Sunday, August 28, 2016

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Code of the West gone south

by Julie Carter

The West has long been a frontier to those seeking a romanticized version of it or simply the quiet solitude away from the noise of an industrial civilization. Ours is a nation of immigrants -- people who have never been content to stay in one place but always wanting to see what is “over there.”

The frontier has been the line separating civilization from wilderness. For hundreds of years in America it has been a fluid line, moving westward as men sought open spaces and new horizons. In the 19th century, people who were willing to take a chance on the unknown moved to a vast, unsettled land beckoned to the daring and called to hardy, courageous folks of pioneer stock.

The call of the wild is the same in the 21st century but comes with issues that catch these new pioneers by surprise. The new 20-acre piece of paradise requires owners to realize they aren’t in the suburbs any more.

Poor roads, wildlife damage, water shortages, high utility costs and the threat of wildfires are just a few major items on the list for these new pioneers.

Many city dwellers move into the country and expect to get the same local government services they received in town. They want the solitude of living in the country but they also want 911 to respond in three minutes to a residence 25 minutes from the nearest emergency station.

It is such a common issue in rural communities across the West that many have compiled information into publications to be distributed to prospective property owners. Some of these booklets are titled “Code of the West” in reference to the Code of the West novel by Zane Grey. The original unwritten code - based on integrity, self-reliance and accountability – guided the men and women who moved into the region during the westward expansion.

Most of the today’s “code books” cover water rights, split estates and open range. Many explain why dogs can’t run wild and why rural residents often have to haul their own garbage. They warn that roads might not get plowed, cell phone service could be iffy, and emergency response time longer. They also address accepting “ag-related annoyances” that existed long before they moved in.

One example is the 52-page booklet from Sweet Grass County, Montana offering information on everything from fire prevention to noxious weeds to billboards. It gives suggestions for preserving viewsheds and designing homes compatible with the rural landscape.

County commissions and a long list of agencies continue to address complaints and demands from these new pioneers who, one issue at a time, try to turn the West into the East under the guise of their rights as taxpayers.

Those that were in the West before the new pioneers arrived fight to keep the simple basics lives they led before the onslaught of subdivisions and the pandemic growth of golf courses.

It is America and subject to ongoing change, even in the West. And those ag-related annoyances?  They are someone’s livelihood that undoubtedly have become disturbed by the un-ag-related annoyances that just moved a double wide home into the pasture next door.

A Code of the West booklet might be the answer for those willing to accept the changes. But for most, I suggest making the covers something tasty and edible. At least they’ll find some use for it.
Julie can be reached for comment at

Gus Raney and the Smell of Death

Smell of death
Gus Raney
La Ultima
By Stephen L. Wilmeth
            Gus Raney was long part of our family verbal history.
He would arrive during those nighttime sessions when the thunder would rattle the windows, rattlesnakes would be a certain feature, memories were retold of crazy women in abandoned cabins sitting up in the rafters watching cowboys light fires to dry out and get warm, and lightning stories were in the offing. It was when television wasn’t even part of our culture. We kids would sit on the edge of our seats in great anticipation listening to the elders. The suspense was infectious and intense. We could have set off in full stampede with a simple “boo”.
            Gus stories were always spooky. He was the villain of villains. Most of us never laid eyes on him, but we were scared to death of him. He was gone from our area before those “kids” were born, but stories of his life would suggest such fears were warranted.
            Gus Raney
 The more finite details of Gus’ life will be left to writer Richard Melzer who is doing a series on the crusty legend. Only the verbal history that I know will be dealt with this morning, but perhaps it adds an interesting corollary to Melzer’s two part series.
            About 2000, I met a descendent of Gus who worked at the Physical Laboratory at NMSU. In our discussion, he suggested Gus actually came to Grant County with a contract by a mining operation to rid the country of claim jumpers. Whether true or not Gus’ demeanor was suggestive that he would have been good at such a mission.
            A common theme in all stories was that he had either succeeded in killing somebody or he was discussing the threat of same.
            The Raney family settled at Cliff, New Mexico and lived at or just above the potholes in Davis Canyon. Prevailing accounts had the family living in a tent and or a cave. The children of Gus and Sugarfoot Raney were known to the Cliff community as Ethel, Hale, Sleet, and Snow (contemporary children of Cliff knew Orville as Snow).
The story starts in a dispute over a horse. In the days of the Depression, there were still a number of wild horses that ran in the Davis Canyon country. From those mustangs, many local families acquired saddle horses. It was there the McMillans moved their ranch horses in the spring of either 1932 or 1933 to avoid a loco weed outbreak up the Mangus to the east.
            Immediately, they started having trouble with a stud horse that was running in the canyon and playing havoc with the remuda. He was known to be owned by Gus. Having dealt with that particular horse too many times without a response from the Raneys, Tom McCauley and my grandfather, Albert Wilmeth, roped the horse and castrated him.
            Gus was then in prison serving a sentence for murdering another man, but the news of the castration was relayed to him by Sugarfoot. Never one to worry about good behavior, he announced from his cell he was going to kill Tom and Albert upon his release from prison for the castration of his horse.
            Giving credence to the possibility he was employed on the sly by an influential mining operation, Gus was paroled in 1934 after serving only 22 months and 22 days for the killing. As it happened, the McMillans and the McCauleys were both shipping cattle at Silver City the day Gus rode the train back into town. Tom and Grampa were both there when Gus stepped off. Tom was driving a new Chevy and pulled over and asked Gus if he needed a ride home.
            One account of the incident suggested one of them mentioned that if there was going to be another killing they might as well get on with it.
            The other account suggested not a single word was mentioned of the castration (or the unfortunate and untimely death of horse in the aftermath) or the death threat from the jail cell. In this latter version, Gus was a subdued gentleman all the way home.
The trip to Cliff wasn’t without incident, though, by the account of Tom’s son, Freddie. Freddie was seated between his father and Gus and had been thinking about the death threat from the time he saw Gus at the rail station. He just knew when they started across the old steel bridge at Riverside Gus was going to grab him and throw him into the river!
He was crowding his father to the point Tom asked him, “What in the Sam Hill is wrong with you?”
            At five years old, all death threats were terrifying.
            Freddie also remembered Gus’ eyes and he spoke about them repeatedly through his life. As an old man, he told me he woke up many times in his childhood in the midst of a nightmare seeing Gus and those eyes were glaring at him. He thought it started from the time he and his dad had ridden up on Gus at the head of a canyon and he had confronted them with a gun. What had Gus on the prod was the statement Tom had made about the theft of a big roll of rope. Gus claimed that Tom had cussed him without cause and he was going to even the score. His eyes were glaring at them like a wild man, a savage, or an animal on a desperate hunt. They matched the muzzle of the gun pointing in their direction.
            The apparent score in the maniacal view of Gus Raney was to kill Tom McCauley for calling him a son-of-a-bitch. Tom suggested to Gus that is not what he had said, and, in fact, he had clearly restated what he did say.
“I said whoever stole that rope from me is a son-of-a-bitch,” Tom said coolly. “Furthermore, I don’t think this better go any further because there will be hell to pay.”
            What caught Gus’ attention was the six inch Stillson wrench that Tom always carried in his leggins’ pocket. When the confrontation reached crescendo pitch, Tom had poked the end of the wrench against his chap pocket making it appear that he had a loaded pistol in the pocket.
            “Now, Tom, you and I have no issue here at all,” Freddie remembers Gus saying in a tone change with all anger and threats gone.
            “I didn’t think so, Gus,” Tom concluded.
            As they turned and rode away, Tom told Freddie not to look back and to act like nothing happened. Freddie suggested they should “fly” and get out of there, but Tom reminded him that is exactly what they were not going to do.
            There was little doubt, though, who the culprit was in the rope theft.
            La Ultima
            The death of Hale and Snow was a deflowering ebb in the life of Gus Raney. People who knew those boys talked in awe of their toughness. Like too many families in the Depression, the needs and wants of children were not the highest priority. The Raney children were normally barefooted, but that didn’t stop them from astounding feats of physical endurance. The wild horses of the Davis country represented opportunities of income and they became mustangers. Their method of capture was to relay those horses on foot until they could trap them. They were known to do it in bare feet in the rough malpais of the Davis watershed. They were tough and they weren’t easily prone to take stupid chances much less put themselves into a situation that was life threatening.
            Their deaths, therefore, sparked questions. The prevailing story in the Cliff community was that one of them had drowned swimming in a tank and the other had drowned trying to save him. Those that knew Gus came to believe Gus had killed one of them and had to kill the other to keep him quiet. He had thrown them both in the tank to make it appear they had drowned.
            The bizarre only got more bizarre when Gus decided he needed to have a picture taken with the boys. He dressed up and stood between his dead sons propping them up for the photographer to take the picture.
            Gus spent the rest of his life near Grants, New Mexico spreading his own fame by continuing to polish his bad guy persona. He killed several more men before he died at an unknown age made more confusing by the various dates he claimed he was born.
            In the end, the only thing that was certain about Gus Raney was … the smell of death.

            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Two copies of the pictures of Gus and his two dead sons were rumored to exist in Cliff. One was supposed to be in the McCauley collection and the other from the collection of Lorena Terman Moss Lewis, my great grandmother. I saw neither.”

 Part 1 of Melzer's 2-part series can be viewed here.  Part 2 will be published on Sept. 8.

Baxter Black - Coup de grace

“Well, at least it isn’t broken,” he said as he wiped his face
            With his good arm. “Although it might be a smidgen outta place.
That sucker sure did buck hard! I’m glad I was wearin’ my hat
            Or I’da punched right through that net wire fence and hung there like a bat!

Dadgummit! Where’s the rest of my shirt? All but the sleeves are gone!
            And my chest has got a pattern you could make a waffle on!
I remember him a’squallin’ with my collar in his teeth
            as I flopped from neck to shoulder like a rubber Christmas wreath!

Have ya seen my other bat wing leg? I had it, I’da sworn.
            I never wear just half a pair. Musta hooked it on the horn
When he ran it up my pant leg where my inseam used to be
            And my off hind boot is missin’, aw, shoot, that don’t bother me,

It could still be in the stirrup ‘cause I had a deadman’s grip!
            I made several revolutions from his belly to his hip,
Checked the bosal and the back cinch as I orbited around!
            He pumped me like a plumber plungin’ dirty water down.

Then bounced me off the buckin’ rolls when he went to changin’ gears!
            I did a back flip and catapulted out between his ears
But I hung tight to the neck rein as I spun and ricocheted
            Like someone tied a chicken to a helicopter blade!

Don’t Bee-lieve the Latest Bee-pocalypse Scare

by Paul Driessen

As stubborn facts ruin their narrative that neonicotinoid pesticides are causing a honeybee-pocalypse, environmental pressure groups are shifting to new scares to justify their demands for “neonic” bans.

Honeybee populations and colony numbers in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and elsewhere are growing. It is also becoming increasingly clear that the actual cause of bee die-offs and “colony collapse disorders” is not neonics, but a toxic mix of predatory mites, stomach fungi, other microscopic pests, and assorted chemicals employed by beekeepers trying to control the beehive infestations.

...However, the flawed data gathering, unjustified assumptions about neonic impacts, and failure to consider the likely effects of multiple bee diseases and parasites make it clear that the CEH model and conclusions are essentially worthless – and should not be used to drive or justify pesticide policies and regulations.

As Prime Minister Jim Hacker quipped in the theatrical version of the British comedy series Yes, Prime Minister: “Computer models are no different from fashion models. They’re seductive, unreliable, easily corrupted, and they lead sensible people to make fools of themselves.”

And yet studies like this constantly make headlines. That’s hardly surprising. Anti-pesticide campaigners have enormous funding and marvelous PR instincts. Researchers know their influence and next grant can depend on issuing studies that garner alarmist headlines and reflect prevailing news themes and imminent government actions. The news media want to sell ads and papers, and help drive public policy-making.

The bottom line is fundamental: correlation does not equal causation. Traffic lights are present at many intersections where accidents occur; but that does not mean the lights caused most or all of the accidents. The CEH authors simply do not demonstrate that a neonic-wild bee cause-effect relationship exists.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day

Our gospel tune today is the 1959 recording of There's A Higher Power by the Louvin Brothers, Charlie & Ira.  The Westerner

Saturday, August 27, 2016

University Of Iowa Professor Deeply Worried Because Mascot And Logo Look TOO SCARY

The mascot and the logo for the University of Iowa’s sports teams are terrifying and promote aggression and violence, according to a deeply concerned medical school professor at the taxpayer-funded school. The pediatrics professor, Resmiye Oral, is urging the Big 10 school’s athletic department to modify the logo and the various facial expressions of the mascot, Herky the Hawk, according to the Iowa City Press-Citizen. “I believe incoming students should be met with welcoming, nurturing, calm, accepting and happy messages,” Oral wrote in an email to the athletic department this week. “And our campus community is doing a great job in that regard when it comes to words. However, Herky’s angry, to say the least, faces conveying an invitation to aggressivity and even violence are not compatible with the verbal messages that we try to convey to and instill in our students and campus community.”...more

Obama creates largest ocean reserve, takes heat for new federal decrees

President Obama, with the stroke of a pen, created the world's largest ocean reserve on Friday off Hawaii, days after designating a massive federal monument in Maine – moves that have angered local lawmakers who accuse the president of disregarding the impact on residents. Obama used a presidential proclamation to expand the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii by over 400,000 square miles. The preserve now stretches 582,578 square miles, the world's largest marine protected area. "The expansion provides critical protections for more than 7,000 marine species ... [and] will allow scientists to monitor and explore the impacts of climate change on these fragile ecosystems," the White House said in a statement, citing the support of Sen. Brian Schatz and "prominent Native Hawaiian leaders." But the decision drew sharp criticism from the fishing industry and even fellow Democrats, as it will drastically expand the area where commercial fishing and drilling is banned. Former Democratic Gov. George Ariyoshi said at a rally last month that it came down to the question of who actually owned the ocean. “The ocean belongs to us,” Ariyoshi reportedly said. “We ought to be the ones who decide what kind of use to make of the ocean.”...more

Ret. Lt. Gen. Flynn: Terror-Linked Nations ‘Cutting Deals’ with Mexican Cartels to Enter U.S.

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), tells Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM that countries that are known to support radical Islamic terrorism are “cutting deals” with Mexican cartels for access to human smuggling routes into the United States. Citing photos from the U.S. Border Patrol component of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency on Friday, Gen. Flynn also told Washington Political Editor Matthew Boyle, host of Breitbart News Daily, that there are signs in Arabic posted along human smuggling routes at the section of the border that lies in Texas providing directions for how to sneak into the United States. Moreover, the former DIA chief said that the Shiite Lebanese narco-terrorist group Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, is illegally trafficking humans, drugs, and other contraband into the United States...more

Gov. Jerry Brown signs bill banning state funds for coal projects

Gov. Jerry Brown took a strong stand against coal on Friday, approving an East Bay lawmaker's bill to ban state funding for coal-related projects. In signing state Sen. Loni Hancock's bill, the governor also praised the Oakland City Council for voting to ban transportation of the ore through its city and encouraged other cities to do the same. "Other localities should follow suit -- and the state should, too -- to reduce and, ultimately, eliminate the shipment of coal through all California ports, Brown wrote in a signing message. "I believe action on multiple fronts will be necessary to transition away from coal," Brown wrote. "In California, we're divesting from thermal coal in our state pensions, shifting to renewable energy and, last year, coal exports from California ports declined by more than one-third, from 4.65 million to 2.86 million tons. That's a positive trend we need to build on."...more

China and US to ratify landmark Paris climate deal ahead of G20 summit, sources reveal

China and the United States are set to jointly announce their ratification of a landmark climate change pact before the G20 summit early next month, the South China Morning Post has learned. Senior climate officials from both countries worked late into the night in Beijing on Tuesday to finalise details, and a bilateral announcement is likely to be made on September 2, according to sources familiar with the issue. President Xi Jinping will meet his US counterpart Barack Obama for the G20 summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, two days later on September 4. “There are still some uncertainties from the US side due to the complicated US system in ratifying such a treaty, but the announcement is still quite likely to be ready by Sept 2,” said a source, who declined to be named. If both sides announce the ratification on the day, it would be the last major joint statement between the two leaders before Obama leaves office. China and the US account for about 38 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Resources Institute. By ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change, Beijing and Washington could generate momentum for the accord to come into effect as a binding international treaty...more

U.S. considering speed-limit device rule for trucks, buses

Trucks and buses in the United States may have to be equipped with devices to limit their speed under a proposed rule issued on Friday by the U.S. Transportation Department which said the move could save both lives and fuel. The department will weigh setting speed limits at 60, 65 or 68 miles per hour for heavy commercial vehicles, but said it will consider other speeds based on comments from the public. Speed limits on interstate highways vary across the United States, with some states allowing vehicles to drive as fast as 85 mph (137 km per hour), though many states have lower maximum speeds for trucks. "There are significant safety benefits to this proposed rulemaking," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. "In addition to saving lives, the projected fuel and emissions savings make this proposal a win for safety, energy conservation, and our environment." Under the long-delayed proposal, all new U.S. trucks and buses weighing more than 26,000 pounds (11,793 kg) would need to be equipped with a speed-limiting device. The department said the maximum allowable speed would be decided after the agency receives public input. Publication of the proposal kicks off a 60-day comment period...more