Opinion, Discussion and Analysis

Milo Yield: College costs and cash crops

April 20, 2015 — 

The weathermen threw me a curve again. They forecast a 90 percent chance of rain for Damphewmore Acres and delivered zero. But, they did get me off my duff and I planted some more garden, three plots of poultry grazing and two plots for wildlife forage. So, ultimately, I did dust in some of my spring plantings in spite of my promise to myself that I wouldn’t. Now I’m hoping the weathermen are more accurate in forecasting 70 percent chance of rain this weekend.

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Lee Pitts: Gentleman, I rest my case

April 20, 2015 — 

I have been indicted in a paternity suit, or I should say, my horse Gentleman has.

My noble steed and I were doing our thing at a neighbor’s branding and I must admit it wasn’t one of Gentleman’s better days. One of the weekend cowboys in attendance was a practicing lawyer. I think he’s a criminal lawyer, but he hasn’t gone to jail for it yet. The lawyer’s young mare, like Gentleman, was always in the wrong spot at the wrong time, tripped over her own feet, and kept throwing her head up and down like a Texas oil well.

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Baxter Black: Tighty whitey flag of surrender

April 20, 2015 — 

Picture this; a panoramic background, the green Okanogan Valley, pines and quakies with contrasting colors of a splendid autumn springtime. The artistic eye discerns a lone riderless horse, a bay with four white socks and a blaze standing, reins hanging down, and a white flag hooked over the saddle horn. As the flag comes into focus, the mind begins to dissect.

“Is that a pair of tighty whiteys?”

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Mad Jack: Waylon gets back to the basics

April 20, 2015 — 

Waylon always wanted to be a cowboy and according to him, he done his best on the O6 Ranch out of Alpine, Texas, while doing a documentary which turned into a music video. He determined as he was stepping up on his bus to go home to Nashville he weren’t no cowboy.

Gentle readers this documentary about real cowboys, how they live and what is required of them to earn the title “cowboy” was done, I believe, in the early ‘80s. It could have been earlier. I have written in the past of being one of the opening acts (cowboy humor) when Waylon Jennings was the headliner. Waylon and I and his wife, Jessie, sat on a couple of bales of hay backstage and discussed life in general and also his documentary, which is excellent, by the way. I’ll give you directions shortly on how to get there if you are online.

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Gwen Peterson: Cud you be mine, bovine?

April 20, 2015 — 

Most everyone — unless they’re terminal grouches — looks forward to spring. Grass begins to green up. Trees bud.

Some people try to force the warm weather to happen faster by wearing shorts.

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Amanda Radke: Beef's on my plate

April 20, 2015 — 

The upcoming 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans could well recommend that Americans limit their consumption of red meat for nutritional and environmental reasons. That’s what the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee (DGAC) is recommending to the secretaries of USDA and Health and Human Services in its advisory report now up for public comment. The comment period runs until midnight on May 8, 2015.

Nina Teicholz, author of “The Big Fat Surprise,” says, “The last 35 years of dietary guidelines have clearly not worked, but there is still a decades-long bias against saturated fat among the committee members. Because of this fat bias, the committee is now exploring the environmental and ethical reasons to advise Americans against consuming saturated fat. The committee’s mission is to review nutrition, but they’ve gone beyond the mandate to add additional reasons against meat.”

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Black Ink: Put more in, get more out

April 20, 2015 — 

Maybe you’re just starting out in the cattle business, or maybe you’ve been in it for decades and thought you’d seen it all by now. Either way, this is an exciting time when you can be sure of great risk and, potentially, great rewards.

Let’s say you really like steak. Maybe you’ve known that for decades or you only recently discovered that ideal combination of aroma, tender juiciness and flavor. Either way, this is a time when it costs more than ever to buy a steak, and it’s more likely than ever to be a great experience.

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Candy Moulton: Exploring western Nebraska

April 13, 2015 — 

When westbound fur traders reached what is now western Nebraska in the 19th century, they found natural sandstone landforms that in succeeding decades would become significant landmarks for pioneers flooding through the region on their way to Oregon and California.

Scotts Bluff takes its name from fur trapper Hiram Scott, who became ill and died in 1828 when traveling eastbound with a party of other mountain men. His death happened at the largest bluff in the area, which is now a part of Scotts Bluff National Monument.

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Milo Yield: Setting the Flint Hills on fire

April 13, 2015 — 

Folks, it’s that time of the year again when, wind permitting, we’re setting the Flint Hills on fire. Two evenings ago, the wind died down and the folks who pasture around Damphewmore Acres pulled out the drip-torches and set the dry prairie grass on fire.

By 10 p.m., a half-section of grass was ash. For convenience sake, and to save time, it wuz easier to backfire around Damphewmore Acres and leave me to burn my own grass, which will be easy now that three sides of my property are effectively fireproof. I’m just waiting for a bit of moisture and an easterly or southeasterly wind before I finish the burning job.

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Lee Pitts: Count blessings, not money

April 13, 2015 — 

I’ve read that many writers have a hard time letting themselves be happy. I don’t know if it’s the actual writing that causes depression or if depressed people are just drawn to the job. Perhaps I’m being cocky but I like to think of myself as a writer too, and I get depressed once in awhile. Don’t we all? Usually when I’m blue, it’s because I’m depending on special occasions, the accumulation of stuff, or the misery of others to put me in a better mood. And then one day I discovered the mathematical formula for a good life: happiness doesn’t always have to be derived by the addition of something; it can also be attained through subtraction.

I can be depressed if there is no berry cobbler or homemade ice cream for dessert, or I can be overjoyed that I’m not eating liver and lima beans with the in-laws. I can either be miserable about what I don’t have, or happy with what I do have. It’s a different way of looking at the world. Happiness is a fly NOT buzzing around your head when you’re trying to go to sleep at night. It’s a dog that doesn’t bite and a big rainbow trout that does.

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Mad Jack Hanks: For everything, there is a season

April 13, 2015 — 

Somewhere in the Bible there is, and I paraphrase, everyone and everything has a season. I reckon that’s about as close to the truth as one can get.

Tax season is upon us and yep, I will be giving Uncle Sam more money besides what I have already given him. Man, that guy must have a hard time with putting together a budget and staying within it.

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Baxter Black: The psycowlogist will see you now

April 13, 2015 — 

“Doc, I’ve got a heifer that just had a calf. She’s not accepting it very well. Can I bring her in for psycowlogical counseling?”

It all started with that call from the worried cowman. My veterinary specialty of cow psycowlogy has gained popularity since my article appeared. It was titled “Paranoia in Dairy Cows” (Doctor, somebody’s always tryin’ to take something from me!)

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Candy Moulton: Western Writers of America to meet in Lubbock, Texas

April 13, 2015 — 

The Texas Panhandle beckons Western Writers and anyone who writes about the American West for the 2015 Convention in Lubbock, Texas, June 23-27. During the week the association will pay tribute to the Spur Award winners and recognize the literary contributions of Win Blevins, winner of the 2015 Wister Award. Blevins has written such books as “Give Your Heart to the Hawks,” “Stone Song” (a novel of Crazy Horse) and “Dictionary of the American West.”

Pulitzer Prize winning author N. Scott Momaday, who is also a past winner of the Wister Award and a 2015 inductee into the Western Writers Hall of Fame, will present a Keynote address. Momaday won the Pulitzer for “House Made of Dawn” and received the National Medal of Arts in 2007 for his work that preserves Native American oral and art tradition. He is enrolled in the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and also has Cherokee ancestry from his mother. Among his other books are “The Journey of Tai-me” (1967), “The Way to Rainy Mountain” (1969) (illustrated by his father, Alfred Momaday), “Angle of Geese” (1974), “The Gourd Dancer” (1976), “The Names: A Memoir” (1976), “The Ancient Child” (1989), “In the Presence of the Sun” (1992), “In the Bear’s House” (1999), “Four Arrows & Magpie: A Kiowa Story” (2006) and “Again the Far Morning: New and Selected Poems” (2011).

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Ryan Taylor: Breakfast of champions (and colts)

April 13, 2015 — 

If there’s one thing we have plenty of as consumers, it’s options. Walk down the aisle of any super market and you’ll find multiple brands of every seemingly similar item from bottled water to laundry soap.

I figured this was just a human extravagance until I started looking for some feed for a colt we raised last year. There are lots of big animals on the ranch, mostly cattle, some horses, and they all get the same two basic food groups — grass in the summer, hay in the winter. And, of course, some minerals and maybe some protein to round things out when they need it.

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Peggy Sanders: Army life leads back to farm

April 13, 2015 — 

Forty-one years ago my husband and I married. He was an U.S. Army officer stationed in Germany, and I had no clue what I was getting into. I thought he probably worked 8-to-5 and had weekends and holidays off. It may have been a fair assumption because he did work for the government.

It didn’t take us long to get back to Germany and to his job. The first morning at 5:30, I heard loud noises and thought we had gone to war. It was just PT, physical training, when the troops ran and sang out “Jody calls” to keep in cadence. That was the first of many lessons. Soon after that, the route changed from the BOQ (bachelor officer’s quarters) area where we lived while we waited for housing to open up and I didn’t see the PT routine often after that.

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Shelli Mader: Creek teaches lessons, gratitude

April 13, 2015 — 

It feels like it’s summer already here in north central Texas. All of the trees are full of leaves and we have had to mow our grass three or four times already. The weather has been warm for the most part and we’ve even had a couple of 90-degree days.

My 6-year-old son Garrett got some rain boots for Christmas, so he has been busy using them in the little creek behind our house. His after school routine is comical. As soon as he gets off the school bus, he throws his backpack in the front yard and races to the creek. The creek only has about 6 or 8 inches of water in it, so he has lots of fun building rock dams and digging with his toy excavator. He has requested a real excavator for his birthday, and was pretty discouraged when my husband and I told him that we couldn’t afford one. So, he has been saving his pennies to buy one himself. He figures $100 will probably be enough to get a good one.

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Lee Mielke: Farm milk prices see small gain but well below 2014

April 6, 2015 — 

The Agriculture Department announced the March Federal order Class III benchmark milk price Wednesday at $15.56 per hundredweight (cwt.), up 10 cents from February, $7.77 below March 2014, but $1.59 above California’s comparable Class 4b cheese milk price. It equates to about $1.34 per gallon, up a penny from February and compares to $2.01 a year ago. That put the First Quarter Class III average at $15.73, down from $22.61 at this time a year ago and $17.44 in 2013.

Looking ahead, the April Class III futures contract settled Thursday at $15.59; May, $15.57; June, $15.56; with a peak of just $17.25 in December.

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Milo Yield: New quilt spruces up the barn

April 6, 2015 — 

Our home at Damphewmore Acres got spruced up a bit this spring. Perhaps you didn’t know, but ol’ Nevah has gotten into quilting big-time since her retirement five years ago.

She’s made personal bed spreads for our beds, personal quilts for all our grandkids and daughters, and even a special Crown Royal quilt for our friend ol’ Claude Hopper. He saved up a bunch of velvet bags from his Crown Royal booze bottles and hired Nevah to make him a unique quilt. It was quite beautiful.

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Gwen Peterson: How to make a cowboy

April 6, 2015 — 

“They” say cowboys are a vanishing breed, existing only in the pages of Louis L’Amour or Zane Grey novels or John Wayne movie oaters. “They” are wrong. Cowboys are alive and thriving and riding for the brand. However, you can’t see cowboys from the road — unless you’re lingering curbside on Scott Street in Gardiner, Mont., the Saturday before Memorial Day.

First you’ll hear a drumming sound of hoofbeats as a hundred head of galloping horses come thundering up the street — herded by cowboys! (And cowgirls, too!)

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Mad Jack Hanks: To be a cowboy

April 6, 2015 — 

It wasn’t hard at all. I had grown tired of the corporate world. I was tired of deadlines, quotas, suit ties, paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork and all the B.S. that went with it. I had had a falling out with one of the “big wigs” from corporate headquarters back east and decided it was time to just “git ’er done.”

We lived on 70 acres north of Amarillo, Texas, and had a few ponies and our place joined a ranch to my north. On weekends and sometimes on late summer days, I would ride over if I saw any cowboys at work in the pasture and see if they were in any mood to put up with a greenhorn. They were. They were glad to show me what skills they had and what they could do with them. I was impressed, so I made myself available at every opportunity to work with them under any and all conditions. I wanted to do a man’s work in a man’s world and raise my kids under those conditions.

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Baxter Black: Take care of yer friends

April 6, 2015 — 

Friend is a word that I don’t throw around

Though it’s used and abused,

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Lee Pitts: Complexification of the common saddle

April 6, 2015 — 

Currently there are eight saddles in my house and a couple more in my shop. Sadly, these aren’t saddles I won team roping but very old saddles from the late 19th century. Apart from two sidesaddles I own, there is very little difference between the 135-year-old saddles and one you might ride today.

Clearly, in a world full of change the American saddle has not kept pace. That’s one reason why when modern cowboys go to check the cows and say they’re going to get their “Mule,” it’s not one of the long-earred variety. One of the reasons people are opting for ATV’s instead of horses is all the accessories they have that horses don’t have.

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Mystery Photo for March 30, 2015

March 30, 2015 — 

Do you know what this is?

Jim Nees of Elizabeth, Colo., is wondering if any of our readers know anything about this mystery object.

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Guess the Year for March 30, 2015

March 30, 2015 — 

South Pacific Rail Road offers to bring Liberty Bell to Exposition for free.

Smallest earth-moon distance this century is measured at 356,375 km, center-to-center.

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Mr. Truck: Unique custom truck art

March 30, 2015 — 

I like truck art — you know, the unique accessories you put on your truck so you can find it in a Walmart parking lot. That’s why I have decals. My tailgate is made of horseshoes from Montana by Custom Cowboy Creation, and I have a giant barb wire headache rack from Arizona by BigBarbs.com and a raging Longhorn bull hood ornament from Colorado by HayWireArtStudio.com.

Having a local artist design a hood sculpture was exciting. I should have had him sign my hood to improve my trucks resale value. Cody Howes is an all-around artist from sculptures to paintings. I also like longhorn and buffalo skull art. My “raging Longhorn bull” is powder-coated red for my white hood. It’s unusual to see a Longhorn Bull leaping into the air. I chose pewter so I can bend the horns back when I run into trees blowing across the road. Cody can also make hood ornaments from plastic, aluminum or bronze. I think my next one will be painted gold.

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Shelli Mader: Texas farm goes non-traditional

March 30, 2015 — 

I'm not a person who likes to take risks. I generally like to sit on the sidelines and do the safe and predictable thing. However, a farmer I recently met here in Texas is all about facing challenges and living outside the status quo. His entrepreneurial spirit has definitely paid off for him and his family. His pick-your-own farm, Fall Creek Farms, is a popular area attraction.

Cullen Crisp grew up in Mansfield, Texas, a small town near Fort Worth. He envied the kids he saw in ag class that lived on farms and ranches and knew that he wanted to have a place of his own someday. Crisp wasn’t raised on a farm, but his grandfather Dave grew fruits and vegetables in the Granbury, Texas, area.

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Candy Moulton: Best of 2014 Western Writers

March 30, 2015 — 

This time of year is always fun because the award announcements come out about the best films, books, songs and other writing of the previous year. “The Homesman,” the critically acclaimed movie based on Glendon Swarthout’s 1988 Spur Award-winning novel, won the 2015 Spur Award for Best Western Drama Script, while Jerome A. Greene’s “American Carnage: Wounded Knee, 1890” won for Best Nonfiction-Historical book, Western Writers of America has announced.

Actor Tommy Lee Jones wrote “The Homesman” screenplay with Kieran Fitzgerald and Wesley A. Oliver. Jones also starred with Hilary Swank in the Ithaca Films production, which is about a frontier woman and a claim jumper who escort three women driven insane back to civilization in the 1850s. Greene’s book, published by the University of Oklahoma Press, details the tragic confrontation between the 7th Cavalry and Lakota Indians in South Dakota.

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Milo Yield: Over thinking simple problems

March 30, 2015 — 

I stopped in for a burger at a little restaurant in Emporia last week. While I wuz sitting there waiting for my meal to be delivered, four bright looking college kids came in and sat at the table across the aisle from me.

I noticed that they were wearing those stick-on name tags and, apparently, judging from the name tags, they were attending a Mensa convention for college youngsters. Just in case you aren’t familiar with Mensa, it’s a national organization for people who have an IQ of 140 or higher. They’re smart folks.

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Lee Pitts: Old auction barn shines like new

March 30, 2015 — 

I don’t get out much these days and the other day I went to the auction market for the first time in a long time. At least I thought it was the same auction market. There was a freshly painted sign out front, the auction barn was sporting a coat of fresh paint, the parking lot was covered with a fresh layer of asphalt and it was full of brand new pickups and Cadillacs. Was I lost? Was this a dairy auction barn?

I saw an elderly couple in the parking lot that looked vaguely familiar but it couldn’t be my longtime friends Ma and Pa Wilson because they were getting out, or trying to get out, of a brand new, four-wheel drive truck that was four feet off the ground. It couldn’t be the Wilsons because they always bought their pickups from farm and repo auctions. But both of them waved at me like they knew me. It sure looked like the Wilsons.

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Baxter Black: Coast-to-coast differences

March 30, 2015 — 

I was back in New York last winter speaking to the Beef Producers Association. I have been on the East Coast often and have developed a good sense of how their urban neighbors look at the ag industry.

In turn I have spoken 200 plus times to ag producers on the West Coast, and have got an idea of how their urban consumers, especially those from L.A., San Francisco, Portland and Seattle treat their farming neighbors.

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