Opinion, Discussion and Analysis

Quackgrass Sally: On the Trail 11-17-14

November 17, 2014 — 

If you have ever traveled along Interstate 80 near the Wyoming-Utah border, headed southwest towards Salt Lake City, you have to drive through Echo Canyon. I’ve been through here hundreds of times. It was supposedly named by the early European settlers because of its unique feature that voices and sounds echo here, bouncing back and forth across the canyon walls. Located on the cutout corner of northeastern Utah, it is a long rough red-rock canyon and a link in the chain of America’s history.

Taking an exit off Interstate 80 just inside the canyon, (No. 168-169) I turned onto a frontage road, looking for the little town of Echo City. Just off the road I stopped to read a historic sign, the red rock formations towering above the roadway and railroad tracks. This was the route taken by thousands of people headed west to find their destiny ... where pony express riders carried the mail, east to west and back again ... where telegraph lines and railroads paved new communications across America ... and where the rustic Lincoln highway gave average folks the chance to see lands via their automobile ... all of this these red rock walls were witness to. With a deep breath and the windows down, I headed west up the narrow paved road of “history.”

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Lee Mielke: Monthly Milk Prices 11-17-14

November 17, 2014 — 

The Agriculture Department announced the October benchmark Class III milk price November 5, at $23.82 per hundredweight (cwt.), down 78 cents from September but $5.60 above October 2013, $2.88 above California’s comparable Class 4b cheese milk price, and equates to about $2.05 per gallon. That puts the 2014 Class III average at $22.83, up from $ 17.81 at this time a year ago and $16.98 in 2012.

Class III futures portend more drop to come. The November contract settled Friday at $21.86 and December at $19.18. That would put the year’s average at $22.45, up from $17.99 in 2013 and $17.44 in 2012.

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Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 11-17-14

November 17, 2014 — 

I’m starting this column on the evening of the full moon — and it’s beautiful on this cool, crisp autumn night. Our view of the heavens and the skies out here in God’s country are wonders to behold.

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Baxter Black: On The Edge Of Common Sense 11-17-14

November 17, 2014 — 

In the land of Nod a movement sprung up to build houses without the use of power tools. The advocates of organic construction (OC) supported the movement because it prohibited the recovery and use of the carbon coal and oil.

To be OC any lumber used must be hand-hewn, saws must be manually operated. Mule power is approved. Machine made tools must be made by a blacksmith and made from stones, dug and formed by hand.

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Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 11-17-14

November 17, 2014 — 

I have always had a problem with sex. Just last week I was in the grocery store and spotted the cutest little newborn baby I ever saw. “Isn’t that a beautiful baby boy,” I remarked to no one in particular.

“I’ll have you know that is not a boy ... it is my daughter,” replied an upset shopper in the produce aisle.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Tales From The O-NO Ranch 11-17-14

November 17, 2014 — 

“Hang and rattle,” is cowboy slang for doing everything you can to stay on a bucking horse when it appears you may just lose the battle. But hey, don’t we all hang and rattle over and over as we stumble and struggle in our daily lives?

We just got through “hanging and rattling” by having to listen and watch all of those mostly stupid and insulting political ads. Wow! I’m glad that’s all over for a while.

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Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 11-17-14

November 17, 2014 — 

In my small Montana community we have established an annual event to honor all military. Our third Salute to Service Men and Women will take place February 21, 2015. It’s a benefit musical variety show — the proceeds split between Big Timber’s Crazy Mountain Museum and Big Hearts Under the Big Sky (BHUBS).

BHUBS is an organization that partners with Montana Outfitters and Guide Associations to bring wounded warriors, breast cancer victims and children suffering life-threatening illness to Montana. The individuals and their families are treated to an outdoor experience of their choosing — camping, hunting, hiking, fishing, trail-riding.

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Peggy Sanders: Rangeviews 11-15-14

November 17, 2014 — 

What is it about living in the prairie that both pleases and repels? After all, we are part of the prairie; we don’t live on it, we live in it. We — the six generations of my family continuously residing within the borders of the same southwestern South Dakota county — have always worked in production agriculture. The prairie is not our God, yet we surely have been formed by it. A large part of prairie living is quietness.

Those of us accustomed to the silence, labor ferociously to protect it. Others, not used to the same silence find it deafening, even frightening, because it is different, new, and uncomfortable — the same reasons some of us are disturbed by unaccustomed noises on occasional forays into cities.

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Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 11-15-14

November 17, 2014 — 

When your life doesn’t turn out quite like you plan it to, it’s not easy to be thankful.

I thought that by the time I was in my early 30s my husband and I would have a nice little cattle ranch in Kansas. The kids and I would team pen and rope on the weekends and we’d all help my husband out with ranch chores during the week. I would be the successful author of several books and fly to exotic locations to speak several times a year.

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John Mattingly: Socratic Rancher 11-10-14

November 11, 2014 — 

Cowboys are known for doing things that make a person wonder, sometimes. Like the cowboy of this tale — known only as Buck to protect his identity — who roped a bear. On purpose.

Being a retired farmer, I am occasionally reminded that farmers invented barbed wire to keep cows out of their fields. Ranchers did not invent barbed wire to keep their cows contained. In fact, I have been known to suspect that some ranchers would prefer their cattle ran freely over the countryside and were gathered occasionally when a bit of money was required to pay bills.

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Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 11-10-14

November 11, 2014 — 

Whew! This has been a busy week on a lot of fronts. On the sports front, my Kansas City Royals came up 90-feet and one run shy of sending the World Series into extra innings.

However, the Boys in Blue are still the American League champions and the future looks bright for the team. Perhaps next year.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Tales From The O-NO Ranch 11-10-14

November 11, 2014 — 

Country folks, as my friend and fellow columnist, Lee Pitts puts it, are “folks that live at the end of dirt roads.” How true and some of that is changing. I can see it almost every day.

There are a number of folks that are beginning to realize the value of “folks that live at the end of dirt roads,” and they want to be a part of that way of life. Not all are able in this economy to get out of the city and all that makes for higher blood pressure and move to the country and still be able to make a living. I so wish that everyone that wanted to live that lifestyle could do so.

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Baxter Black: On The Edge of Common Sense 11-10-14

November 11, 2014 — 

Skip, whattya doin’ now days?”

“Oh, I’m doin’ a little day work for Irsik and ridin’ two green colts for $50 a month. I think I’ve just about sold that load of salvage lumber I traded Mr. Jolly out of. Some guy came by the other day and wants me to audition for the Marlboro Man. Said they pay pretty good even if they don’t pick me. I’ve put down on some lease pasture. If my pardner comes through we’re gonna turn out a few steers. I’ve got some other deals workin’, playin’ guitar with Butch and Jim on Fridays, shoein’ the odd horse now and then. Ol’ Man Gammon pays me to irrigate his yard every other Sunday. Other than that ... not much.”

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Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 11-10-14

November 11, 2014 — 

Realizing they have an untapped resource for making money, many ranch families have extended their operations to include income streams besides livestock. Some have resorted to wrangling dudes, guiding hunters or renting out their ranches for weddings. After all, there is a certain symmetry, whether you’re trying to find a buck or you’re getting married, both have about the same odds for success. You also have to have a license for both and there is a bag limit, so to speak.

As with a contractor who builds a house, the real money to be made in marrying or hunting is in the “add-ons” you can charge for. For example, if you have to be at the scene of the accident anyway, you might as well get paid to be the one who marries the lucky couple. Granted, it does require some sort of certification but the barrier to entry is quite low. When my sister wanted me to marry her, not in a literal sense, I got my certification from the Rose Ministries of Las Vegas, Nev., for $35. And I got to pick whether I wanted to be known as Pastor Pitts or Reverend Lee. (For a few dollars more I could have received a framed certificate instead of the cheap plastic card I settled for.) After the wedding at the reception you could charge for being the DJ who spins the country western music. (I’m assuming the young couple aren’t going to want hip hop or rap music, and I use the word “music” with great reservation.)

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Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 11-10-14

November 11, 2014 — 

My friend, Samantha (Sammi for short), and I rendezvoused so she could edit and proof my manuscript: “Older Than Dirt, the Musical.” We met in The Hot Diggity Café, located in the wee town of Widespot, Mont., halfway ‘twixt Timbuctu and Sammi’s abode.

As she edited and proofed she noted that I’ve used the word Vicissitudes on the back cover as in: Songs of Hilarious Merriment About the Vicissitudes of OLD AGE!

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Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 11-8-14

November 11, 2014 — 

Most cattle ranchers have had at least one experience with a trouble-making cow. When I was growing up we had a few cows that jumped fences and a few that would crawl through fences or feed bunks. We had a few mean cows that wouldn’t let you get close to their calves. But I’ve never heard of a more trouble-making cow than Jumper.

Jumper is a southern Colorado cow owned by Fred Vollmer. Fred has been ranching in Colorado for over 40 years. During that time he’s been around thousands of cattle, but he’s never had one more frustrating (or expensive) than his Black Angus cross, Jumper.

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Ryan M. Taylor: Cowboy Logic 11-8-14

November 11, 2014 — 

It looks like the skies are going to cloud over and we’re going to get some real fall weather. But we had a string of days that make a person glad to be alive and outside in the northern plains with the leaves turning, the geese flying, the sun shining and the air cooling just enough to feel crisp but not frozen.

As if that kind of weather wasn’t enough to bring you closer to God, I tripled down on one of those beautiful Sundays this fall and visited three saints here on the prairie. The day began with me serving as the guest pastor at two Lutheran churches in northwest North Dakota. My sermon was based on the week’s lesson from the 22nd chapter of the gospel of Matthew, rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and rendering unto God what is God’s.

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Quackgrass Sally: On the Trail 11-3-14

November 3, 2014 — 

I had to run into the big city the other day and being a good ranch wife, I agreed to do some errands for my cowboy. It is almost hunting season so he wanted me to pick up some ammo for his hunting rifle. Now, I am NOT a big shopper but a new outdoor store opened recently so I decided to check it out and get my errand done at the same time. Little did I know that it was going to be an Adventure in shopping!

Standing on the cement walkway to the entrance of the store, I was surprised to see several life-sized bronzes of US presidents. Here, sitting quietly on a bench, Abraham Lincoln, his coat and hat setting beside him, casts a faraway gaze. Nearby, wearing a western shirt and cowboy hat, Ronald Reagan smiles as he relaxes, one booted foot up on the low brick wall. A family walking by, stopped, put their little boy next to Lincoln on the bench ... snapped a photo and continued into the store. I wondered if there would be a sighting of ol’ Abe on Facebook soon.

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Candy Moulton: Reading the West 11-3-14

November 3, 2014 — 

Years ago “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” was quite a popular book. Well, now, there is a new spin on that topic that Western book readers will appreciate. Douglas Brode and Globe Pequot Press have teamed up to release: “John Wayne’s Way: Life Lessons from the Duke.” It might have the subtitle: “Everything I need to Know I Learned from Watching John Wayne Movies.”

The aficionados of the Wayne films will appreciate that this book gives you a glimpse into the filmography of the most well know of all Western film stars. And for those who may not have seen every film the Duke appeared in, it is an introduction to the films. But it is a book of “philosophy” as Brode carefully analyzes at least a scene or more from each of the films and draws some messages from them.

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Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 11-3-14

November 3, 2014 — 

What will the world’s plant and animal population be comprised of 1,000 years from now? No one knows, of course, but I have some strong candidates with the survival skills to subjugate, and then take over the world, from us dummy humans, who seem intent upon destroying ourselves in multiple ways.

My first candidate from the plant world is the lowly bindweed. Slowly, and maybe surely, bindweed is taking over flyover country. Right here at Damphewmore Acres, despite my best efforts to till and spray the bindweed into oblivion, there’s more of it growing that when we bought the place 10 years ago.

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Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 11-3-14

November 3, 2014 — 

Tico writes a column for the Citizen’s Gazette of Burnett, Texas, which is amazing because judging by his picture in the paper, Tico is a dog. Tico says there are 100,000 cases of pet poisoning per year and these aren’t homicides ... the pets are offing themselves by eating dangerous foods. Tico found a list on the Internet from a web site called Embrace that listed the top 20 foods that dogs, like Tico, shouldn’t eat. They included such things as sugar, macadamia nuts, coffee and corn cobs.

Of all my dogs I’ve ever owned not one had a Starbucks habit or had any use for corn cobs. I only had one dog killed by food and that’s the one who got creamed by a bull while he was gnawing on an old cow chip. But that’s hardly a poisoning. I did know a Lab who was owned by the looniest lady on earth who overdosed on a bag of chocolate eclairs once but it was an attempted suicide. If I had to live with that crazy woman I’d have killed myself too.

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Baxter Black: On The Edge of Common Sense 11-3-14

November 3, 2014 — 

Take him for what he’s worth, nothing more, nothing less.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Tales From The O-NO Ranch 11-3-14

November 3, 2014 — 

As I get older gentle readers, I realize the importance of having the privilege to express our concerns in the voting booth.

First, let me make it clear that this column is my opinion and this publication may or may not agree with my views. That being said, I personally feel as if our country is at war with itself. The waters are extremely muddy from where I stand.

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Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 11-3-14

November 3, 2014 — 

Hunting season is once again up on us. While manly chests are being thumped in the wilderness, spouses go shopping.

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Peggy Sanders: Rangeviews 11-1-14

November 3, 2014 — 

Have you felt that you were invisible in the eyes of others?

A few years ago when the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern (DM&E) railroad wanted to build a new railway line just one-half mile from our ranch home, there were many odd things implied on behalf of the railroad in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). There is some mandated measurement as to how many ears would be affected by the noisy railroad. Therefore the EIS had a category called noise receptors. That is, how many people would be affected by the noise? Because we are in a lightly populated region our area listed the number of noise receptors as zero. Really. As if we didn’t exist. And if we didn’t exist, why were we fighting this incursion onto our private land?

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Mr. Truck 10-27-14

October 27, 2014 — 

A couple years hiatus for GMC, Canyon and Chevy Colorado are back strong with the most popular truck size in California. We think of Texas as the largest truck market, but midsize trucks rule in California along with the No. 1 car state.

I’ve owned many compact (mini) trucks back when they were more like a motorized wheelbarrow, which I liked. Now they have grown to mid-size. These new Colorado and Canyons are bigger, though not much over rivals Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. Ford Ranger use to own this market but dropped out in 2012. Tacoma is the reigning champion in mid-size, but neither of the Japanese trucks have changed much in a decade. Which leaves the door open for the all new Colorado and Canyon. I spent a couple days in California driving and towing with them. GM has done their homework making the cabs quite. Only when driving in high winds did I notice any road noise. Still a body on frame like their big brothers Silverado and Sierra, these truck do feel solid with their boxed frame and triple sealed doors. I was surprised by all the room in the front seats. My legs weren’t touching the door and center console like they do in most crossovers. Even the back seat on the crew cab has room for two adults, seatbelts for three and the back of the seat was tilted back at the right angle to be comfortable. The two cab models are crew cab and extended with reverse opening doors. Beds come in two sizes, 5-foot-2-inches and 6-foot-2-inches which is a very usable size. You can haul 4-by-8 sheets of plywood with the tailgate down and slots built into the fender wells to get 4 feet wide. Ecotec 2.5L 4-cylinder is still available with a six-speed Eaton manual or six-speed automatic. The 3.6L V-6 only comes with a six-speed automatic.

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Rocky Mountain Mystery Photo 10-27-14

October 27, 2014 — 

Do you know what this is?

Mark Kendell of Golden, Colo., is wondering if any of our readers know anything about this mystery object.

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Plains Edition Mystery Photo 10-25-14

October 27, 2014 — 

Do you know what this is?

Phil Sherman of Mullen, Neb., is wondering if any of our readers know anything about this mystery object.

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Guess the Year 10-27-14

October 27, 2014 — 

Walt Disney World construction begins.

Riots on the Caribbean island of Curacao.

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John Mattingly: Socratic Rancher 10-27-14

October 27, 2014 — 

One of my encounters with bears was west of Creede, Colo., in and near the Spring Creek corrals that are about half way between Creede and Lake City, on the approach to Spring Creek Pass.

We were driving three bands of sheep up to the Spring Creek corrals from a Forest Service grazing permit on Bristol Head. The bands were moving slowly up the large, U-shaped draw between the Big Spring Creek crossing and the corrals. Driving on the highway I looked down and saw the bands moving up the draw in the early morning mists of September. Trucks were to be at the corrals at noon. We would ship the lambs, now fat from a peaceful summer in the high country, and truck the ewes back to the ranch to clean up aftermath under the circles.

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