Opinion, Discussion and Analysis

Mad Jack Hanks: When life gets hard, it pays to have mindful thoughts

February 8, 2016 — 

A number of years ago, gentle readers, a feller by the handle of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale wrote a book titled “The Power Of Positive Thinking.” My mother, on many occasions, tried to get me to read this inspirational book. Not to be.

I was too busy living life and after all, young folks usually have not encountered so much in their young lives that they stop to consider “positive thinking”.

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Milo Yield: Guessing what a historian brought for show-and-tell

February 8, 2016 — 

Will miracles never cease? Here I am writing this column on Jan. 29, the day before my 73rd birthday, and it’s 65 degrees and sunny outdoors — and tomorrow is to be just like today. Usually, the week of my birthday — by the way, ol’ Nevah and I have the same birthday — is the coldest week of the winter.

This week’s weather is an outlier to the norm and I’m glad of it because next Monday and Tuesday we have a 70-80 percent chance of freezing rain and snow. It least it will be in February and that much closer to spring’s fishing, gardening and cow pasture pool weather.

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Gwen Peterson: Baling continues, rain or shine, a poem

February 8, 2016 — 

Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog, claims it’s going to be an early spring — according to one source. According to another, the little varmint asserts we’re to have six more weeks of winter. Either way, it works out about the same.

Either way, cowboys and ranchers are adding to their collections of bale string. Whether big round, big square or small square, the string piles up.

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Lee Pitts: Try cattle breeding techniques to get rid of bad human genes

February 8, 2016 — 

I loved Animal Breeding when I was in college. No, not that kind of animal breeding, get your mind out of the gutter. I’m referring to a class I took where we learned about heritability.

I’m so old that when I went to college, there were no EPD’s for beef cattle and that’s a shame because that stuff fascinates me. I’m so interested because of all the recessive traits in my family that waited for me to come along so they could express themselves.

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Candy Moulton: For European adventurer David Thompson, wanderlust takes hold

February 8, 2016 — 

David Thompson started working as a clerk’s apprentice with the Hudson’s Bay Company at age 14, soon having a chance to explore portions of Canada, where his lust for adventure was hindered when he severely broke his leg. While laid up in camp for nearly a year he learned how to survey and make maps. These were skills he would use the remainder of his life.

Thompson left HBC when he believed the company wanted to assign him to a stationary post. He soon found a job with the North West Company. Soon Thompson was exploring for this company, which was the lead rival to his former employer. He was one of the first fur traders to cross the Canadian Rockies from Rocky Mountain House, north of Calgary, into the interior valley of the Columbia River source west of the Continental Divide and he became the first white explorer to travel the full course of the Columbia River.

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Amanda Radke: Wendy's talks antibiotics and freshness amidst changing industry

February 8, 2016 — 

“Quality is our recipe,” said Liliana Esposito, Wendy’s chief communications officer, during a press conference at the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show in San Diego, Calif.

Esposito shared that Wendy’s is a U.S. company with 5,374 stores across the U.S. The chain also has a presence in Canada with 359 stores and another 395 restaurants around the world. Wendy’s serves 5 million patties daily, and the beef is 100% heifer or steer, 42 months or younger, processed in the U.S. and 100% North American beef. The raw product never exceeds six days old and the finished patties are never served beyond 13 days. The company does E.coli testing on all raw products and also pulls fresh patties to test samples.

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Baxter Black: "The 1st amendment could not exist without the second amendment"

February 8, 2016 — 

As radical terrorists continue their penetration of the Unites States and psychos attack unsuspecting pedestrians, our country seeks solutions. Conservative Constitutional fundamentalists stand by the law and support arming everyone! Whereas progressive liberals insist on disarming everyday citizens and depend on government to protect everyone! Yet compromise is hard to find.

Speaking for myself, I know many reasonable supporters of the 2nd Amendment and the NRA who would be amenable to some restrictions on sales of some automatic weapons or ground to air missile, for instance. So why can’t we compromise with the Anti-2nd Amendment’s political promises? Simple…we do not trust our own government. We know there are those who would disarm us all.

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February 8, 2016 — 

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Steve Suther: Calving environment and first antibodies are important

February 8, 2016 — 

A baby calf nursing for the first time … if everything’s going right, it might look a little peaceful.

But no matter how serene it may seem on the outside, what’s happening inside is a fast and furious defense system. The biological signal that calf — and its immune system — gets could be summed up as, “It’s go time!”

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Mr. Truck: New truck, needed changes

February 5, 2016 — 

New look, new body, new engines, new transmissions and it’s about time for the Toyota Tacoma. It’s been 11 years since any big change. The 2016 truck I tested was a loaded double cab TRD Off-Road 4×4. The new 6 speed automatic replaces the 5-speed auto. A 3.5L V-6 with 278 horsepower and 265 torque, replaces the 4.0 L V-6 with 42 more horsepower now. New direct fuel injection and one port injector for 7 injectors on a V-6. Quieter cab, less road noise, doors and glass have improved seals. The new frame has more high strength steel.

New axles with Bilstein shocks, as part of the TRD Off-Road package, makes it almost impossible to get stuck. With automatic limited slip, traction control and in low range a locking rear diff with multi-terrain select, will keep the rear axle going. Going down the mountain in 4×4, control is given by Crawl Control. Multi-select, terrain select Crawl Control is speed adjustable for hill decent, located in the overhead console. Twist the knob for mud, snow, sand, rock and mogul for truck skying. Hill-start assist holds the truck with the ABS until you move forward.

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Lee Pitts: A look at the future of too-conscientious ranching

February 4, 2016 — 

Ranch brandings in the future will take on an all new look thanks to squeamish animal right-ists who get ill just thinking about all the despicable things we do to our animals to keep them healthy and safe. PETA and their ilk want you to treat your cattle like humans. No, on second thought, they want you to treat your animals better than the typical human in need of medical care at the ER. Which is not that high of a standard really.

Here’s how I see a typical branding 20 years from now.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Planning for the future by instilling values in kids

February 3, 2016 — 

Our hope for tomorrow, gentle readers, is of course our youth. I sometimes wonder where we are on a scale of one to 10 how we are doing in preparing our youngsters for the future.

They, after all, will be calling the shots and will be living in a pleasing environment that suits the majority — or they will be stumbling, cheating one another, unhappy and dissatisfied with life in general.

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Baxter Black: The chaos of calving ends up worth it

February 2, 2016 — 

This is the time of year when cow people don’t get much sleep. If you boiled “raisin’ cattle” down to its bare bones, the whole business revolves around gettin’ a live calf on the ground.

Folks outside the wonderful world of calvin’ season probably have some peculiar ideas about what happens. Maybe they think a heifer calves like chickens lay eggs – nice and clean, no muss, no fuss. Others might picture a sterile operating room with attendants gathered around in masks and rubber gloves saying things like “Push!” and “Nurse, wipe my brow and clamp the cord!”

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Peggy Sanders: Event focusing on county history pays off

February 4, 2016 — 

In Fall River County, southwestern South Dakota, we found a great way to preserve local history. We have an annual, one-day history conference with plenary sessions. This is how it all began.

Eleven years ago, I was a speaker for a Custer County, S.D., historical society monthly meeting. It occurred to me that our historical society should do something similar. Yet I knew if I brought it up, I would be put in charge. As I pondered, I decided a monthly program might be too much — especially for the coordinator. Instead, the plan for an annual fundraiser began to formulate in my mind.

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Candy Moulton: Previewing "Landscape of Dreams: Santa Fe and the Creative West," a panel discussion

February 4, 2016 — 

“Landscape of Dreams: Santa Fe and the Creative West,” a panel discussion, will be presented at Collected Works Bookstore, 202 Galisteo, Feb. 25 in Santa Fe, N.M. The program will feature New Mexican authors Lesley Polling-Kempes, Jack Loeffler, Anne Hillerman and Paul Andrew Hutton. The four will share their thoughts on creativity, the lure of the West, fiction, nonfiction, music and respond to audience comments and questions.

This is the annual James Ersfeld Symposium, which is sponsored by Western Writers of America.

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Mad Jack: woman beats bad habit

January 26, 2016 — 

Sometimes, I find myself wanting to step outside of the box a little bit. I don’t know, gentle readers, if that’s what I’m doing today but it is a little different from my usual column. A couple of years back I lost a dear friend. He had three lovely daughters and one especially that seem to find life extremely difficult for someone with such a “churchie” (as she puts it in her book, Smoking Hot Christian) background. My friend, her dad, was a heavy smoker and it cost him his life. She was a closet smoker and hid it well from her “churchie” friends. I’ve know her all her life and never would have expected she ever took a drag off a cigarette.

At thirteen years old, her first born, a beautiful, talented young lady, was killed in a tragic accident a week after she sang “The Rose” at her great-grandmother’s 75th birthday. This song was written by Amanda McBroom of Odessa, Texas. I just wanted to share it with you as the words are so profoundly placed. Here is “The Rose.”

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Candy Moulton: Buffalo hunt is bridge to past

February 8, 2016 — 

Dodge City, Kan., was a center of the buffalo trade in the 1870s when Josiah Wright Mooar arrived. Born in Pownal, Vt., Wright left home at 19 and after spending some time with relatives in the Midwest, relocated to Hays City, Kan., where he found work cutting firewood for Fort Hays.

He saved enough money to buy a buffalo hunting outfit, and with three wagons and four hired hunters, set out in search of the Great Plains herd along the Smoky Hill River. Wright worked his way south to Fort Dodge. He caught a break in 1871-72 when Charles Rath, a freighter and hunter, received an order for 500 buffalo hides for an English tannery. Rath enlisted the aid of Wright Mooar in providing the requisite number of hides.

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Milo Yield: Solutions for everyday problems using genetics

February 8, 2016 — 

Reports of new and exciting advances in genetic engineering have filled the agri-news lately. For instance, scientists have finished the entire genetic map of wheat, which holds all kinds of promise for better quality, more diverse and more hardy types of wheat.

Other reports carry new ways to splice certain trait-carrying genes into existing organisms. That holds promise for finding cures for various plant, animal and human diseases.

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Lee Pitts: You never know when having insurance will pay off

February 8, 2016 — 

I’m a big believer in insurance. It is my opinion that the best policy to have in life is that you can never have too much insurance. In fact, I have so much life insurance, my wife thinks we should see how good it really is.

I would buy insurance on the bulls I buy, but they are considered “high risk” by the insurance industry because I buy them out of the slaughter run at the sale barn. If I ever did buy a high dollar bull, I assure you that I would insure him because it’s a well-known fact in the livestock mortality industry that the chances are two-to-one that a high selling bull at a sale will either die of a mysterious disease or break his leg within 48 hours after the policy goes into effect. The most dreaded words to a livestock insurance agent are ”You’ll never guess what happened to my bull.”

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Gwen Peterson: Using human things to protect a fair horse

February 8, 2016 — 

White horses have a different perspective on life. Jolly’s mom was a buckskin mare named Becky. Her pop was a white Tennessee Walker called Moonscape. She inherited her papa’s white coloring and, unfortunately, his blue eyes and pink muzzle.

It became obvious that she needed protection from strong sunlight. As she grew, I tried several things to help her withstand those pesky ultraviolet rays. I painted black circles around her eyes, as someone said the black circles would shield them. Doing so mainly caused her to look like Zorro or Batman. I daubed her muzzle with sunscreen, which gave her a rash. Ditto with Aloe Verde and Bag Balm.

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Baxter Black: Gerald Two Bears and Billy Strike, a poem

January 26, 2016 — 

Gerald Two bears was the foreman of the tribal branding crew.

Lots of Indians who were cowboys came to do what they could do.

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Mad Jack: A warmer start to 2016 keeps an old geezer dreaming of Spring

January 18, 2016 — 

Yep, gentle readers, I do believe this is one of those special mornings, at least for me. As I write this, it is early in January and it’s clear and not as cold as it has been.

Last night, when I came in from dancing, I didn’t go down and plug in the heater in the water tub at the corral because it didn’t seem as cold as it had been the past few nights. I knew darn well that I would be bustin’ ice this morning with that heavy sledge hammer, and I was.

It was about like I suspected — only a couple of inches thick, or maybe a hair more. The past few days, and you already know this, have been really cold, cloudy and not so inviting to want to be outside for any reason for any length of time.

I did have to mount ole’ Alice Chambers, my Allis Chalmers tractor, and move some snow drifts around. I will tell you this, it’s awfully hard to keep yer nose from running and to keep that junk out of yer mustache!

What a deal.

One of the special things about this morning is that large herd of antelope just across the road. They have had breakfast and have settled down into the tall grass and snow to soak up those nice warm rays of sunshine. Much to my surprise, as I was watching them out the front window, two magpies flew down into my drive way and started picking around through the gravel where there was no snow. I have always liked magpies and I’m not sure why. I reckon it’s because they are not common here at the ONO.

I saw one about three weeks ago but had not seen any since. I have been told they were very common around here in the past, but something or other killed them off, I forget. While I was writing, a cottontail hopped upon my front deck and sat in front of the door as if I was supposed to let him in. I will tell you gentle readers this, I am overrun with rabbits.

They are not all that welcome, as they are eating tender chutes on my young trees and leaving pellets all over my walkways, and I know if I don’t start thinning some of them out, there will be three times as many in a few weeks, right?

I am encouraged to see a warmer day coming my way as I don’t embrace the cold like I did when I was younger. I have told you in the past that I have reached “geezerhood,” and you old geezers know exactly what I’m talking about.

For you pre-geezers, you might want to brace yourself because it will be here before you know it.

I reckon I’ll grab another cup of java, let it warm up a little and go move some more snow and be happy that I am able to do so many of the things that I am capable of doing and maybe one of my new years resolutions, or as I call them, revolutions, will be to not let whining be a big part of 2016. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, prepare yourself for whatever may come your way this year and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all. ❖

Lee Pitts: FFA set the path for entire life in agriculture

January 18, 2016 — 

My first experience in commercial agriculture was as a six-year-old sharecropper when I turned one of my mom’s tiny flower beds into a radish ranch. My cash crop consisted of two rows planted way too close together and I waited impatiently for the first green sign that my crop would not fail.

I can remember to this day the pride I took in harvesting my first radish. Despite the fact that no one in my family liked radishes, they raved about mine. It’s a huge concept for a little kid to wrap his head around, producing something that is a necessity of life (not radishes, but food in general). From that time forward, I knew that my life’s work would be in agriculture.

When I was in the fifth grade, we moved to a 100-year-old house on an acre of ground on the outskirts of town. Over the next dozen years, I grew every crop imaginable trying to find one that would make money. I was passing time until high school when I could finally become a Future Farmer of America and proudly wear the blue and gold.

My wife and I have moved nearly a dozen times in our 41 years of marriage and every time, I brought along my old FFA jackets and my four California Farm Account Books.

There are several sections in the Farm Account Book, the first being a calendar of events. In my first entry on Oct. 1, 1966, I wrote, “Entered walnuts in county fair.” I don’t recall how the walnuts “faired”, but from then on, nearly every square was filled with entires about my vast livestock operation, parli-pro practice, work experience, speech contests, running for offices, etc.

As a freshman, I wrote that I had three lofty goals: to become only the second FFA member from my chapter to become an American Farmer, the first member to win the state public speaking contest and the first to be a state officer, preferably president. I’m proud to say I achieved all three goals.

The FFA was my life and my escape from a terribly mean alcoholic father.

Shortly after that first entry I see that I “bot” two commercial lambs. That’s the way we financial geniuses abbreviate the word “bought,” to save space for me to pad my resume. I named those two lambs Amos and Andy after my favorite comedians and from then on, I gave every one of my animals a named that started with “A”. Except for one, that is — a steer I named after my grandfather.

I’m sure he was deeply touched.

My first account book showed that I made an $11 profit and a 33% return on my investment with the lambs, but that’s not taking into consideration the 55 hours I’d invested in building the pen, feeding and cleaning it daily.

Circled in red is the entry for the day my ag teacher had me bring my lambs to class so he could demonstrate the proper butchering technique by slitting the throat of Andy. I remember wondering at the time if the 20 cents profit I made per hour was worth the heartache when he handed me the knife to do the same to Amos.

My first account book contained 14 months so that I could get my “physical” year on a calendar year basis. And there is one entry in my account book I’m ashamed of and makes me subject to blackmail. Jan. 10, 1967, was a very dark day in my life, as it seems I may have purchased 100 head of day old chicks on that day. My brain must have blotted out the traumatic experience of raising poultry.

There was also a section for my bad business agreements, of which I made several. The Labor Income Summary from my first account book and my last shows I went from a net worth of zero dollars as a freshman to $5,479.03 as a senior, with depreciable property of $1,363, including my white show pants which had a year left on the depreciation schedule when I graduated from high school.

I keep those four Farm Account Books because they not only tell the story of my FFA career but they foretold the story of the rest of my life as a serial entrepreneur and a chronic deal-maker. ❖

Laugh Tracks: Immersion in nature can ease stress, soothe troubles

January 18, 2016 — 

Given all the havoc in the world to start this new year off, seems to me that I might be wise to lead off this column with some information that might soothe your stressful troubles.

I read recently that the most frequently asked how-to question that folks look up on Google is how to reduce stress.

Serendipitously, within a few days, I received my January issue of National Geographic magazine. One of the main features wuz about the healthful effects of putting aside your electronic gizmos, forcing yourself to get off the couch and going outdoors to put yourself into the calming influence of Mother Nature.

Scientists have measured that any sort of interaction with nature does wonders for your body and mind. Your blood pressure and heart rate go down, your entire outlook on life improves and afterward, you think and can solve problems better.

Your involvement with nature can be casual or total immersion. It can be nothing more than stopping to smell a flower, sitting in the shade of a tree, working in your flower or veggie garden or stopping to admire an inspiring vista along the side of the road. Or it can be as exotic as taking a walk in Yellowstone National Park or the Petrified Forest or canoeing in the Boundary Waters.

It sounds a bit far-fetched, I admit, but I believe that nature can be The Great Stress Reliever. As for myself, I’m at peace gazing across the Flint Hills, sitting on a pond bank fishing, watching wildlife or watching a clear riffle or small waterfall in a little clear stream.

And, personally, the most calming thing I can do in nature is lay down in a thick stand of the tall grass prairie when the wind is blowing briskly. It’s noticeably warmer and quieter nestled down in the grass, and it makes me realize how insignificant I am in the great scheme of things. Try it sometime. I guarantee you’ll arise from the grass feeling less stressed.

***

I took ol’ Nevah to the airport in Kansas City so she could fly to Tennessee and spend quality time with our granddaughters. So, I’m a bachelor this week. On my way home, I stopped at a major sporting goods store to try and buy some crimped 22-caliber birdshot ammo to keep the sparrows in check in the hen house.

Naturally, I couldn’t find any to buy. Those shells are literally as scarce as hen’s teeth. I suppose I can thank the current gun-control mania sweeping through the government for the shortage. So, sparrows, help yourself to my chicken feed.

However, I did see a heartening sight in the store. The line of folks to buy new weapons for hunting and self-defense was long and it wuz only mid-morning.

I chuckled to myself at the sight of a grandmotherly gal, probably older than me, making a purchase of a little handgun for herself. I wuz surprised, but shouldn’t have been, that probably one-fourth of the serious gun shoppers were women of all ages. I guess more and more folks are taking seriously their responsibility to secure the safety of themselves and their loved ones and property.

I sure wish I’d bought stock in Smith and Wesson a few years ago before the stock price went up tenfold. It would have sure done better than by IRA. What was I thinking?

I wasn’t!

***

A kindly reader sent me the following New Year’s Toast: “Here’s to cheating, stealing, fighting and drinking: If you cheat, may you cheat death. If you steal, may you steal a woman’s heart. If you fight, may you fight for a brother, and if you drink, may you drink with me!”

I’ll drink to that.

***

And, thanks to another reader for this one:

There was a farmer who grew excellent quality corn. Every year he won the award for the best grown corn. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it.

The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors.

“How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked.

“Why sir,” said the farmer, “Didn’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.”

So is with our lives. Those who want to live meaningfully and well must help enrich the lives of others, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches, and those who choose to be happy must help others find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.

***

It’s hard to better that bit of wisdom, but I’ll try. Bumper sticker: Conservatives own more than 200 million guns and 12 trillion rounds of ammo. If we were violent, you’d know it. Also, how come no domestic terrorist has been an NRA member? Also, staying quiet doesn’t mean I don’t have nothing to say. It means I don’t think you’re ready to hear my thoughts.

That’ll do it for the week. Stay warm and have a good ‘un. ❖

Reading the West: An interview with Richard Etulain, author of "Calamity Jane: A Reader's Guide"

January 18, 2016 — 

Richard Etulain, professor emeritus of history at the University of New Mexico, has written or edited more than 50 books and specializes in the history and cultures of the American West. His most recent work has centered on the unique and interesting life of one of the most iconic characters of the American West.

“The Life and Legends of Calamity Jane” — a biography that took him 25 years to research and write – won a Spur Award from Western Writers of America in 2015 for Best Biography and a second Spur for his article about Calamity that was published in Montana, the Magazine of Western History.

His newest book, “Calamity Jane: A Reader’s Guide” came out in the fall of 2015. He recently answered a few questions.

Q: What led you to explore the life of Calamity Jane?

A: I came to Calamity Jane by happenstance. In the early 1990s, I wanted to write a book about a demigod of the Old West for general readers. I soon saw, however, that Custer, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill and Indian leaders all had strong, recent biographies — but not Calamity Jane. So, I began my work on her about 25 years ago.

Q: What factors led to her status as an icon of the American West?

A: Two factors, I think, did much to elevate Calamity into cult status. One, she stood out in the frontier because her unorthodox actions were so at odds with expectations for pioneer women. And two, male journalists and novelists put her in the headlines of dramatic newspaper stories and the titles of dime novels. From the late 1870s on, she was nationally known.

Q: With such a mythologized character, how do you get to the core research to tell her true story? Or is the myth part of the true story?

A: I approached Calamity Jane with two goals. One, to write a brief biography based on the best sources I could uncover. I visited more than 50 libraries and archives. And two, to trace the legends about her in newspaper stories, dime novels, movies and other popular mediums. I tried to achieve both goals in “The Life and Legends of Calamity Jane.”

Q: How influential were the reporters who traveled and wrote about the West in the mid-19th century in creating icons?

A: Reporters, local, regional and national, played central, shaping roles in bringing persons like Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill and Wild Bill to the attention of the public. The actions of these demigods were dramatically newsworthy, so journalists captured them in sensational stories. Just as in our times, reporters are often the first, inadequate and sometimes off-track biographers of new men and women on the scene.

Q: What other factors led to their early recognition?

A: The frontier and Wild West was a hot subject in the U.S., in the decades immediately after the Civil War. In that very brief period from 1876 to 1881, news sources were overflowing with gripping stories about Custer, Wild Bill, Crazy Horse, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Chief Joseph, Calamity Jane, Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid. The Wild West offered the hungry public new drama after the Civil War ended.

Q: How did Calamity Jane manage to attach herself to military expeditions such as with Crook and the Newton-Jenney expedition of 1875?

A: Calamity grew up in masculine societies — among farmers, miners, railroaders, bullwhackers and in boomtowns. She seemed more comfortable around men than women, and action and adventure grabbed her. She wanted to be with male contingents like those involved in the Newton-Jenney and Crook expeditions. Sometimes she traveled with bullwhackers who let her, sometimes dressed as a soldier she gained entrance, and sometimes she had a buddy or sweetheart who brought her along. ❖

In a Sow's Ear: The difference between grizzlies, black bears and cowboys

January 18, 2016 — 

The Mainland grizzly (Ursus arctos horribilis), the Mainland black bear (Ursus arctos) and the Mainland cowboy (Whoopis cowboyupus) are creatures often found in wilderness areas of the Rocky Mountain West.

Hikers, campers, horseback riders and confused souls need to be able to identify these beasts by certain attributes in order to determine whether to run, use pepper spray or recite their last prayers.

Grizzly hair color: Varies from blond to black. Coarse texture, long staple. If dead, can become a rug.

Black bear hair color: Black, brown, reddish. Frequently become rugs.

Cowboy hair color: May be black, blond, red, brown or none (on the cranium). Not made into a rug; not enough fur.

Grizzly: Walks on all fours unless challenged, in which case a standing Ursus arctos horribilis becomes tall enough to join a basketball team.

Black bear: Walks on all fours, sometimes into your kitchen.

Cowboy: Walks on all fours only occasionally but can often be found in the kitchen on baking day.

Grizzly: Distinctive shoulder hump.

Black bear: No shoulder hump, but you should still run.

Cowboy: Distinctive shoulders holding up a neck holding up a head bearing a badly stained, broad-brimmed, crumpled, western ten gallon or a feed store cap.

Grizzly: Rear quarters rump is lower than shoulder hump.

Black Bear: Rump is higher than shoulders.

Cowboy: Rump is south of shoulders, rear pocket showing outline of Copenhagen can.

Grizzly: Profile is dished-in between eyes and snout.

Black Bear: Profile is straight between eyes and snout.

Cowboy: Profile is dished, straight, hawk-nosed, snub-nosed or broken-nosed between eyes and snout. Upper lip often adorned with a mustache.

Grizzly: Ears are short and round.

Black Bear: Ears are tall and pointed.

Cowboy: Ears are round, tall, cauliflower, bat-winged and in a bad winter, frozen.

Grizzly: Front claws are 2-4 inches long, slightly curved. Claw marks usually visible in a track.

Black Bear: Front claws are less than 2 inches long, slightly curved and generally not visible in a track. It’s still a good idea to run.

Cowboy: Front claws are thick-muscled digits, slightly curved when holding bridle reins or lariat, and usually visible at lower end of wrists. No need to run.

Grizzly: Wears his fur coat all year.

Black bear: Wears his fur coat all year.

Cowboy: Wears his Wranglers all year.

Grizzly: Likes to eat bugs, deer and humans.

Black bear: Eats whatever is in your kitchen or cooler.

Cowboy: Eats steak, beans and beer.

What does it mean if you see a grizzly? You’re too close.

What does it mean if you see a black bear? Don’t go any closer.

What does it mean if you see a cowboy? Smile. Maybe he’ll let you ride his horse. ❖

Baxter Black: Too much variability on too many things in life

January 18, 2016 — 

Mac told me a harrowing tale about losing a loaded six-horse trailer off the back of his pickup. He admitted he knew the ball was too small, but it wasn’t far to go, it was gettin’ dark, the kids were restless, it was a new moon, the tide was running out, his hat was too tight...whatever the excuse, he needed to justify not changing the ball.

I agreed, noting that the hitch on my wood splitter was smaller than my stock trailer, and I often had to make my daughter stand on the tongue when I moved the splitter around the place.

We concurred that there are some things in life that should be standard size. A law should be passed that makes it illegal to build any contraption that took less than a 2 inch ball.

Not only that, said Mac, but plastic fittings. If you don’t have the exact coupling, you have to rig a cobbled together reducing, enlarging, sliding, snapping or screwing menagerie of fittings to get you bytil you can get to town for just the right part. In the meantime, your repaired section of pipe looks like a peyote smoker’s whiskey still.

Have you ever tried to buy a drill chuck?

“What size?” asks the friendly hardware man. “Well, I don’t know. It’s just a reg’lar drill but it’s settin’ on my shop bench thirty-six miles from here.”

How ‘bout medicine and vaccine doses? 100,000 units per cc, 5 mg per ml, 200 mg per cc, administered at the rate of 2 mg per pound body wt, 3 cc for calves under 200 lbs, 10 cc per cwt, 2 pills for children and a tablespoon for adults. I heard one vet say he determined dose by the size of pistol grip syringe the cowboy had.

Now Mac and I allow that horse shoes, Levi’s, pickup seats, jalepeños and spouses can be variable to suit the owner or operator, but what possible excuse can be made to explain why in the past twenty years, car companies manufactured thousands of different kinds of oil filters? Just tryin’ to find one that fits your truck in the car parts catalogue is like tryin’ to find a bareback riggin’ in a New Delhi landfill.

Folding chairs, square headlights, computer parts, electrical connections, bolts, wood stoves, belt loops, haying equipment, gate hinges, tax regulations, hunting laws, political promises, economist’s predictions and legal loopholes all come in such a blithering array of shapes and sizes, that what you thought you had that might have worked, is now obsolete.

I finally put together a complete collection of wrenches and sockets only to find that the world’s gone metric.

One of my oft married friends finally solved his problem. I envy his ingenuity. He ordered a wedding ring with an aluminum band.

“Perfect,” he said, “Fits any finger!” ❖

A Cowgirl's Perspective: Proud to support companies that support agriculture, unlike Chipotle

January 18, 2016 — 

As a rancher, I’m proud to eat at Culver’s and spend my money at a restaurant chain that supports agriculture. Since 2013, the burger company has donated more than $1 million to support the National FFA Association. The company’s “Thank A Farmer” campaign highlights the work America’s farmers and ranchers do to raise meat and dairy for its burgers and custard.

On the flip side, Chipotle is one of those companies that continually bashes conventional agriculture, uses fear to sell burritos and has recently gotten itself in some hot water for food safety issues that have arisen.

The company has been suffering from plunging sales after an E. coli outbreak linked to its restaurants in October and November. The E. coli outbreak was followed by a separate norovirus outbreak at a Chipotle store in Boston. Since then, sales have declined rapidly, down 14.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 with stock falling 30 percent, according to Bloomberg. This the first decline in sales since the company went public in 2006.

The situation continues to escalate as Chipotle was served with a federal subpoena last month surrounding a criminal investigation tied to the norovirus outbreak. The investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California in conjunction with the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations. Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold said in a company email that employees will not discuss pending litigation, but Chipotle plans to cooperate fully with the investigation.

Chipotle has more than 1,900 locations where the Denver-based burrito chain serves up all-natural burritos. The E. coli outbreak impacted at least 52 people in nine states, and the norovirus outbreak sickened more than 150 people.

Chipotle has issued full-page ads apologizing to their customers, but the once thriving company, which served burritos with a side of guilt, is now eating a slice of humble pie. Perhaps the chain will finally have to admit that, in its effort to chase the latest food fad, they forgot that the reason modern agriculture works is because of the food safety measures and protocols America’s food producers follow.

I’ll continue to support companies like Culver’s that support America’s farmers and ranchers. And if I get a hankering for a burrito, I’ll definitely be going somewhere other than Chipotle.

What do you think about Chipotle’s black eye? Email me at amanda.radke@live.com.

Rangeviews: Plastic eartags a practical — and stylish — way to not only identify cattle, but other items around home

January 11, 2016 — 

One of the ways we identify our cattle is by using plastic eartags. They may look like earrings on the cows, but they are more practical. Because the herd has more than one owner, we use different colors to signify ownership and we also have the last names embossed on the tags.

The tags are numbered and we put corresponding numbered and colored tags on calves as they are born. While none of this takes the place of our hot brand, these markers save a lot of steps and time.

That is especially helpful if a cow gets out and is wondering along a road. If someone calls, we can ask if there is simply a number on the tag or if there is a name and the color of the tag. Then, we are closer to knowing if it’s our problem.

We have found additional uses for these practical tags. My husband put one on my suitcase and now I have a luggage tag in the form of a large orange ear tag with the word “SANDERS” on it. I’m betting my luggage will never get mixed up with anyone else’s, and it is very easy to spot in a mass of valises.

Eartags come in various sizes, for extra large animals down to small animals. They are also available in different configurations and mediums. I’m still laughing about it, but I read that there are eartags for mice. They are metal and clip on the ears — how’d you to be a mouse ear-tagger for a job? You must need small fingers or at least a tiny applicator. These are for mice that are used in experiments, of course, and the need for careful documentation comes into play.

I thought of additional uses too. How about as a zipper pull on a heavy coat? It would serve double duty with the personalization and it would be easily gripped even by someone with arthritic fingers.

Tags could serve as key rings. The distinctive shape would make it easier to find the keys in your purse. If carrying it in a pocket, you might want to opt for a smaller size tag. With a permanent marker, you could even add your address and/or phone number on the back, in case you lose the keys.

Fads and fashions are dictated by popular demand. Western wear, cowboy boots, blue jean jackets and broomstick skirts come and go. Maybe eartags, though not in ears, will be part of the next craze. Boot straps would be a good place to hang them, maybe even add a couple of small pieces of metal making a sound so wearers could fancy themselves wearing spurs. Or instead of personalized belts, use an eartag, a different color for every day of the week or every outfit.

I can see the possibilities for cattlemen’s conventions and ID badges. Enterprising eartag companies could supply “nametags” for meetings and show off their new lines, at the same time.

Peggy Sanders welcomes comments through peggy@peggysanders.com.

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