Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 2-27-12 |

Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 2-27-12

Adapting to the use of new farm/ranch gadgets often leads to funny happenings. Here’s one such case.

A prominent Flint Hills rancher, ol’ Ray Sinhell, feeds cattle in some huge Flint Hills pastures during the winter. Sometimes, on windy days, the cattle can’t hear the horn blowing on his feeder truck to “notify” them that the protein cake truck has arrived. He has an automatic protein cube feeder on his truck that activates and empties cubes with a simple toggle switch.

So, Ray bought himself a new gadget – a police siren – and installed it on the truck. It’s top of the line with two different siren sounds – both of them ear-splitting loud. He figgered when the cattle got used to hearing that siren, they’d come running regardless of how far away they were.

Well, on the first day Ray had his new toy, he and his running buddy, ol’ Sol E. Mender – a boot repairman, leather worker, artist of the first rank, and an all-around cowhand – pulled into a pasture, called the cattle, fed the protein cubes, and headed for the gate to leave.

Sol got out to close the gate while Ray idled the truck with the hood nosed out into the road. As he waited, a young neighbor drove by and waved. Ray figgered on giving the neighbor a scare with the new siren, so he leaned down and flipped the switch – and promptly unloaded about a bushel of protein cakes at ol’ Sol’s feet. 

Yep, ol’ Ray out of habit hit the switch on the automatic cube unloader and missed the switch on his brand new siren.


That’s the kind of cowboy story my friend and fellow columnist Baxter Black would enjoy. 

And, speaking of Baxter Black and enjoyment (which, I admit, is redundant), ol’ Nevah and I, along with our Missouri friends Canby and May Bea Handy, made a self-invited stop to visit the cowboy poet extraordinaire and rural raconteur par excellence during a recent week-long vacation to sunny, warm Tucson, Ariz.

Baxter and I hadn’t seen each other personally for quite a few years, since he moved out of the Colorado front-range to Benson, Ariz, – about 40 miles from Tucson. But, our friendship struck up like it had never been interrupted.

Gracious and generous as always, Baxter and his wife Cindy Lou, gave us a tour of their Coyote Cowboy Company headquarters, introduced us to the entire staff, explained their varied enterprises, and last, but not least, Baxter gave us a walking tour of the ranch’s outdoor facilities.

Those facilities included their horses, horse corrals and sheds, tack room, shop, warehouse, and a new cedar outhouse. With Baxter’s permission, I’ll tell you a little story about that outhouse, and include a picture.

First, it’s located on a little bench of land about half-way between the house and the horse barn. It’s most unusual feature for an outhouse is Dutch doors. Baxter related that’s there’s not much in life that’s more relaxin’ than sittin’ in that outhouse at daybreak, with the top door flung open, watchin’ the sun come up over the mountains far away and enjoyin’ the wildlife walking and flying by in the nearby valley below.

Baxter invited me to personally enjoy the view from his favorite perch – which I did – as you can see from the accompanying photo. How hilarious!

Second most popular to me wuz visitin’ Baxter’s tack room. It’s definitely a working cowboy’s tack room with eight or 10 saddles, chaps, ropes and all other necessary equine paraphernalia. 

After taking a close look at Baxter’s personal pair of leather chaps and the leather stirrup covers, I can tell you one of two things. Baxter either does a lot of hard ridin’ through cactus country or else he has ridden through a long gauntlet of angry vaqueros equipped with sharp corn knives or machetes chopping on his chaps and stirrups. He didn’t say which happened, but after looking at his cattle country, I’d say the former is much more likely than the latter.

Our thanks to Baxter and Cindy Black and the Coyote Cowboy Company crew for their hospitality. You made us feel at home among friends.


Gotta wrap this column up for the week, but before I go I’ll leave you with a Baxter Black proverb found on his website at He sez, “There’s two things a cowboy’s afraid of: bein’ stranded afoot, and a decent woman.” 

Take care and have a good ‘un.

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