sad and gloomy day for me until I saw that robin. I finished my coffee and started in on a good spring cleaning of my house. That’s how much it perked me up. Our spring should come forth with lots of green grass and hopeful hearts for what lays ahead for the summer. I know, I know, we still should have another four to six weeks of snow and cold on occasion, but, February is almost over.Learn more »
My wife and I once leased a ranch whose western boundary was a busy highway. Quite regularly I used this opportunity to ride along the fence on my trusty steed, Gentleman, to show the passersby what a real cowboy looks like. Gentleman and I cut quite the impressive figure, even if I do say so myself. As I admired my centaur-like shadow I was jealous of the motorists who got to see such a muscular stud, with a dinner-plate jaw and masculine extremities. And that was just my horse, I didn’t look too bad either in my faded Stetson that looked like it had been run over by a herd of buffalo with loose bowels. Every now and then a rental car would squeal to a halt and a tourist from one of the Scandinavian countries would jump out to take a snapshot to take home and show his or her friends that the American west was alive and well.
It was during my HighwayMan years that I was flooded with requests from ranchers to borrow my wonder-horse to breed to their mares. OK, so only one person actually flooded me with requests, and that was my friend and neighbor Jeep.Learn more »
On the north side of Denver abides the city of Commerce City. There, last fall, U.S. officials dumped millions of dollars worth of ivory tusks, carvings, and jewelry into a steel rock crusher and pulverized it into dust and tiny chips.
The officials’ objective was to reduce the slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants each year.Learn more »
Read or hear the initials NRA and immediately one thinks National Rifle Association and Charlton Heston. Regardless of anyone’s stance on the question of gun ownership and regulations of same, there’s another constitutionally guaranteed tool that could be misused in the wrong hands.
I’m speaking of Hammers. It is positively criminal the way hammer manufacturers and hammer dealers are allowed to sell, dispense, market and supply these dangerous implements to anyone, no matter the purchaser’s age or competency. Any nutcase can buy a hammer at any hardware store — and with NO background checks!Learn more »
The Agriculture Department announced the January Federal order Class III milk price this week at $21.15 per hundredweight (cwt.), up $2.20 from December 2013, $3.01 above January 2013, the highest level it has been since August 2011, and equates to about $1.82 per gallon. It is 84 cents above California’s comparable 4b cheese milk price.
Class III futures settled Friday, pointing to an unseasonal peak for the year at $22.87 in February and would be the highest milk price ever. The March contract settled at $20.72; April, $19.44; May, $18.81; and June at $18.78.Learn more »
Gentle readers, on rare occasion I get a little philosophical and words and phrases seem to flood my vacant but curious brain. This happened in the near past and rhymes and reason wouldn’t leave me alone. So I penned this poem I call Rhyme and Reason.
If it gets a little to deep for ya ... go shovel some snow.Learn more »
This month’s issue of National Geographic magazine has a very interesting article about new high-tech ways that scientists are delving into the very mechanics of how the human brain works.
Without getting into deep details, using powerful computers to analyze data, scientists have sliced off microscopic slivers of brain tissue and looked at them under an electron microscope. They’ve taken 3-D pictures of brain cells (neurons) and the dendrites and the axions that transmit the brain’s chemical/electrical messages from one cell to another by “jumping” through a gap between axions called synapses.Learn more »