| TheFencePost.com

Why is Colorado’s oil and gas commission opposing the will of voters?

Two years ago, the voters in Colorado spoke out loud and clear when they rejected Prop 112 — the proposed de facto ban on oil and natural gas production in the state.

That failed ballot measure would have increased the setback distance of oil and natural gas operations to homes, schools, and other buildings from 500 feet to 2,500 feet and would have put the vast majority of Colorado’s valuable traditional energy resources off limits.

When the voters spoke, it was a legitimate result accepted by incoming Gov. Jared Polis and his top allies in the statehouse. As a result, they worked to pass SB-181 in 2019 to overhaul industry regulations to better protect health and safety.

At the time, Polis famously said he hoped the law would mean the oil and gas wars would be “over,” and House Speaker KC Becker and Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg both said it would not mean a ban on production.

Becker even admonished activists for proposing another setback ballot measure instead of focusing on SB-181 rule making.

Yet, just over a year later, leveraging the rulemaking process prompted by SB-181, the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission has now proposed a setback extension that’s nearly identical to the Prop 112 ballot measure that was voted down in 2018.

This proposed move by the COGCC is an insult to the democratic process. The reason Colorado has ballot measures is so that citizens can directly apply their voice to a specific public policy. It’s one of the purest forms of democracy.

The voters made their voice clear opposing increased setbacks two years ago. The governor and General Assembly, who wrote SB-181 that governs the COGCC’s work, said the intention of the law was not to increase setbacks or ban the industry.

But then the commission veers off course and proposes something that will do exactly that. So how do unelected government officials justify overruling the will of the voters and elected leaders?

The COGCC commissioners are misinterpreting a major Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment study released last year that, in fact, found oil and natural gas operations do not pose a threat to public health in nearly every scenario at the current setback distance. Instead, they’re making decisions based on an unproven and unsubstantiated model of absolute worst case and highly unlikely emissions.

Make no mistake, a look at the numbers shows that the setback extension proposed by the COGCC is a sequel to 2018. Because the COGCC has now determined the starting point for setback measurements is the outer edge of an oil and natural gas production site, and not the wellhead itself, so the real setback is actually 2,400 feet compared to Prop 112’s failed 2,500-foot setback.

The numbers also show that the COGCC’s setback would essentially wipe out the industry. The Denver Post reported at the time that Prop 112 would have banned production on “more than 80 percent of nonfederal land in Colorado, including the vast majority of acreage in rural and highly oil- and gas-productive Weld County.”

That’s why The Colorado Sun is calling this a “make-or-break” moment. And if that “break” happens — the effects will be felt far beyond the oil and natural gas industry.

According to a CU Boulder economist, Colorado’s oil and natural gas industry supports more than 80,000 jobs, generates $1 billion in state and local tax revenue and adds $13.5 billion to the state’s economic output, plus 81% of the distributions from the School Trust fund which benefits K-12 public education.

When the economy and schools are already hurting because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it simply makes no sense to ban one of the state’s most robust industries.

It doesn’t have to be this way, however. The COGCC could live up to the vow its commissioners made last month when they spoke of the need for “collaboration” and “certainty” among government, industry and community members, and they could stop ignoring the recommendations of the non-partisan COGCC staff.

Polis could also easily fix this. He personally appointed these commissioners as a professionalized, full-time body under SB-181 with the specific purpose of implementing the law, yet they aren’t honoring the spirit or intent of the law that governs their work.

If Polis was speaking honestly when he announced a truce this summer among industry and activists to hold off on more setback ballot measures, then he should signal to the COGCC to stop ignoring the will of the voters and the public officials they elected. ❖

— Allison is a spokesman for Energy In Depth, an education and public outreach campaign sponsored by the Independent Petroleum Association of America. This editorial first appeared in the Colorado Sun.

Just a dog

You were just a dog. But a good dog.

Right from the start. Your loyalty was never in question. And what you didn’t know, you didn’t know because I never took the time to teach you.

When you were young I was harder on you. I expected you to understand the basics… and you learned them. A “bad dog” was like a whip on your back.

But when uncontrollable instinct got you in trouble, I didn’t hold it against you. I doctored you up, changed your bed and remembered that reason gets left behind in the heat of passion, be it skunks, gyps or cloven hooves.

You were patient with the young, pups or kids. They pulled your hair, barked around you in circles and rode on your back. I never had to worry. They were safe with you.

You suffered the indignities of veterinary examinations, injections, probings and over night incarcerations, refusing always to lift your leg under anyone’s roof.

You posed for pictures, rode on loads like an acrobat and endured spring clippings yet never lost your sense of dignity.

A fierce guardian of your territory, you did your best to protect us. I knew better than to shout you down at two in the morning. I always figgered you were barking for a purpose.

Old age was not unkind to you. Despite the hearing loss, cataracts and stiff joints, you carried on. Sure, I had to help you get in the pickup, but you were part of the crew. I noticed you ate less, slept late and turned gray but you never lost your enthusiasm for bein’ part of our outfit.

People debate if dogs have a Heaven. I’m not sure that matters. What is Heaven to a dog? Enough to eat, something to chase, shade in the summer, someone to scratch your ears and pay you a little attention now and then.

All I know is you added to our life. Companion, listener, guardian and connection to a part of nature we tend to overlook because we’re too busy worrying about the minutia of life.

You reminded us to appreciate a sunny day, a bone to chew and a kind word. You’ll be missed around here.

You were just a dog. But you’ll be in my Heaven. Rest in peace, old friend. ❖

Legs and eggs

Without getting too personal, I will tell you that for the last 40 years I haven’t had a proper functioning pancreas. Whereas the average person eats the poundage equivalent of six elephants in their lifetime, I will hopefully end up eating one. I have to “eat “ the exact same thing at the same time every day, and have for over 30 years. To digest my intake I have to swallow eight pills daily that cost $30 apiece and are composed of powdered pig pancreas. Isn’t it ironic that someone whose entire life has been connected to beef can’t live without swine?

I’m just glad it’s not chicken or I’d never live it down!

If I did backpeddle on my diet I’d end up in critical condition in the hospital. It only took me three of four times to get that message. In retrospect, I’ve been a picky eater my whole life and my stomach always was easily agitated. You’ve heard of people who have an “iron stomach,” well mine is made of tissue paper.

Even back when I could eat I had a very discriminating palate. I never drank coffee, have never tasted espresso and have only been in a Starbucks once and that was to use their bathroom. I always hated the taste of beer and wine.

Back when I could eat I couldn’t stand the taste of yams, Brussel sprouts, oatmeal, lima beans, Fig Newtons, watermelon, anchovies, chipped tuna on toast, cooked carrots, the “fish” in fish and chips, rutabagas, turnips, prunes, mushrooms, raisins, or spinach. I also didn’t like any vegetable that wasn’t its natural color, such as red lettuce, red cabbage, golden beets, or yellow bell peppers. Come to think of it, I didn’t like them in their natural color either. I never liked cucumbers or dill pickles but I loved my mom’s sweet pickles.

Speaking of my mom, she was always trying to sneak things in on me that I detested, such as eggs, which made me gag. It didn’t take me long to find out that French toast was just an egg on bread. I didn’t eat eggplant for fear it had egg in it. I was also suspicious of anything that was all mixed up, such as sausage, hash, hot dogs, stew or Lobster Newburg. Not that we could afford lobster. I preferred plain foods and always kept them separate on my plate. The broccoli on my plate was never allowed to even barely kiss the meatloaf.

As a result of being forced to eat liver at an early age I became a firm believer in the concept that internal organs were never meant to be eaten by humans. This would include kidneys, gizzard, heart, brains, intestines, bone marrow and sexual organs such as mountain oysters. I’ve often watched in amazement as diners in Basque restaurants wolfed down tongue. Don’t they know that the mouth is full of nasty stuff? I feel the same way about pickled pigs feet and chicken feet. Do they not know what the chickens and pigs were walking in their entire lives? This is one major reason why I hate eggs, because of where they came from. (I hope I don’t have to draw you a visual.)

You’ll never catch me begging for legs or eggs!

All this talk about food has made me hungry, and yes, there are many foods I’ve always loved. I’ve never tasted a bad potato in my life. Baked, fried, scalloped, you name it, I love potatoes. In fact, it’s one of the half dozen foods I can still digest now. I’m sad because I can’t digest milk and all the products made from it because they are so delicious.

I would have made a great old time cowboy because prior to getting sick I lived on the four “B’s” at bull sales: beef, bread, bacon and beans. Although I don’t think beans should ever be served for dessert. But the beans will have the final say on that, as they always do.

I guess you could call me a “meat and potatoes kinda guy” because if I could eat one last normal meal it would be a cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate shake. Please note that the fries come from potatoes and the cheese, beef and milk all come from a cow. ❖

Turtle play time

As it turns out, I really did a lot of “play” activities when I wuz a kid in the 1940s and 1950s. Either that or my feeble mind is playing tricks on me. I’m pretty sure it’s the former, not the latter.

Last week I continued with the insects, amphibians and reptiles that ended up as playthings. So, this week let me tell you how my friends and I used turtles as playthings.

My most vivid memory of using turtles wuz one spring when there was an absolute onslaught of painted land terrapins, or box turtles, if you will, everywhere you went. And, you usually found them two at a time because it wuz obviously turtle mating season. That wuz clearly a play opportunity.

So, one of my buddies and I collected a scad of box turtles and put them in a 2×6 board “corral.” Our first object wuz to see who could find the most turtles. Quickly, after we found so many, at least 50-60, our fertile minds went to turtle races. Turns out, turtle races, while interesting, are not too exciting. Sometimes the turtle just clams up and refuses to race.

So, then our minds conjured up turtle “pulling contests,” patterned after the horse pulling contests that were popular in rural communities at the time.

My friend found a small hand-operated drill and a tiny bit that fit it.

We would each select what appeared to be a lively turtle from our “turtle remuda” in our turtle corral and, using the drill and bit, carefully drill a hole in the rear rim of each turtle’s shell. I assure you, it did not hurt the turtle — except it might have been embarrassing in turtle social circles.

We then tied one end of a feed-sack string to a small wire hook and hooked the string to the hole in the turtle’s shell and the other to some kind of weight — as I recall usually a stick or small rock.

Then we “matched” our selected turtles to see which one would pull the most weight. That wuz fun, but we fretted and argued that it wuz an inexact outcome because we didn’t know the actual weight each turtle pulled.

So, we found a solution. My friend remembered his dad had a gram weight balance-beam scale. I have no idea what he used the scale for, but it had a whole series of exact cylindrical weights in grams. I don’t recall the low number, but the heaviest wuz 500 grams. Each weight had a bronze hook to attach the weight to the gram scale beam. The weights were perfect solutions to our pulling contest.

We simply switched the contests to whose turtle could lift the heaviest gram weight. Somewhere we found a tiny pulley and attached it to a clothes line. Then we ran the pulling string through the pulley and hooked one end to our turtle’s shell and the other end to one of the gram weights.

I can’t recall how much weight a box turtle can hoist or how many times my turtle won the contest. But I do remember how much we hooted and hollered at our turtles to encourage them to pull or lift more so we could boast about having the “champion” turtle.

•••

As kids we hated snapping turtles becuz they were ugly, mean, and eagerly ate up our stringers of fish if you gave them a chance. Snapping turtles were “the enemy” and we found a way of “revenge” that we thought of as fun, when actually it wuz rather heartless.

When we were riding horses along the Marmaton River, we carried our 22-rifles in scabbards. In the summer as we were riding, when we came to a deep hole of water with the sun shining on it, it wuz easy to spy the big snapping turtles basking on the surface of the water or on logs.

It wuz pretty easy target practice at first, but the snapping turtles were smart enuf to head to the bottom of the river after a few shots into the water.

•••

Another way we “played” with snapping turtles wuz in the early spring in April or May when the water wuz still cool enough that the snappers were lethargic in the water. But, it wuz still the time of year when the snappers migrated overland from pond to pond or stream to stream.

Often when riding our horses, we’d come to a shallow limestone stream with several big snappers lounging on the bottom of the stream. The water wuz never more than thigh deep.

Our fun then took on what we determined wuz a “dangerous” bent. We kids would strip off our jeans or overalls and wade barefooted into the cold water in our underwear and very carefully sneak up behind a lounging snapper, grab it by its tail and heave it onto the bank without getting bit. We never did get bit, but sometimes it wuz close enuf to scare the bejebbers out of us. It just seemed natural to us to dispatch the “fish killers.” Looking back from an old age vantage-point, I have a different perspective of our “fun,” although I still carry a pistol when I go fishing and will kill a fish-thieving snapping turtle.

•••

Now a story about reptiles: A cowboy was trying to buy a health insurance policy. The insurance agent was going down the list of standard questions. “Ever have an accident?” “Nope, nary a one.” “None? You’ve never had any accidents?” “Nope. Ain’t never had one. Never.” “Well, you said on this form you were bit by a snake once. Wouldn’t you consider that an accident?” “Heck, no. That dang varmint bit me on purpose.”

Have a good ‘un. ❖

Dirt road dangers and kids

Important safety lessons about dirt roads, kids and their first car, I mean truck. Country roads are not just a John Denver song. I grew up on dirt roads, drove too fast, jumped snow banks and drove in the ditch. I had an angel not letting me get in trouble, but I learned a lot. Like me, my sons learned to drive in the country. Dirt-gravel roads can be dangerous, soft shoulders try to suck you in the ditch, but the ditch is usually safer than trying to turn hard to the left and roll your truck. My sons both had classmates that died on dirt roads because of soft shoulders and no training. If you get near the soft shoulder, of course slow down, but don’t try to abruptly turn away from the shoulder (usually don’t turn left). If you have to and it’s not a deep ditch or a cliff, just drive down the ditch. You can get pulled out of a ditch, but rolling the truck can be very bad.

Then there is towing wide trailers on gravel when the trailer will drop in the shoulder before the truck. In the country there can be farm machinery as wide as the road over the next hill, like combines and swathers. Some gravel roads are very narrow and then there are hills and not everyone drives on their side of the road on hills. At night, there is always the danger of deer, cows, coyotes and pheasants crossing the road to commit suicide in your radiator. And, of course, there’s irrigation sprinklers that aren’t adjusted to keep the rain bird end gun from pouring water on country roads. Following a semi-truck too close can put you in a dirt cloud, where it will be hard to see the gravel road and you won’t see vehicles coming at you going past the truck in your direction. Dirt roads get damaged easier than pavement, leaving soft spots you don’t expect and wash board roads that will bounce your vehicle sideways. Rain, mud and snow make the point that slowing down is the best thing you can do, slow down!

Why should your child’s first car be a truck? I started driving when I was 9 or 10 years old. First trucks I drove was a 1953 Ford F250 and the 1947 Chevy 2 ton. When we loaded hay from the field with the Chevy, my brother fell off the bales a few times with what my dad called “jack rabbit starts.” I think trucks being taller with better visibility and a frame under them, makes them a stronger vehicle. A single cab truck can only hold two friends. Trucks don’t have the speed of a muscle car. They need a truck to haul around a lawn mower and make money or haul their parents new furniture. Trucks are great for moving to college. Trucks can last for decades. I have a nephew I sold a truck to 15 years ago and he’s giving it to his son. You always need a truck. All your friends will want to borrow it. I think you should collect them. ❖

Riverton, Wyo. to Bangor, Maine

Enforcers of the law in relatively small towns and rural counties are a special breed. I’ve found two positive books, actual accounts of how LEOs (law enforcement officers) can and do take care of happenings in their areas. The articles show how talking is often the most effective procedure and use of force is definitely a last resort. I know LEOs who work this way and they are appreciated more than they will ever know. In each book the focus is on constructive ways to iron out disagreements and reach affirmative conclusions.

Of course, both writers speak of Sam Brown belts, jail cells, drunks and drunk drivers, little old ladies as well as down-and-outers. Each author speaks high praise for dispatchers and their abilities to communicate with the public and the officers. Emergency services workers — EMTs and paramedics receive accolades also. Highway patrol and other agencies circle the wagons when needed to get the job done. Neither book goes into details about red tape nor bureaucratic hassles, though it’s likely those challenges occur. Bad stops, scary arrests, medical emergencies are all in the books, but not graphic. Readers learn just how important commercial radio stations are to cops, especially when working the night shift on a slow night.

The first book is titled Routine Patrol: Memoirs of a Small-town Cop by Bart Ringer; it contains short stories about his time as a police officer, including his 37 years serving in Riverton, Wyo,, where he still lives. The book was published in 2018 and I just discovered it online last week. Throughout the book, Ringer refers to several 10-codes (radio transmission codes), then explains what they mean. Riverton is next to the Wind River Indian Reservation and the tribal police sometimes call for mutual assistance. Interagency cooperation helps all LEOs. Ringer’s humor shines through when in a typical statement he writes, “But just between you and me, it’s not a very good idea to try and run away from someone and hide in the dark when you’re wearing the latest style of LED tennis shoes.”

The Detective in the Dooryard: Reflections of a Maine Cop by Timothy Cotton, published in 2020, is the second book. Cotton has been a police officer for more than 30 years; the bulk of that time on the force in Bangor, Maine, where he continues to serve. He has an active personal Facebook page which showcases his writing talent. Cotton’s humor shows as he writes, “Hiding is an art, but most people do not practice it enough to become proficient. During a bail check, officers discovered a man, intentionally covered in dirty laundry, under a desk.”

A commonality between the two books is both policemen endeavor, mightily, to give the benefit of the doubt to the public. Contrary to some public opinion, they do not strive to fill the jail cells every shift. Their objectives — though they work 2,400 miles apart — are to make the streets safe, bring attention to vehicle problems so they can be corrected, keep the peace and help everyone that they can. ❖

Horses in trouble

Horses, like little kids and I reckon some adults find themselves in trouble from time to time. Most of the time it’s not a life threating situation, but for sure, it can be. Some time back I wrote about one of our favorite horses at the Lamar Ranch in Terrell, Texas. That would be Flax. Flax was a beautiful light sorrel with an almost white mane and tail. He was the first horse I put in my string when I arrived as no one was using him and he was usually reserved for guests etc. My son, Andy then took procession of him when Andy was around 10. He would drag calves to the fire on him at branding time. Years later when we were prepared to move to Colorado and had everything packed and we were to leave the following morning, the doorbell rang. One of my cowboys told me Flax had stuck his foot in an irrigation pipe and broken his leg. Did I want to be the one to shoot him. I couldn’t bring myself to do that so I handed my pistol to my cowboy and let him do that ugly chore.

Yesterday when I had finished riding, I turned my two horses out to graze around the shop area where there was an abundance of grass. I had halters with lead ropes on them. On my older horse I tied the lead rope up around his neck as he was always stepping on it and the way he figured, he was ground tied. The other horse was skilled at dragging his rope around as he grazed. A couple of hours later I decided to check on them. I found it odd that they were standing side by side, very quiet, staring at me as I stood on the front deck. “Well, if they are through grazing, I’ll turn’em out in the pasture,” thought I. As I approached, I noticed the horse I had tied his lead rope up around his neck was in trouble. Yep, part of the lead rope had found it’s way to the ground and he had stepped on it and when he pulled back, he tightened it around the small of his neck, and he was about to choke down. Just the same, he remained very calm and let me begin to try and get him loose. I thought for a moment I might have to take a knife and try to cut it into but it was so tight I tossed that idea aside. Finally, I managed to get it loose enough I could free him and he was very relieved. I know that because when I lead him to the corral, he had his nose in my right front pocket.

Three days ago while sitting on the back deck being lazy I noticed the neighbor’s horses some half mile away in a dead run to the barn from the bottom pasture. “Man, that’s unusual,” I pondered and then I saw why. It appeared either a large wolf or a young lion was right on their tail. I decided there was no way a wolf was in this part of the country, a lion, yes. We’ve had them before. Right before they reached their corrals and barn area the lion (I think) gave up the chase. There was one smaller horse that fell behind and at one point I couldn’t see him and had the thought that he had been knocked down. But then he appeared and it seemed he was a little addled but managed to get moving again. The next morning at coffee, neighbor Eldon told us they had a mountain lion on their place (four miles west of me) the night before as they found a half eaten coyote half buried with brush and weeds.

Gentle readers, that satisfied my mind that what I saw was indeed a lion after the horses. The terrain out here is rolling with lots of rabbit brush etc. It all happened so fast I collected what I could in my brain and then it was all over. I hope all of the ponies were okay. I know the following morning my horses refused to come in the corral and go under the shed for their morning oats. They were really spooky and then I knew for sure a lion was or had been on the prowl.

Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, be aware of that government lion that’s on the prowl, and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all. ❖

Cow-calf producers need better price discovery

For too long, cow-calf producers across the nation have marketed our cattle with one hand tied behind our back. The culprit has been an ever-growing lack of price discovery.

In the free market, accurate pricing of a commodity depends upon the free flow of information up and down the supply chain. While beef consumers will always drive long-term demand, the economic reality is that packers drive the short-term demand for cattle.

The shift towards value-based marking has brought improvements in consumer demand and supply chain efficiency. However, it has also significantly hampered the process of price discovery. For many years, the industry has struggled to develop a solution that preserves the benefits of value-based marketing while generating enough negotiated trade to have robust price discovery.

The Fed Cattle Exchange was created with this in mind and allows packers to purchase cattle through an online auction format early in the week to establish more negotiated trade. Unfortunately, this option has failed because packers consistently refuse to show up to the exchange and purchase cattle.

Independent economic research has established the level of negotiated trade necessary in each cattle-producing region of the country to provide robust price discovery, but it is simply unrealistic to expect packers to voluntarily increase competition to the detriment of their bottom line. Therefore, it is necessary to compel packers to purchase cattle through negotiated trade at regional levels supported by economic research.

The Holcomb fire and market response to COVID-19 highlighted this necessity and demonstrated the need for quick and meaningful action to finally fix the problem and put cow-calf producers on more solid ground.

To accomplish this, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association formed a working group of cow-calf producers who developed a policy on price discovery to guide our future efforts. The group held numerous meetings and heard from leading economic experts while forming the policy, which was subsequently adopted by the association. A key component of the new policy expresses the association’s support for “a solution that would compel the regular participation of all major packers in the negotiated market with cash trade minimums that reflect the volumes needed in different geographical regions to achieve robust price discovery.”

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and 21 other affiliates of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association also brought a similar policy resolution to NCBA’s summer business meeting in Denver.

The resolution found broad support amongst cow-calf producers from around the country. However, it faced significant opposition from NCBA’s feeder affiliates and members, who advocated for much less stringent compliance by packers.

While leaders of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association have always favored voluntary solutions to our industry troubles, only one major packer was willing to meet to discuss a voluntary increase in negotiated trade ahead of the July NCBA meeting. With this, it was clear that pursuing the same failed policies of the past would result in the same failed outcomes that have stranded cow-calf producers in financial turmoil for years.

A marathon six-hour meeting of the NCBA Live Cattle Marketing Committee resulted in a compromise between the two positions. While not perfect, it will none-the-less put NCBA in a position to support solutions that compel packers to buy more negotiated cattle.

In short, the compromise policy created an NCBA working group that must make recommendations by Oct. 1, 2020, on the minimum percentage and frequency of cattle that must be purchased by packers in a given region to establish robust price discovery. The packers will then be asked to voluntarily buy that amount of cattle over the given period through negotiated trade, but if they at any time fail to meet the established minimums, it will trigger a change in the NCBA policy to support legislative or regulatory action to establish a minimum level of negotiated trade.

While it was a long and contentious process, the compromise policy on price discovery gives cow-calf producers nationwide a path forward and hope of action to finally alleviate a long-standing obstacle. Even so, our work is far from over. The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and like-minded cow-calf producer associations across the country will work diligently to ensure the working group’s benchmarks are sufficient to establish robust price discovery, and most importantly, hold all the packers accountable.

The urgency we face in resolving our price discovery issues cannot be overstated. If we fail to follow through with an industry-driven solution, we will likely leave it up to Congress and federal regulators to develop a solution that we may not like.

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association will continue to lead the charge to ensure cow-calf producers can determine our own future. I am proud to be part of an organization that stands with my fellow cow-calf producers through thick and thin, and works towards real, meaningful solutions to the problems we all face. We will continue this fight because our livelihoods and future depend on it. ❖

Beautiful babes

“A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” Carl Sandburg

My wife and I couldn’t have kids so we had thousands of them… baby lambs, calves, piglets, you name it, we’ve had them. Although I know a lot about baby lambs and calves, my knowledge of Homo sapien babies is woefully lacking. I’ll never forget the time I was looking at baby diapers in the grocery store and I saw the diapers arranged in order, such as 4-6 pounds, 6-8 pounds etc. I told my wife, “I had no idea that human babies pooped so much!”

I love holding human babies but I still don’t really know how and I think all babies at birth should be tattooed with humorist Dave Berry’s warning: “Gently lift baby to your shoulder. If you are holding the baby correctly there should now be vomit on your shoulder. If there is poop you’re holding the baby upside down.”

I’ll never forget the time I was engaging in one of my favorite activities while stuck in the hospital. I don’t think they do it anymore but years ago after a mother gave birth to her baby, when she wasn’t feeding it, they’d put the new baby on display and you could look through a window and see all the beautiful babes in pink and blue either sleeping or crying their baby brains out. One time at the window a proud father joined me and asked, “Which one is yours?”

“Oh, no,” I said, “I’m just window shopping. All my babies are at home.”

“How many do you have?” the father asked while raising an eyebrow and moving away.

“At the moment I think we have 340,” I replied proudly.

The next thing I know the father was pleading with a nurse to get his baby out of there, as if I was going to kidnap it.

I don’t know why we love babies so much and yet we don’t look upon the elderly with as much affection, after all, they have so much in common. They both have no teeth, no hair, they’ll eat anything put in front of them, they require babysitters, they’re always wetting their pants and they cry all the time. The only downside to human babies is they grow up to be teenagers and have lots of relatives.

While I think human babies are precious and are one of the wonders of this world, I don’t think I’ve seen anything cuter than a newly born Hereford calf hiding in green grass. The only thing cuter is if it’s curled up in snow. Baby ducks are also very cute, unlike a chicken which loses its cuteness after one day. I can watch a duck all day. They just crack me up for some reason. And if baby lambs don’t bring a smile to your face when they get together, twirl their tails and run helter-skelter all over the place then you truly are a hard-hearted human.

There is a downside to building an emotional bond with a newborn. I’ll never forget one Christmas when my wife and I were supposed to travel three hours away to spend the day with my grandparents. Before we left we checked on the cows and found one calf with a terrible case of scours. We threw everything in the book at that calf trying to save it and had to call my grandparents and tell them we wouldn’t be coming. They were understanding, but terribly disappointed. Later that day the calf died and my wife went home and took down all the Christmas decorations. It was a very sad Christmas.

That’s what the animal rightists are missing and why they’ve got it all wrong when they talk about stockmen. We aren’t a bunch of cruel and sadistic meanies whipping, hitting and otherwise abusing our livestock. The animal rightists haven’t seen us with a baby calf in our bathtub trying to warm it up, or a pair of bummer lambs on the hearth, or the back porch. PETA just doesn’t understand that we raise animals because we love them. We love the wonder of nature and all those beautiful babes. And we give these precious babies a life they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

I think that’s a winning argument for the preservation of stockmen and their beautiful babes in anyone’s book. ❖

Uncertain

Well, pilgrims, according to Mr. Webster, the definition of the word, “uncertain,” is not reliable, undependable etc. I can go with that because that is where you and I are in today’s world. We are uncertain and we are not sure how reliable the future is. I have been reading a profile of one George Soros in the fall issue of Range Magazine and it is very well detailed on what this man is all about. If I remember correctly his fortune is in the of $11 billion range. He is 89 years and is a Marxist. He has taken advantage of unsettled structures in government all over the world and has invested his money in such a manner that he once broke the bank of England! He works at creating chaos anywhere and everywhere as he is extremely wise when it comes to markets etc. and how to make money from the results of his deeds. He is responsible for much of what is happening in our world today and is proud of his accomplishments.

Not only that, he has folks under his umbrella from both sides of the aisle because of his desire to put money where it will do him the most good. Is there a racial divide in this country? Yes, of course, and it’s getting wider and wider. Look to George Soros, gentle reader, he is the one, according to this article in Range Magazine, that is mostly responsible for much of what you see on television and what you hear in the news. It is scary and makes one uncertain if and what can be done to stop this evil person from wrecking so many lives.

Do you remember in years past when we watched the “telly” and inside this deep, dark cave there was this evil being sitting on a throne of some sort and he was going to control the world. It’s scary how close that was to G. Soros. What makes a man like that? What makes anyone desire so much more than is even possible to obtain? Dear friends, we are in for a rocky, bumpy ride as these protests continue all over the country and much of it, if not all, funded by G. Soros’s many different organizations.

Let me jump away from this topic and catch you up on other uncertainties. I did not expect to run out of calendars so soon. I have none left. Again, I thank you guys, always my friends, I get orders from you each and every year. You have been so loyal to me I feel really special!

On another note, a little incident I would call unexpected or certainly, uncertain was this: When I went to feed the ponies during the snow and ice storm, my “perfect” horse was shivering and shaking even though he was under the shed out of the weather. I fed them and then went to the saddle room to get a blanket for him. When I approached him and started to unfold the blanket, he came unglued and started looking for a way out. The only way out was over me and thank goodness he decided not to run over me to escape. He is an old ranch horse and broke to death unless you want to put a full blanket on him. Larry did tell me the horse had dumped him on one occasion when he got spooked at something or another. Okay, so now I just need to pay attention and see if we can avoid the things that might cause him to “get spooked.” I reckon, he will just have to shiver and shake if he likes ‘cause I will not try that again.

Outside of those uncertain things, I reckon I will close this column for this week and hope you are all well.

Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, sorry about the calendars, keep yer head on a swivel, and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all. ❖