Amy G. Hadachek
Cuba, Kan.

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February 24, 2014
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Q and A: Baxter Black sits down to talk with The Fence Post

Basking in the rawhide witticism of cowboy poet Baxter Black, it’s one thing to read his scintillating weekly column in The Fence Post, but the opportunity to be in Black’s live audience is cowboy ambrosia.

Often frolicsome, but always substantive, former veterinarian Baxter Black will inspire and delight his audience when he’s the featured speaker at the Thayer County Livestock Feeders banquet Saturday in Deshler, Neb.

Black’s assistant, Jacquetta Wilson, told us, that his appearance will be at the Thayer County Fairgrounds Ag Hall. She noted that a V.I.P. reception is scheduled for 5 p.m. and a banquet at 6 p.m., with the show at 7:30 p.m.

Baxter Black has plenty of material to entertain and inform in Cornhusker territory.

“My radio program and column run pretty deep in Nebraska. I also did tourism commercials in Nebraska, called, ‘Go See the Sandhills,’ relayed Black in his cowboy twang.

A longtime veterinarian by trade, and subsequently always a veterinarian by nature, Black’s long line of agriculture adventures offer unique life lessons translated with his own jocular rendition. In the most recent of the 22 books he’s written — “Lessons From A Desperado Poet,” published in 2011 — Black recalls his many veterinary escapades into remote pastures in his mobile unit, some of which ended with pulling out the guitar and singing cowboy songs while others gathered around a nostalgic cookout.

With fond memories of practicing his trade in the Wild West, Black enjoys sharing his myriad experiences working with cowboys, farmers ranchers, sheep-herders, hunters, rodeo hands, coyotes and cattle.

“If it were not for all the cattlemen to grow corn and raise cattle, I wouldn’t have anybody to speak to, or read my column,” Black told us.

Black also told The Fence Post in late January, that besides a few agricultural banquet appearances, he enjoys being home on the range in Benson, Ariz., an hour east of Tucson and near the Mexican border.

Black employs four people in his office.

“That includes my wife, who comes in to work every day,” added Black. Black and his wife enjoy attending their church, where his wife plays the fiddle.

Baxter Black has a few horses and cows. He also has two dogs — “Rudy,” an Australian Shepherd more formally known as Raul, and “Oakie,” his other dog, which is a mutt.

Black has also taken on a special cause that’s near and dear to him, as a mission in life.

“I work with young teenaged men, about 21 and 22 years old at the Benson Christian Training Center, in a non-profit rehab for drug addictions. We teach them some skills,” Black said. “It’s the same sad story with the kids, in that their families are usually not involved but when they are, often it’s a negative impact.”

In addition to Black’s anecdotal columns in The Fence Post, and lively radio programs, Black also has a program on the national agricultural television network, RFD-TV.

We thought you’d also enjoy some of Black’s wittingly delightful responses from our interview about his most recent book:

Q: Baxter, you’ve written 22 do you get the time?

Baxter: It just comes out. I have no good explanation. I write a column and because I’m on the road so much, that’s where I get inspiration 99 times out of 100, from the people I’m speaking to. There is an infinite number of ways you can get bucked off or run over from large farm animals ... just like an infinite number of ways to write a love song.

Q: Why do you enjoy poetry so much?

Baxter: I’m a word person, and when I can’t think of a word that fits, I’ll make it up. Someone will actually tell me “that’s not a word.” Sometimes, I have to make up a word, to make it rhyme, and I believe it’s a word.

Q: What were a couple of your worst odds that you overcame? How did you overcome them?

Baxter: Nothing writes a prettier song, than a broken heart. But really, it’s how you look at the life you’re dealt. I work on the idea, that you’re able to make choices. It’s not pre-ordained, and it’s not that God doesn’t know what you’re going to do, but we all get hit with good things and bad, and we make them fit into our life, somehow. If you’re very influenced by someone, whether it’s a parent, an author, or a rodeo hand, they will have a huge influence on you.

Q: A DVM — Doctor of Veterinary Medicine — sounded like a cool job?

Baxter: I don’t take money for checking horses anymore. I wrote that one whole chapter that tells how my life went awry, and never had any intention of being an entertainer. But when that company let me go, yet people kept calling and calling for me to speak, then I looked around, and I was doing 100 speaking engagements a year — and well, you just have to decide.

Q: What a quote — “he’s a good veterinarian in many respects, but he is a management nightmare.” Why did they say that about you, Baxter?

Baxter: Oh, I wasn’t very disciplined personally. I would aim one direction, and end up somewhere else. That person was a wonderful man. I felt bad that I didn’t really fit in to the lock step that’s necessary in a big corporation. But they had people calling nationally on a daily basis.

Q: You would “break out the guitar” after preg-checking and branding cattle?

Baxter: This was out West — five big states out there where people and houses are far apart. You’d go out to work cows, and you were there for a few days. Some were closer to civilization, but ya know, when you’re working on a camp somewhere, I’d take my guitar. The cook would make us a big supper, and some didn’t speak English, but well, I guess my guitar spoke whatever we were speaking.

Q: Why 118 tips?

Baxter: I had a good title anyway, so I didn’t have to worry about making it 101 Tips. So, I didn’t approach it that way. It’s the gist of how I learned how to think. You’re supposed to read up on everything and get all the facts you can, and then, you make your decision.

Q: Out of 118 tips in your book, I like Lesson No. 80. (“Success is not if you can beat the best there is, but it is if you can be the best you are capable of being.”)

Baxter: If you have the inherent talent and are willing to persevere — you are unbeatable. The only guy who can beat you is the guy who beat you because you slacked off.

Q: Love the quote, “It’s true that I didn’t know exactly what I was working toward ... but I never quit working.”

Baxter: Well, it’s true. What I do now – is never predictable.

Until Baxter Black’s next column in The Fence Post, here’s his latest inspiration:

“The best way to do something is ... to start it. Drive the first nail.” ❖

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The Fence Post Updated Mar 17, 2014 11:44AM Published Feb 24, 2014 03:11PM Copyright 2014 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.