Opinion, Discussion and Analysis
Last week, I took my 14-month-old daughter Scarlett to the Sioux Empire Fair in Sioux Falls, S.D. By far, her favorite stop at the fair was the Discovery Barn, hosted by Pipestone Veterinary Services.
Complete with dairy cows and their calves, sows with new piglets, and learning stations educating kids about animal by-products, water use and more, the Discovery Barn was perfect for all ages to learn more about farming and ranching.Learn more »
I have self-diagnosed that I have a syndrome and I’d like to tell you about it. But first, I need to go start a load of laundry.
While I was downstairs with laundry, I took the time to vacuum the carpet in our bedroom.Learn more »
The herd’s getting bigger. USDA says there are at least a million more beef cows and replacement heifers compared to last summer, a rapid start to a rebound that should last several years.
Are you on board, keeping more heifers or culling fewer cows? Buying females from other herds? Those are the usual ways to expand, and heifers may be worth a little less than last year’s record, making it a little easier to forego selling.Learn more »
I happened to be at the National Finals Rodeo in 1988 when Leo Camarillo and partner roped their steer in five seconds flat! It ranked in my mind with John Alden pitoning up Plymouth Rock or Neil Armstrong making angels in the moon dust! I was there when history was being made! It didn’t matter that Leo’s time only took third in the go-round.
I have watched team roping evolve. Thirty years ago it was called team tying.Learn more »
The cowboy’s image varies from place to place. In the Midwest, South and most parts of the West, he will dress much the same and use much the same gear.
There are some differences in the length of one’s rope or how he may shape his hat or the type of bit he puts in his pony’s mouth. That means absolutely nothing to city folks or those in foreign countries who have always admired the cowboy. They know what they are supposed to look like because they have seen the “Duke” in his high water pants with his sleeves rolled up and his almost funny way of walking. Don’t get me wrong gentle readers, I watched three of his old movies this past weekend. No doubt the “Duke” was a cowboy in real life and was an actor portraying one in his movies in the days of old!Learn more »
If you want to be a cowboy you should never skip a neighbor’s branding to attend a PTA retreat, a KISS concert, an aromatherapy workshop, baby shower, or ex-wife’s memorial service.
A real cowboy would never show up for work with purple hair, a nose ring, pony tail, and multiple body piercings, wearing Birkenstocks, spurs without rowels and riding a flat saddle without a horn. If he or she is wearing a ball cap it better say King’s Ropes and not Durocs Rock. He or she better not be driving a KIA with a bumper sticker that says “I Brake for Wolves.”Learn more »
Folks, the Internet is a wonderful addition to our lives, but sometimes I wonder what the end-game of Internet use is gonna be?
I spend a goodly amount of time searching the Internet for new and unusual information, products and services. Well, one of my random searches this week revealed a new product coming on the market soon under the trademarked name Foodini. I’d guess that’s a combination of the words “food” and “Houdini,” as in “Harry” the deceased magician.Learn more »
We all know that the first intrepid travelers from England arrived in America in 1620 and established Plymouth Colony. These first families built houses and a fortification around their new village off the Atlantic coast in what is now Massachusetts.
Theses colonists, known as the Pilgrims, were first at Cape Cod, where they stole corn belonging to the native people and even raided graves. This led to an attack on Dec. 8, 1620, on an exploration party of Pilgrims by a group of Nauset Wampanoag. Soon after, the English colonists left Cape Cod and moved to Plymouth where they built a town on the site of Patuxet, a Wampanoag town.Learn more »
Ben Masters is clearly a man who likes a challenge. In 2010, he and some friends rode horses 2,000 miles on a backcountry trip that took them through parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Texas. As he writes in “Unbranded,” the inspiration for that journey began with “cheap tequila and greasy enchiladas” at Texas A&M University.
Some people might be satisfied with one experience like that 2010 trip, but not Ben Masters, who soon after completing it began planning another. This time he wanted to do it differently — he wanted to make a movie. His initial thought about making that movie was to buy a good camera. So he found a job in the oil field in West Texas, made some big money and bought the camera. Then he did some initial filming and quickly found out that making a film is a much bigger process than shooting footage with a good camera.Learn more »
Sometimes I totally forget about reality and get romantic notions about the way things will turn out. For instance, I have been thinking about how great it would be to get a puppy for my kids. For years I’ve pictured my sweet little cherub-faced children frolicking through fields of flowers with a brand new puppy trotting alongside them.
Well, that dream was quickly put to rest when we actually got a puppy. I totally forgot how much work those cute little things are!Learn more »
I baled hay well into the night when the conditions were finally right and I still had windrows of hay needing to be wrapped up for next winter. I got home and my oldest son met me with a downright sad look, and said, “So I guess we won’t be camping tonight ...”
Call it a case of father/son miscommunication. I don’t remember talking to him about camping that night, but when he asked his mom about doing that and she said “maybe, you can ask your dad if he can,” I think he might have skipped over the asking me part and started packing up the tent and sleeping bags and sat there waiting for me to come home from the field.Learn more »
The Emperor’s New Clothes is a fairy tale wherein two swindlers convince the vain emperor they could weave the most elegant clothes so uncommonly fine, only those with the highest refinement, good taste and intelligence would be able to see them. The ambitious emperor heartily agreed, thinking it would help his ability to distinguish the wise men from the fools in his empire. The swindlers went to work for weeks weaving the most beautiful cloth ever seen. They fitted and sought his opinion frequently while charging him mightily.
The emperor began to worry because he could never see any cloth, even though he praised them profusely for its quality and beauty. He questioned whether he was really qualified to be emperor, so he pretended to admire the cloth that the swindlers pretended to weave, lest he be thought a fool. On the day of the public procession, the swindlers dressed the emperor in the exquisite invisible cloth. All the emperor’s sycophants lauded him with admiration. He put on his most regal face and strode down the street, his noblemen carrying the train behind him. The crowd, who assumed they were unable to see invisible clothes, cheered as if they, too, could see something more than just an old man parading through town naked.Learn more »
“Savvy Sayin’s, Lean and Meaty One-Liners” is a book of utterly cowpoke utterances collected by Ken Alstad more than 30 years ago. I’d wager many expressions are known wherever the wily cow is the focus of attention. Western jargon is always good for a wry smile, a smug smirk or a double entendre even if you’re not sure how to spell, or pronounce, entendre. I found my copy of “Savvy Sayin’s” in a thrift store.
Here’s some gems from its pages ...Learn more »
Yesterday I was sitting across the table from my oldest grandson as he requested “more q-cummers, please.” Actually, he wanted more cucumbers as he really like them.
I just returned from his wedding in Cedaredge, Colo. It seemed like only yesterday he wanted more q-cummers, but low and behold, here stood this 6-foot-4-inch handsome young man getting married to a beautiful young woman. They are both very young at 19 and 18, but have know each other most of their young lives. It was a touching ceremony in a little church under large cedar trees with a doe grazing just outside the church. Man, I wished “Little Miss Martha” had been there in person to share that with me. I did shed a tear, I admit it. I was a little soft but not ashamed at all.Learn more »
No man wants to admit he fears his wife and I am no exception. I’m just a little henpecked that’s all. So much so that I molt twice a year.
It’s just that I have been known to make some pretty stupid mistakes on occasion and have had to listen to my wife scold me ... “Where were you when they passed out brains, in the basement?”Learn more »
Last week, I attended the surprise birthday party for my young friend Ben denPitchett. It wuz Ben’s 20th — what he called his “cusp of manhood” birthday party.
Now I’ll mention that Ben was not born and raised an Aggie in any sense of the word, but he’s been a willing and able student of all things agriculture for the past year.Learn more »
The July Federal order Class III benchmark milk price was announced by USDA at $16.33 per hundredweight (cwt.), down 39 cents from June, $5.27 below July 2014, $1.35 above California’s comparable 4b price, and equates to about $1.40 per gallon, down from $1.44 last month. The 2015 Class III average is at $16.04, down from $22.52 at this time a year ago and $17.69 in 2013. Looking ahead, the August Class III futures contract settled Friday at $16.47; September, $16.56; October, $16.54; November, $16.27; and December, $15.95.
The July Class IV price is $13.15, down 75 cents from June, $10.63 below a year ago, and the lowest Class IV price since March 2010. The Class IV average for the year stands at $13.62, down from $23.19 a year ago and $18.27 in 2013.Learn more »
Is there another year-round profession that is more weather dependent than farming?
Rain is welcome and good, except when everything is already soggy or when the hay has been cut and is waiting to be stacked or baled. However, few farmers would ever say, “I wish it would stop raining.”Learn more »
Who said, “There is no such thing as a stupid question?”
■ Is that cow really angry with me for messing with her cute little calf or is that just a defensive posture she assumes because it is expected of her?Learn more »
Gentle readers, as most of you know, at least you folks who are familiar with cowboys, can attest that the “real” cowboys love to tell of their adventures. Yep, we love to tell stories.
I was listening this morning to a radio program on 650 AM out of Cheyenne, Wyo., called Cowboy Corner. The host is Red Stegall, song writer, poet and country swing band leader from Texas. On this particular morning he was visiting with the legendary horseman Buster Welch. Red insisted that Buster talk about his early days as a cowboy. Both Red and Buster are a few years older than yours truly.Learn more »
One of my favorite papers is the Livestock Weekly out of West Texas and in a recent issue there was an ad urging readers to support a bill to end daylight savings time in Texas. Some of the reasons they gave for putting an end to the idiotic tradition included: kids wouldn’t have to walk to the bus in darkness, there’d be less insomnia and sleep deprivation, and it would help teachers improve test scores in early morning classes, etc.
I am in full support of any movement to end all this nonsense of springing forward and falling back. I’ve been on a lifelong crusade to end daylight savings time and explained my reasons in a column 30 years ago. Back then I told of an Indian who, when daylight savings time was explained to him, replied, “Cutting one end off a blanket and sewing it on the other end doesn’t make the blanket any shorter or any longer. It just makes it uglier.”Learn more »
Our Chase County Fair is finished and, as usual, some cute and funny stories emerged during the annual event.
Probably the cutest wuz during the fair’s Pet Parade. County Agent Avery Ware is the emcee for the Pet Parade and he asks the 4-H’ers about their pets, how they care for their pets, if their pets can do tricks, etc.Learn more »
When J. Goldsborough Bruff traveled along the trail to California in June 1849, he recorded his impressions of newly established Fort Kearny: “I visited the Fort ... This place is as yet merely the site of an intended fort; it has some adobe embankments, quarters of adobe and frame, and a number of tents and sheds. Is on the bank of the Platte, where Grand Island makes a narrow branch of the river between it and the shore.”
The location near today’s Kearney, Neb., was strategic; several trails converged in the vicinity. In 1848 Lt. Daniel P. Woodbury established the first post in the area and named it Fort Childs. But it was soon renamed for Stephen Watts Kearny, who had led the frontier army through the area in 1846 en route to Santa Fe at the start of the Mexican-American War. The outpost would become one of the key way-points on the Oregon and California trails.Learn more »
When Charlotte Atherton learns the Sullivan Academy for Exceptional Youth, where she works as a music teacher, is closing, there is nothing she can do but make plans to take three of the children with her and disappear into the Texas Landscape.
The children are little John Chang, a gifted, but orphaned pianist; Stephen Farley, whose parents left him at the school when they took off for Europe; and little Lilly Dorchester, whose mother had also died and who had named the teacher as the child’s guardian.Learn more »
During all my growing up years, my family only had two dogs. My folks got their first dog Annie from the pound a year or so before I was born. She was an amazing and smart dog, but I was never very close to her. She was always the old dog to me (and I think she resented the fact that I came into the family and took her place).
When I was 11 or 12 my folks decided that my brothers and sisters and I (after lots of begging!) could get a puppy. My parents weren’t fans of having two dogs at once, but Annie was getting old and wasn’t much fun to play with. My sister and I scoured the newspaper for dog ads and found a litter of Gordon setter mix puppies. We didn’t know what the breed was, but we knew we wanted a dog right away. The puppies were cute, so we picked one out and named her Tootsie because she was colored like a Tootsie Roll.Learn more »
They say it’s hard to shop for a guy who has everything. I’m far from being a guy who has everything, but I have the important things — good health, a loving family, loyal friends and caring neighbors, plenty to eat, a roof over my head that doesn’t leak, books to read and things to do that I like doing.
Sure, I don’t have a yacht, or a motor home, or a million airline miles and double platinum flying status, but things have worked out pretty good for me. So, when my wife and kids asked what I’d like to have for my 45th birthday, I told them I’d like to have a strap for my guitar since I didn’t have one. They got me a nice one.Learn more »
Where you find cowboys, you find pickups. Some are merely pint-size, most are standard size, some sport a three-quarter-ton bed or maybe the entire back end is a flatbed. Flatbeds come in handy for hauling everything from stacked haybales to four-wheelers to providing a temporary stage for amateur theatricals.
No matter the size or how it’s used, a pickup is a cowboy’s friend. He becomes attached to it much like his affection for his favorite stock dog — who often rides in the passenger seat to help drive.Learn more »
His mother was glad he wasn’t hurt worse.
As it was he went out on a stretcher.Learn more »
If you’ve ever spent much time around bovines, gentle readers, especially range cows, you know that there can, on occasion, be an issue. They are like folks in a lot of ways, depending on what mood they happen to be in or what their particular situation is on a given day under a particular set of circumstances.
On this particular day, Eldon wasn’t expecting what eventually happened to him. It seems a neighbor’s heifer, a real goofy heifer, got in with some of his cows. This bovine was not only goofy, she was unpredictable, angry, with absolutely no ambition to go along with the plan that Eldon had devised to get her separated and ready for the owner’s cowboy to come pick her up. This heifer was so out of control she stirred up Eldon’s cows and some of them began to get a little “antsy” and short-sighted on a simple plan to separate the agitator from the other cows. According to Eldon this heifer was “just plain dangerous” and bouncin’ off every corner of the corral, thusly stirring up Eldon’s cows.Learn more »
If you don’t think kids today are smart just go to any county fair and take a big whiff, filling your senses with the sights and sounds of the fair. Among the sounds of barkers hustling their games and the organic sound of the merry-go-round, you’ll hear the distinct sound of squealing pigs. In addition to the smells of deep-fried Twinkies, beer-battered cheese curds, egg rolls and cinnamon buns, you’ll be overwhelmed by a distinct smell you’ll remember for the rest of your life and that will be retained in your clothes longer than that. You can’t escape the swinish smell at the top of the Ferris Wheel, in the rodeo arena or in the most distant parking lot.
When I was a kid the beef barn was packed with steers and the sheep and swine shared a ramshackle barn on the outskirts of the fairgrounds. That’s as it should be. Beef had top billing and I figured that the sheep and swine deserved each other. Any kid who chose to show a pig was, how should I delicately put this so that my swinish brethren will not be offended? To be blunt, pig showmen were “different.”Learn more »