Opinion, Discussion and Analysis

Quackgrass Sally: On the Trail 9-8-14

September 8, 2014 — 

In my last story I invited you to visit Lander Wyoming’s Museum of the American West, which is a great stop while exploring the West. What I didn’t share was the fact that right next door (1443 Main Street) is the Fremont County Pioneer Museum. Open Tuesday through Saturdays, here you can discover the history of ranchers, rustlers and range wars, outlaws, lawmen and Native peoples. Lander Valley has had it all, including Wyoming’s first oil well. Here are unique collections of artifacts and exhibits from the area that truly depict the life of its residents from 1840 to the mid 1900s.

With a warm welcome from the front desk docent and free admission, I stepped through the museum’s main doors, ready to explore. One of the first artifacts I saw was a lighted display box, inside of which was the skull of Harvey Morgan, found in 1908 when a town water pipe was being laid. It wouldn’t have had much significance expect that after burying the rest of his bones, the locals decided to exhibit the skull to display the hardships of local pioneer life and the wild west. A simple one-room log cabin was built to exhibit Mr. Morgan’s skull and thus, a museum was created. Who would have imagined the finding of one skull would lead to today’s spacious two-story Pioneer Museum building, finished in 2009.

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Candy Moulton: Reading the West 9-8-14

September 8, 2014 — 

In the course of a year the books tend to stack up at my house and I don’t have the space in this column to write about each one I receive individually, so this week I’m going to do a bit of catching up. Here are some titles for your nonfiction book shelf.

Nancy Burgess combines several good topics in her Illustrated History of Mayer, Arizona including stagecoaches, mining ranching and the railroad. The book uses the people of the community to weave together the stories of these differing industries. You’ll find stories of folks showing pioneer spirit.

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Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 9-8-14

September 8, 2014 — 

Whew! We’re ready for our “50FEST.” We’ve spent the week getting ready for the festivities. As for me, I’m glad this event happens only once in a marriage. But, if you asked ol’ Nevah, she’d probably like to have one every five years — if for no other reason, it forces me to throw away some of the accumulation of worthless junk and clutter that seems to find permanency in our huge garage.

We’re eagerly anticipating the arrival of our daughter, hubby and grandkids from Pigeon Forge, Tenn. It’s been months since we’ve seen them.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Tales From The O-No Ranch 9-8-14

September 8, 2014 — 

I reckon that maybe I should have called this column “some of my favorite things.”

I was watching a program on RFD TV where five young women were trying out to see who was going to get the honor of singing “The Star Spangled Banner” at an upcoming event. The women were all country gals, all attractive, and could be anyone’s “girl next door.” My, my Charlie Brown, I listened to all five girls sing and all and I mean all, made me tear up. I always tear up when I hear the right version of that song. It’s too often that some singer takes the liberty to run off key with the tune, the words, and vibrate and rattle all over the place. I don’t tear up on those occasions. The right version is one of my favorite things.

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Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 9-8-14

September 8, 2014 — 

I have decided to class up this little dissertation by using some foreign words. For my cowboy friends a “faux pas” is not a fake father, or the way a southerner refers to a four pawed animal, such as a dog. Faux pas, I am told, is French for “a mistake.” And that is what I’d like to talk about: mistakes. And order buyers.

Normally I don’t believe in paying someone for something I can do myself. Especially someone who is as sociable as a puffed up bronc on a cold morning. But as much as I hate to say this, order buyers are often necessary which the following four faux pas will illustrate.

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Baxter Black: On The Edge Of Common Sense 9-8-14

September 8, 2014 — 

Gerrall Wayne does his best to keep his old Toyota quarter-ton irrigator pickup in presentable condition. But he’s not afraid to put his ol’ truck to the test.

One of his heifers lost her calf. Gerrall went down to Clifford’s dairy to pick up a baby Holstein to graft on. He hog tied the calf and headed out into the pasture to catch the heifer. Gerrall is usually accompanied on his daily rounds with a herd of dogs; five Blue Heelers and two Pugs, one of which has only one eye. They are formidable truck guards when Gerrall needs to leave the truck unattended in town. And, on rare occasions they (the heelers) can be useful when handling cattle.

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Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 9-8-14

September 8, 2014 — 

I wrote a column last year about “cleansing.” Here’s this year’s. Those bazillion “juice your way to joy” fads put POTLOADS OF MONEY in the coffers of whoever dreams up a new idea for how to make YOUR life perfect. Fascinating stuff. Why, you ask, am I bringing up this topic? Answer: Because my friend, Thelma, has spent three days attending a “cleansing” where she starved for three days ... and paid close to a thousand dollars for the privilege.

Hard-sell come-ons — which promote Woo-Hoo! Wonder Diets guaranteed to fix any ailment, emotional problem, age-related ache or pain, complexion difficulties, and your love life — I consider absolutely hilarious. Take for instance: the Health Gurus who advise that you “cleanse your body of toxins” by drinking only juices for three to five consecutive days.

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Ryan Taylor: Cowboy Logic 9-6-14

September 8, 2014 — 

A Scandinavian friend of mine once told me an African proverb. It said, “when an old man dies, a library has burned to the ground.” I thought of that when I was asked to eulogize my mother’s “Norwegian rancher bachelor” cousin, Orlin.

Orlin had a lot of volumes in his cranial library. I was lucky enough to check out a few of the stories as I grew up and helped him work calves, borrowed his sheep buck back when we had a few ewes, or bought some hay from him. I wasn’t always in desperate need of the hay, but I’d never turn him down when he offered to sell it because I enjoyed the chance to visit. And I really liked using his tractor, a classic 1650 Cockshutt with an F25 Farmhand, to load it.

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Peggy Sanders: Rangeviews 9-6-14

September 8, 2014 — 

As farmers with irritation we are used to seeing our fields filled with baled hay after a crop has been harvested. This year, due to bountiful moisture there is hay as far as you can see in every draw and possible nook and cranny where dry-landers can cut and bale. Many of these are the ones who took such a heavy blow in the early October blizzard last fall when the same pastures were littered with dead cattle. This bountiful grass hay crop serves to let them know that all is well.

Such a prolific crop must be a surprise that throws the workers for a loop as they have not stacked the bales. They have cut and baled throughout June and early July, and the bales still lie all around the fields. The 1,500 pound round bales are not ones that be picked up by the local football team, as used to be done with the small, square bales. The task looks daunting but as we know, starting is often the most difficult part of a job.

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John Mattingly: Socratic Rancher 9-1-14

September 8, 2014 — 

Everyone who has ever gone camping in the Rockies has been awakened at night by a rustling of twigs, or a flap of the tent due to what might be the breeze, and everyone has had the thought that a bear was about to jump on or in their tent.

While it is true that bear attacks are statistically infrequent, it is also true that of the 59 documented bear attacks in Colorado between 1965 and 2013 most occurred with the bear attacking a tent. In about half the cases there was food or candy in the tent, in the other cases, the bear simply swatted the tent without any apparent provocation, and when the camper made noise or movement, the bear attacked. So the concern we all have about bears jumping on our tent in the wild is somewhat justified, even though it must be tempered with some perspective.

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Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 9-1-14

September 8, 2014 — 

I mentioned last week that ol’ Nevah and I passed our Golden Anniversary milestone on August 16. That prompted us to recall all the places we’ve lived during those 50 years together. After we stopped counting, we decided that we’ve lived a pretty vagabond married life.

In our early years, we had four homes in five years in Oklahoma while we were attending and working at Bea Wilder U II. Then we lived in one home during three years in Kansas while Nevah wuz perfecting her mothering skills and I wuz working at Bea Wilder U I.

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Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 9-1-14

September 8, 2014 — 

He is an Indian Doctor; Indian as in the country, not as in Cherokee, Crow or Choctaw. Although he’d much prefer that you call him an “American Doctor” because he was born in this country and has never owed his allegiance to anywhere else on earth but the good old USA. He’d be the first to tell you, there’s no better place. He’s a great person, an even better surgeon, and has saved more American lives than filter-tipped cigarettes. He has few vices, the worst of which is baseball. He’s crazy about the game and can often be seen wearing a baseball cap on crooked and a Cubs jacket over the green scrubs he wears for surgery. He’s also disheveled and can be forgetful; you never know when he’ll show up for Little League games still wearing those cute little green booties that surgeons wear over their shoes.

The Doctor’s son plays baseball for his school, right field, which means he’s always within earshot of the visiting team’s dugout. At a recent game there were more insults directed his way than usual: “You still working at the 7-11?” Or, “Hey, you lost the dot on your forehead.” Stupid, insulting jokes, the kind where kids can be so cruel. If you’ve hung around kids lately you know that many of them need their mouths washed out with soap. Blacks and whites call each other the “N” word, unaware of all the cruelty that word conjures up. They think nothing of using words that my generation has worked hard to rid from our collective vocabulary.

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Baxter Black: On The Edge Of Common Sense 9-1-14

September 8, 2014 — 

I went to America last week ... the middle of America, Kansas, to a county fair. I flew into Denver and drove across miles and miles of green prairie. If America has a heart, it’s out here on the Plains. It’s not an easy place to live. You have to earn its respect. It will test you with blizzards, tornadoes, floods, droughts, dust, plagues and loneliness. It is often all or none. One learns to be self-sufficient.

The county fair is often the biggest event of the year in many Plains communities. Carnivals, tractor pulls, rodeos, cotton candy ... where else can you get cotton candy? And the occasional traveling cowboy poet. For the agricultural folks it has two purposes; to train the next generation of farmers in the profound knowledge that it takes to feed the world and second, to meet and educate consumers about where their food comes from.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Tales From The O-No Ranch 9-1-14

September 8, 2014 — 

Oh my, some of the things we can come up with to satisfy the urgency to not fall behind and thus fail to impress. I see where folks are painting their lawns in areas where there has been a severe drought or water shortages. Yep, we sure don’t want to have to walk out to the mail box or have our neighbors walk or drive by and see that we don’t have a green lawn. Personally, I never have been a fan of artificial turf used not only on the football fields but anywhere.

Seems to me, gentle readers, that our world is so artificial and synthetic anymore that nothing seems real. Nothing much seems to be, well, you know, like homemade ice cream turned by a crank and a dish cloth over it to keep the ice and salt from falling out when you churn. Yep, we can get our tummies tucked, a lifestyle lift on our face, (I could use one of those) get the fat sucked off of our hips and buttocks and of course implants where ever they are needed. We drive plastic cars, eat frozen foods, wear plastic clothes, rubber shoes, some wear toupees and what ever will make us look more acceptable to others, or so we think. Life is good ... right?

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Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 9-1-14

September 8, 2014 — 

“Why do you always wear cowboy boots?” asked an acquaintance.

“Well,” I said, “I’ll give you several reasons.”

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Plains Edition Mystery Photo 8-6-14

September 8, 2014 — 

Do you know what this is?

Amy Bashtovoi of Sidney, Neb., is wondering if any of our readers know anything about this mystery object.

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Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 8-30-14

September 8, 2014 — 

My 5-year-old son Garrett wasn’t being very cooperative last Sunday night when we were making last minute school preparations. I knew that he wasn’t looking forward to kindergarten, but I thought that all of my encouragement over the last few weeks had gotten him at least a little bit excited. However, as I was helping him lay out his clothes for the morning, he insisted on wearing his old faded Wranglers and button-up shirt with grease stains. I started to give him an explanation about why we should wear nice, clean clothes to school when he stopped me and said that he wasn’t going.

“I’m taking a vacation day from school tomorrow,” he told me. “Dad and I are gonna go look for junk in the morning and then we are goin’ turtle hunting.”

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Ryan Taylor: Cowboy Logic 8-30-14

September 8, 2014 — 

A Scandinavian friend of mine once told me an African proverb. It said, “when an old man dies, a library has burned to the ground.” I thought of that when I was asked to eulogize my mother’s “Norwegian rancher bachelor” cousin, Orlin.

Orlin had a lot of volumes in his cranial library. I was lucky enough to check out a few of the stories as I grew up and helped him work calves, borrowed his sheep buck back when we had a few ewes, or bought some hay from him. I wasn’t always in desperate need of the hay, but I’d never turn him down when he offered to sell it because I enjoyed the chance to visit. And I really liked using his tractor, a classic 1650 Cockshutt with an F25 Farmhand, to load it.

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Amanda Radke: In a Cowgirl’s Perspective 8-30-14

September 8, 2014 — 

Another animal abuse video has gone viral, thanks to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The footage from a North Carolina dairy farm shows cows wading through knee-deep manure. The undercover footage manipulates viewers into thinking these animals live in pure filth and are emaciated from malnourishment, neglect and abuse.

Unfortunately, the average viewer might fall for this scam, but the details didn’t slide by Carrie Mess, a dairy farmer from Wisconsin.

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Mr. Truck 8-25-14

August 25, 2014 — 

The Heavy Duty Ram for 2015 has only one change. But it’s embargoed for another week. You have to come to my website MrTruck.com to found out in September. Meaning this review will help even for the 2015 Ram. I was part of the PickupTrucks.com Ultimate HD Challenge published last week. We had three new 3/4 ton gas trucks towing trailers around Detroit for a week of hill climbs, brake tests, 1/4 mile racing and MPG tours. Then two weeks later we were towing my trailers in the Rockies from Dillon to the tunnels on I-70.

The winner for the heavy duty gas engine trucks was the 2014 Ram 2500 with the Hemi 6.4L. Then I had the same truck for my review in the Front Range. I towed my Logan Coach combo trailer with full water totes weighing 12,000 pounds. The 6.4L Hemi has 410 horse power and 429 foot pounds of torque. More than famous little brother 5.7L Hemi and the peak torque starts lower for quick off the line starts and hill climbing power. This engine impresses me and is the fastest gas 3/4 ton truck this year (2015).

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Kids and Kritters Photo Contest

September 5, 2014 — 

We are proud to bring you the winners of our Kids and Kritters Photo Contest.

After much deliberation around the photo display, the following entries have been chosen as the winners:

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Rocky Mountain Mystery Photo 8-25-14

August 25, 2014 — 

Do you know what this is?

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

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Alyssa Weaver: Guess the Year 8-25-14

August 25, 2014 — 

Apple announced iTunes at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco, for organizing and playing digital music and videos. Now widely used by Windows and Mac users.

The 27th People’s Choice Awards: Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts win (Dramatic Motion Picture) and Drew Carey and Jennifer Aniston win (TV).

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Quackgrass Sally: On the Trail 8-25-14

August 25, 2014 — 

Pioneers and emigrants have always held a special place in my heart. Their strong beliefs in their dreams and then the courage to make those dreams come true have always been remarkable to me. I am proud to say I am a descendent of an adventurous young man who helped drive horses to Oregon and Washington, braving the hardships of the trails and the challenges of venturing into new unsettled lands. Because of this love of pioneers, I was delighted to discover the Museum of the American West in Lander, Wyo. Located at 1445 Main Street (near the end of town) the museum site is really more like a quaint pioneer town, nestled in the green Lander Valley below the mountains. With the help of volunteers, many of whom are descendants of the original pioneers, and generous private and public donations, this area has developed into an outstanding historical and educational site. Here you can step back in time and envision life as it was for the earliest Wyoming pioneers.

Stopping at the museum’s log cabin, circa 1902 visitors center (free admission), I picked up one of the wonderfully illustrated free brochures, which shares the history of the buildings and monuments on display throughout the site. As it was a crisp late morning, I decided to take the self-guided walking tour but in chatting with the friendly docent, he told me if visitors would like a more in-depth tour, they are welcome to accompany one of the Tour Guides, who are known to share interesting anecdotes about each of the buildings, as well as fun local history.

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Candy Moulton: Reading the West 8-25-14

August 25, 2014 — 

As an old newspaper editor, who back in my early years in journalism spent a considerable amount of ink providing editorial leadership to the small community in which the paper was located, I understand rabble-rousing. In those days (late 1970s-early 1980s) it was expected that every week (it was a weekly paper), an editorial would provide some direction for the community.

While most of the editorials I wrote involved such topics as the need for paved streets, sewer system upgrades and other general municipal items, one time I took on the local business community suggesting that if they wanted people to “shop at home” for the Christmas holiday season then the businesses needed to make that possible. In a ranch community you could not close the shop door at 5 p.m., I argued on paper, because ranchers would not be able to be in town that early in the day. If you want people to shop at home, stay open late at least a night or two each week, and have longer hours on weekends.

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Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 8-25-14

August 25, 2014 — 

Ol’ Nevah and I stretched our “country comfort” boundary a bit last week and went to Kansas City twice in five days.

The first trip wuz to Platte City, Mo., to overnight with our friends Canby and May Bea Handy. We arrived after a stop at the Cabela’s store to allow me to restock on fishing and hunting gear and supplies for the fall seasons.

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Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 8-25-14

August 25, 2014 — 

This past weekend poets and pickers — after sayin’ their poems and pickin’ their songs in the 29th Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Western Music Rendezvous — rode off into the sunset. Not to worry. Most of ’em — plus newcomer poets — will hit the trail to Lewistown next August. Gathering organizers are riding at full gallop to create an out-of-the-chutes rodeo of cowpoets and cowpickers to mark the Gathering’s 30th birthday! Red Steagall — the cowboy’s cowboy — will be the headliner on the night show.

This year, due to assorted conflicts, I was able to participate only one day and evening. Next year I’m clearing the decks and saddling up to be there all three days. Besides the satisfaction of reciting poetry to appreciative audiences, I do believe visiting with folks you haven’t seen in a year is a huge reason for wanting to return every August. The stories you hear! Cowboy yarns are like no others in the entire universe. What other profession’s everyday labor involves horses, dogs, cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, varmints, fencing, irrigating, haying, roundups, branding, shipping, driving temperamental machinery, going to town for parts, cooking for crews — to name a few of a rancher’s daily tasks. Add to that raising kids who will participate in 4-H and FFA and the circus never stops!

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Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 8-25-14

August 25, 2014 — 

There seems to be organizations looking out for the civil rights of every thing and everybody these days. Gays, bisexuals, old folks, black folks, toddlers, dogs, horses, priests, prisoners, fat people, skinny people, tall people, short people, Muppies (mature urban professionals) and Puppies (pregnant urban professionals) all have their own guardians. Yet, to the best of my knowledge, no group is looking out for cats.

Cats are second rate citizens and are routinely discriminated against and I’m not going to put up with it any more. People will cross the street rather than share the sidewalk with a black cat and did you know that cats aren’t mentioned once in the Bible? You can hear the disdain we hold for cats in our speech when we use words like catty, cataclysm and catastrophe. We need to eliminate such words from our vocabulary as it is very disrespectful.

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Baxter Black: On The Edge Of Common Sense 8-25-14

August 25, 2014 — 

Jeff needed a workin’ pen for his little herd of cows. He decided all he needed was some panels and a head gate. He rounded up some 16-foot panels of continuous fence, a metal head gate and two 8-foot posts.

Part of his intention was to involve his family with the cow project. Let them get a sense of what it takes to raise and manage cows. To teach them by example about the work ethic and Christian behavior. Jeff was qualified; he was a dealer for one of those companies that sell cattle handling equipment. Of course, he decided he could cut costs and labor because he knew the short cuts. He only had 20 cows, so a second-hand head catch would work. Some of the panels were damaged at the store, he could use them. On roundup day he was ready.

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Mad Jack Hanks: Tales From The O-NO Ranch 8-25-14

August 25, 2014 — 

Gentle readers, I had never heard the phrase “on matters and such” before until I was driving around Buckhorn canyon with friend Dave who had a small ranch nearby.

“We got to stop and see Eddie,” says Dave. “He is one interesting character as you’ll ever meet.” Now, let me stop you right here and be honest. Are those the exact words Dave said? I ain’t sure as it was over 25 years ago, but it is darn close.

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