Opinion, Discussion and Analysis
I like being a parent. It ain’t all roses, that’s for sure, but the good feelings seem to make up for any frustrations. Kind of like the Peace Corps slogan, “the toughest job you’ll ever love.”
My wife and I just finished the season’s round of ‘student led conferences.’ They’re one of the good parts of the parenting job, at least so far. We used to call them parent and teacher conferences where, I guess, parents and teachers would hash things out about their invisible student/child. I think it’s good to let the student have the responsibility of telling their parents and their teacher how things are going, and for the process to have a new moniker.Learn more »
Moving is a big step, whether if it’s to another apartment, house or to the country. Like any move, you need to consider the ramifications as much as possible before you re-locate. Why do you want to move to the country? Do you want to farm and if so, as a hobby or as a fulltime job? Do you just want to have “five acres and a horse,” like so many people do? Do you plan on just living in the country or on becoming part of the community?
If you do not live alone, have you asked your family how they would feel about becoming rural residents? Would they mind the isolation? Can you make a living? Will you and/or your spouse have to work off the place? Are there good schools close by? Are your children youngsters or teenagers?Learn more »
I’ve long been a proponent of consuming animal fats and proteins, not just because I’m a beef producer but because I’ve tried and failed many diets over the years and the only one that has worked for myself to lose weight and maintain that loss has been a low-carb, higher protein and fat diet, centered around eating the very beef that my family produces.
By no means does that make me a health and nutrition expert. My own n=1 experiment certainly doesn’t apply to everyone, but I was intrigued by an article I ran across recently that supported what I had experienced in my own personal health journey.Learn more »
Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men often go a’stray. And, I had an incident last week that proves this old adage.
I’d delayed burning most of the dry grass from Damphewmore Acres so I could coordinate my burning with all the rest of the adjoining property owners. A controlled burn is a lot easier to control that way.Learn more »
Gentle readers, this is one of those potluck sort of columns where I bounce around a little with subject matter and get some issues off my chest. WARNING! There may be parts of this column that you don’t agree with and my name may be called in vain. So be it.
I went out to feed the ponies this morning winding around 3-foot snow drifts. Are we serious here? This cotton pickin’ global warming is gonna’ ’cause me to pull what’s left of my hair out. Climate change it is called now. Regardless, the lefties would have us prevayers of common sense believe that global warming is causing all of these terrible snow storms, tornados, hurricanes and you name it, it’s caused by “climate change” which in turn is caused by our cows passing gas and so on and on. I’m really weary of that “crap,” excuse my French. Of course, it’s only Americans that are the real culprits, no one is China, Russia, India or anywhere else is as bad as we Americans are!!Learn more »
I’ll admit it was a puppy love because I wasn’t even 10-years-old when I first spotted her. But just like young kids sometimes fall in love with their teacher, I fell head over heals in love with her looks. Later, as I really got to know her, I came to love everything about her.
I’m talking about Wyoming, of course. Why Wyoming?Learn more »
Rarely do I hear a bad mule story, especially in conversations comparing mules to horses. Mules are held up most often as having common sense, calmness in a wreck, not having sense of humor, and sleight of hand (or hoof) tricks.
Hank was wintering some big steers on corn stalks in the corn stalk state of Nebraska. On the day of the “great ride,” Hank had climbed aboard his big saddle mule, 16 hands tall, ears as big as swinging doors on the Gatorade refrigerator in the Cornhuskers locker room, and could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in the time it takes to spell Thayer County Fair!Learn more »
Chris Enss has turned her attention to a diverse cast of characters for the nonfiction books she writes about the American West. When the question popped into her mind “Did they fight?” Chris began researching the correspondence of George Armstrong and Elizabeth Bacon Custer. This relationship then became the focus of her book “None Wounded, None Missing, All Dead: The Story of Elizabeth Bacon Custer.”
While that frontier romance captured her attention, Chris shifted to the area of frontier justice for her book “Thunder Over the Prairie,” which chronicles the killing of Dora Hand in Dodge City, Kan., and the posse of Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp and Bill Tilghman, which organized to bring Hand’s killer to justice.Learn more »
As people (with money) pour out of the Cities and go Out West seeking that perfect chunk of land made just for them, they’re often confronted with tasks they don’t understand. City folk who want to metamorphose (not a dirty word) into Country folk are in dire need of pertinent instruction in the Art of Choring. I’m happy to help.
Chores: A term that means tasks, jobs, responsibilities, activities and duties necessary to sustain life.Learn more »
Sometimes people complain that all they ever read or hear in the news is bad. They may blame the messenger: “Why can’t they tell us about all the good things that happened today?”
The news people are just doing their job. Things are supposed to go right, so it is only news when they go awry. If no news is good news, it is also largely true that good news is no news.Learn more »
The U.S. Agriculture Department announced the March Federal order Class III milk price Wednesday at $23.33 per hundredweight (cwt.), down 2 cents from its record high last month but still $6.40 above March 2013, $1.17 above California’s comparable Class 4b milk price, and equates to about $2.01 per gallon. That put the 2014 Class III average at $22.61 per cwt., up from $17.44 at this time a year ago, $16.28 in 2012, and $16.63 in 2011.
Class III futures settled Friday as follows: April, $23.94; May $21.96; June $20.56; July, $20.28; August, $20.02; September, $19.78; October, $19.35; November, $18.92; and December settled at $18.53 per cwt. If realized, the Class III would average $20.93, up from $17.99 in 2013 and $17.44 in 2012.Learn more »
Spring is assuredly coming, but it’s coming in fits and starts. The birds think its spring. The killdeers, doves, robins, bluebirds, grackles and Harris’s sparrows have arrived, but the purple martins, orioles and hummingbirds are still absent.
I finally planted some of my early garden and my food-plots for the chicken flock, but the promised 80 percent chance of rain turned out to be zero chance, so I really just dusted them in. Of course, I have to temporarily fence the plots to keep the cluckers out until the new planting gets started. I’ve also got my tomato plants started in the garage.Learn more »
A cowboy friend of mine went into an antique store the other day and the owner tried to buy the hat right off his head because they “fly off the shelf” when offered for sale. But it’s mandatory that the hats have to look used. A well known hat maker is also selling “pre-worn” cowboy hats.
Ever since John Stetson started turning beavers into hats people have been wearing cowboy hats to convey the rough, tough image of a cowboy. That’s why we have radio DJ’s, politicians and designers wearing cowboy hats; hence the saying, “all hat, no cattle!” But a real cowboy is not measured by the plumage or X’s in his or her hat, but by the sweat and dirt that have accumulated around the hat band over a life’s worth of work. You know what I’m talking about. If you don’t see a nearly black band around the base of a work hat you are probably dealing with a banker, lawyer, cosmetologist or country/western singer from New Jersey.Learn more »
Most folks that get a little “wasted” or a lot “wasted” somehow get the notion that thay are required to entertain whom ever is around them. That just happens to be one of the pitfalls of being beyond their limit of sober understanding.
Have I been drunk before? You querry ... yes, of course. When I was young, single and stupid, I have been exactly like the folks mentioned above. And gentle readers, I am not boasting about it.Learn more »
The legalization of marijuana in Colorado has brought to a head a common point of contention that has happened in state after state. It is a generational change, a population shift that is the result of the inevitable roll of civilization.
It also marks a shift from rural to urban.Learn more »
Skijoring: a sport usually involving skis, snow and either a horse, mule, dogs, motorcycle or automobile to pull the skier. You may have participated in or observed one or another of this form of recreational activity, but have you ever skijored behind a cow? Few have.
Learn more »
This column will be a temporary break from the prior running series about climate chaos. I had a heart attack about a month ago, and was lucky to be close to excellent treatment. Medical understanding and technology, when they collide with a bit of luck, can result in a happy ending for “unstable angina” also known as a heart attack.
My cardiologist was able to place a drug eluding stent in my left anterior descending (LAD, aka the widow maker) coronary artery when it was 99 percent plugged up. After that stent went in, I felt 35 years younger, and told the doc that the next day. He told me I needed to get enough monitored exercise for about four weeks to bring back the portion of my heart that had essentially atrophied — in the same way a limb shrinks when put in a cast and subsequently loses tone and muscle mass due to lack of action.Learn more »
Finally, I am almost done with kidding season. It has spanned since the beginning of February, and I have had babies born nearly every week since that time. There are only two dairy does left to kid, and I can’t wait for those babies to hit the ground and to be done with birthing babies. I love the process, but I’m ready for it to be finished.
To date, I have had 31 live babies born on the farm. It certainly seems like a lot, but at this point is not overwhelming. The dams do a good job raising their young, and I have only had to assist with a few of the births, and only had one buckling that I had to help after birth.Learn more »
The 12th Annual Grand Encampment Cowboy Gathering will be held July 18-20 in Encampment, Wyo., with activities ranging from a stick horse rodeo and dutch oven cookoff to cowboy music and poetry.
The annual Membership Drive for the Cowboy Gathering is now underway. This year the Cowboy Outfit urges people to pay for their memberships early in order to be certain to have a seat for the Saturday night show that will feature Cimarron, N.M., singer/songwriter R.W. Hampton, Trinity Seely, from Muddy Gap, Wyo., and South Dakota cowboy poet Robert Dennis, along with Chuck Larsen of Saratoga, Wyo., the show’s emcee.Learn more »
If you put 100 people in a room, chances are 80 of them had grandparents who were farmers or ranchers and maybe 30 of their parents were. (These are my “statistics” so accuracy is not guaranteed.) There would be a slim chance that even one of these 100 people is a farmer or rancher now. Only one percent of Americans are. Yet, there is a renewed sense of desire to get back to the land. Many people who have never set foot on a farm or ranch are getting the idea of an idyllic, easy life. Heck, all you have to do is get up, saddle your horse, and ride. They watch too many movies.
One of the objectives of this column is to open dialogue with those of you who have questions about country life, but don’t know anyone to ask. You can contact me and I will do my best to give an answer. I am not as altruistic as this may sound though, as I do have an ulterior motive. I am writing a book about what city people need to know before, during, and after they move to the country. The topic is loosely defined because I would like to hear from a variety of sources. It may mean that you moved from Chicago, bought a working ranch and are doing the actual labor yourself. It may mean that you moved from a house in town to a piece of raw land. In any instance you may be facing a steep learning curve. I am not from the government but I am here to help.Learn more »
I should’ve written this column last night, but I was busy watching some Class B girls basketball on television. I don’t watch a lot of sports on television, honestly, so when I do it’s a special occasion.
Dad was more of a work outside guy than a watch sports on the television inside type, so I guess I picked up his habits. The only sports I remember him coming inside to watch was boxing and horse racing. He became a boxing fan in the army when they had a boxing ring on the ship that took him to the South Pacific in World War II, and all cowboys like to watch horses run around the track. Of course, we’d come in to watch a rodeo if one happened to get televised.Learn more »
Henry Chappell has skirted the Spur Award from Western Writers of America twice before. His first book, “The Callings,” was a finalist for Best First Novel in 2002 and he was a finalist in the Novel of the West category in 2005 with “Blood Kin.” This year he hit it out of the park and will pick up a Spur in June for “Silent We Stood.” This is not your traditional story of the West. It begins in pro-slavery Dallas, Texas, in 1859, and takes the reader on a journey into the lives of abolitionists and the slaves they help as they travel the Underground Railroad.
The winner of the Wrangler Award as Best Novel, “The Son” by Philipp Meyer is a far-reaching story that centers on Eli McCullough, the first male born in the Republic of Texas, and takes a back-and-forth look at his life from his capture at age 13 by Comanche warriors, through the generations of his family. This book is a saga in the best sense of the word.Learn more »
Good grief, Charlie Brown! I’m starting to write this column on Monday, March 24, and it’s snowing again. Doesn’t Mother Nature know it’s spring?
Perhaps she didn’t get the memo. It’s time for sunshine and warmth.Learn more »
John lives down the road from me. We have cattle across the fence from each other. He is good at a lot of things; carpentry, electronics, sports and hunting, but cows are not his strong suit. He runs a handful on 90 acres.
He called me one day askin’ if we had seen a cow of his. I told him we had cleared the pasture and had not seen her in with our bunch. I left town for a weekend and when I returned he had left a message to call. I did. “I found her,” he said.Learn more »
Yes, gentle readers, this past winter, in my humble opinion, was a winter that was. In fact, I don’t think it has fully left as of yet. I just started the woodstove on this March 31 date.
By the way, have you signed up for the Afforadable Care Act? As I write, this is the last day you can do that without penalty. Only thing that the ACA and my column have in common is that you have to read it to know what’s in it!Learn more »
I’ve made a career of making fun of chickens and the people who raise them. I take some small degree of pride and pleasure in the fact that my second best-selling book was the “I Hate Chicken Cookbook!” And I really do. Hate chicken, that is. As a writer I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think all fowl are foul.
Normally if a writer picked (or is it pecked?) on a group of people like I have he’d expect to get all sorts of nasty letters, but I’m disappointed to report that I’ve never received a single one from a poultry plucker. Not one! But I’ll keep trying. The only reason I can get away with picking on chicks is that although they used to be raised on 95 percent of the farms in this country, I think they are now all raised by four brothers in Arkansas. They must not read my column, or perhaps they can’t read. (Cheep shot!)Learn more »
I learn stuff from the Internet. My education improves with a mere click or two. Today, I increased my erudition by delving into the meaning and history of epigrams. Mr. Internet explains that: An epigram is a brief, interesting, memorable, and sometimes surprising or satirical statement. Derived from the Greek.
One dictionary definition reads that an epigram is: 1) A short, witty poem expressing a single thought or observation. 2) A concise, clever, often paradoxical statement. 3) Epigrammatic discourse or expression.Learn more »
I’ve used CNG (compressed natural gas) on my diesel F250 for several years. It was a supplement to the diesel, increased power and dramatically lowered fuel cost per mile. Unfortunately you can’t buy a new truck diesel/CNG. The US has an abundance of natural gas, it lowers emissions and cost less than gas or diesel. CNG is over 33 percent cheaper than gasoline in Colorado now and cheaper yet in Oklahoma and Utah. How would you like to buy gas for $2.32 a gallon. That’s what I paid last week for CNG.
But there is a down side, on a new truck the CNG conversion added to a gas truck can cost from $6,000 to $9,500 depending on the size of the tank. And that tank can take up to a 1/3 of your truck bed space. CNG has 130 octane, which would seem like more power compared to 87 octane on regular gas. But BTU (energy) is less than diesel or gasoline. That means less power and acceleration on the same size engine. On the new Ford F150 I’m driving with the 3.7L V-6, 0-60 MPH time was almost 2 seconds slower on the V-6 using CNG verses gas.Learn more »
I goofed around this winter and let my hair (what I have left of it) and beard (pretty scraggly at best) (both totally gray) grow to lengths they haven’t been in decades, perhaps all my life.
As the weather began to warm up, I began to tire of my hirsute appearance.Learn more »
One of my special programs on the “telly” is Texas Country Reporter. There is the feller that drives all over Texas visiting with unusal folks in unusal places that do things that may be out of the ordinary for most of us. Of course, Texas being the large land mass that it is, this guy can find lots of subject matter and of course, me being from the “old country” Texas, I really enjoy this program most of the time.
This past Sunday morning was one of my favorite of all time shows. Gentle readers, that reporter made ole Mad Jack cry. Yep sure “nuff” I was brought to tears over a young girl, a freshman in high school, in East Texas. This lass was not only a beautiful young girl but she was legally blind. What was out of the ordinary about her you querry? She holds the record in pole vaulting for the track team. She also runs the 440, plays basketball and is a steller student. Just to watch her perform blew me away. How can she do all of that when she can only, as she describes it, like looking through a soda straw and then just seeing mostly a blur? He sat across from her and ask her what she saw when she looked at him? “Oh, I just see a white blur mostly, I really can’t make out your features,” she said.Learn more »