Opinion, Discussion and Analysis

Mr. Truck: All-New Pro Trailer Backup Assist for 2016 Ford F-150

May 27, 2015 — 

The Ford Atlas concept truck shown at the Detroit Auto Show in 2013, hinted at a trailer backup system coming for Ford trucks. It’s here, not as automatic as I thought we’d see, but the video supplied by Ford shows how much the more steering wheel moves in relation to the backup knob. This could be good. Gooseneck trailers are easier to back up, they move slowly. But a conventional bumper pull trailer pivots much quicker in reverse and takes some practice and slow speed to master.

The control knob is in the blank spot above the integrated trailer brake controller on the right side of the steering wheel. I think the brake controller lever is too low now. It’s out of your peripheral vision when you are looking at the road. Ford was the first truck OEM to introduce integrated trailer brake controller and it started higher up in the center dash in a great location. I’ll be trying the all new Pro Trailer Backup Assist later this summer. I’ll know if it’s the real deal. Take rate as always will depend on the price.

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Candy Moulton: Wyoming celebrates 125 years

May 27, 2015 — 

Like Idaho, Wyoming is celebrating her quasquicentennial — or 125th birthday — this year. Although communities across the state have not organized and planned big celebrations for this anniversary as they did for the centennial in 1990, the Cowboy State will recognize this milestone.

The State Historic Preservation Office and Wyoming State Historical Society have joined forces to plan “Our Place in the West ... and Beyond: Wyoming at 125,” a history conference to be held in Laramie June 10-13. A wide variety of topics are on the schedule, ranging from plenary sessions to a tour of Ames Monument to the showing of “In Pursuit of a Dream,” a film developed for the Oregon-California Trails Association.

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Mystery Photo for May 25, 2015

May 27, 2015 — 

We have a winner!

We received six entries for last month’s mystery photo!

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Guess the Year of May 25, 2015

May 27, 2015 — 

First elected Jewish governor, Moses Alexander, takes office in Idaho.

Col. Jacob Ruppert and Col. Tillinghast Huston purchase Yanks for $460,000.

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Candy Moulton: Historic reads of Wyoming

May 27, 2015 — 

In 1903 the State of Wyoming hired Cheyenne photographer Joseph E. Stimson to travel throughout the state and Yellowstone National Park and take photographs that would be used for an exhibit at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. This photographic record actually started in 1898 when Stimson first began taking images of Wyoming, and it continued until 1930.

In all, he shot more than 7,000 photographs of Wyoming and the West that are an incredibly rich record of place and people.

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Shelli Mader: Memorial Day appreciation

May 27, 2015 — 

There is nothing like stressful times to make a person feel thankful. Last week my pickup started idling roughly. My husband is a great mechanic, but he didn’t have the tools and workspace he needed to fix what he thought was wrong. So, we took it to a local mechanic to get it fixed. It was supposed to be a two-hour, $225 fix.

Well, it’s a week later and I am still pickup-less and I have no idea how much it will cost or when I will get it back. I’ve spent much of the week being frustrated — I’ve had doctor appointments (apparently I’ve developed some bad seasonal allergies in Texas), school field trips and substitute teaching jobs that I’ve needed to get to.

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Gwen Peterson: Country folk's miracle ointment

May 27, 2015 — 

Skin care in the city is different than skin care in the country. In the city, a guy or gal spends a ton of money on lotions, creams, ointments, salves, balms, unguents, oils, rubs, gels, liniments, lubricants, moisturizers, grease, emollients, emulsions and a vast array of mystery blends guaranteed to make the users look better than movie stars, drop 50 years and entice all manner of people.

In the country, life is simpler. Cowgirls, cowboys, ranchers, sheepherders and plain pig farmers have discovered the benefits of a product that has been around since 1899. I’m speaking of Bag Balm. Originally developed by a farmer in Vermont to soothe a cow’s sore udders, the salve worked so well, people discovered the ointment is useful for practically any abrasion, rash or itch. It can heal scrapes and soothe mild burns. Mothers can make the baby stop crying by applying Bag Balm to the tyke’s diaper-rashed cheeks.

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Ryan Taylor: Month of music and pride

May 27, 2015 — 

The hills are alive with the sound of music again this year on the ranch. And, beyond the hills, in the last two weeks, we’ve attended a violin recital, a band concert, a piano recital and a choral performance to test the acoustics of our school gym and two churches.

Our kids were dressed up in their “good clothes” almost as much as their “ranch clothes” during that time. I have a little mending to do on my good clothes because I keep popping the buttons on my shirts, my chest swelling with pride as I watch our children play and sing.

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Baxter Black: Rasslin' with Hurricane Charlotte

May 27, 2015 — 

Every now and then a feller has a weekend that is hard to forget. I had one years ago on a beautiful ranch in southern California.

It was one of those trail rides you read about in Western Horseman magazine. There were about 200 head of assorted real estate agents, bankers, insurance men, judges, lawyers, doctors and a hand full of “token cowboys” to catch runaway horses, sing ol’ campfire ditties and add color to the project. It’s kind of a boys camp for big boys.

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Mad Jack: Extracting pasture cactus

May 27, 2015 — 

Woe is me — or maybe whoa is me is a better description of how I feel today.

I am gonna put a whoa on the cactus patch for about a week while I make a run down to the old country, Texas, to see my bro and sis and their families. Twenty years ago when Little Miss Martha and I purchased this little ranch it had an abundance of cacti on a good portion of the 84 acres. We set about with grubbin’ hoes and started pulling the cactus up one at a time and putting it in large piles. When the piles had adequate time to dry, I would burn them. I spent many days in the patch pulling, piling and burning cacti. It paid off as we had some productive pastures that carried more than it’s share of steers or whatever happen to be runnin’ here at the time. It’s taken a good many years for this dreaded plant to return in abundance, but alas, it has.

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Milo Yield: Friendly verbal jousting

May 27, 2015 — 

A dear Iowa friend of mine in her mid-90s, Granny Kay, did something silly recently that I could have just as easily done.

Just as I do, Granny Kay regularly takes a little nappy time in the afternoon.

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Lee Pitts: Hiring a rural personal assistant

May 27, 2015 — 

It seems like if you are anyone of significance these days you simply must have your very own personal assistant (PA). You know, someone to organize your closet, wrap your packages, run your errands, manage your life, pay your bills and offer lifestyle advice. Just think guys, having your own PA would be like having a get-out-of-jail-free card because you can send them to the store to buy your wife flowers to show how much you love her.

It used to be that personal assistants and lifestyle managers were just for the rich who could not manage their own lives and were on “life support.” These personal assistants used to be known as butlers, valets, servants, maids, concierges and slaves, but now even poor people can have PAs, just as long as they have a smartphone.

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Milo Yield: Fishing induced disability

May 18, 2015 — 

I finally had to do it. I’m gonna have to file for semi-permanent disability. And the person to blame for it is my near, lifelong New Mexico buddy, ol’ Albie Kirkie.

Albie visited for his semi-annual short week of fine fishing in the Flint Hills and by the time he left this morning, I hurt all over. Let me share all my ailments with you. I’ve got BMS (Bass Mouth Syndrome) which has my left thumb pained and permanently disfigured. I have AKAJS (Achy Knuckles and Joints Syndrome) which makes it painful to both walk and sit down. I’m also now suffering from FHSAS (Fish Hook Stabs and Scabs) which pains me to shut my fist and to type this column.

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Lee Pitts: Bill and the bad luck bull

May 18, 2015 — 

It was the one day that Bill hated to see. For 364 days he had the ranch to himself, doing as he pleased without the boss man looking over his shoulder. But this was the day the absentee owner paid his yearly visit.

Bill rose earlier than usual, cleaned the house and polished his boots, both once-a-year occurrences. Next, he removed a brand new shirt from its package and put it on. Even before he left the house the excruciating pain in his chest was unbearable but he knew it was all the stress. The Doctor had warned him this would happen if he didn’t “chill out.” The chest pains would go away when the owner did.

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Baxter Black: Dreadful loose cow adventures

May 18, 2015 — 

One of the greatest feelings in the world is to see a cow loose on the road and realize it’s not yours.

I know that sounds awful. And I do feel a little guilty sayin’ it, but it’s true. Of course, I do feel bad for whosever critter it is. And many’s the time I’ve driven ’em down my lane and penned ’em up and called the owner of the wandering beast.

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Striving to be the best

May 18, 2015 — 

Gentle readers a goal to shoot for when your occupation is “cowboy” is to be called a top hand. Meaning of course, that you can do just about anything with considerable skill when it comes to punchin’ cows or in lay man’s terms, caring for livestock a’horseback. There are top hands in the world of rodeo as well, but it’s a little different than ranch work. Hence my poem “A Top Hand.”

I try to leave preachin’ up to preachers

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Amanda Radke: Chipotle's move to ban GMOs drums up a burrito bowl of negative press

May 18, 2015 — 

One of the big and scary buzzwords of the day is GMO or genetically modified organism. Unfortunately, some retailers, restaurants and grocery chains use fear-mongering as a cheap trick to make money, and love to spout about the perceived horrors of this advancement in food production. One of the best (or worst) practitioners of fear mongering is Chipotle.

Ignoring all science, Chipotle recently announced it would no longer serve GMOs in its stores. This move hardly makes practical sense as just about everything the store serves — from soda, to the tortilla shells, to the beef itself have been produced using GMOs.

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Black Ink: Good meat starts with producer

May 18, 2015 — 

A T-bone or a sirloin is a summer, suppertime staple at our house.

After working all day, I can easily pair a steak with a quick potato option, garden veggies and biscuits or popovers and have the meal on the table in less than half an hour. And it’s consistently good, a meal we look forward to.

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Gwen Peterson: Cowboy shoppin' out West

May 18, 2015 — 

Shopping for cowboys is perennial. In days gone by, many otherwise intelligent women, usually with a college education, came out West from all parts of the compass to shop for cowboys. They still do. Kinda like turning the sheep out to pasture, springtime brings a fresh crop of young to middle-aged women.

Some maintain they’re traveling through to a national park. Some claim they’re on vacation. Others carry cameras or sketch pads and reveal they’re “artists.” They may check into the local hotel, or they may stay at a dude ranch or maybe they’re driving a mini-bus or sometimes, the more affluent pilot a motorhome.

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Candy Moulton: Experience the West at Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City

May 11, 2015 — 

I stood before a bull bison who looked at me from the diorama at the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, Kan. I thought the museum had a pretty fine taxidermy specimen on display, when I began to hear a rumble. As the sound in the room grew louder, a herd (pun intended) of about a dozen school students (perhaps fourth graders) came rushing into the small room where I stood. The kids literally fell to the floor as the rumble became louder and louder.

“It’s a massage,” the kids yelled as they lay on the floor that had begun to shake along with the rumble. On a series of four small monitors above the bison mount, Buck Taylor (you might remember him as Newly on “Gunsmoke”) and Dodge City spokesman Brett Harris shared stories of the bison that once roamed by the hundreds of thousands across the plains. When images from the film “Dances with Wolves” showing a bison hunt by American Indian hunters swept across the screens, the rumble of pounding hooves became louder and louder, the floor shook harder, and the school students yelled in delight.

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Candy Moulton: True story of Calamity Jane

May 11, 2015 — 

Richard Etulain combines a storyteller’s technique with a historian’s research eye in his newest book, “The Life and Legends of Calamity Jane.” This subject is one most people in the West know at least to some degree. Calamity Jane, born Martha Canary, took part is some of the iconic events of the frontier West.

Born in Missouri and orphaned when she was just 11, she found her way West. By 1875, she was at Fort Laramie, where she attached herself to the scientific expedition led by Henry Newton and Walter P. Jenney into the Black Hills. That party was escorted by General Henry I. Dodge and 400 soldiers. Whether Calamity Jane traveled with the soldiers or the freighters is not entirely clear, but she did her share of the work and as a result was written about by men who were with the expedition.

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Mad Jack: Mothers, special women never forgotten

May 11, 2015 — 

Yep, gentle readers, as you read this Mother’s Day has just passed. It’s that time of the year when we honor and remember our Mothers.

I hope your mom is still living and you took the time to at least visit with her and NOT by e-mail or a text. I’m hoping you were able to go see her, hug her and give her some flowers. She appreciated the flowers but that hug and that “I love you Mom,” meant more than anything in the world.

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Ryan Taylor: Dribbling up the past

May 11, 2015 — 

I suppose it’s common for parents to try and recreate parts of their own childhood for their children. If we grew up with a pony, we try to get our kids a pony. If we had a treehouse that we loved, we help nail one up in the backyard for our own little climbers. Of course, children aren’t necessarily replicas of the parents, but we do our best to give them that chance.

If our children take up the sport of basketball, I’ll remind them to follow their mother’s cues on the court and not my own. She’s the one in the family with the letter winner’s jacket, a couple trips to the Class B state tournament in high school, and a year of court time at college.

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Baxter Black: Teachin' sheep to read

May 11, 2015 — 

No tellin’ how many good dogs he outlived. No matter how good your dog was, he’d once had a collie, a healer or gyp that did everything your dog does and more. The same for horses and pickup trucks, though the one he drove was a wreck.

The best I could tell, he didn’t have nothin’, but I’ve never seen that affect his opinion on anything you mighta owned from a purebred bull to a bit.

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Lee Pitts: My one day retirement

May 11, 2015 — 

I hope I never have to retire because, quite frankly, I’m not very good at it. My friends can’t understand why I don’t want to retire while I can’t understand why they worked their entire lives doing something they can’t wait to quit.

My wife and I don’t own a motor home, nor a second house, and I don’t fish, play bridge, golf or belong to any fraternal organizations. And I don’t have any relatives I’m dying to visit. I love my life the way it is and what I do best is work. Having said all that, I thought I’d retire for one day just to see what all the excitement is about. Here is my diary from that day.

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Milo Yield: Buy more than you need but can't find what your looking for

May 11, 2015 — 

Well, our trip to the big city last weekend wuz rather pleasant as far as trips to cities go. We didn’t get run over. We didn’t run over anyone. We split the card games — men vs. women — that we played with Canby and May Bea Handy. I got to breakfast on some tasty morel mushrooms. We found some usable golf balls in Canby’s pasture that borders a golf course. My alma mater, Bea Wilder U., had a successful spring football game.

The only thing that dampened our trip somewhat wuz the chilly, damp weather that stayed in the 50s. I also wuz disappointed that the giant outdoors outfitter that I shopped in didn’t have the three things I wanted to buy amongst the hundreds of thousands of items it had for sale. I wanted to buy a Primos Boost hearing protection headset, a Zebco 33T fishing reel, and some Swimming Minnow soft plastic lures. Nada! Zip! Doesn’t handle the brands of hearing protector or the lures, and, I guess, Zebco has quit making the 33T reel that I’ve been partial to for more than 55 years. The 33T has a trigger line release that I love to use so I can seamlessly cast right-handed and reel left-handed. Dang the luck.

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Peggy Sanders: Peaceful sounds of the prairie

May 11, 2015 — 

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.

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Shelli Mader: What I've learned this year in the Lone Star State

May 11, 2015 — 

It’s hard to believe that I’ve already been in Texas for a year. I never imagined that I’d live in Texas (in fact my husband and I had a conversation a few years ago and we both agreed that we would never live in Texas) so I don’t feel like the reality of living here has set in yet. However, despite still feeling like a Texas newbie, I have learned a few things about this area that I’d like to pass on.

■ Texans love their state: I think most Midwesterners know this, or at least suspect it, but I had no idea just how much Texans love their state. Grocery stores of filled with Texas-shaped merchandise, hotels have Texas-shaped waffle pans, and department stores carry at least a dozen Texas state t-shirts. Coming from plain-shaped states like Colorado, Wyoming and Kansas, I cannot understand this at all. The state shape is truly an obsession down here.

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Benchmark milk price slowly recovering

May 5, 2015 — 

The Agriculture Department announced the April Federal order Class III benchmark milk price at $15.81 per hundredweight (cwt.), up 25 cents from March, $8.50 below April 2014, but $1.59 above California’s comparable 4b milk price, and equates to about $1.36 per gallon, up from $1.34 last month and compares to $2.09 a year ago.

Class III futures portend a larger jump next month. The May contract settled Friday at $16.26 per cwt., June settled at $16.45, with the peak at $17.38 in November, $7.22 below the 2014 peak and record high $24.60 in September. The four month Class III average now stands at $15.75, down from $23.04 at this time a year ago and compares to $17.48 in 2013.

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Lee Pitts: Guide to ropes, lassos and more

May 4, 2015 — 

Yes, sirree, it’s your rock ’em, sock ’em, double hock ’em big roping dummy here with the first ever buying guide to ropes, lassos, lariats and reatas. Here’s all the latest dope on rope.

I’m in need of a new rope so I went to Consumer Reports, typed in the word “ropes” and the only thing they came up with were two brands of weed whackers. Suffice it to say, Consumer Reports is lacking in the rope department. To fill this void, I gathered up my ropes and retrieved my namesake roping dummy made out of a saw horse and a broken broom handle. Then I put my ropes to a complex scientific test. Here are my conclusions.

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