Saturday, November 19, 2011

WTO issues final ruling against COOL

The World Trade Organization (WTO) issued its final ruling today that the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law violates international trading rules. WTO had issued an interim ruling to this effect earlier this year (Feedstuffs, May 30). The U.S. has 60 days to appeal. The ruling responds to a complaint brought by the governments of Canada and Mexico that the meat from Canadian or Mexican livestock that are born in Canada or Mexico but raised in the U.S. -- gaining most of their weight with American feed, labor and technology -- should be considered as "Product of the U.S." This would recognize the validity of the provision of "substantial transformation" that was specifically written into the North American Free Trade Agreement to identify the country of origin of any merchandised products. The ruling also responds to the Canadian/Mexican argument that COOL distorts markets in that it raises costs to U.S. packers so much that they either will not buy Canadian and Mexican livestock or will do so only at discounted, lower prices. WTO also determined that COOL does not provide accurate information as to a meat product's origin. The Canadian Cattlemen's Assn. (CCA) issued a statement urging the U.S. to comply with the WTO ruling and warning that should the U.S. appeal or disregard the ruling, CCA will work with the Canadian government to, if necessary, impose retaliatory trade options. (Canada is the second-largest export market for U.S. beef and third-largest for U.S. pork, and Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. beef and second-largest for U.S. pork.)...more

This article says the U.S. is still considering whether or not to appeal.

McDonald's drops egg supplier over cruelty charges

McDonald's has dropped a Minnesota-based egg supplier after an animal rights group released an undercover video of operations at the egg producer's farms in three states. The video by Mercy for Animals shows what it calls animal cruelty including a worker swinging a bird around by its feet. McDonald's Corp. said Friday the behavior shown on the video is "disturbing and completely unacceptable." The fast food chain says it demands humane treatment of animals by suppliers...more

Pueblo medicine man acknowledges killing an eagle

A Kewa Pueblo medicine man faces prison and steep fines for killing and plucking bald eagles in violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Martin Aguilar, 47, entered guilty pleas Wednesday to the unlawful taking of a bald eagle and the unlawful possession of a bald eagle, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque. Aguilar is not in custody pending his sentencing, which has yet to be scheduled. According to prosecutors, Aguilar was with his son on Feb, 6, 2010, on bosque pueblo lands when Aguilar and his son shot two eagles and then took the birds home and removed the feathers. Aguilar told U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents two days later that he killed the eagles and that their feathers were located at his house...more

The Westerner's Radio Theater #010

Here's a Gene Autry Melody Ranch Show - "Art Richards"

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Super Committee’s Super Sellout on Farm Spending

Now, it looks like in addition to failing its charge to reduce the deficit, the Super Committee is also about to destroy the Republican brand. Capitol Hill Republican leaders are proposing tax increases, phony spending cuts and secret spending deals as they try desperately to make it look like Republicans accomplished something in last summer’s debt ceiling deal -- besides giving Obama a blank check for over $2 trillion in new spending. The problem is the Republican leadership is proving itself genetically incapable of actually standing on principle to cut spending. Witness their efforts to include a secret farm spending bill in the Committee’s deficit reduction legislation as the latest sell-out to leak from the Super Committee’s secret deliberations. The Farm Bill, which is renewed every five years, is one of the largest pork barrels on Capitol Hill. Far from being merely a farm subsidy program, the Farm Bill includes such urban liberal programs as food subsidies, environmental and land conservation programs. This year, as fate would have it, the election calendar necessitated that the Farm Bill (in all of its pork-filled glory) would have to be written and voted on in the middle of an election year, where balancing the budget and fiscal probity would be two of the major issues. The answer from the GOP’s Congressional leadership is a classic Washington insider maneuver: write the new Farm Bill in secret as part of the Super Committee’s deficit reduction package...more

Governor withdraws Arizona from climate initiative

The Brewer administration on Wednesday withdrew from the Western Climate Initiative, ending several years of efforts by states and Canadian provinces to force a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Henry Darwin, director of the Department of Environmental Quality, said the problem with the initiative is it proposed a "cap and trade" system. That requires major polluters -- in the case of Arizona, the coal-fired power plants run by utilities -- to reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions or buy credits from other companies which have exceeded their reduction goals. Arizona's participation was ordered in 2008 by Janet Napolitano, the prior governor. But Darwin said the current administration believes there are "more effective, responsible ways" to improve health and the environment "while avoiding the economic costs to the industries that are subject to cap and trade." Darwin said while Arizona is withdrawing from the Western Climate Initiative, with its cap-and-trade system, it is instead joining North America 2050, an organization of states that will explore the issue of greenhouse gas emissions but leave it up to each member to decide what makes sense, both environmentally and economically...more

Illegals are trashing America's border areas

"I have learned to live with trash," said fifth-generation Arizona rancher Jim Chilton. He saw his once-beautiful ranch, just a few miles from the border with Mexico, is now dotted with clusters of crushed trees and cactus, whole hillsides have been turned into charred eyesores, years worth of his award-winning conservation projects obliterated -- and the whole thing is littered with trash, tons and tons of trash. And some of the trash was dead bodies. Chilton had the misfortune of settling in the path of what would become a dangerous drug- and human-smuggling route on the U.S.-Mexican border, parallel with the notorious Peck Canyon Corridor. "I've got 30,000 to 40,000 illegal aliens coming right through the ranch every year, and the Forest Service says each one leaves about eight pounds of trash. That means 100 tons of trash. Some cows eat the plastic bags and about 10 head a year die a slow and painful death. At $1,200 a head, that means we lose $12,000 a year to trash."...more

Begich Calls Democrats’ annual call to create more wilderness “short-sighted and predictable”

Permanently banning responsible development of the enormous energy resources beneath Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) takes billions of dollars out of the economy, costs Americans sorely-needed jobs and contributes to higher prices to heat their homes and gas up their cars, says U.S. Sen. Mark Begich. “This annual short-sighted and predictable effort to lock up the Arctic Refuge may score some points from environmental groups but does nothing to create jobs for unemployed Americans or assure a steady source of affordable energy for American families,” Begich said. “Instead of erecting a stop sign to responsible energy development, we should be green-lighting more domestic energy production and the thousands of jobs for Americans it creates.” Begich’s comments are in reaction to a letter organized Tuesday by two congressional Democrats urging Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to forever ban oil and gas development in ANWR by designating the most promising section of oil and gas as wilderness. Only 14 senators signed the letter authored by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) who annually tries to drum up support for wilderness in ANWR...more

‘Smart Grid’ Manufacturers the Next ‘Green’ Sector Under Fire

Like Solyndra, a number of “smart grid” companies have received taxpayer backing. But federal financing was not enough to keep Beacon Power, a manufacture of flywheel energy storage technology, from going bankrupt. They may not be the last smart-grid company consigned to that fate. Beacon received a $43 million loan guarantee from the same stimulus-funded Energy Department program that financed Solyndra. Late last month the company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. But it gets worse: despite having used $3 million marked for loan repayment to fund operating expenses, Beacon announced Wednesday that it will likely have to liquidate its assets instead of restructuring. It is not clear whether the government will recoup the $43 million through bankruptcy proceedings. Meanwhile, another smart-grid battery manufacturer has cleaned house, firing many of its top executives, after posting heavy losses and being delisted by NASDAQ.
Ener1, which, with subsidiary EnerDel, has received more than $120 million in federal grants, announced early last week that it had replaced its president, its chief executive, and its top financial officer. The company manufactures lithium-ion batteries for smart-grid energy storage...more

Steven Chu Should Lose His Job Over The Solyndra Scandal

The Secretary of Energy takes responsibility for and defends the granting of a half-billion-dollar-loan guarantee to an imploding solar panel maker. But that's not where the campaign donor buck stopped. In testimony Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Steven Chu, caught in a tangled web of administration deceit regarding a $535 million guaranteed loan to Solyndra, tried but failed to continue the administration line that the affair was just a good-faith bet that went bad. "As the Secretary of Energy, the final decisions on Solyndra were mine, and I made them with the best interest of the taxpayer in mind," Chu claimed in his opening statement. "I want to be clear: Over the course of Solyndra's loan guarantee, I did not make any decision based on political considerations." If political considerations were not involved, then explain the Oct. 30, 2010, email in which advisers to Solyndra's primary investor, Argonaut Equity, said the Energy Department had strongly urged the company to put off an announcement of looming layoffs until Nov. 3, the day after the midterm elections in which President Obama's failed stimulus was a hot issue. In point of fact, newly disclosed emails show Democratic fundraiser and Solyndra investor George Kaiser talked directly with White House officials about the now-bankrupt solar company's $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. Kaiser, a major Obama bundler and backer who raised $50,000 to $100,000 for the president's election campaign, was one of Solyndra's primary investors. Kaiser himself donated $53,500 to Obama's 2008 election campaign, split between the DSCC and Obama for America. In a March 5 email, Kaiser wrote to Solyndra board member Steve Mitchell: "BTW, a couple of weeks ago, when Ken and I were visiting with a group of Administration folks in DC who are in charge of the stimulus process (White House, not DOE) and Solyndra came up, every one of them responded simultaneously about their thorough knowledge of the Solyndra story, suggesting it was one of their prime poster children."...more

Study: Triple threat paints grim future for frogs

Frogs, salamanders and other amphibians may eventually have no safe haven left on the globe because of a triple threat of worsening scourges, a new study predicts. Scientists have long known that amphibians are under attack from a killer fungus, climate change and shrinking habitat. In the study appearing online Wednesday in the journal Nature, computer models project that in about 70 years those three threats will spread, leaving no part of the world immune from one of the problems. Frogs seem to have the most worrisome outlook, said study lead author Christian Hof of the Biodiversity and Climate Research Center in Frankfurt. Meanwhile, federal scientists in the United States are meeting in St. Louis this week to monitor the situation and figure out how to reverse it. Several important U.S. amphibian species _ boreal toads in the Rocky Mountains and the mountain yellow legged frog in the Sierra Nevada Mountains _ are shrinking in numbers, said zoologist Steve Corn, who is part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative. The western U.S. has the problem worse than the East...more

Fed Now Largest Owner of U.S. Gov’t Debt—Surpassing China

At the close of business on Tuesday, the debt of the federal government exceeded $15 trillion for the first time--with the largest single owner of the publicly held portion of that debt being the Federal Reserve. Over the past year, as the Federal Reserve massively increased its holdings of U.S. Treasury securities and entities in China marginally decreased theirs, the Fed surpassed the Chinese as the top owner of publicly held U.S. government debt...more

Farmland price worries overblown

In the past 12 months we have all heard and read a great deal about the increase in farmland prices. The question most asked by the press, and increasingly the banking regulators is, “Are we looking at another bubble?” In March the FDIC held a symposium on this issue. In early December 2010 the FDIC issued guidance (the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued similar guidance to all western banks) to all FDIC insured banks warning them about the dangers of asset bubbles and also warning agricultural banks--those banks with a concentration in agricultural lending--to consider the dangers of credit concentration. We appreciate the guidance of the regulatory community. Only one banker was invited to share his views at the FDIC Symposium. While it is clear in many areas of the country--including most of Iowa and the corn belt--farmland prices have escalated, there is no evidence that this is being fueled by credit. Farmers are responding to market signals, and those signals are extremely positive. Farmers and ranchers have accumulated cash, thanks to a healthy agricultural economy, and they have a positive outlook. As a result of these factors, what land that has gone on the market (in my area, very few parcels have come up for sale) has generated intense interest, and as a result, prices have risen. At the same time, demand for credit to finance these new land acquisitions has been relatively flat. Recent surveys of bankers conducted by Federal Reserve District banks support my point. In these surveys, the overwhelming majority of bankers reported that farm and ranch loan demand has been essentially flat. In addition, bank farm real estate loans outstanding according to the June 30, 2011, Call Reports filed with the FDIC indicate that there has been no increase in real estate lending. All of this data strengthens my belief that the increase in farmland sales values that we have seen over the past few years has largely been the result of farmer prosperity, not excessive lending...more

The midnight ride of Coca-Cola cowboys

During the election cycle of 2008, campaign handlers for Montana’s governor broadcast a video clip showing him roping and flanking a calf. The campaign slots conveyed the image our governor was a regular Montana rancher. I rolled my eyes and banged my head on the table in disbelief every time the ad flashed across the screen. (It is one of the 27 reasons I disconnected my television.) I always wondered about the video footage left on the editing room floor, because if this was the best, the rest must have been hysterical. The action scenes that were beamed across the airwaves show the governor clothes-lining his horse across the ears with his rope and then jerking his slack with his rein hand. The horse, unaware this was only make believe, snaps his head up and bites the air — a pain response to the jerk on the bit. Although the scenes were comical to folks who know which end of the cow gets up first, to the untrained eye Montana’s governor was John Wayne. Whether this made the difference or not is unknown, but Montanans flocked to the polls and re-elected the governor. I guess that is politics...more

Song Of The Day #715

Ranch Radio has a request from a family in Clint, Texas. Here's Flatt & Scruggs and their 1951 recording of Jimmy Brown, The Newsboy.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Robert Kennedy, Jr.’s ‘Green’ Company Scored $1.4 Billion Taxpayer Bailout

President John F. Kennedy’s nephew, Robert Kennedy, Jr., netted a $1.4 billion bailout for his company, BrightSource, through a loan guarantee issued by a former employee-turned Department of Energy official. t’s just one more in a string of eye-opening revelations by investigative journalist and Breitbart editor Peter Schweizer in his explosive new book, Throw Them All Out. The details of how BrightSource managed to land its ten-figure taxpayer bailout have yet to emerge fully. However, one clue might be found in the person of Sanjay Wagle. Wagle was one of the principals in Kennedy’s firm who raised money for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. When Obama won the White House, Wagle was installed at the Department of Energy (DOE), advising on energy grants. Ironically, in 2008, Kennedy wrote a CNN article praising Obama as reminiscent of his famous father and uncle.  The article, titled “Obama’s Energy Plan Would Create a Green Gold Rush,” proved prophetic. However, the “green gold rush” came in the form of $1.4 billion of taxpayers’ money flowing into the pet projects of rich venture capital investors like Kennedy, not average citizens...more

Forest Service, ski industry tussle over water rights

A decades-old water-rights struggle between the U.S. Forest and the ski industry flared up again this week, as the National Ski Areas Association charged that the agency wants to make an end run around state law and “take away” water rights worth tens of millions of dollars. The accusations came during a Nov. 15 hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee, as Boulder attorney Glenn Porzak testified on behalf of the ski industry, asking Congress to intervene in the matter. Porzak’s written statement is online here.  “All water rights owners should be concerned,” Porzak said, claiming that the change would require ski areas to transfer ownership of several types of water rights to the Forest Service.

Study Examines Colorado Headwaters Areas

Poor surface-water quality in some Colorado headwaters areas isn’t due to human activities like mining but to geology, according to a new Colorado Geological Society study that examined water quality. The report could help wildlife managers avoid restocking fish where they can’t survive because the water is naturally acidic, and it could help to better focus environmental cleanup efforts, said co-author and former Colorado Geological Survey Deputy Director Matt Sares. It also could help regulators who must set stream water-quality standards. The Colorado Geological Survey study identified streams in 11 headwater areas where surface water is acidic and has high concentrations of metals such as aluminum, manganese and iron, even upstream of any significant human impacts. Of 101 water samples that researchers took, 86 were in areas identified as having no influence from activities related to mining. Of those, 19 percent met state water-quality standards for all tested parameters, the report said...more

More Farms/Ranches May Need to Control Dust

Some farmers in parts of Arizona and California already face daily struggles to keep dust at bay. But if an environmental group's petition filed with EPA is successful producers in several other states also could be required to take action. WildEarth Guardians petitioned EPA Oct. 27 in an attempt force the agency's hand to come down harder on national ambient air quality non-attainment areas in parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, Nevada, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. WildEarth argues in its petition that state implementation plans to reduce particulate matter pollution have been unsuccessful, proven out by EPA's own monitoring data from sites in 18 counties. Although dust from farms may not be the only source of PM10, farmers in those regions may be asked to do more to reduce dust emissions, as is the case in parts of California and Arizona. There are more than 13,700 farms operating in the 18 counties mentioned in the petition, including more than 7.6 million acres of farm land, according to information from the 2007 Census of Agriculture...more

Cattle group counters Interior grazing claims

The Public Lands Council is commissioning a study to determine the true economic value of public lands grazing. The study seeks to scrutinize a Department of Interior report that claims grazing is only responsible for a miniscule amount of the jobs and economic impact created by the agency's programs. According to the "Department of Interior's Economic Contributions" report, which was released in June, the agency's programs were responsible for 2 million jobs and $363 billion in economic activity during fiscal year 2010. The report makes much ado about the estimated 388,000 jobs and $44 billion in economic activity generated by recreation and tourism on DOI-managed lands and the 1.3 million jobs and $246 billion in economic activity created by energy development and mining. But it barely mentions the impact of public lands grazing, estimating it is responsible for 2,500 direct jobs and less than 5,000 indirect jobs and has an economic impact of $640 million...more

Agriculture Industry and Solar Developers Battle In California’s San Joaquin Valley

During the last part of the 19th century cattle ranchers and farmers battled for supremacy in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Farmers won the battle, and farming has been entrenched in the Valley’s fertile soil ever since. Today another battle is being waged, and this time it is between farmers and those who want to develop solar power. The San Joaquin Valley is considered by many to be the agricultural center of the world. It is also an area where the sun shines most days of the year, and has a high unemployment rate. Fresno County, one of the highest agricultural producing counties in the country, is battle central. Fresno County Board of Supervisors put a proposed 20-acre solar plant on hold earlier this month. The Board put the project on hold just a day after the California Farm Bureau Federation announced it was suing the county over a conservation contract (under the Williamson Act) the Board canceled in August for 90 acres near Coalinga, located in southwestern Fresno County, for a proposed solar project...more

Livestock critical to global food security

Livestock production is critical to the food security and livelihood of the world’s population. And livestock may be even more important for the people in the world’s poorest societies. That’s the message delivered by Joyce Turk at the 44th Annual Conference of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners held recently in St. Louis, Mo. “The livestock sector globally employs 1.3 billion people, either directly or indirectly, and is responsible for up to 50 percent of global agriculture GDP,” Turk says. As the senior livestock advisor, Bureau of Food Security, for the U.S. Agency for International Development, Turk has witnessed how malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies cause 3.5 million to 5.5 million deaths annually in children under 5 years of age. During her presentation at AABP, Turk outlined why animal-source foods need greater attention from those trying to help African residents during this crisis. She says animal-source foods provide 15 percent of total food energy and 25 percent of total dietary protein. Additionally, the biological value of animal-source protein is about 1.4 times that of plant foods...more

OPINION: Bonfires of the boneheads

On Monday, Oct. 31, MF Global Holdings Ltd., a Wall Street investment bank and the nation’s third largest futures trading clearinghouse, disintegrated into the vapors of bankruptcy. The demise was not unexpected; the Wall Street Journal had chronicled MFG’s dying wheezes for a week. And, yet, when MFG finally took the Big Flop, $600 million or so in customer trading account cash was missing. Some of the loot, reported Marcia Taylor of DTN, came from “cattle feeders and grain elevators whose MF Global accounts are missing large chunks of their futures accounts…” The big news here isn’t that another boneheaded master of the universe took another Wall Street investment bank over a cliff. No, the big news is that no regulator — not the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, not the Securities Exchange Commission, not the Justice Department — stepped in to keep MFG from taking customer money with it. Earlier in the week, USDA acknowledged its role in stacking the deck to favor Big Ag’s new poodle, U.S Farmers & Rancher’s Alliance, the St. Louis-based effort to make today’s genetically modified, verticalized agriculture look more like yesterday’s warm and fuzzy farms and ranches. According to figures supplied by the department’s Ag Marketing Service, $6.26 million in national checkoff collections went to USFRA in “fiscal year 2011” for such urgent items as “capturing and distributing informational interviews with USFRA board members” and to “develop four HTML emails for affiliates and strategic partners…”...more

Groups support reauthorization of Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act

Groups including the Sierra Club, The Conservation Fund and Wyoming Outdoor Council say they support legislation being promoted as way to help the federal government pay for an expensive addition to Grand Teton National Park. Wyoming Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis has written a bill to reauthorize the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act. The act, which expired this year, helped the federal government buy land using proceeds from the sale of other lands. "There are tens of thousands of acres that have been identified by the BLM as land they can't manage or doesn't fit their management goals. It's surplus land. And we need to be selling that and using those funds to acquire lands that do fit the federal land management goals," she said. From 2000 until this year, the law helped the U.S. Bureau of Land Management dispose of more than 27,000 acres of public land while generating more than $117 million in sale receipts. The land sales provided some $94 million for land acquisition by the BLM, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service, according to the BLM. The four agencies together acquired 18,400 acres for $55 million. Remaining funds in the program reverted to the U.S. Treasury when the act expired this year...more

House Passes Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Legislation

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed an important self-defense measure that would enable millions of Right-to-Carry permit holders across the country to carry concealed firearms while traveling outside their home states. H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, passed by a majority bipartisan vote of 272 to 154. All amendments aimed to weaken or damage the integrity of this bill were defeated. H.R. 822, introduced in the U.S. House by Representatives Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), allows any person with a valid state-issued concealed firearm permit to carry a concealed firearm in any state that issues concealed firearm permits, or that does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms for lawful purposes. This bill does not affect existing state laws. State laws governing where concealed firearms may be carried would apply within each state’s borders. H.R. 822 does not create a federal licensing system or impose federal standards on state permits; rather, it requires the states to recognize each others' carry permits, just as they recognize drivers' licenses and carry permits held by armored car guards...more

Song Of The Day #714

 Ranch Radio will keep dusting off the old 78s with Jack Perry & The Light Crust Doughboys performing It's A Dirty Shame.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Mexico regulators approve dairy settlement

New Mexico water regulators on Wednesday adopted a settlement that puts to rest a dispute over the regulation of millions of tons of waste produced each year by the state's $2.6 billion dairy industry. The Water Quality Control Commission voted unanimously during a hearing in Santa Fe in favor of the settlement brokered by state attorneys, dairy farmers and environmentalists. The dairy rule was first approved by the commission last year in the final month of former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson's administration. The amended rule still requires dairies to install monitoring wells. It also requires new dairies and those that have had leaking impoundments to install synthetic liners. Existing dairies where waste reservoirs haven't contaminated groundwater are allowed to operate without installing new impoundments. There are also increased public notice requirements for new dairies. Gone from the rule are requirements for certain documentation, such as grading and drainage plans for existing dairies. Changes were also made to allow for more flexibility when it comes to using flow meters to measure the wastewater discharged from milking parlors and wash areas...more

NMSU Student Elected National FFA President

Ryan Best is a 21-year-old junior at NMSU who was born and raised in Portales, N.M. After having held eight offices in eight years of involvement in FFA, Best was recently elected as the national president of the agricultural education organization with more than a half million members. His first exposure to FFA was not at his school but at his grandmother's house when he came upon a faded blue folder with an FFA emblem on its cover. "I opened the folder to find my granddad's American FFA Degree," Best said. "At that moment, I realized just how far reaching the National FFA Organization is. I knew once I became involved in FFA activities that I wanted to serve somehow within this organization." The American FFA degree that Best found is awarded to those who have committed themselves to the organization and made significant accomplishments in their supervised agricultural experiences. He earned his American FFA degree in 2010. Now in his junior year at NMSU, Best has reached the pinnacle of his collegiate FFA career by becoming its 84th president and will take a year off from school to perform his presidential duties which include traveling around the country and promoting and advocating for FFA, agriculture and agricultural education. Best will also travel to Japan in January to meet with agriculture officials and members of Future Farms of Japan...more

Feds invade Gallup today!

An unusual ceremony is scheduled in Gallup Wednesday when the U.S. Forest Service delivers donations to its food bank as part of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour. The tree was cut in California and is making its way to Washington, D.C. As part of its cross-country trek, the Forest Service this year incorporated a humanitarian outreach program into the tour, gathering non-perishable food donations from across California to deliver to Gallup. Gallup was selected because it was recently cited by the U.S. Census as 1 of the poorest cities in America...more

Merry Christmas Gallup. What an honor!

Its natural for the Forest Service to highlight occurs wherever you find the Forest Service.

And here's a hint:  Don't start a fire to heat up them canned goods until Smokey has left town.

Deere building life-sized combine of canned food

John Deere & Co. makes a lot of its profits crafting farm combines, but the Illinois-based manufacturer doesn't figure crafting a life-sized one out of food is too uncanny. Hoping to boost awareness of the role farmers and ranchers play in feeding the world, the Moline-based company's workers and retirees are using more than 300,000 cans of food in building a sculpture of a new S-Series combine. When completed later this week, the sculpture is to measure 60 feet wide, 80 feet long and 16 feet tall and weigh nearly 170 tons. Deere hopes it breaks a world record. It's being done at the John Deere Pavilion in Moline. AP

Watch for this giant tractor on the main street of Gallup.

Oil and natural gas production on federal land is declining

Last week, the Obama administration announced their new five-year offshore drilling plan. Sadly, the plan is what we have come to expect from an administration hostile to using our domestic energy resources. Here are a few facts everyone should know about offshore oil and gas production:

* 2.2 percent of offshore areas are leased for oil and natural gas production[1]
* Oil and natural gas production on federal lands has fallen by over 40 percent since 2000[2]
* Since 2000, oil production on private and state lands has risen by 11 percent and natural gas production has riven by 40 percent[3]
* When President Obama was elected, all offshore lands were available for leasing except for a small area near Florida’s coast
* The Obama administration’s new five-year plan doesn’t allow oil and natural gas exploration or production on the vast majority of taxpayer-owned offshore areas

New Plan for Alaska Oil Production Funds Infrastructure Jobs

House Republicans this week will renew their push to drill for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), with proceeds from the federal revenues it would create dedicated to funding road construction. Proponents of the project say it would save the U.S. $14 billion a year in oil imports and create more than half a million jobs on the Coastal Plain, in addition to funding infrastructure jobs building roads.
Rep. Don Young (R.-Alaska) says the Highway Trust Fund is struggling to finance projects, and that new sources of revenue are needed to keep the country’s roads in good repair. The trust fund is financed through gasoline taxes, but revenues have run short the past six years, with a deficit now reaching $7 billion, and no new funding streams have been approved. Rep. Doc Hastings (R.-Wash.), chairman of the House Resources Committee, said the legislation brings needed dollars into the federal Treasury without raising taxes...more

Court: State plan to kill wolves still on hold

The Imnaha wolf pack alpha male is one of two wolves sentenced to die to reduce wolf attacks on livestock in northeast Oregon. The Oregon Court of Appeals decided today to keep a temporary ban on killing the two trouble-making wolves in the Imnaha pack. The court also required conservation groups to provide $5,000 in security to repay ranchers for wolf depredations while the court considers whether the state’s plan to kill the wolves is legal...A bit more intriguing is that the court wants a $5,000 security deposit to cover potential livestock losses (you can read more details in the court document here) caused by the two wolves that would have been dead if the state’s plan had gone forward. Here’s the meaty part:

E-Mails Suggest Solyndra Pushed Layoff Notices Past Elections

The Obama administration urged the now-bankrupt solar-energy firm Solyndra and its top investor to hold off announcing planned layoffs in 2010 until after the Nov. 2 elections, according to e-mails released by House Republicans on Tuesday. Solyndra received a loan guarantee from the federal stimulus program in September 2009, but it went bankrupt this September—leaving taxpayers on the hook for most of the $535 million initial loan. Struggling financially, the company announced layoffs and plans to consolidate some of its businesses on Nov. 3, 2010, according to press reports at the time. “They did push very hard for us to hold our announcement of the consolidation to employees and vendors to Nov. 3—oddly, they didn’t give us a reason for that date,” states an October 2010 e-mail exchange between advisers for Argonaut Private Equity, the top investor in Solyndra that was founded by George Kaiser, an Oklahoma oil billionaire who bundled campaign donations for presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008...more

Another reason loan guarantees are bad policy.

Meanwhile the Congress has agreed to increase the size of mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration.

AMA: Interior Department proposal could block riding on public land

Access to certain public land in nine states could be lost to motorcyclists, bicyclists and others under a massive land-use designation proposal submitted to Congress on Nov. 10, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports. The proposal, submitted by the U.S. Interior Department, has been identified as the "Preliminary Report on BLM Lands Deserving Protection as National Conservation Areas, Wilderness or Other Conservation Designation." "The AMA and many other groups have battled Wilderness proposals in the past that didn't meet the strict criteria for earning a Wilderness designation under federal law, and the U.S. Interior Department's new plan may include a lot of acreage that simply isn't appropriate for Wilderness designation," Allard said. The AMA supports appropriate Wilderness designations that meet the criteria established by Congress in 1964. But over the years, groups opposed to responsible off-highway vehicle recreation have been abusing the Wilderness designation process to ban motorcyclists, all-terrain vehicle riders and bicyclists from public land, as well as to block access for the elderly, handicapped and children who rely on motorized transportation to enjoy public land. Salazar indicated that he hopes this report is incorporated into an omnibus public lands bill similar to another public lands bill that passed Congress in 2009. The bill referenced by Salazar was the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. It was passed using rare parliamentary tactics that ultimately closed 2.1 million acres of public land...more

Firing Incompetent Employees 'Would Harm The Agency’s Work,’ SEC Chief Says

Don't believe the headline? Read the story here.

Chile harvest nearly finished

About 75 percent of the red chile crop in New Mexico has been harvested so far, according to a federal crop progress report issued Monday. That's slightly ahead of last year, but behind a five-year average for progress at this point in the year. Overall, the crop - which includes both the red varieties that mature from hot green peppers, as well as paprika - is having an average year, said Stephanie Walker, extension vegetable specialist at New Mexico State University. The crop benefited from a lack of rainfall, which promotes a chile disease, she said, but it also suffered from some spring weather stresses that impacted the green chile crop. Farmers began harvesting red chile in mid-September. "Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, in early December, it will pretty much finish up," Walker said. In 2010, some 4,550 acres of red chile were harvested in New Mexico - accounting for about half of all chile production in the state, according to numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The remainder was green chile...more

Discovery Networks will feature farmer/rancher videos

Real farmers and ranchers will be telling their stories in the weeks ahead to help Americans learn more about how food is grown and raised. The effort includes documentary-style videos that will begin airing across the Discovery Communications’ networks (TLC, Discovery, Discovery Science, Discovery Fit & Health, Identification Discovery, Planet Green and Animal Planet). The videos will run from Nov. 14 through Dec. 25, under a partnership between U.S. Farmers &Ranchers Alliance and Discovery Networks. The project will include three, 60-second videos and one long-format video, which will run from 4 to 7 minutes. The program will be promoted through a targeted online banner ad campaign on Discovery Communications’ online properties as well. Along with real-world farmers and ranchers, the videos will feature U.S. consumers – not actors– to talk about how food is grown and raised...more

Ag approps bill clears the way for the restoration of the U.S. Horse Industry

Last night, November 14, 2011, the Conference Committee on HR 2112 consolidated appropriations for Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science and Transportation - Housing and Urban Development signed a conference report resolving differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill that for the first time since 2005 does not contain annual riders that prohibit USDA from providing necessary inspection for horse processing facilities. The tide turned for the horse industry when Congress received a report from their research office that looked into the effect of the closure of the U.S. horse processing facilities. That Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, HORSE WELFARE: Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences of Domestic Slaughter Cessation, documents the decline in horse welfare, and the negative impacts on the overall equine economy as a direct result of the loss of a humane option for otherwise unwanted, unusable, excess horses.  "That roadblock is now removed," noted Wallis, "now we shift our focus to resuming profitable legitimate businesses in the horse industry, and a return of normal markets for horses at every level, and every sector of the diverse horse world."  Press Release

Congress set to cut money for meat industry reform

Congress is set to strip funding for key provisions of a sweeping antitrust rule the Obama administration proposed for meat companies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday a final version of an agricultural spending bill would prevent it from enforcing parts of a new rule governing how chicken companies pay their farmers. The bill also strips funding for a reform making it easier for farmers to sue companies for anti-trust violations. The USDA says that if the bill passes it will no longer pursue those reforms. The meat industry has been lobbying heavily against the reforms proposed last June. The companies claim the new rules would hinder their operations and raise meat prices. Many small farmers say the changes would give them more bargaining power when selling their animals. AP

Brazile clinches national steer roping title

After earning $19,538 at the National Finals Steer Roping last weekend in Guthrie, Okla., Trevor Brazile, an Amarillo native who lives in Decatur, clinched the 2011 world title, the 15th gold buckle of his illustrious career. According to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Brazile finished the year with $96,700, more than $9,000 ahead of second-place finisher Rocky Patterson, a former world champion who earned $87,641. Vin Fisher Jr. of Andrews finished third with $74,002, and Cody Lee of Gatesville was fourth with $71,088. Scott Snedecor, a former world champion from Fredericksburg, who won the average after finishing as the only cowboy to turn in a qualified time in all 10 rounds, wound up seventh in the world race with $51,389. Chance Kelton, who finished second in the average, was the high-money winner of the Finals after collecting $28,615. Kelton, who jumped from 13th to sixth in the world standings during the NFSR, finished the year with $55,501...more

Song Of The Day #713

Whoa! Ranch Radio has been criticized for not having our pink player and our songs for feminists in a long, long time.

You see Ranch Radio is all about equality, diversity and inclusion. I can't do the pink player anymore but I did find the pink "girl power" logo.

So for those thousands of feminists who tune in to Ranch Radio, we've dusted off another 78rpm for your listening pleasure.  This tune, released as King 800A, is Fairly Holden performing Oh, That Naggin' Wife Of Mine (I would have titled it Serenade To Sharon).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

PETA’s new ad campaign asks children: You wouldn’t eat your dog, why turkey?

“How would children feel if Fido and Fluffy were stuffed and roasted for Thanksgiving?” asks a recent press release from PETA. In the release, the organization lays out their latest outdoor advertising campaign, just in time for American Thanksgiving. The series of billboards (pictured above) shows a turkey/dog crossbreed and the tagline: ”Kids: If You Wouldn’t Eat Your Dog, Why Eat a Turkey?” The campaign has kicked off in Omaha, adjacent to a public school, with plans to install the ad in locations in Oklahoma, Oregon, New Mexico and several other American cities. In the release, PETA’s Executive Vice President Tracey Reiman states: “Kids love animals, and if they thought about how turkeys feel pain and fear just as dogs and cats do, they’d trade in their drumsticks for Tofurky in a heartbeat. This Thanksgiving, families can give all animals something to be thankful for by sticking to humane, delicious vegan meals.”...more

Farmland values in Midwest, West up 25 pct, biggest 1-year rise in 3 decades

The average value of farmland in some Midwestern and Western states has risen 25 percent in the past year. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Mo., said Tuesday that bumper crops and strong farm income in northern Plains states, like Nebraska, helped push up prices despite drought and flooding. The Federal Reserve says its third quarter survey of 243 banks showed the largest annual increase in land values since the survey started in 1980. The 10th Federal Reserve District covers Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado, northern New Mexico and western Missouri...more

Supreme Court grills defense in beating death of colt

The beating death of a thoroughbred colt reached the New Mexico Supreme Court on Tuesday, but the legal twists and turns may not be over. Three of the five justices were publicly skeptical of horse trainer Greg Collier's arguments that he cannot be tried a third time on a charge of animal cruelty. Both of his trials in Las Cruces ended in mistrials. Collier, 41, contends that the case against him should be dismissed because of double jeopardy, expiration of the statute of limitations and a violation of his right to a speedy trial. Both a district court judge and the state Court of Appeals agreed with him that the state should be barred from trying him for a third time, though their reasoning differed. The state's prosecution of Collier began more than five years ago. A grand jury indicted him on a fourth-degree felony, alleging that he used a whip handle to kill a thoroughbred yearling named Cowboy on Feb. 13, 2006, near Chaparral. Cowboy's owner had hired Collier to train the colt as a racehorse. Collier, of Lubbock, Texas, took notes as the justices grilled his attorney. Now he must wait for the Supreme Court to rule whether he is a free man or if the state can try him again...more

Salazar's wilderness proposal criticized by Utah delegation

Desolation, Westwater and Mill Creek canyons in Utah's Grand County are among 18 backcountry areas Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said merit wilderness protections by Congress. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, quickly denounced the report. “I am deeply disappointed that Interior Secretary Salazar continues to be tone deaf about public lands issues in Utah," Matheson said. "As our success in Washington County shows, wilderness proposals must be the result of a grassroots, stakeholder-driven process, rather than a top-down decree. This is not the way to make progress on public lands decisions and it only ensures that we won’t see a successful outcome on the ground here." "The long-term solutions for these lands in question will come from a locally-driven process, not dictates out of Washington," said Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah. All five members of Utah's congressional delegation penned a letter to Salazar in September asking that the state be excluded from any recommendations he might make. In the letter, they said 22 of 29 counties expressed a similar sentiment, fearing that any top-directive would undermine any progress made on land bills made so far...more

And Utah Senator Mike Lee said:

"Like every other state, Utah knows what is best for Utah’s land,” said Senator Lee. “I will not support any new wilderness designations unless they are first considered and approved by the Utah state legislature. “Roughly two thirds of Utah is already owned by some part of the federal government. While any other owner would pay property taxes on this land to the state, the federal government does not, depriving Utah of an enormous source of income. In addition, Washington’s pervasive overreach also affects countless groups that want to put a small portion of land to some sort of use. Utahns must go to the federal government, hat in hand, and ask permission to merely dig a well, or to build a road, or to bury cable, or indeed to do virtually anything. "As a result, I believe the Utah legislature must first consider and approve proposed wilderness designations before any final determination is made at the federal level."

State, counties file for control of So. Utah roads

The state of Utah has joined Garfield and Kane counties in new lawsuits seeking control of roads that cross federal lands in southern Utah. Already arguing at trial for roads that Kane County considers priorities — Bald Knoll and Hole in the Rock among them — the county and state filed suit Nov. 10 seeking the rest of the disputed roads crossing lands administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Then on Monday, the state and Garfield County filed for control of 94 roads in that county, according to a news released from the Governor’s Office. “The BLM has completely ignored local and state requests for control of vital roads within the public lands,” Gov. Gary Herbert said in a prepared statement, “instead choosing to unilaterally close roads and restrict access enjoyed by Utahns for decades.” These are two more in a growing list of Utah lawsuits centered on the 1976 law that governs management of BLM lands. Counties may seek control of historic roads that can be proven to have been commonly open to the public before that time. The lawsuits to date have yielded mixed results, with federal judges granting local control of some major rights of way but denying it in routes in dispute, such as in dry creek beds...more

Forest Service "collaborates" for more money

Collaboration among Colorado water providers, private corporations and the federal government to pay for forest projects that preserve drinking water supplies could provide a funding model for the rest of the country, the agriculture undersecretary who oversees the U.S. Forest Service said Wednesday. The Forest Service in past years has persuaded Vail Resorts Inc. and other companies, along with Denver Water and other utilities, to commit dollars and employees to restore watersheds that provide much of Colorado's drinking water. The agency has reached out to the recreation industry and private companies to contribute. Vail Resorts Inc. and MillerCoors have had employees work on restoration projects. More than 20 ski areas have asked customers to pay a lift-ticket surcharge that benefits the National Forest Foundation, the congressionally created nonprofit partner of the Forest Service. In an era of tight budgets, Sherman said, the Forest Service also is talking with utilities and insurance companies, which have an interest in preventing devastating wildfires that could damage power lines or homes...more

Group wins suit over trail closures

A state district court found in favor of the Idaho Conservation League last week in its suit against the U.S. Forest Service to close certain trails pending a revision to the Salmon-Challis National Forest travel plan. The Boise-based organization requested that U.S. Magistrate Ronald E. Bush issue an injunction to close 29 trails to motorized use on the Salmon-Challis National Forest pending a decision from the court that could overturn the 2009 Travel Management Plan. Bush granted an injunction on Nov. 1 to close six trails, totaling almost 15 miles instead of the more than 94 miles requested by the organization. The closures were based on a conclusion that the trails could undergo “irreparable harm” if they remained open to motorized use before the travel plan could be revised...more

Using air pollution thresholds to protect and restore ecosystem health

Air pollution is changing our environment and undermining many benefits we rely on from wild lands, threatening water purity, food production, and climate stability, according to a team of scientists writing in the 14th edition of the Ecological Society of America's Issues in Ecology. In "Setting Limits: Using Air Pollution Thresholds to Protect and Restore U.S. Ecosystems," lead author Mark Fenn (USDA Forest Service) and nine colleagues review current pollution evaluation criteria. The authors propose science-based strategies to set new limits and put the brakes on acid rain, algal blooms, and accumulation of toxic mercury in plants and animals. Power plants, industrial processes, vehicles, farms and stockyards release mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen compounds into the air. Though several decades of emissions limits and improving technology have resulted in a downward trend in acid rain and mercury contamination in the U.S., up to 65 percent of lakes in sensitive areas exceed critical acid levels, and mercury advisories against fish consumption exist in all fifty states. The authors discuss standard measurements that can be used to monitor ecosystem effects across the country. They review the use of defined "critical loads" of pollutants to design policy and manage ecosystems in the U.S. and Canada. Human health risks define current air quality standards. Ecosystem health has not been taken into account, and current standards do not provide good protections, according to the authors. The report calls for updating air quality standards and regulatory cost benefit analyses to account for impacts on ecosystems...more

This probably should have been titled "Using The Clean Air Act To Control Land Use".

Song Of The Day #712

Ranch Radio will be dusting off some old 78s this week. Here is Carolina Cotton performing Singing On The Trail.  It was released as King 572B.

Monday, November 14, 2011

NMSU rodeo teams at number one after rodeo at home

New Mexico State University’s rodeo teams keep gaining points and both the men’s and women’s teams are now at the top of their region in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s standings.

At the recent rodeo held in Las Cruces the men’s team held the top three slots in the bareback competition with Trenten Montero of Winnemucca, Nev., coming in first, Tony Buckman of Bend, Ore., in second place and Paden Underwood also of Winnemucca, in third. Cooper DeWitt of Rio Rico, Ariz., continues to stay strong in the saddlebronc competition and took the number one spot in the recent competition.

Shelby Montano of Thoreau, N.M., came in first in goat tying while Nicole Sweazea of Mountainair, N.M., helped the women’s rodeo team pick up points when she came in second in the breakaway competition. Raley Radomske of Ellensburg, Wash., and Dixie Richards who is also from Winnemucca, helped gain points in the breakaway competition as well, rounding out the last two slots in the top five.

“With both men’s and women’s teams on top at the close of the fall season, we have a great chance to keep our standings for the next six rodeos,” said NMSU rodeo coach Jim Brown.

Not only is the NMSU men’s team ranked first in the region, but they are also ranked first in the national standings. The women’s team ranks first regionally and fifth nationally.

“I look forward to the spring as it will be an exciting race to the end with the Mesalands and New Mexico Highlands teams right on our tails,” Brown said.

The next rodeo will be held at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Feb. 4, 2012.

Date: 2011-11-11
Writer: Melisa P. Danho, 575-646-7560,

US Interior Secretary, Senate both propose new wilderness, conservation areas

It's the battle of dueling wilderness designations as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee have both presented their own national conservation or wilderness area proposals. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday approved a package of 27 bills which designate or expand the boundaries of wilderness areas, conservation areas, and protected rivers in several states including Washington State, Oregon, New Mexico, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and South Dakota. Salazar issued a report containing a preliminary list of areas largely managed by the Bureau of Land Management "that merit consideration by Congress for designation as national conservation areas of wilderness or national conservation areas." However, Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said, "The appropriate process for creating new wilderness areas on federal land is to petition Congress after the federal land management agencies have completed their land management plans and recommendations." In New Mexico, the proposed Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area straddles Taos and Rio Arriba Counties...more

For the Committee's list of 27 bills go here.

In a press release from Bingaman:

The vast majority of the land – 214,600 acres – would be managed as a conservation area.  Two other areas – the 13,400-acre Cerro del Yuta on the east-side and the 8,000-acre Río San Antonio in the west – will be managed as wilderness.
"Setting aside this beautiful landscape will protect its traditional uses while attracting new visitors to New Mexico and boosting the region's economy," said Bingaman, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
"I'd like to thank Senator Bingaman for his leadership in guiding this bill out of the Energy Committee.  This legislation will ensure that the historic landscapes in Taos and Rio Arriba counties are preserved and accessible for future generations," Udall said.

For my comments on Bingaman's other bill, S. 1024, see Interior rejects Bingaman's southern NM wilderness bill as a "crown jewel"

End of an era: Park Service takes over cattle ranch on Santa Rosa Island - video

Ranch once ran 8,000 head of cattle
The cattle grazing on grass-covered hills that tilt toward the Pacific Ocean are long gone. So are the vaqueros who rose at "dark thirty" to round up the cattle while the glowing red embers of their hand-rolled cigarettes pierced the night. Soon, the nonnative deer and elk that wander through the craggy valleys of Santa Rosa Island will be a thing of the past, too. Although Will Woolley is still there, he knows his family's time on the island also is limited. "We are living the last days," said Woolley as a hard wind blew across the island. "It feels like a death in the family. This has been much harder than I anticipated." For 25 years he has known Jan. 1, 2012, was coming — the day his family, the Vails, will no longer live on the island and Channel Islands National Park will take control of it. The Park Service bought the roughly 83-square-mile island 26 miles off the Santa Barbara coast for $30 million in 1986. But the Vail & Vickers operation was allowed to remain on the ranch. Through lawsuits and settlements, the cattle ranching eventually was phased out, and the deer and elk are being eradicated. These days, the families are moving on, too, packing up memories and heirlooms and looking around their home one last time. "It's a sad time," said Nita Vail, 54, who spent much of her child hood on the island. Her dad managed the cattle that would come from the mainland in the winter and leave fattened up two springs later...more


Pet buffalo loves to watch TV

Shaming chuihuhu-owners everywhere, rancher Jim Sautner, 64, lets the bison have free run of his house, allowing Bailey to dominate the sitting room as he watches TV.  The Alberta, Canada native has even customised his convertible car to allow Bailey to take drives around the farm.

Jim’s wide Linda, 61, said of their pet buffalo: "He has a bond with Jim which is just incredible. He always wants to be with him all the time, whether Jim is in the house or working on their convertible car.

Not any old post office

Ranchers in southeastern Las Animas County take pride in the hard work they do. But whether it's feeding cattle, fixing fences or hauling hay, they always take some time to visit their 122-year-old post office. "It's the hub of our community. We are busy in this industry and there are times we have to squeeze in a little time during work to get our mail or send mail," said Marsha Strasia, a Trinchera rancher. "We may stop by the post office on the way to another pasture to feed because time is money. Ranching is 24-7." Last summer the postal service announced it was looking at combining or closing 3,653 facilities. The postal service has proposed closing a number of small-town post offices across the state including the one in Trinchera. About 63 percent of the people in the area receive their mail three days a week from a rural mail carrier; 37 percent of the community has to drive on dirt roads to the Trinchera Post Office for their mail. Strasia said that if the post office closes, residents may have to travel several miles to Trinidad to get their mail. The Trinchera post office serves 109 people with 55 mailbox holders. The postal service's mail volume has decreased dramatically in the past five years. Officials said total first-class mail has dropped 25 percent and single-piece, first-class mail — letters bearing postage stamps — has declined 36 percent...more

Sheeperherders' fall gathering

Just off Highway 189 in southwest Wyoming, nine dirty men fought with more than a thousand sheep. The men slipped and slid in muddy earth, some muttered curses in their native language while others laughed. It was early October, winter was coming and the mud would only get slicker. The sheep needed to be pushed through a chute, dewormed, vaccinated and painted with a brand on their backs. At less than a year old, the sheep didn't understand that they should follow the animals in front of them through the chute. Some climbed on others' backs. Some tried to back up. Others jumped over the sides. One sheep made it over the wooden wall and sprinted aimlessly around the corral. Liber Guerra, one of the Peruvian sheepherders, ran after it, trying to grab it and often missing. "Run, young one. Run!" Pedro Rojas Castillon called after Liber. At 22, Liber was one of the youngest herders there, thus the brunt of many jokes. This gathering occurs every fall at Julian Land and Livestock, about five miles north of Kemmerer. The 20 or more sheepherders, all of them from Peru, bring their sheep down from the Bridger-Teton National Forest, up to 70 miles away. They work thousands of sheep, sending some to sale, sheering others and dividing them into herds for winter. When the work is finished, often near the end of October, two Peruvians at a time leave on horseback, pulling their wagons and herding nearly 2,000 sheep for an isolated winter in southwest Wyoming...more

Stockyards Draw More than Buyers and Sellers

People in the audience raise their hands now and then to either chase away a buzzing fly or bid on livestock. A couple of people wipe their noses — but probably not to chase the strong scent of cattle. These men, dressed in broad-brimmed hats and cowboy boots, are used to such smells. They’re ranchers, some of them women and seniors, at a recent Wednesday auction at the Twin Falls Livestock Commission stockyards. The stockyards hold cattle auctions every Wednesday and small-animal auctions the first Saturday of each month. The sales always draw a crowd, but of two different groups, said office manager Sheila Smith: Ranchers come for the cattle, farmers for the other animals. And some come for neither buying nor selling. Mel Worthington, for instance, likes to listen to the auctioneers, see the animals or hang out with peers in the facility’s diner. “It’s something to do,” the Twin Falls man said on a recent Saturday.
Around him on the concrete benches sat other elderly farmers, some in conversation, others attentive to the movement of pigs and sheep through the arena. Joe Pavkov, 91, of Gooding was at the stockyards that Saturday with buddies Jerry Strickland, 70, John Etchart, 59, and Alan Romans, 52, all of Gooding. “It’s fun just getting together to visit with everyone,” Romans said. “To catch up with the gossip.” But times do change. “I used to know everybody here. Now I don’t know anybody,” Pavkov said. “That’s because you outlived them all,” Strickland said, his cowboy hat shaking with his chuckle...more

Song Of The Day #711

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here's BR5-49 and their recording of Flew The Coop.

You'll find the tune on their 14 track CD Big Backyard Beat Show.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Lingo language of the West

 By Julie Carter

Cowboy lingo has always been my first language. I never thought to dissect, define or explain it. It always seemed pretty clear to me.

Recently a few questions from someone who seriously wanted to be correct in his terminology but claimed only Eastern savvy sent me on a quest to learn why I knew what I knew. 

Here in the Southwest, just a few cow trails north of Mexico, we are quite familiar with the mixture of Spanish and English terms. I had just never seen them all in a list until Robert Smead published a book called Vocabulario Vaquero, Cowboy Talk.

The book is a dictionary of sorts that diagrams the absorption of a large number of ranch-related words from Spanish into English. He contends it offers striking evidence of that particular heritage in the history of the American West and its cowboys.

Many of the essential cowboy items of tack originated in the Spanish culture. The bozal, usually written and said as bosal, is the nose band of a headstall or hackamore, which is from the Spanish term jáquima.

Cowboys still use and still say chaps. That is pronounced as “shaps” which stems from the original Spanish chaparreras, also pronounced with the “sh.” The first guy you hear say chaps with the ch sound as in chapped lips, see if he isn’t from New York City and check the origin of his salsa while you’re at it.

Corral, lariat, latigo, cinch and 10-gallon hat all are words we throw around that have Spanish roots. Gallon in the hat doesn’t refer to capacity but to the braided decorations or galones that adorned it. What came first, tank or tanque?  Both hold water.

A Spaniard by the name of Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca (that means head of a cow -- poor Nuñez!) erroneously gave the Spanish term búfalo to the bison because it looked like the Indian or African wild ox, and it stuck.

After the words themselves comes the peculiar direct phrases used by the cowboy who is almost always free from the constraints of polite society or convention. These are covered in two other books written by Ramon Adams called Cowboy Lingo and Western Words.

A cowboy’s slang usually strengthens rather that weakens his speech. The jargon of this individual among individuals is often picturesque, humorous and leaves you with no doubt how the man felt about the subject he was talking about.

The cowboy squeezes the juice from language, molds it to suit his needs and is a genius at making a verb out of anything. The words “cowboy” and “rodeo” can be verbs and “try” is not. 

“He paid his entry fees knowing he better have enough try to cowboy up and rodeo tough.”

There are phrases that cover situations like when someone talks a lot with their hands. “He couldn’t say ‘hell’ with his hands tied.” When riding a horse with a rough gait that pounds even the best of riders you will hear, “That buzzard bait would give a woodpecker a headache.”

For a breed of mankind that has a reputation for being “men of few words,” the cowboy culture has their own entire dictionary of the West. It is filled with words from several nationalities, many occupations and all rolled into a “lingo” uniquely their own.

Time to go catch the old cow-hocked, gotch-eared, ring-tailed cayuse, cinch up my kack and spend a little more daylight riding for the brand instead of for the grub line.

Julie can be reached for comment at