Friday, January 22, 2010

Ag Producers Stand Up to (Animal Rights) Bullies


Farmers get a bad rap. They work their fingers to the bone to feed us, and most Americans have never even met one. They sink their savings into one of the riskiest investments known to man, and all most consumers can seem to do is gripe about the price of breakfast. And to add insult to injury, the wealthy animal rights industry – led by vegetarian activists at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) – wants to put most of them out of business. Because, you know, they cheerfully fill our refrigerators with meat and dairy foods.

HSUS has flexed its (unearned) reputational muscles in Maine, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, and California – tying the hands of ranchers, egg farmers, and pork producers at every turn. But in Missouri, there may be reason to be optimistic.

HSUS is currently pushing a ballot initiative in the Show-Me State that threatens to regulate dog breeding out of existence by making it illegal to own too many animals. (And guess who decides what "too many" means?) We can see the writing on the wall: HSUS will certainly leverage a November 2010 victory to target livestock farmers next. Who’s going to sink their life savings into hog farming if a group of carpet-bagging DC bunny-huggers can limit how much bacon and ham a farmer can produce?

At the Missouri Farm Bureau’s annual meeting last month, farmers got an earful about what HSUS has planned for them. Chris Chinn, a Missouri hog producer and national advocate for livestock owners, talked about a new "SWAT" program she helped develop. (SWAT stands for "Spokespersons Working for Agriculture Together.") Chinn’s goal is to help farmers and ranchers communicate reliable information to consumers about how animals are really treated before they become two-piece dinners and rump roasts. SWAT training includes classes that teach farmers how to handle media situations and stay on topic. "We don’t want to play defense, we want to be proactive," said Chinn. "We want to get out there ahead of HSUS and tell our story."

Farmers are mobilizing against HSUS in Ohio too. In November, HSUS suffered a landslide setback in the Buckeye State with the passage of Issue 2. This measure created a state livestock board to oversee animal welfare policy, while limiting the influence of out-of-state radicals like those at HSUS.

HSUS did not mount a significant campaign against Issue 2, but it’s working behind the scenes to make the measure's voter-approved policies irrelevant. Consider Ohio House Bill 341, which HSUS is pushing hard. It would force Ohio’s new livestock board to mimic everything California voters did in 2008 when they passed the heavily HSUS-financed "Prop. 2."

Will this end-run around Ohio voters succeed? Possibly. HSUS needed four full pages to list all its lobbying activities in its 2008 tax return. The group is everything you think of when you imagine the phrase "moneyed special interest." And remember: HSUS president Wayne Pacelle boasted that California’s Prop. 2 was a blueprint for the rest of the nation.

If HSUS buys itself some power over Ohio agriculture, it will take over farm policy and regulate livestock producers to death. Which, come to think of it, is what HSUS is after in the first place. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

And as long as we’ve got your attention, take five minutes today and hug a farmer. Go on. It’s a nice gesture. And so is throwing that HSUS fundraising letter in the trash.

Do it. You heard us.

Alaska senator moves to bar EPA rules on greenhouse gas emissions

Sen. Lisa Murkowski took her battle with the Environmental Protection Agency to the floor of the Senate Thursday, saying she was left with no choice but to fight a federal agency she believes is "contemplating regulations that will destroy jobs while millions of Americans are doing everything they can just to find one." The Alaska Republican announced she would seek to keep the EPA from drawing up rules on greenhouse gas emissions from large emitters, such as power plants, refineries and manufacturers. Murkowski did it by filing a "disapproval resolution," a rarely used procedural move that prohibits rules written by executive branch agencies from taking effect. On Thursday, she threatened dire economic consequences if the EPA, rather than Congress, writes the rules for how to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air more

Mutilations remain a mystery

Last year Zukowski traveled to five strange cattle mutilation scenes in Colorado. He was summoned by ranchers who were puzzled and, in some cases, frightened by what they found in their fields. The most recent, near Alamosa in December, was the case of the 4-year-old cow with its ears and udder missing — the body parts removed with great precision, clearly not the work of a coyote or mountain lion. A video of the scene is available on Zukowski's Web site. (Warning: It is graphic and is not easy to watch...A more likely culprit: the military. In our initial conversation (and then in my first version of this column), Zukowski and I referred to Alamosa, where dozens of unexplained mutilations have occurred, being the scene of above-ground nuclear testing after World War II..."Alamagordo was the site of the documented tests, but there have always been rumors that during the '50s and '60s the area around Alamosa, Colorado, was the site of secret and limited radiation tests on the environment, tests performed by the military. This would explain why they keep checking radiation levels even today and why, maybe, they are doing research on the cattle and horses, to see the effects today of the radiation." And as Zukowski said in our first discussion, "So many of these animals seem to have been put down on the ground without a trace of footprints or trampled grass or tire tracks. Helicopters can lay things down that way." more

Pawnee Bill among Western Heritage inductees

Hollywood stars Tom Selleck and the late Charlton Heston will be inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Selleck and Heston will be inducted April 17 during the museum’s annual Western Heritage Awards. The black-tie affair honors principal creators in 16 categories of Western music, literature, television and film. Also at the event, Oklahoma rancher and photographer Bob Moorhouse and legendary Wild West entertainer Pawnee Bill will be inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners. Guitarist, composer, recording artist and historian Don Edwards will receive the Chester A. Reynolds Memorial Award. Born Gordon William Lillie in Bloomington, Ill., in 1860, Pawnee Bill was a Wild West performer, buffalo hunter and American Indian interpreter. Considered one of the last legends of the Old West, Pawnee Bill was a friend to the Pawnee Indians and eventually went on to entertain and educate international crowds with his famous Wild West Shows. Pawnee Bill moved into Indian Territory in 1875 and quickly immersed himself in Pawnee culture. In 1888, Pawnee Bill organized his Wild West Show, in which his wife, May, became an impressive act for her marksmanship and riding. Two decades later, he merged his show with that of his childhood role model, Buffalo Bill. In 1930, he built the tourist attraction Pawnee Bill’s Old Town and Trading Post in more

Utah lawmaker puts wolves in his crosshairs

Wolves are out of control, says Utah Sen. Allen Christensen, and the state's policy should be to kill them. Heck, he did. Went to Canada to bag one. It's at the taxidermist. And besides, Christensen says, passing a bill to declare Utah's policy to destroy or remove all wolves is a simple case of states' rights. The North Ogden Republican's goal is spelled out in SB36, which has caught the attention of legislative attorneys who attached a rare warning that the bill, if passed, probably would be found unconstitutional. "Will it be a fight? Absolutely," Christensen concedes. "We have enough money to take it all the way to the [U.S.] Supreme Court." The Utah chapters of the Cattlemen's Association and Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife support the bill. The Sportsmen will contribute to litigation costs, says Byron Bateman, president of the Utah chapter. "We've been in the fight from the get-go," Bateman said, "and we'll be in it to the end." SB36 is for people who enjoy wildlife, Christensen says, adding he knows wolves are wildlife, too. But they were exterminated in this region in the 19th century "for good reason," he says. "They were simply not compatible with humans anymore." And now in Utah, Christensen says, "we supposedly don't have wolves. We would like to control our borders and say wolves are not endangered. We would like them not to immigrate into here." more

UN abandons climate change deadline

The timetable to reach a global deal to tackle climate change lay in tatters on Wednesday after the United Nations waived the first deadline of the process laid out at last month’s fractious Copenhagen summit. Nations agreed then to declare their emissions reduction targets by the end of this month. Developed countries would state their intended cuts by 2020: developing countries would outline how they would curb emissions growth. But Yvo de Boer, the UN’s senior climate change official, admitted the deadline had in effect been shelved. “By [the end of] January, countries will have the opportunity to . . . indicate if they want to be associated with the accord,” he said. “[Governments could] indicate by the deadline, or they can also indicate later.” “You could describe it as a soft deadline,” Mr de Boer said. “There is nothing deadly about it. If [countries] fail to meet it, they can still associate with the Copenhagen accord after.” more

A prickly path

The push is on to carve a 100-foot-wide swath through prairies, farms and neighborhoods between Pueblo Reservoir and Colorado Springs, to make way for a 66-inch water pipeline. The line, part of the $1.1 billion Southern Delivery System, is expected to deliver 78 million gallons a day by 2016, increasing the city's water supply by a third and driving up water bills by an average of 12 percent a year from 2011 to 2016. City Council recently approved spending $916,000 to purchase 14 tracts, including four homes in Pueblo West, the first properties acquired in the pipeline's path. And it's only the start. Colorado Springs Utilities plans to pay $25 million for roughly 300 properties totaling 2,900 acres in Pueblo and El Paso counties within the next two years. Not everyone is so willing. Gary Walker loathes the idea of losing 93 of his 70,000 acres between Penrose and Interstate 25 for the pipeline. The 63-year-old rancher is still sore from dealing with Utilities in the 1970s, when he was forced through condemnation to provide land for the Fountain Valley Authority water line. Not only is the easement itself barren now, he says, but blowing dirt and sand "literally killed hundreds of acres" of his farm and ranch land. Moreover, he's perturbed the new line won't use the Fountain Valley line's easement, but instead will cut another gouge up to a mile more

Tough Month for Cap and Trade Supporters

January has been a bad month for supporters of cap and trade. This week the election to the senate of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts wiped out the Democrat’s super majority, causing some to proclaim cap and trade dead this year. Wednesday the National Corn Growers Association announced their opposition to House Bill 2454 after an Informa study indicated every U.S. corn grower will experience increased costs of production. Earlier this month American Farm Bureau’s “Don’t’ Cap our Future” display was the most popular at their convention trade show. Free caps were a part of the popularity, but Cody Lyon, AFBF Director of Grassroots and Policy Advocacy, explained farmers and ranchers were anxious to take a stand against cap and trade. A senior official in the White House said this week the Obama administration is continuing to press Congress to endorse cap and trade, and he said there continues to be strong legislator support for it. But the National Federation of Independent Business this week released 16 state-based surveys highlighting the political unpopularity and economic uncertainty of cap and trade. This follows two national surveys that have illustrated small business owner and voter opposition to a cap and trade more

BLM’s management plan gets support as well as opposition

A group of central Montana landowners filed Tuesday to intervene in lawsuits over the Bureau of Land Management’s management plan for the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Four counties — Blaine, Fergus, Phillips and Chouteau — have also filed to intervene in the litigation. The Missouri River Stewards, although not agreeing with BLM’s entire plan, still filed to uphold the work that is being challenged by the Montana Wilderness Association, Friends of the Missouri River Breaks and the Western Watersheds Project. Matt Knox, chairman of the Stewards group and a Winifred rancher, contended in a statement that if the groups prevail in their lawsuit against the BLM, it could have “profound negative impacts” on those who own 81,000 acres of land within the monument’s boundaries. Specifically, the landowners are worried that livestock grazing could be eliminated in the monument, as well as access by historic roads. Ranchers have 93 grazing permits on 363,000 acres of federal land within the monument and farm and ranch on 39,000 acres of state land inside its boundaries. All told, about 10,500 cattle utilize the acreage, the Stewards group more

Cheapest Horses Ever

Experts say the price you'll pay to buy a horse may be the lowest it's ever been. This past summer NewsChannel 10 brought to your attention an increase in the number of horses being let go in the wild. And since the economy is more or less the same now as it was then, that problem has yet to go away. Many believe that's because it's so expensive to care for these animals. Even more so then some buyers realize when they purchase a horse. John Harshbargar owns a ranchers feed store as well as being a horse owner himself. "It is good a time to buy one because you can get some nice horses at a very reasonable price. You just need to be aware of what they cost." To keep your horse properly fed every month your looking at about 150 dollars for hay and grain. And that doesn't include the medical bills and a monthly shoeing more

Dairy & beef farmers' stories in new anthology

"True Cow Tales: Literary Sketches and Stories by Farmers, Ranchers, and Dairy Princesses", published by Dog Ear Publishing and edited by C.R. Lindemer, has been released. "True Cow Tales" has received many favorable reviews. Ken Rahjes, Farm Broadcaster for KRVN Radio in Lexington, Nebraska has remarked, "True Cow Tales is a true joy to read. These stories brought back many memories of growing up on our family farm. True Cow Tales ought to be a part of everyone's family library and should be shared over and over." In addition to stories about favorite cows, cattle 'drama', and bovine nostalgia, chapters of cow poetry and dairy princess stores are also featured in this anthology for all ages. Stories featured are from farmers and ranchers of the U.S. and Canada. A subsequent volume with more international stories is already in the more

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wind divides Converse County

Converse County residents remain staunchly divided on the issue of whether to allow wind development in the northern Laramie Range. More than 100 people crammed into the Converse County Courthouse on Tuesday night to testify for and against a proposal that would place a 90-day moratorium on all industrial development south and west of Interstate 25 on lands 5,500 feet in elevation and higher. "This group is not against wind. We're against wind where it isn't appropriate," said Diemer True, a northern Laramie Range landowner and organizer of the Northern Laramie Range Alliance. Other private property owners in the area are outraged that their neighbors are trying to prevent them from developing wind energy on their lands. Many ranching families see wind energy as a means to earn extra income in order to supplement their operations and maintain the culture of agriculture and recreation in the mountains. In his testimony to the county Planning and Zoning Commission, rancher Mark Grant alluded to the fact that many people in opposition to wind development are rich folks who bought property for private retreats and block access to public lands. "We haven't appreciated seeing all the new roads going in, all the padlocks going up on the gates, all the cabins being built on hills that used to be bare. So we're feeling somewhat persecuted when we try to do something to help us stay there," Grant more

Environmental Improvement Board’s Conflicts of Interest in Petition to Impose Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cap

The Chair of the New Mexico Environment Improvement Board, Gregory Green, is plagued with apparent conflicts of interest that seem to undermine his impartiality in hearing a petition to impose a statewide, unprecedented cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Green works for a national environmental advocacy organization that seeks to persuade governments to impose caps on greenhouse gas emissions on the theory that such gases are causing global warming. He is also the registered lobbyist for a coalition of environmental organizations that includes some of the same organizations that have signed onto the petition pending before the EIB. “The citizens of our state cannot expect to receive unbiased, well-founded decisions when those in the decision-making position have an obvious bias,” says Marita Noon of CARE, Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy, a group that oppose the statewide emissions cap regulation. “The conflicts of interest in this story should shelve the EIB’s plans for a state-wide cap and trade.” The petition to have the EIB impose a statewide greenhouse gas emissions cap was filed in 2008 by New Energy Economy. It seeks dramatic reductions in greenhouse gases to 25% below 1990 levels. Hearings are finally scheduled to begin in March 2010. In November 2009, ten more organizations signed onto that petition. One of those organizations, the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, has retained Green as its Santa Fe lobbyist. On January 16, 2009, The Albuquerque Journal reported that the NMWF had withdrawn its name from the petition because it would have created a conflict of interest for Green. Green also is under contract to serve as the New Mexico spokesman for the Pew Environment Group. PEG is a project of the Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the nation’s largest and most active funders of anti-global warming more

U.K. Pensioners burn books for warmth (Al Gore Books Burn The Best)

The Daily Mail reports:

Volunteers have reported that ‘a large number’ of elderly customers are snapping up hardbacks as cheap fuel for their fires and stoves. Temperatures this week are forecast to plummet as low as -13ºC in the Scottish Highlands, with the mercury falling to -6ºC in London, -5ºC in Birmingham and -7ºC in Manchester as one of the coldest winters in years continues to bite.

However, the real story is how Al Gore is helping these poor folks survive, as this video reports:


Mt. Rainier's retreating glaciers are making a mess

The fallout from Mt. Rainier's shrinking glaciers is beginning to roll downhill, and nowhere is the impact more striking than on the volcano's west side. "This is it in spades," says Park Service geologist Paul Kennard, scrambling up a 10-foot-tall mass of dirt and boulders bulldozed back just enough to clear the road. As receding glaciers expose crumbly slopes, vast amounts of gravel and sediment are being sluiced into the rivers that flow from the Northwest's tallest peak. Much of the material sweeps down in rain-driven slurries called debris flows, like those that repeatedly have slammed Mt. Rainier National Park's Westside Road. "The rivers are filling up with stuff," Mr. Kennard says from his vantage point atop the pile. He pointed out ancient stands of fir and cedar now up to their knees in water. Inside park boundaries, rivers choked with gravel are threatening to spill across roads, bump up against the bottom of bridges and flood the historic complex at Longmire. Downstream, communities in King and Pierce counties are casting a wary eye at the volcano in their backyard. There are already signs that riverbeds near Auburn and Puyallup are rising. As glaciers continue to pull back, the result could be increased flood danger across the Puget Sound lowlands for more

Earth's growing nitrogen threat

Dennis Lindsay still recalls the day four decades ago when his father, an Iowa farmer, began using nitrogen fertilizer on the family’s 160 acres. With nitrogen, the family’s corn crop suddenly grew much higher and stronger, and produced full ears and big harvests. When fed to their cows and pigs, that high-quality corn produced far more milk and meat. As a result, the family bought more livestock – and the farm grew. “I remember Dad bringing the neighbors over to see how much greener and better the quality of the stalk was,” Mr. Lindsay says. “It was a really big deal then.” Yet it’s also becoming clear that too much of a good thing can have a downside for the environment. The world is awash in man-made “reactive” nitrogen (the chemically active form), researchers say. While greening farms worldwide, much nitrogen washes into lakes, rivers, and the sea, causing rampant algae growth. More nitrogen billows from power-plant smokestacks, blowing in the wind until it settles as acid rain. Still other nitrogen gases remain in the atmosphere consuming the ozone layer. Nitrous oxide is nearly 300 times as potent as carbon dioxide – considered the leading cause of climate change – and the third most threatening greenhouse gas overall. Last year, reactive nitrogen was identified as one of nine key global pollution threats and second worst in terms of having already exceeded a maximum “planetary boundary,” according to a study reported in the journal more

Indian tribe sees bright future in solar power

A poverty-stricken Indian tribe that holds the sun and nature's other gifts sacred sees a brighter future for itself in solar power. The 3,000 members of the Jemez Pueblo are on the verge of building the nation's first utility-scale solar plant on tribal land, a project that could bring in millions of dollars. Experts say tapping into the sun, wind and geothermal energy on Indian land could generate the kind of wealth many tribes have seen from slot machines and blackjack tables. "We don't have any revenue coming in except for a little convenience store," says James Roger Madalena, a former tribal governor who now represents the pueblo in the state Legislature. "It's very critical that we become innovative, creative, that we come up with something that will last generations without having a devastating impact on the environment." The 30-acre site where 14,850 solar panels will be set up has been selected, and after four years of arduous planning and negotiations, a contract to sell outsiders the electricity produced by the four-megawatt operation is at hand. The plant would be capable of cranking out enough electricity to power about 600 homes. The project — which would cost about $22 million, financed through government grants, loans and tax credits — could bring in around $25 million over the next 25 years. That could help the tribe improve its antiquated drinking water system and replace the lagoons it uses to treat more

Pope Blesses Sheep

Pope Benedict XVI has blessed two lambs whose wool will be shorn to make shawls for newly appointed archbishops to wear. The annual blessing takes place on the feast day of St. Agnes, a martyr of early Christianity often symbolized by a lamb. New archbishops receive the wool pallium on June 29. The pallium is a band of white wool decorated with six black silk crosses that is a sign of pastoral authority and a symbol of the archbishops' bond with the pope. AP

Posting Later Today

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hitler Finds Out Scott Brown Won Massachusetts Senate Seat

Senate not seen passing climate bill in 2010

The Senate is unlikely to pass climate change legislation this year after going through the contentious health care debate, and will focus on a separate energy bill that has more bipartisan support, a key Democratic senator said on Tuesday. "It is my assessment that we likely will not do climate change this year, but will do an energy bill instead," Senator Byron Dorgan, told reporters in a telephone conference call. Dorgan's comments were at odds with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has said the Senate this spring would take up a climate change bill to cap and then reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions that are blamed for global warming. Dorgan, who is in the Senate Democratic leadership, said legislation already cleared by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee would be easier to more

Enron: Lobbyist for both Kyoto and Wind Farm Mandates

Dr. Rob Bradley, CEO of the Institute for Energy Research, documents in Political Capitalism how fraud and corruption at Enron were the inevitable consequence of a business strategy emphasizing the political pursuit of market-rigging regulations as a strategy to reap windfall profits and grow market share. Enron, for example, was a key lobbyist for the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty calculated to increase demand for Enron’s services as a natural gas distributor, renewable energy seller, and cap-and-trade broker. Today at MasterResource, the free-market energy blog, Bradley reveals that Enron also spearheaded the push for renewable energy mandates that made Texas the leading windpower state in the more

Sen. Tim Johnson backs wilderness designation in Buffalo Gap National Grassland

The South Dakota Wild Grassland Coalition is praising Sen. Tim Johnson’s decision to introduce a bill designating 40,000 to 50,000 acres of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland east of Rapid City as wilderness. Johnson announced last week that his bill would follow recommendations of the U.S. Forest Service to designate land in the Indian Creek, Red Shirt and Chalk Hills areas of the national grassland as wilderness. Johnson said his bill would keep open the 6-mile-long Indian Creek Road by excluding it from the wilderness boundaries, as recommended by the forest service. Johnson and the other two members of the state’s congressional delegation, Republican Sen. John Thune and Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, have held off from supporting wilderness designation for the areas, citing opposition from some local groups. But local support for wilderness designation has been growing, according to South Dakota Wild Grassland Coalition manager Cheryl Warren of more

Forest Service to Increase Snowmobile Enforcement

This year Inyo National Forest staff plans to increase snowmobile enforcement in areas where the vehicles are not allowed. snowmobile-illegal1Forest Service officials plan to use a plane, along with ground patrols this winter to monitor closed areas for illegal snow machine activity such as designated wilderness areas. Forest Offiicials say that the closures are there to protect the wilderness experience and provide a place for people to get away to, but snowmobile tracks show that many riders venture into these closed areas each season. Riding in a Wilderness or closed area is a Federal and State offense carrying fines up to $5,000 and/or six months in jail, in addition to possible seizure of the snowmobiles. Snowmobiles can be a lot of fun, but with all that speed, it is easy to get yourself into a closed area. Forest Officials says that it is the rider’s responsibility to know where these closed or restricted areas are located and their boundaries. Major winter trailheads and launching points have maps showing these restricted more

Forest Asks Visitors To Wear GPS Units

In a turnabout in the use of radio collars to track wildlife, researchers from the U.S. Forest Service plan to use similar technology to follow two-legged recreationists. The Summit Daily News this week reported that Forest Service researchers are asking cross-country skiers and snowmobilers using the Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area to wear Global Positioning System units. Information from the human-carried Global Positioning System units will be compared with similar data collected from GPS units worn by lynx. The data may lead to some idea of how recreational use in the area is affecting lynx activity. One of Colorado’s most elusive mammals, lynx were thought to be extinct in Colorado by 1973. A total of 218 lynx have been reintroduced to the state during a program begun in more

Snake Valley aquifer battle is worth fighting

The Snake Valley aquifer feels far away from the Tooele Valley. After all, we’re talking about an unseen body of water deep below the earth’s surface in an area along the Utah-Nevada border where few people live anyway. Ranchers and farmers are the most frequently cited victims of a plan to start pumping water out of the aquifer to Las Vegas. You might wonder, why should we care about their aquifer? If Utah gets half the water and those few hardy farmers can be compensated for any damage done to their livelihoods — a plan that is being considered by Gov. Gary Herbert right now — wouldn’t that be a win-win situation all around? In this case, however, the Snake Valley’s farmers are like frogs in the wetlands — a sentinel species that makes a statement bigger than itself. Once these tough-as-nails farmers can’t eke out a living on the land, you’ve almost conceded the defeat of an entire ecosystem. And that’s not simply a metaphorical defeat. Draining the aquifer has been predicted to have a drastic impact on surface water as well. One scenario is that natural springs such as Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge will dry up as a result, forever destroying one of the most important shorebird nesting sites in our part of the world. Another scenario is that desertification will take place, creating a dust bowl effect. Dried-up topsoil would be carried by the prevailing winds all the way to the Wasatch Front, further deteriorating air quality more

Coyotes Spotted on Some Golf Courses

A Pinehurst golfer has a novel excuse for a lost ball - a coyote ran off with it. Recent sightings of coyotes on and near golf courses Pinehurst No. 5 and No. 6 and in Pinewild are bothering residents with small pets, but animal control and wildlife officials report that there is no serious danger to human beings. Earle Hightower, a Pinewild resident who grew up with coyotes in Utah and Colorado, said coyotes pose little danger to humans." With small pets, it is a different story. However, Hightower said, coyotes usually leave large dogs alone. Sgt. Mark Dutton, the commission's enforcement officer in Moore County, said coyotes are expanding their territory throughout North Carolina because the region offers no natural predators to keep their numbers under control. It is legal to hunt coyotes six days a week, Monday through Saturday, in North Carolina. Dutton said the hunter can use a firearm or a trap during daylight hours, beginning half an hour before sunrise and continuing until half an hour after sunset. Hunting is prohibited on Sunday and at night. Dutton said local regulations apply, however, and this means that no one can shoot a coyote in most municipalities. Pinehurst, like most municipalities, has an ordinance prohibiting the discharge of a firearm within village limits. Trapping regulations likewise apply in many more

Brand inspection rules a boon for rustlers

Rustling cattle may seem like an activity straight out of the Old West, but it still exists and advances in transportation have made it easier for thieves to get out of the brand inspection area to sell the animals. Counties in the eastern one-third of the state do not require brand inspection. Cattle in that part of Nebraska often are left unbranded, and individuals who may steal cattle in west or central Nebraska need only to spend a few hours on the road to sell them in a non-brand inspection area. Brands have been recorded in Nebraska since the 1800s, but the Nebraska Brand Committee wasn’t formed until 1941. At that time, Harvey said, it was a county by county decision on whether brand inspection would be required. Since 90 percent of the cattle in Nebraska were in the western two-thirds of the state, those counties elected to take part while the eastern ones did not. Knox County falls into both categories, as brand inspection is required in the western three-quarters of the county but not in the eastern quarter. Furnas County in south central Nebraska is surrounded by brand inspection counties but elected not to become part of the inspection area. Harvey said the idea of making the brand inspection area statewide has come up on numerous occasions, but there are mixed feelings about it. There are more cattle in the eastern part of the state today, but owners there have never had to worry about branding and brand inspection and don’t necessarily want to start. Cattle owners who already live in brand inspection areas, on the other hand, often think it only makes sense to extend the law more

2010 Versatility Ranch Horse World Champion

Mike Major of Fowler, Colorado, uses “phenomenal” to describe two things. First – his horse, Smart Whiskey Doc. As of January 14, Mike’s longtime equine compadre carried him to a back-to-back world championship in versatility ranch horse at the 2010 Fort Dodge Versatility Ranch Horse World Championship Show in Denver. “We were taking a chance because I won the world on him last year, and everybody said, man, you shouldn’t do it twice because if you lose, that’s not a good deal for this horse,” Mike said. “I thought, well, this is a great horse, and God’s been on my side. He’s just a phenomenal horse.” To capture the title, Mike and “Whiskey” won the ranch riding, ranch horse conformation, ranch cutting, finished second in ranch trail and third in working ranch horse. Kris Wilson and Chic Packin took the overall reserve title. A rancher from Fowler, Colorado, Mike and his wife, Holly, purchased the 1999 son of Paddys Irish Whiskey as a yearling from the S Ranch Ltd. In addition to the 2009 versatility ranch horse title, Whiskey’s list of accomplishments includes the 2008 reserve versatility ranch horse world championship, several high-point awards, and the 2006 Select world championship in working cow horse. The Majors have been especially pleased with Whiskey’s colts; they don’t sell many, but “sure like the ones we raise.” Mike is a 40-year breeder of American Quarter Horses. On January 12, he won the National Western Versatility Ranch Horse Classic on Black Hope Stik, a daughter of Whiskey’s and a fourth-generation home-bred mare named Hope more

Gun control group gives Obama failing grade

President Barack Obama received a failing grade this year from The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence on Monday. The Brady Campaign blasted the president, whom the group endorsed in 2008, for not having taken significant steps to advance gun control laws. "It's been a very disappointing year for us, especially considering what he campaigned on," the group's president, Paul Helmke, said during an appearance on MSNBC. "This year they ran away from the issue, and actually signed two repeals of good gun legislation." Those changes, which would allow guns in national parks and on Amtrak trains, were attached as amendments to larger pieces of legislation the president generally supported. Obama got an "F" on every issue the Brady Campaign scored, according to its report more

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Colorado/New Mexico wildlife corridor initiative a gift for holiday season

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson delivered an early holiday present this year - the new wildlife corridor initiative between southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. In the beginning of December, these two governors agreed to work together to identify and protect key wildlife travel and migration corridors across their shared border. The agreement sets out a plan to use the best scientific geospatial mapping systems available to help conserve several key habitats and migration areas. In addition to the economic, educational and cultural impacts of this wildlife corridor project, this joint initiative has positive political implications. Challenges that arise from unprecedented population growth, energy development, air quality degradation and climate change do not occur neatly within state boundaries. On the contrary, key habitats, resources and the air we breathe exist across political boundaries. Coordinating wildlife protection across state lines is a great example of how elected officials from different states can and should collaborate to solve our complex problems. Continued cooperation between Richardson and Ritter will surely help our region create innovative and effective solutions to our shared more

According to the MOU, the states will:

° Identify key habitat connectivity, travel and migration corridors used by elk, deer, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep, and, as identified by the two states, other key species of wildlife that migrate across the shared border between the State of Colorado and the State of New Mexico;
° Evaluate and prioritize these corridors, using the best available science, in respect to their importance and identify key habitat connectivity, travel and migration corridors to be further evaluated;
° Consult with and involve the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Tribe, and/or Jicarilla Apache tribal governments when a key habitat connectivity, travel and migration corridor crossing tribal land is identified;
° Map the key habitat connectivity, travel and migration corridors to the greatest extent possible using a mutually agreeable geospatial mapping system and consistent protocols to inform the decision-making processes in both States;
° Identify existing and potential land use changes and other impediments that are limiting, may limit or may eliminate the viability of key wildlife corridors;
° Develop and prioritize strategies that will positively contribute to the protection of key wildlife corridors, consistent with shared conservation objectives;
° Share recommended strategies with land management agencies, counties, municipalities, non-governmental entities, and the public, to inform and guide future decision-making processes.

Notice it will apply to "existing and potential" land use. Basically, if you are an entity that conducts an activity on federal, state or private land that requires a permit, you could be impacted. The general public could also be affected as access could be restricted or totally excluded.

Thanks to the two Governors Bill, you just got slapped by Santa.

By the way, this whole thing has been a project of the Western Governor's Association since 2007. To see what your illustrious leaders are doing for you, both Republican & Democrat, see their Wildlife Corridors and Crucial Habitat Initiative.

I had previously posted about the MOU between the WGA, USDI & USDA here. I had also previously posted Groups Pushing For For A Joint Secretaral Order: Wildlife Corridors. Who was pushing for this? Certain staffers in the WGA and "American Wildlands, Center for Large Landscape Conservation (CLLC), Center for Native Ecosystems, Conservation Northwest, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Defense Fund, Freedom to Roam, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, Sierra Club, Sonoran Institute, The Wilderness Society, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Western Environmental Law Center, Western Wildlife Conservancy, Wildlands Network, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative."

This is a mapping project, pure and simple (with each state wanting $1 million dollars for their "Decision Support System"), and the maps will be used to influence land use decisions.

Interestingly, the current NM map for "Sensitive" habitat shows that 95%+ of it is south of Santa Fe. When it comes to wildlife habitat, Santa appears to be more interested in the South Pole than the North Pole. I'm sure that was caused by "climate change".

What Santa doesn't realize is that when all these projects are completed both he and his sleigh will be excluded from these areas and not even Rudolph will be able to save him.

NM Cattle & Calves Shot, Killed & Maimed - Two Video Reports

NM rancher's cattle maimed, killed A Socorro County cattle owner and sheriff's investigators are trying to figure out who shot, injured and dragged several cattle over the last few months. Three cattle belonging to the Barela family have suffered from horrific injuries over the past five months. One cow was shot, another was punctured by an arrow and the third was run down by a truck. All of the incidents occurred in Bernardo, a quiet area South of Belen...

KRQE Video Report

Cows shot, killed in Valencia Co. A Valencia County rancher is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who can help him determine who is shooting his cattle and leaving their bodies to rot on the side of a road. A neighbor found four dead calves Sunday morning on ranchland west of Belen. Deputies say they were shot point-blank with a shotgun...

KOB Video Report

World misled over Himalayan glacier meltdown

A WARNING that climate change will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 is likely to be retracted after a series of scientific blunders by the United Nations body that issued it. Two years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a benchmark report that was claimed to incorporate the latest and most detailed research into the impact of global warming. A central claim was the world's glaciers were melting so fast that those in the Himalayas could vanish by 2035. In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC's 2007 report. It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was "speculation" and was not supported by any formal research. If confirmed it would be one of the most serious failures yet seen in climate research. The IPCC was set up precisely to ensure that world leaders had the best possible scientific advice on climate more

Writer, rancher shaped by grazing dispute

Ed Marston and Scott Bedke come from far different worlds, but they share a link that changed both of their lives. Their connection was Don Oman, a feisty Forest Service ranger who stood up to Idaho ranchers, political leaders and his own bosses in 1990 while seeking to protect the streams and wildlife habitat. Oman showed that livestock grazing had degraded both. Marston, the son of a tailor and a hatter from New York City, had a Ph.D. in physics and wrote a story about Oman in High Country News, which he published about environmental issues in the West. Bedke, then and now, is a member of a four-generation ranching family who run their cattle in the Goose Creek watershed on the desolate Idaho-Nevada-Utah border. Marston interviewed Bedke for a story in the High Country News that eventually was picked by People magazine, bringing the growing battle over public land grazing to a national audience. The two men got together for the first time in nearly 20 years Tuesday in Boise to reminisce about that early dispute and its impact on their lives. Their conversation said a lot about how far we have come in the West in a generation. The Oman dispute started Bedke on a path that led him off the ranch and eventually into politics. Today he is the assistant majority leader of the Idaho House of Representatives. It led Marston to two other ranchers, Doc and Connie Hatfield in Oregon, who changed the way he viewed ranching and environmentalism in the West. The couple not only were seeking to leave a lighter touch on the land and helping to rehabilitate the streams, but also were promoting a new way to market beef that empowered ranchers. That meeting was one of the hundreds, perhaps thousands that have led to a collaborative movement of land management across the West that continues to evolve. Marston has been one of the movement's leaders, using High Country News as a forum where both grazing opponents and ranchers could express their more

Some 390 tons of U.S. ground beef recalled

Some 390 tons of ground beef produced by a California meat packer, some of it nearly two years ago, is being recalled for fear of potentially deadly E. coli bacterium tainting, U.S. officials said on Monday. The beef was produced by Huntington Meat Packing Inc of Montebello, California, and shipped mainly to California outlets, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food safety arm said. An initial problem, in ground beef shipped by the plant from January 5 to January 15, was discovered during a regular safety check, the Food Safety and Inspection Service said. It said it had received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of the recalled products. During a follow-up review of the company's records, government inspectors determined additional products produced and shipped in 2008 to be of concern because they may have been contaminated with E.coli, the service said in a notice on its web more

America's Agricultural Angst

In this high-tech information age few look to the most basic industries as sources of national economic power. Yet no sector in America is better positioned for the future than agriculture--if we allow it to reach its potential. Like manufacturers and homebuilders before them, farmers have found themselves in the crosshairs of urban aesthetes and green activists who hope to impose their own Utopian vision of agriculture. This vision includes shutting down large-scale scientifically run farms and replacing them with small organic homesteads and urban gardens. Troublingly, the assault on mainstream farmers is moving into the policy arena. It extends to cut-offs on water, stricter rules on the use of pesticides, prohibitions on the caging of chickens and a growing movement to ban the use of genetic engineering in crops. And it could undermine a sector that has performed well over the past decade and has excellent long-term prospects. Despite the perceptions of a corporatized farm sector, this entrepreneurial spirit remains. Families own almost 96% of the nation's 2.2 million farms, including the vast majority of the largest spreads. And small-scale agriculture, after decreasing for years, is on the upswing; between 2002 and 2009 the number of farms increased by 4%. This trend toward smaller-scale specialized production represents a positive trend, but large-scale, scientifically advanced farming still produces the majority of the average family's foodstuffs, as well as the bulk of our exports. Overall, organic foods and beverages account for less than 3% of all food sales in the U.S.--hardly enough to feed a nation, much less a growing, hungry more

A taste of the West

Much like country music, Western art can be unfairly lumped into one take-it-or-leave-it category. Which is a shame, because people who are turned off by the concept of Western art would miss out on innovative artists like Theodore Waddell. Yes, Waddell paints horses, landscapes and horizons — which are about as common in the genre as a country musician singing about pick up trucks and patriotism. But it’s the way that Waddell approaches and creates his art that sets him apart. “It’s not just about the cows and the landscape,” said Nikki Todd of Visions West Gallery. “I think this work is ultimately about paint and painting.” Waddell, a native Montanan cattle rancher, embraces a sophisticated modernist style with his art, according to the Visions West Gallery. In person, his paintings are notable for their often-vast scale and massive clumps of paint. In 1976, Waddell took a job as a manager for a large ranch. His experiences at the ranch proved an artistic inspiration. “The subject matter appeals to the whole Western art crowd,” said Todd. “But he has an entirely different take on his subject matter than what you usually see.” more

Together, from Day 2 to 27,394

The young man was the son of a rancher from southern Colorado, and one day, while driving through town, he spotted a girl walking down the street. She sang in church, and it was there they would strike up their first conversations. When he embarked upon a more formal courtship, he visited her home and sat on a chair at a distance deemed appropriate by her father. "One day, I saw her and I asked her if she'd be interested in marrying me, and she said, 'yes,' " the man, no longer young, recounts. "Wait," his daughter says, interrupting the story. "Just like that?" "No dating?" asks his other daughter. "My father was a very strict man," their mother says. "He never let me go anywhere. We never dated or did anything. I was even embarrassed when I married him." Their daughters erupt in laughter. When the then-young man declared he had found his future wife, his parents dressed in their best clothing and went to visit her father to present their son's case. It was the custom of the day to say that when a proposal had been rejected, the prospective groom had been given a pumpkin. Upon their parents' return, the young man's siblings searched for, but did not find, any member of the squash family. Shortly thereafter, the bride-to-be was brought to her future in-laws' house, where they had her sit in the middle of the living room for the family's inspection. They were married at St. Augustine church in Antonito. Ruben Salazar was 21. Emma Lucero was almost 19. On Thursday, they will have been married 75 more

Roswell, Aliens, Kidnapping, And The Cover-up

arlier today, a cache of startling documents, audio tapes, and old 16mm film recordings were uncovered by workers renovating the cellar of famed WWII General George Douglas Marshall, US Army (1921-2009). Before a wall of secrecy was put up—ostensibly under the Official Secrets Act of 1911—these documents revealed blockbuster information. The following was revealed by the CMN Cable News Network, as I watched it unfold, and made notes. The tape has since been pulled from In 1945, after WWII, the US Government had seized Nazi scientists and their science in something called Operation Paper Clip. They were brought to America with their knowledge, designs, and some super weapons. These were actually war criminals, but the USA let that slide. By 1944, the Nazis had developed a particular super-weapon. It was a twin-jet fighter-bomber so advanced it was invisible to radar. The Horten GO-229 was a flying wing, boomerang-shaped, like a modern B-2 bomber. The one that looks like the bat plane. It was made of composites and special rubber paint that absorbed radar; it had no radar reflection. It was invisible. This was in 1944, super science, lost knowledge not rediscovered until the 1980’s. The Horten even used an advanced gold-cadmium alloy to de-ice its wings, a memory-metal that if deformed could spring back and reset its shape. It was Star Wars stuff, Buck Rogers to them in 1944. Two years after the war ended—around early 1947—the U.S. Government was reportedly actually operating—flying—these captured secret Luftwaffe warplanes. The incarcerated pilots had been members of a Nazi ‘ghost unit’—so secret it only became known to Allied Intelligence after the war. Something called Luftwaffe Wing 500, the most privileged and knowledgeable of the SS. They worked directly for Oberkommando, High Command. They knew the secrets—where everything was, and how it all more

Read this to find out what really happened at Roswell...

Song Of The Day #223

This morning Ranch Radio brings you Carl Smith and his 1953 recording of Back Up Buddy.

The tune is available on his 20 track CD Don't Just Stand There: 20 Greatest Hits.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Endangered species deal spurs concerns in rangeland owners

Due to concerns of landowners, the California Cattlemen's Association recently pulled out of a deal with wildlife agencies for a "safe harbor" agreement on habitat and endangered species. While the draft plan is still in the works through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game, the Cattlemen's Association is no longer planning to serve as administrator for the program. The safe harbor program is geared toward the counties of Butte, Glenn, Tehama and Shasta. Property owners would voluntarily enter agreements that enhanced or restored habitat for threatened or endangered species. Then, the property owner would be protected from increased regulations if protected species moved to that habitat and were harmed by routine agricultural and rangeland management. Biologists would also document "baseline conditions" so property owners could return their property to that baseline. Matt Byrne, executive vice president of the state Cattlemen's Association, said his group had planned to serve as administrator of the program to help protect ranchers who are "doing all the right things for species habitat." After more than two years in the works, landowners have been looking at the plan more closely. "It didn't meet muster in terms of making landowners feel fully comfortable," he continued. One of the worries was that if one landowner took part, and protected species moved in, nearby landowners would risk increased regulations. Also, there have been questions about confidentiality of data provided by more

Curious as to what is really going on here. Did staff get out ahead of the industry and need to be reined in? Was CCA to be paid for being "administrator"? Has there ever been a case where a species was declared endangered and those having safe harbor agreements were "protected from increased regulations"?

Fort Carson expansion will play into contest, one GOP candidate says

The race between two Republicans for the party’s nomination for governor will come down to their differences over the handling of the Army’s desire to expand Fort Carson, Evergreen businessman Dan Maes said Friday. He and Scott McInnis, the front-running former U.S. representative from Grand Junction, have different views on the issue, Maes said in an interview after he spoke to the monthly luncheon of the Mesa County Republican Party at Two Rivers Convention Center. Ranchers and others in southeastern Colorado oppose the Army’s efforts to expand Fort Carson’s 35,000-acre training area by at least 100,000 acres. McInnis “is clearly in favor” of the Army’s plans, Maes said, and “I feel there should be a resolution between the Army and the ranchers.” The contest, he said, will be decided by the difference between the two on private-property more

Bighorn plan approved

The Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has gotten approval for the first-ever statewide plan for managing bighorn sheep in Montana. The FWP Commission last week approved the plan, which seeks to keep better tabs on bighorns in the state and find new habitat for the animal. Today there are 5,700 bighorns in 45 herds in Montana, and FWP estimates the population could be expanded by almost 1,000. The conservation strategy won approval from some bighorn advocates, who said it gave clear direction to state biologists on how to keep the bighorn population viable. However, it was criticized by others for handing too much power to domestic sheep producers when it comes to finding new habitat for bighorns. Bighorn sheep can contract pneumonia and other diseases from domestic sheep, and wildlife officials manage bighorns to keep them away from domestic sheep. At issue is a line in the plan that ensures woolgrowers FWP will not lobby federal land managers to remove domestic sheep from public land in order to make room for bighorns, unless the rancher is on board with the more

Unethical Greenpeace actions threaten the livelihoods and lives of millions

Should corporate ethics principles apply only to profit-making companies? Or should they also cover nonprofit corporations, especially those that badger for-profits to be more “socially responsible”? Should corporations be judged partly on creating jobs, supporting communities, or improving and saving lives? And should nonprofit corporations be penalized for impeding the enhancement of human life? The answers should be self-evident. But they’re not, as US nonprofits and politicians have repeatedly demonstrated. Consider Greenpeace. This self-proclaimed paragon of virtue constantly harasses companies that it deems insufficiently virtuous in advertising their products, protecting the environment and promoting their public image. But the Rainbow Warriors’ own actions would frequently merit fines or even jail time if committed by profit-making businesses. Greenpeace publicity stunts, anti-corporate campaigns and fund-raising appeals are often laden with false and misleading claims about companies and their operations. The Warriors justify their actions as necessary to advancing their legal, legislative and regulatory agenda – and getting people and foundations to write a check or click their website’s “donate now” button. Almost anything goes, because Greenpeace and its comrades in eco-warfare are apparently beyond the reach of the Lanham Act and mail fraud or tax laws that apply to ordinary corporations and more

Ranchers aim to protect water

Polly Rex holds water rights dating back more than a century. But the Absarokee-area rancher wonders what they’ll be worth if the state doesn’t change its policy regarding new wells. “My water rights are probably the most important component on my place,” she said. “I’ve been told since I was a little kid that they’re like gold. Now I’m finding they’re not worth the paper they’re printed on.” Her neighbor Betty Lannen agrees. The octogenarian remembers her grandfather taking pride in his senior water rights. “That’s what they talked about,” she recalls. Now, they say, Montana’s time-honored doctrine of “first in time, first in right” is threatened by a Department of Natural Resources and Conservation rule that applies to “exempt wells.” The rule, as it currently stands, allows for the drilling of any number of new exempt wells — without regard for their impact on existing water more

N.M. ranch a glimmer of what renewable energy can mean to Arizona

When you turn on a light in Phoenix, you might be connecting with windmills on Steve Tapia's land in New Mexico. The 77-year-old rancher and his wife are among the property owners leasing out sites for 90 giant wind turbines on the stark Aragonne Mesa, halfway between Albuquerque and the Texas line. "It's been good wind since I was born," he says. "Now, we're making money from it." Arizona Public Service buys the energy output, enough to power about 25,000 homes. Tapia had his doubts about the towering white structures with three whirling blades. With his substantial belt, hefty bola tie and a face with the same hard lines as the rocks on the mesa, the former sheriff is a picture of the traditional West. But now, he likes the windmills' sleek silhouettes along the ridge line. Especially since the extra income helps keep his ranching operations going. This is the new West, where alternative energy is a growing business and a small but a growing source of more

Enviro groups back roundup of wild horses

Two environmental groups are joining ranchers in an unusual coalition supporting the government's contentious removal of about 2,500 wild horses from the range north of Reno. The Sierra Club and Friends of Nevada Wilderness, which have been at odds with ranchers on past issues, agree with the need for the ongoing roundup of wild horses in the Calico Mountain Complex. The organizations, in a joint news release with the sportsmen groups Safari Club International and Coalition for Nevada's Wildlife, said an overpopulation of wild horses is harming native wildlife and the range itself. Sierra Club spokeswoman Tina Nappe of Reno said a wild horse can consume up to 26 pounds of forage a day and arid rangelands can't produce enough food for them. Wild horses have been observed chasing and harassing pronghorn antelope near water sources, the organizations said, and have been identified as a risk factor for critical sage grouse habitat. The bird has been petitioned for protection as an endangered species. Bighorn sheep and mule deer also compete for food and water with wild horses, the groups said, and their populations are down. Jeremy Drew, president of the Safari Club's Northern Nevada chapter, criticized various celebrities for suggesting the roundup is threatening the Calico herd with extinction. He noted at least 572 horses will be left in the herd. Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, Bill Maher, Lily Tomlin and Ed Harris are among celebrities who have come out against the more

Horse problem: Abandonment up in rough times

Brand inspector Mike Walck won’t soon forget one of the worst cases of animal cruelty he has seen. In mid-November, between Rulison and Parachute, someone shot a horse in the head, leaving the gray gelding in his late teens or early 20s for dead. But the horse didn’t die. “I don’t know why they were trying to kill the horse, but they damn sure shot it in the head,” Walck said angrily. “It’s a tough deal.” Walck said the horse has been nursed back to health and is recovering. No arrests have been made in the case. Unfortunately, Walck said, similar cases are on the rise. Walck, who oversees brand inspections from De Beque and Aspen, said he normally handles one or two abandoned-horse cases a year. He handled 14 or 15 last year, which he said is becoming a trend that is mirrored nationwide. There was a time when people could buy horses with the intent of feeding and caring for them for resale. About 10 years ago, horses were sold at sale barns for a minimum of $500 to $600, said Jim Brach, co-owner of Western Slope Cattlemen’s Livestock Auction of Loma. Better horses fetched $1,500 to $3,000. At that time, slaughter prices were about 40 cents a pound, he said. But these days, it’s likely folks will get at most a couple hundred dollars, and in some instances may owe money to the sale barn to sell a horse, Brach said. Slaughterhouses have disappeared in this country because it is illegal to buy or sell horses for human consumption in the U.S. Videotaped reports from Mexico’s slaughterhouses, however, indicate the practice is more brutal than any former U.S. plant. Some people cite an increase in abandoned, neglected and abused horses as one drawback of the ban on U.S. slaughterhouses. Costs for a veterinarian to euthanize a horse can run from $75 to $150, not including a disposal fee, which may be prohibitive to some hard-up horse owners. Selling an older horse for slaughter formerly added valued to the animals that weigh between 900 to 1,600 pounds. Horse owners selling for slaughter now often end up paying money to be rid of them. “Instead of doing that, they’ll abandon them and turn them out into the wild,” said Keene Rayley, brand inspector for Mesa County. “There’s getting to be a glut of horses on the market. This is the tip of the iceberg, and it’s going to get worse.” more

Many factors determine snowflake size, shape

The world’s largest snowflakes hit the ground during a January storm in 1887 at Fort Keogh, on the western edge of Miles City. At least that’s what’s listed in the Guinness World Records. A rancher described the snowflakes as “larger than milk pans” and measured one at 15 inches wide. A mailman, stuck in the blizzard, also witnessed the huge flakes, although their claim lacked tangible, corroborating evidence. Other challengers don’t even come close to dethroning the Miles City behemoth. Weather officials in Berlin, Germany, reported a storm in 1915 that produced 4-inch-wide flakes shaped like oval bowls, and a fall snowstorm in Laramie, Wyo., in September of 1970 dropped 3-inch-wide flakes. "While it’s tempting to blow off the record-breaking flakes as a tall tale, Kenneth G. Libbrecht, a physicist with a passion for snowflakes, believes in at least the possibility of pan-sized snowflakes. “It’s not an individual snow crystal — it’s gobs of snow crystals stuck to together,” said Libbrecht, who heads the physics department at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. It’s hard to believe in softball-sized hailstones, but people pull them out of their freezers, he said. Libbrecht created the Web site, which includes online photo galleries of snowflakes along with the more

MCCARTNEY Offers hard-hitting Meat Industry DVD as Golden Globe Gift

SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY is hoping to convert celebrities attending this weekend's (17Jan10) Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles into vegetarians by placing his hard-hitting new PETA DVD, GLASS WALLS, in presenters and nominees' gift bags. The former Beatle, who will be among the presenters, agreed to endorse the hard-hitting film, which takes viewers inside the meat industry. The longtime veggie, who narrates and appears in the film, says, "I've often said, 'If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.' "Animals raised on modern factory farms and killed in slaughterhouses endure almost unimaginable suffering. I hope that once you see the routine cruelty involved in raising, transporting, and killing animals for food, you'll join the millions of people who have decided to leave meat off their plates - for good." [link

'The Wilderness Warrior'

Mark Hanna, the Republican Party operative responsible for William McKinley's election to the presidency in 1896, did not like Theodore Roosevelt. Hanna, the Karl Rove of his day, famously dismissed Roosevelt as a "cowboy." "The reality, in fact, was far worse than Hanna contemplated," Douglas Brinkley writes in "The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America." "Roosevelt was a pro-forest, pro-buffalo, cougar-infatuated, socialistic land conservationist who had been trained at Harvard as a Darwinian-Huxleyite zoologist and now believed that the moral implications of 'On the Origin of Species' needed to be embraced by public policy." Much is known about him, but as Candice Millard showed in "The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Last Journey," and as Brinkley proves in his massive, fascinating study of Roosevelt's successful efforts to preserve more than 200million acres of America's forests and natural wonders, much remains to be learned. Roosevelt's obsession with wildlife and wild places began as a child (he collected mice and made accurate sketches of them, by subspecies) and continued throughout his life. He seriously considered a career as a biologist or naturalist before entering politics and was an authority on bears, deer and many varieties of birds. He was deeply in love with the American West and made trips into the backcountry as president, most memorably at Yosemite, where, in 1903, he camped in a snowstorm with John Muir. The image of Roosevelt and Muir dancing around a campfire is unforgettable; it is impossible to imagine any other president taking such joy in the outdoors. Roosevelt used every tool at his disposal to protect wild areas from development. He and Gifford Pinchot, the first head of the U.S. Forest Service, created 16 million acres of new national forests in 1907 in a daring move against a congressional deadline. Roosevelt also passed the Antiquities Act in 1906 and used it to create 18 national monuments, including the Grand Canyon (which later became a national park.) more

Lori Armstrong brings taste of South Dakota into her novels

It's the geographical diversity - the plains, the Badlands, the mountains - that holds so much intrigue for Armstrong. That's why the Rapid City author, whose new book "No Mercy" was published this month, sets many of her stories here. In "No Mercy," Armstrong tells the story of Mercy Gunderson, a sharp shooter who takes a debilitating medical leave from the Army after her father's death to reassemble the broken remains of her family at their ranch in the Black Hills. But even as she leaves the war in Iraq, a new battleground is brewing on her own property as she fights for the land that's been in her family for generations. "Mercy is cool headed, but she never wanted to come back to South Dakota. Having to come back to South Dakota was probably the worst punishment for her," Armstrong says. "No Mercy" marks the beginning of Armstrong's second mystery series. The first, the Julie Collins mysteries, garnered a number of honors for Armstrong, including the 2007 Willa Cather Literary Award for best original softcover fiction and the 2009 Shamus Award from the Private Eye Writers of America for the best paperback original. Armstrong currently is finishing the second book in the series, "Mercy Kill." more

Reality series captures every move of Montana ranch families

The spotlight has shined on Bill Galt of White Sulphur Springs before, but not like this. Galt and his ranching family are the subjects of an upcoming reality TV show on the Animal Planet channel that will debut later this year. The show, titled "Cowboys," follows three families that own and operate cattle ranches in Montana through the ups and downs of a season. The docudrama spotlights calving, weaning, cattle drives, auctions and more. The network describes the show as "set against the majestic backdrop of Montana." The show is set to start airing eight one-hour episodes in March. Also featured in the show will be Avon ranchers Earl and Glenna Stuckey and the Hughes Mountain Guest Ranch in Stanford. "From the traditional rancher who does everything by hand and on horseback to the modern ranch that uses high-tech equipment and all-terrain vehicles, each family's fortune depends on the success or failure of the season," the show's description reads. "Facing unpredictable weather, disease and injuries, thousands of new births and hungry predators waiting for an easy meal, these modern ranches continue the great American tradition of life on the range. 'Cowboys' is larger-than-life, life-and-death, real-life drama." more

East Texas online radio show is 'World Wild West'

It's 7 p.m. when Ralph Hampton dons a headset and starts the show. "We're coming to you live from sparkling San Augustine, Texas, from the second floor of the Hightop Feed and Seed," the 53-year-old says into a small microphone. This is "Ralph's Backporch," a connection from a small, East Texas town to Western and cowboy culture lovers the world over. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday night, Hampton and Tamara Boatright, 42, host two hours of conversation, Western-style music and cowboy poetry broadcast by way of Internet radio. The Backporch has hit the Internet every week since October 2007, reaching a few thousand listeners throughout the nation and in Britain, New Zealand, Brazil and about 20 other nations. They began playing Western music that one of their advertisers mailed them. Playing the music led to interviews with the songwriters, several of whom were working cowboys. Then, cowboy poets started calling in to tell stories and read poems. Their guests have included songwriters Michael Martin Murphey and Don Edwards and National Public Radio contributor and cowboy poet Baxter Black. In November, they won the Western Music Association's Best Radio Station award. Ralph's Backporch plays the music that commercial radio stations won't touch, Boatright said. Since a few corporations now own almost every commercial radio station in the nation, she said, most mainstream country music stations play the same small list of songs. "It's music of the heartland," Hampton said. "Whether you are a farmer, a working cowboy — or some guy who grew up going to the movies and seeing Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, and now you wear a suit and tie and get stuck on the freeway every day — it's something they can listen to and relate to." more

Sheep rancher following lead of his ancestors

The fertile Lipan Flats east of here were mainly prairie when pioneer farmers started settling their land and clearing the brush in the late 1880s. The first settlers were J.C. and Lou Bell Bunnell in 1886. The town was named for J.M. Wall, a storekeeper who also served as first postmaster when the post office opened in 1906. When George E. Hemphill claimed his 640 acre tract four miles south of Wall, he plowed the land with mules he brought with him from Missouri in 1902. “I can remember my mother telling about Grandpa Hemphill hollering at those stubborn mules,” said John Horace “Took” Edwards. “He finally got rid of the mules and bought draft horses to pull the plow.” Hemphill bought the farm from W.A. and Victoria Pringle. His first crops were oats, cotton and milo. He later bought another 640 acres and added livestock production to the operation. He was one of the first Concho Valley stockfarmers to raise and feed lambs for shipment by rail to Fort Worth as fat choice lambs, Took remembers. Besides sheep and goats, he also got into the purebred Hereford cattle more

Jensen-Alvarado Ranch house gives glimpse of 1800s

The brick ranch house on the Jensen-Alvarado Ranch in Rubidoux greets several thousand visitors each year, giving them an up-close look at Inland life in the 1800s. Elementary school children and seniors alike shuffle through the home, examining the bedroom furniture that belonged to the home's original owners, eyeing a cradle where babies were once rocked to sleep and looking at a piano that belonged to the home's original owners. The ranch, at 4307 Briggs St. in Riverside, was built by Cornelius Jensen, a retired sea captain and native of the island of Sylt. He reportedly completed the home in 1870. The home is the oldest nonadobe structure in the Inland Empire, according to information provided by Nancy Wenzel, interpretive services supervisor for the ranch, which is owned and operated by Riverside County. Jensen built the ranch and planted the vineyards and orchards on 460 acres he purchased from Louis Robidoux. At one point, the ranch was worth about $30,000, making it the second-most valuable in the Riverside and West Riverside more

'Bill Kitt' saga spans the whole life of Oregon cattle country

The only trouble with "Bill Kitt" the book is that we learn relatively little about Bill Kitt the man. That's not necessarily a bad thing. "I really felt that I could have sat down and done a biography just on my granddad," says Donovan "Jack" Nicol, who with his niece, Amy Thompson, is the author of a 450-page Western saga masquerading as Kitt's biography. "But that would be self-serving. "He did a lot, but he had a lot of other people with him -- a lot of them worthy of a book themselves. I thought, 'These were great stories, so let's bring 'em all in.' That's why I tried to cover the whole ranching picture during that time." So, while "Bill Kitt" the book uses Kitt's life "from trail driver to Cowboy Hall of Fame" as its framework, it offers near-encyclopedic aspects of cattle country life. For openers, Kitt's full name was William Kittredge. But he was known throughout southeast Oregon's cattle country and beyond by his nickname to the point a lot of folks might have been surprised to learn he had a longer moniker. His career in the cattle business spanned 1893 to 1958. It took him from a $25-a-month buckaroo to owner of one of the West's most massive cattle operations: 68,000 acres of deeded property in in Klamath, Lake and Harney counties in Oregon; Humboldt and Washoe counties in Nevada and Tehama County in California, as well as 850,000 acres leased from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Oregon and Nevada, plus 52,000 other leased acres. It also earned him distinction as one of only three Oregonians honored in the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum's Hall of Great Westerners in Oklahoma more

Song Of The Day #222

Ranch Radio will help get you off to a swinging week with The New Green Light recorded in 1954 by Hank Thompson. It's available on several of his collections which you can view here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The season for snow cowboys

by Julie Carter

I was always a fair weather cowgirl, but it just didn't always happen that there were fair weather cattle that needed tending.

Fact of life - if you have cattle and live where winter is a force to contend with, you have to be dedicated to the job. Being a little bit crazy doesn't hurt.

The Texas Panhandle, Amarillo particularly, claims some notoriety for its miserable winters.
Running yearlings on winter wheat is a tricky deal requiring good hard horses and cowboys of the same ilk.

Darrell had a big string of yearlings on winter wheat throughout most of a miserable Panhandle winter. The wheat had gotten too short and the cattle needed to be moved.

Darrell, known for his penchant to always do things the hard way, called for some help to come move the cattle.

Trucking them would have cost about $100 dollars, but Darrell was determined to save the expense for Buster, the mega-bucks Kansas cattleman that owned the herd.

The morning that the cowboys showed up to move the cattle, a cold, bitter east wind blew in, driving ice and sleet in front of it, and into the faces of the cattle, horses and cowboys. Naturally, east was the very direction they needed to go.

The cattle fought to turn back, refusing to drive into the wind except by force. This kept all but two of the riders at the back of the herd plenty busy.

The two point riders were needed mostly just to open the gates. No danger of the cattle running off in that direction.

It took all of the morning and a good part of the afternoon to drive the herd six miles.
The cowboys took turns thawing out in the pickups that followed behind.

The horses had balls of ice and snow packed in their hooves and their eye lashes and nostrils were iced over, same as the cowboys.

There wasn't a creature, man or beast, that wasn't chilled to the bone and hoping they'd live to see another warm day.

Nobody ever heard if Buster appreciated all the misery and work that went into saving him $100, but it was quite some time before Darrell was able to round up any extra winter help again.

In times of blizzards, a solid broke horse that will pull whatever you tie a rope onto is a must.
Yearlings are known to ball up in a corner of a wheat field and die out of pure spite.

Farmers seem to be irritable about it when they have to run over bones to plow in the spring, so a fella needs to be able drag off the deads and make them available to the used-cow dealer.

Many a wheat pasture lord has become closely acquainted with the guy at the rendering service. All part of winter wheat pasture cowboying.

Meanwhile, back in the mountains where winter may not blow in quite the same as it does on the plains, cold and snow are still the challenge.

It was late in the fall and everything but a few strays had been gathered out of the mountain pastures, but the search would continue as long as the hills were passable.

My brother and I were still pretty young when we tagged along with my dad to track a few of the last stragglers in the deep canyons fronting the Rocky Mountain range of home.

With our horses in single file, we trudged through the snow that had settled in the bottom of the draws.
Often we had to dismount and let the horses lunge their way to the top of a steep hill. We would catch them at the top of the ridge after we first, and then they, floundered through the belly deep drifts covering the north slopes in the shade of the pines.

Wet boots and wet gloves aided in fingers and toes turning to popsicles without feeling.
As the sun made its way to setting behind the mountain range, the cold fell on us like a heavy blanket, chilling us to the marrow.

We were so cold by the time we headed home that my brother, unable to reach his stirrups, unknowingly lost one of his too big hand-me-down boots during the long miserable jog trot back to barn.

As long as there are horses that need ridden, cattle that need tended, cowboys will saddle up in the chill of winter and do the job because it's there to be done, no matter the conditions.
In their youth, it comes more easily. A few decades later, justification for waiting for the sun to shine comes even easier.

"Why ride colts in a snowstorm? How can you teach them to watch for rattlesnakes in this weather?"

Julie can be reached for comment at

It's The Pitts: Loco-Vores

By Lee Pitts

You aren’t going to believe this one. Or, perhaps you will when I tell you where the event took place. It seems that some folks out in San Francisco have started eating dirt. Yes, now in addition to scheduling wine and olive tastings on their weekends California hipsters will have to add “soil tastings.” Although I was not there (gosh darn it) a group of foodies were invited to a new restaurant in Frisco for a “Taste the Earth” celebration where they tasted some of the nuances between soils from different “terroirs.” If you try this yourself at home please be careful to avoid soils from sewage sludge terroirs, horse boarding terroirs and feedlot terroirs.

This is all part of the “locovore” movement, mostly a bunch of veg heads who believe that you should only eat foods grown within 100 miles from your house. I sympathize with all vegan locavores attempting to live in some parts of West Texas where your diet is going to be limited to beef, rattlesnakes and cottonseed hulls.

Get used to hearing the word locavore a lot. It was first coined during the 2005 World Environment Day in San Francisco (where else) by Jessica Prentice and in 2007 the Oxford American Dictionary named it their “Word of the Year.” (I didn’t even know there was such a thing!) Locavores believe we should be celebrating our local “foodways” and “foodsheds,” and they aren’t talking about the smokehouse out back. As I understand it, a “foodshed” is the “terroir” where your food should come from and I get a funny feeling they aren’t talking about a Tyson or JBS slaughterhouse.

The locavores say that, on average, the food we eat travels 1,500 miles before it gets to our plate. While I really like the idea of patronizing farmer’s markets and eating more locally I wonder if the locavores in Frisco have ever been out of the Golden State? It’s one thing to live within shouting distance of Salinas, Napa and the Pacific Ocean where you can regularly dine on the four necessary food groups, salad, fish sticks, wine and beef, but quite another if you live in Duluth. If you order a locavore bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich in a Big Apple deli you can have everything on it except the bacon, lettuce and tomato. And hold the bread and mayonnaise too.

I’d imagine that being a locavore is a lot easier when you live in Florida or California where you can order anything on the menu 365 days a year, but how about the folks in South Dakota? Where are they going to get freshly squeezed orange juice in the middle of January? And leafy greens are a little sparse out Wickenburg way.

If you enjoy the occasional shrimp dinner and live in landlocked Nebraska you are either going to have to raise them in your salt water swimming pool or move to the left or right coast to satisfy your craving. I’d imagine a locavore in Alaska or the middle of the Mojave Desert is going to starve to death! If this idea catches on the good folks in Wyoming are going to wish they’d built more hot houses and fewer windmills. And those folks waiting in Las Vegas buffet lines are sure going to be disappointed.

Just for fun I decided that I’d fix a locavore dinner for my wife just to see how hard it would be. First of all you can forget her favorite food, which is cheese, because there hasn’t been a dairy within a 100 miles of my house for decades. Lamb was also out because the coyotes ate the last sheep in these parts in 1961, as was pork because the only hogs around here are wild ones. I take that back, 4-H and FFA kids have lambs and pigs and they’ll become billionaires if we all become locavores.

Being a locavore is part of the sustainability movement and my American Oxford Dictionary defines the word “sustainable” as something that can go on indefinitely. How are New York locavores going to be able to “sustain” themselves in the middle of winter by eating locally raised food exclusively? They better take a page from the book of those kooks out in Frisco and get used to the scrumptious, yet gritty, taste of dirt.

Song Of The Day #221

Our Sunday Gospel tune is My Lord Keeps Me Satisfied performed by The Lonesome River Band on their 10 track CD Saturday Night, Sunday Morning.

Eight-Year-Old on TSA Terrorist Watchlist Gets Frisked

The Transportation Security Administration, attempting to squelch nefarious rumors, has asserted on its web site under a “Mythbuster” feature that “No 8-year-old is on a T.S.A. watch list.” Unfortunately for the TSA, the New York Times found an 8-year-old on its list. Mikey Hicks, a Cub Scout in Camden, New Jersey, is a frequent flyer who can’t seem to get a break because he shares a name with another Michael Hicks who has drawn suspicion from the Department of Homeland Security. This coincidence has resulted in numerous airport delays for his family over the years. Mikey, who was born less than a month before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, received his first pat-down by TSA screeners when he was 2 years old — an experience that left him in more

The Bogus Anti-Terrorist Crackdown on Financial Freedom

In the post–9/11 era, federal officials are treating cash as they would a suspected weapon of mass destruction. They have created legions of new restrictions and reporting requirements for citizens’ money. But the new controls have done nothing to make Washington any more competent at protecting Americans from real threats. Federal experts estimated that Mohamed Atta and the other 18 hijackers required only about half a million dollars in total financing to carry out their attacks on September 11, 2001. That is a tiny fraction of the trillions of dollars’ worth of currency transactions that occur daily around the world. Terrorism expert Brian Jenkins observed, “Terrorism tends to be a low-budget item. The real resources are fervent young men who are willing to blow themselves to bits.” But the feds seized upon the attacks to greatly expand intrusions into Americans’ financial affairs. The terrorist attacks instantly endowed George W. Bush with the right to micro-manage world financial institutions — or so the Bush administration apparently believed. And while Treasury Department officials portrayed their decrees as first strikes against “money that kills,” in reality it is almost impossible to determine which dollar bills have homicidal intent. The USA PATRIOT Act gave the feds the right to financially strip-search every more

FBI admits Spanish politican was model for 'high-tech' Osama bin Laden photo-fit

The US state department was forced to withdraw the mocked up photo-image, circulated around the world last week, after the discovery that it was not quite as technically sophisticated as the FBI had originally claimed. The digitally altered image of an older and greying Bin Laden was meant to show how the world's most wanted terrorist might now look without his trademark turban and long beard. It was released in a renewed effort to locate him, more than eight years after the September 11 attack which he ordered and directed. But it created an unexpected stir in Madrid when a Spanish MP recognised strong elements of himself in the image and complained to the more

The Drug War vs. the Bill of Rights

In America, our liberties our ostensibly protected by the U.S. Constitution and particularly the Bill of Rights. How much has the drug war compromised our Constitutional rights? Let us consider a countdown, starting with the Tenth Amendment and moving to First. The Tenth Amendment says "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." This effectively means that if the Constitution does not grant the power to the federal government over something, then it is for the states and people to decide. Some people here would say this is the most important amendment. If the federal government obeyed it, the entire drug war as we know it would be impossible. In 1909, Hamilton Wright, U.S. official to the Shanghai Opium Commission, complained that the Constitution was "constantly getting in the way" of his drug war ambitions. Indeed, in domestic politics, there is no Constitutional authorization for a federal drug war whatever. Without a grant of power, the U.S. government is supposed to butt out. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed the Harrison Narcotic Act into law. There was no constitutional basis for this, but at least by the time alcohol prohibition came around, it was recognized that the federal government would need constitutional authority to ban liquor. They passed the 18th Amendment and repealed the disaster of alcohol prohibition with the 21st amendment. By 1937, however, there was no more such deference to Constitutional more