Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The snowy outhouse

by Julie Carter

The abundance of recent snows isn’t always as easy on folks as the beauty of it, or the need, would imply. Country folks are forced into a different work mode for economic survival.

Not infrequently, a complete change from a northern zip code to a southern one is prompted by winter after winter of fighting life in a blizzard. Most years, that plan works well until global warming backfires and the Southwest is blanketed with repeated snow storms that put the Rocky Mountain high communities to shame.

Abandoning heavy winter wear, vehicle cold weather kits and other Nordic related items seemed like a freeing moment –at the time.

The new set of coveralls under the Christmas tree of the newly relocated rancher, now with a banana belt location, was received much like he’d been gifted with a vacuum cleaner. He promptly returned them, declaring in colorful language he had no intention of wearing such again – ever.

Fast forward to recent days and two feet of snow, ice that is six to eight inches thick on the cattle drinkers and there is a considerable amount of “noise” taking place.  

A 4x4 that’s needed fixed but hasn’t been, got stuck when just backing it out of the shop. The tractor has been coaxed and cajoled to start, chains drug from the back corner and put on a second pickup, also without the 4-wheel drive working. 

The grumbling of the rancher and the grinding of resistant wheels rolling give way to the bawling of the cattle crowded along the fence line waiting for their “meals on wheels” that they know will come.

Those that live in even more rural circumstances face other serious winter challenges –like keeping the outhouse accessible and in good working order.

A recent memo of response from More Value Outhouse Inc. outlined one such situation:

    “Dear Mr. Larsen: Our sales person Frank is out of the office this week until Jan. 2 but I, as the top sales person here at More Value Outhouse, will be pleased to help you. As I look at the invoice where you requested the Florida Model Rx 77-22, I must remind you that this is to be used next to the equator only.
    From the photo you share, it is evident that you also didn’t install the R77 springs on the door. We at More Value Outhouse do not warranty any model being used improperly.
    “After closer inspection of your installation, it is noted that you have installed the tie downs improperly which are against Outhouse EID code because of tripping hazards. Also, changing the size of the moon from original size voids any warranty. If you so desire, you may return it back to our factory outlet. We will refund your purchase price of $235 less the shipping of $325 and will bill your credit card for any excess.
    “As an added bonus, we will include a month’s supply of freshly harvested cobs that need only a good soak in water and then dried fully for a fluffier texture.
    We look forward to helping you with your future Outhouse needs. Thank You for using More Value Outhouse products. We aim to please.”

Julie can be reached for comment at

Christmas 2011: It Does Matter

It Does Matter
Christmas 2011
A Holy Reminder
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            As the world around us seems intent on destroying those things we hold dear, we find ourselves at the dawn of the most sacred of days.  Christmas has arrived. 
Here in southern New Mexico we can actually say we have a Holstein Christmas with patches of snow still covering the ground.  What a blessing the moisture has been.  From October, 2010 until October, 2011 we had begun to think we had been forgotten. 
Our young cows and our old cows suffered mightily as the monsoons only teased us with the hope of rain.  A year with less than two inches of rain is something none of us ever want to face again, and  . . . can’t face again.
  Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
     Let your heart be light.
            From now on our troubles will be out of sight . . .
Watching Kathy make candy yesterday, makes me realize that we may talk about Christmas being for the kids, but that is just an excuse for us.  It is really for us.
Oh, yes, the opening of gifts will be the highlight of the day as our children and grandchildren again take the stage with our attention, but Christmas has become the single day of the year that the door can be closed for a few hours.  That world outside is not welcome. 
 The smells, the sights, and the sound of all things familiar surround us.  We don’t have to compromise.  We don’t have to accept some contradiction of thought or demand imposed on our belief system and our heritage.
We will honor the way of life that makes our hearts again hopeful and reassured.  We will say our prayer . . . and tell our grandkids how much we love them.   
Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
     Make your Yuletide Gay
From now on our troubles will be miles away . . .
Fifty years ago we were no different from our grandchildren today.  After Christmas morning at home, we were on our way to Cliff and our first stop would be at my maternal grandparents, Carl and Leona Rice.  The smells of those days are reproduced from the same recipes and the traditions that were prepared and cooked at our house yesterday. 
They come alive every year from scraps of paper and tattered and yellowed reminders of notes from Nana, Ma Rice, Ethel Sperry, Grandma Lewis, Minnie, Aunt Ellen and other loved ones for which we now substitute. Fudge, divinity, peanut brittle, taffy and cream pies chain together generations now gone to the hearts and minds of our children.  Only the mincemeat, and the green tomato and pear preserves are absent . . . and I miss them.
By Christmas afternoon we were on the Mangus at my paternal grandparents, Albert and Sabre Wilmeth. Grandma Wilmeth always held court with her brood.  She alone kept the family together, and when she died . . . the unity of the family died, too.
We really didn’t want to eat, but we did . . . again.  Then it was to the horse pasture to catch something to ride or down to the creek to shoot at something.  Somebody always had a new gun.  We didn’t need supervision.  We knew darn well how to carry a gun.  We respected what we had been taught.
Here we are as in olden days,
     Happy Golden Days of yore . . .
There are a few things I remember about those very first Christmases.  There were the bubbly ornaments that hung on Ma Rice’s tree.  They had oil in them and they would bubble up from the bottom of a transparent bulb. The tree was freshly cut and I know it was a pinon.  It had been cut at the ranch on Sacaton.
There was the big wood cook stove on the kitchen side of the fireplace from the living room.  It kept the whole end of the house warm and it smelled good as some of those same recipes prepared yesterday were being fussed over and baked. 
Ma Rice, my maternal great grandmother, had come from Texas to the Gila Valley in 1884, 28 years before New Mexico even became a state.  Her generation remembered the Apache Wars and the Buffalo Soldiers that were stationed at places like Ft. Bayard for the protection of the scattered settlers.  In fact, we have a copy of her hand written letter in a special place in our library to her grandchildren about that time in her life.  She is our direct literary bridge to a West  . . . that is now history.
Faithful friends you are dear to us,
     Gather near to us once more . . .
Four children of another era were in our home the other night.  Joe Delk and Hank Hays and their wives sat by our fire and we reminisced.  We talked about two dads in particular, Forrest and Dick, and the wonders of a younger New Mexico. 
I was reminded that night of other men in those familiar ranch homes through the years.  They were men that didn’t always gather for family events, but Christmas was different.  With sunburned hands and faces (below their brow), they always looked half naked with their hats off.
Few times did we pray, but, if and when we did, those men would act very strange to a kid. There wasn’t a thing in their lives that seemed to scare them or put them ill at ease, but a crowd and the praises to God made them different. 
They could deal with a cow on the fight, a horned Hereford bull with rotting flesh in a wound filled with screw worms, a horse humped up wanting to pitch, or a Cat with a final drive out, but it was only Christmas that allowed them to interact with their Creator in a confined setting and feel welcome and secure . . . it was different, and  . . . it was so important.
Through the year we all will be together,
     if the fates allow . . .
Christmas was truly a time of renewal and hope. It was the one day that all could come together and be a united family.  It was bridge from daily difficulties back to the safety and spiritual haven of our God.  Think of the implications of that. 
Life creates enough complications, but life without a method to rebalance is indeed a life with difficulty.  Our world faces that dilemma.
Hang your shining star upon the highest bough . . .
As we have gotten older, the meaning of Christmas has curiously changed.  As kids it was the wonder of it all.  As young parents, it was the wonder of joy in our children eyes.  As grandparents, it is the hope for our families and the importance we now put on those things that don’t change, that provide lasting strength, and promote the loving kindness and glory that only God gives to our being and our World.
And have yourself a Merry little Christmas, now . . .
Open the door this morning to those things that are truly right and salutary.  Close it to those things that seek the destruction of those things we hold most dear . . . and tell your grandkids and your family that you love them . . . ‘just as your grandparents told you in those wonderful Christmases past.
Merry Christmas . . .

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “God bless our families and our way of life.  May we always fight for what is right . . . and be wise enough to understand when to stand and when to give.”

Scrapbook tells how Rudolph went down in history

You know Dasher and Dancer and the rest of the gang. But do you recall, the most "Perfect Christmas Crowd-Bringer" of all? That's how executives at Montgomery Ward originally described Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, who first appeared in a 1939 book written by one of the company's advertising copywriters and given free to children as a way to drive traffic to the stores. Curious to know more about how Rudolph really went down in history? It's all in the pages of a long-overlooked scrapbook compiled by the story's author, Robert L. May, and housed at his alma mater, Dartmouth College. May donated his handwritten first draft and illustrated mock-up to Dartmouth before his death at age 71 in 1976, and his family later added to what has become a large collection of Rudolph-related documents and merchandise, including a life-sized papier-mache reindeer that now stands among the stacks at the Rauner Special Collections Library. But May's scrapbook about the book's launch and success went unnoticed until last year, when Dartmouth archivist Peter Carini came across it while looking for something else. "No one on staff currently knew we had it. I pulled it out and all the pieces started falling out. It was just a mess," Carini said. The scrapbook, which has since been restored and catalogued, includes May's list of possible names for his story's title character — from Rodney and Rollo to Reginald and Romeo. There's a map showing how many books went to each state and letters of praise from adults and children alike...Rudolph is described as "the perfect Christmas crowd-bringer," if stores follow a few rules, including giving the book only to children accompanied by adults. "This will limit `street urchin' traffic to a minimum, and will bring in the PARENTS ... the people you want to sell!" The response was overwhelming — at a time when a print-run of 50,000 books was considered a best-seller, the company gave away more than 2 million copies that first year and by the following year was selling an assortment of Rudolph-themed toys and other items. But lest this become a story about corporate greed, it should be noted that in 1947, Montgomery Ward took the unusual step of turning over the copyright to the book to May, who was struggling financially after the death of his first wife. "He then made several million dollars using that in various ways, through the movie, the song, merchandising and things like that," Carini said. "I think it's a great story because it shows how corporations used to think of themselves as part of civil society and how much that has changed." May eventually left Montgomery Ward to essentially manage Rudolph's career, which really took off after May's brother-in-law Johnny Marks wrote the song (made famous by Gene Autry in 1949), and the release of a stop-motion animated television special in 1964. Both the song and movie depart significantly from May's original plot, however. In May's story, Rudolph doesn't live at the North Pole or grow up aspiring to pull Santa's sleigh — he lives in a reindeer village and Santa discovers him while filling Rudolph's stocking on a foggy Christmas Eve. "And you," Santa tells Rudolph, "May yet save the day! Your wonderful forehead may yet pave the way!'"...more

For more on Rudolph, and the history behind Gene Autry's 1949 recording of the tune, see today's Song Of The Day #741.

Song Of The Day #741 Special Christmas Edition

Merry Christmas from Ranch Radio.  See my post here for the background on Montgomery Ward,  Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and the author of the 1939 booklet, Robert L. May.

May's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, was a songwriter most famous for his Christmas songs.   Some of his titles were Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree, I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day, A Holly Jolly Christmas and today's song, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Marks says the original version he wrote was "easily one of the worst songs ever written."  Almost a year later Marks was walking down the street "when a new melody came to me."  He said that was "the first time that had ever happened and I have to admit, it's a great melody."

Marks then sent the song to RCA recording artist Perry Como. Como turned it down when the composer wouldn't let him change any of the lyrics. Years later, Marks confessed to Autry that the song had also been rejected by Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore.

Marks then took the song to Autry's musical director, Carl Cotner. Cotner told Autry, "I think the song is good for you." Problem was, Autry wasn't particularly fond of  it.  However Gene's wife, Ina Autry, was and encouraged him to record it.  During his 1949 recording session Autry decided to give it a try, and did the song in one take.   It sold 2 million copies that year.

The song would go on to become a perennial Christmas favorite and has been recorded by over 500 artists. Marks always liked Autry's version the best, writing to him the next year, "The great success of the Rudolph record was your perfect rendition of this song...Two bar intro, ad lib verse, solo chorus in tempo, thirty-two bar instrumental, and the last chorus with the Pinafores."  And years later (1961) Marks wrote to Autry, "What I sent you in 1949 were ink dots on a piece of paper.  You had to translate this into a sound, lyrically and musically, that people would like.  How many great songs have been lost because of the wrong rendition?  Many people have said: 'Any one could have made a hit with Rudolph'  My answer has always been: 'We'll never know. I only know that Gene Autry did do it, and that all the others followed."

So there you have the story of how a Jewish copywriter at Montgomery Ward and his Jewish brother-in-law who liked to write Christmas songs, combined with a singing cowboy from Tioga, Texas to produce one of the greatest loved songs of all time.  To me, a demonstration of what's great about America.  No central planner needed, thank you.

Merry Christmas!

Obama says he's not bound by Guantanamo, gun-control, other policy riders

President Obama said Friday he will not be bound by at least 20 policy riders in the 2012 omnibus funding the government, including provisions pertaining to Guantanamo Bay and gun control. After he signed the omnibus into law Friday, the White House released a concurrent signing statement saying Obama will object to portions of the legislation on constitutional grounds. Signing statements are highly controversial, and their legality is disputed...more

Government of Obama, by Obama, and for Obama.

These signing statements have a sordid history, starting with James Monroe.

Friday, December 23, 2011

ObamaCar Sticker Shock: Taxpayers Taken For A Ride

A think tank crunches the subsidy and bailout dollars and puts the true cost of Government Motors' electric car at a cool quarter-million. And the few sold have been largely bought by the 1%. At a time when Democrats are blaming the GOP for blocking a payroll tax cut deal that will add $40 in the average paycheck, they have no problem taking that worker's tax dollars to make and subsidize what we once called an electric Edsel bought by a precious few with an average income of $170,000. "Each Chevy Volt sold thus far may have as much as $250,000 in state and federal dollars in incentives behind it — a total of $3 billion altogether, according to an analysis by James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Actually that amount could be higher if you prorated the cost of the government bailout and takeover of General Motors. His analysis included 18 government deals that included loans, rebates, grants and tax credits...more

A-10: We could use some global warming 'bout now...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

DNA findings: Bullet passed through grizzly bear before hitting, killing hunter

Officials in northwestern Montana say a shot fired at a grizzly bear as it attacked a Nevada hunter passed through the bear before striking and killing the hunter. The Western News reported Wednesday that tests requested by the Department of the Interior found grizzly bear DNA on the .30.06 bullet that killed 39-year-old Steve Stevenson, of Winnemucca, Nev., on Sept. 16. Stevenson and 20-year-old Ty Bell, also of Winnemucca, were hunting near the Montana-Idaho border when Bell shot what he thought was a black bear. The men tracked the bear into heavy cover, where the 400-pound animal attacked Stevenson. Bell fired several shots trying to kill the bear. Lincoln County Sheriff Roby Bowe called the shooting a "horribly tragic accident."...more

Arizona Border Fence Blocks Bears in Migration, Study Finds

The much-ballyhooed border fence has not just made it more difficult for illegal immigrants to slip across from Mexico into the United States. It has also become an obstacle, researchers say, for migrating bears. A study published in this month’s edition of Biological Conservation warns that the black bear population just north of the border in Arizona may be threatened by the increasingly impermeable barriers at the border. Also fragmenting the bear habitat are the growing urban sprawl in southern Arizona and the expanding highway systems that slice through rugged terrain, the study found. Researchers used hair snags — pieces of barbed wire set up near bait to catch genetic samples of foraging bears — to track various bear populations in Arizona. They found significant genetic disparities between black bears in the east-central part of the state and the subpopulation just north of the border. The border bears, the study said, were more closely related to bears found in northern Mexico...more

Pay attention to this:

The population density of the border bears was substantially lower than the bears living farther north, which had a wider habitat that was less vulnerable to development, the study found. The border is a unique region, from a biological point of view, researchers say, with many North American species reaching the southern limit of their distribution there and many South American species extending not much farther north.

The border region should get ready for more endangered species, subspecies, sensitive species, distinct populations and whatever else they may come up with.

History helps makes sense of wildfires

North of Albuquerque, the people of the Pueblo of Jemez may hold a secret to dealing with wildfires in the ponderosa pine forests of western New Mexico and eastern Arizona. The tribe has lived in these forests since before the Spanish conquistadors explored the region in the 16th century. This long history makes the pueblo an ideal place for University of Arizona researchers to study how humans in the Southwest have dealt with wildfires over the centuries. With backing from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the USDA under a four-year, $1.5 million grant, the UA-led team includes experts in tree-ring science, fire ecology, forest fire behavior, archaeology, anthropology and education. The team’s goal is to figure out how to keep forests healthy using prescribed burns and other methods to minimize the destructive power of large fires. This goal will become increasingly important as drought conditions make woodlands more likely to burst into flames. “People once made forests resilient,” said Christopher Roos, an assistant professor of anthropology at Southern Methodist University who is attached to the UA project. By using fire to clear land for farming, the tribes culled the small trees and grasses that could otherwise have carried flames into the crowns of large trees. Developed over centuries, these land management techniques may have helped the tribes to live and farm within the forests in a sustainable way. Today’s practice of fire suppression has allowed undergrowth to thrive, making fires bigger, hotter and more dangerous. “Changes in land use, especially the modern combination of both cattle grazing and active fire suppression, make forests much more vulnerable to the most dangerous kinds of fires,” Roos said. Over the last 700 years, as many as 10,000 farmers have worked the land around the Pueblo of Jemez. Understanding how they managed the land will provide clues to dealing with the wildfires of the future, Roos said...more

Given one researcher's apparent bias against livestock, it will be interesting to see how this plays out with the current livestock operations at the pueblo and the Jemez Pueblo Livestock Association.

Sinaloa cartel OK's Mexico's newest drug ballads

Trumpets and trombones blast across a rodeo ring where women in miniskirts dance with men in cowboy hats and gold chains. Some fans try to climb onto the stage while others whoop to the deafening music and sing along to an outlaw ballad about one of the most-wanted criminal suspects in North America, an alleged drug kingpin.

"We take care of El Mayo
"Here no one betrays him...
"We stay tough with AK-47s and bazookas at the neck
"Chopping heads off as they come
"We're bloody-thirsty crazy men
"Who like to kill."

At the microphone is Alfredo Rios, whose stage name is "The Komander." He's a singer of Movimiento Alterado - "Altered Movement" in English - a new commercial brand of "narcocorrido" ballads that bluntly describe drug violence to the oompah beat of Mexico's norteno music. The songs are filled with unusually explicit lyrics about decapitations and torture, and praise for one drug gang in particular: the Sinaloa cartel and its bosses, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada and Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. The increasingly popular music is banned on radio stations in parts of Mexico but is heavily promoted over the Internet. It is the brainchild of twin brothers based in Burbank, California, who have long turned to the Sinaloa cartel for artistic inspiration. They won a Grammy award in 2008 for producing an artist who goes by the name of "El Chapo de Sinaloa."...more

Where's the Beef: U.S. beef consumption in decline

For the past decade, cattle ranchers and meat packers watched with despair as America's beef consumption steadily declined, ceding ground to leaner meats as well as vegetarian trends among the health-conscious. Most recently, high unemployment in the world's wealthiest nation had cash-strapped Americans avoiding restaurants where beef is a common entree and had them switching to lower cost non-meat dishes at home. USDA estimates 2011 U.S. per capita beef consumption at 57.4 lbs, down 13 percent from 10 years ago and down about 25 percent from 1980. In 2012, USDA predicts, Americans will eat 54.1 lbs of beef on average. The beef industry is coping with these changes by developing new cuts that will satisfy appetites for steaks but at a lower cost. Also, it has benefited from a huge recovery in beef exports particularly to Asia and Russia, where consumers are upgrading their diets and concerns about mad cow disease fade. Beef companies, like Tyson Foods, JBS, Cargill, and National Beef, are carving up beef carcasses in interesting new ways. Carcass portions that were once meant for ground meat or roasts, such as rounds and chucks, are now sliced into cheaper cuts of steaks for the American palate...more

Tracking Beef’s Shrinking Footprint

A study published in this month’s Journal of Animal Science found that raising a pound of beef in the United States today uses significantly fewer natural resources, including land, water, feed and fuel than in the past. “The Environmental Impact of Beef Production in the United States: 1977 compared with 2007” (Journal of Animal Science, December 18, 2011) by Jude Capper, Ph.D., Washington State University, documents that each pound of beef raised in 2007 used 33 percent less land, 12 percent less water, 19 percent less feed and 9 percent less fossil fuel energy than equivalent beef production in 1977. Waste outputs were similarly reduced, shrinking the carbon footprint of beef by 16.3 percent in 30 years. According to Capper’s research, improvements in the way cattle are raised and fed in the United States between 1977 and 2007 yielded 13 percent more total beef from 30 percent fewer animals...more

New Mexico chili: red vs. green - CNN video

CNN PRODUCER NOTE ChrisMorrow interviews the 'Pope of Peppers' Dave DeWitt, the 'Salsa Twins' Jim and John Thomas, owners of El Pinto Restaurant & Salsas, and Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry, about New Mexico's state vegetable: Peppers. What do you prefer, red or green?


Song Of The Day #740

Ranch Radio's Western Swing Christmas Week brings you Here Comes Santa Claus by the Texas Playboys.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hunting Wolves Out West: More, Less?

The war over wolves continues in the West. In May, the Department of Interior announced that it was taking wolves off the Endangered Species List and that management would be turned over to state wildlife agencies. Rather than reduce controversy, however, its decision seems to have increased it. Wildlife officials in Idaho announced a plan, taking effect this month, that would rely on snare and leg-hold trapping and helicopter-borne sharpshooters to kill as many as 75 wolves in mountainous terrain in the east, near the Montana border, known as the Lolo Zone. In Montana, the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has extended the hunting season on wolves past the Dec. 31 deadline, saying that not enough wolves were shot during the season. Just 105 wolves have been taken so far, it said, and officials wanted hunters to harvest 220. Meanwhile, a photo from 2006 released on a conservation blog, Wildlife News, has stirred controversy. It shows a plane operated by federal sharpshooters with 58 paw print stickers on the side representing the number of wolf kills the agents have made, similar to the way fighter pilots signify how many planes they have shot down. Officials say that the stickers have since been removed...more

USFWS Announces Recovery of Gray Wolves in the Western Great Lakes

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that gray wolf populations in the Great Lakes region have recovered and no longer require the protection of the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is publishing a final rule in the Federal Register removing wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and in portions of adjoining states, from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants. The rule removing ESA protection for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes becomes effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Wolves total more than 4,000 animals in the three core recovery states in the western Great Lakes area and have exceeded recovery goals. Minnesota’s population is estimated at 2,921 wolves, while an estimated 687 wolves live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and another 782 in Wisconsin. Each state has developed a plan to manage wolves after federal protection is removed. Wolf populations in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan will be monitored for at least five years to ensure the species continues to thrive. If it appears, at any time, that the gray wolf cannot sustain itself without the protections of the ESA, the Service can initiate the listing process, including emergency listing. In the Service’s May 5, 2011, proposal to delist western Great Lakes wolves, the agency also proposed accepting recent taxonomic information that the gray wolf subspecies Canis lupus lycaon should be elevated to the full species Canis lycaon, and that the population of wolves in the Western Great Lakes is a mix of the two full species, Canis lupus and Canis lycaon. Based on substantial information received from scientists and others during the public comment period, the Service has re-evaluated that proposal, and the final rule considers all wolves in the Western Great Lakes DPS to be Canis lupus. The Service also previously proposed delisting gray wolves in all or parts of 29 states in the eastern half of the United States. The Service continues to evaluate that portion of the May 5, 2011, proposal and will make a final separate determination at a later date...more

Governor Schweitzer halts federal wildlife shipments

Montana's governor on Tuesday issued an order blocking the Interior Department from transporting fish and wildlife anywhere within the state or across state lines — raising the stakes in his ongoing tussle with federal officials over their management of wildlife. Gov. Brian Schweitzer said he was concerned the federal agency's actions have allowed animal diseases such as brucellosis and chronic wasting disease to spread across the region. He also said he wants to halt the transfer of bison to other states from the National Bison Range. The Democratic governor said those bison are "genetically impure mongrels" that should not be used for conservation purposes. Previously, Schweitzer has called on the federal government to stop the artificial feeding of elk on the National Elk Refuge in neighboring Wyoming — a practice biologists have said concentrates wildlife populations and increases the chances of disease transmission. "It's their cavalier disregard for wildlife genetics and disease," Schweitzer said. "They don't seem to be interested in changing their behavior." He said the order will remain in place until federal officials show cooperation with Montana over wildlife. An Interior Department spokesman said he had not yet seen the order and couldn't immediately comment...more

The gov's E.O. is here.

Navy blue goes green

The $1 trillion budget bill before Congress includes a provision that would resurrect the Keystone XL pipeline, but don’t expect its passage to open a flood of black gold and wash away Uncle Sam’s infatuation with all things green. Even as the scientific validation of global-warming theory crumbles, adherents in Washington have dragooned the U.S. military into leading the charge toward renewable energy. The Navy made headlines last week with the revelation that it has been ordered to purchase 450,000 gallons of biofuel to power its jet fighters. Conventional jet fuel costs about $4 a gallon, but the biofuel made from fermented algae will set back the service about $16 a gallon. The pricey green gas, says the Navy, will be used next summer to power planes participating in exercises near Hawaii under the politically correct title of “the Great Green Fleet Carrier Strike Force.” The purchase is part of a larger deal in which the Navy is partnering with the Agriculture and Energy departments to buy $510 million worth of biofuels over three years. One supplier is California-based Solazyme, which received $22 million in federal stimulus funds to construct a biofuel plant in Louisiana. A company adviser, according to Hot Air, is T.J. Glauthier, who was a member of President Obama’s transition team. So in essence, overspending feds borrowed stimulus money, handed it over to an Obama buddy who helps build a factory for algae fuel that the feds buy back at quadruple the going rate. Meanwhile, the defense budget is slashed by $500 billion and faces additional cuts of $1.2 trillion as a result of the congressional debt panel’s failure to approve a deficit reduction plan - all in the name of “sustainability.”...more

Cloning vs. conservation

Suppose you knew the rain forests would be totally destroyed in 20 years, no matter what. But you also knew that if you took certain steps now, some future technology could miraculously reconstruct every living thing in the forests on demand. Would you then be willing to take those steps and pave over the forests tomorrow in the name of faster human progress? Recently, an economist publicly floated a version of that proposal, hypothesizing that cloning might offer a technological solution to environmental crises. It’s an idea that I imagine could sound ingeniously appealing to certain people with some overly optimistic views about the environment or technology (paging Bjorn Lomborg and Ray Kurzweil!). And perhaps it’s one that deserves some real consideration — though probably not for quite the reasons its author had in mind. Casey B. Mulligan, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, raised the idea in “Species Protection and Technology,” a post on The New York Times Economix blog...more

Gas Prices at All-Time Christmas High - Interior backs solar, wind farms

Americans hitting the road this week are likely to encounter the highest-ever price for gas at Christmas in history. According to figures from AAA, the nationwide average for regular unleaded is $3.21 per gallon — an increase of 23 cents over last year’s Christmas record. This marks the second straight year Americans are paying more at the pump during the holidays. The price in 2009 was around $2.60 per gallon and jumped to about $3 per gallon at Christmas last year...more

The Obama administration has approved a pair of renewable energy projects being developed on public lands in Arizona and California. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday his department has approved a 300-megawatt solar farm southwest of Phoenix and a 186-megawatt wind farm east of San Diego. The latest projects are the 24th and 25th renewable energy projects on public lands approved in the past two years. Salazar also said he will push for offshore wind projects in the Atlantic Ocean. AP

Thought this was a nice little juxtaposition of our energy future.

For Many Species, Moving Day Has Added Stress

Every fall the calliope hummingbird, which weighs about as much as a penny, braves high winds and bad weather to migrate from Canada and the northern United States to as far south as Mexico, then back again in the spring — a total of 4,000 to 5,000 miles. The journey is one of several dozen “spectacular migrations” — in the air and on land — that are chronicled in a new report by the Wildlife Conservation Society. But the report warns that these migrations are in peril. “Long-distance migrations as a whole are rapidly disappearing,” said an author of the report, Keith Aune, a senior conservation scientist here in Montana for the wildlife group, which is based at the Bronx Zoo in New York. The report surveyed wildlife biologists across the Western United States, where most of the large-scale migrations still take place. It details 24 terrestrial and 17 aerial migrations; a later report will take up ocean migrations. There are many more imperiled migrations, Mr. Aune said, but these are both the most important and the most likely to survive if they receive public support. Long-distance migrations are not only a spectacle, he said; they are crucial to keeping wildlife species extant in a changing world. “They are about survival,” he continued. “When we block migrations, we lose the ability to sustain a population.”...more

Pot Plantations Ravaging Our Forests

Marijuana growers are devastating national forests and creating a "clear and present danger to the public and the environment," a top Forest Service official testified before the Senate last week. Major marijuana plots have been detected on some 67 forests across 20 states, and the trend is only growing, the Forest Service's law enforcement director says. The forests make it easy to avoid detection thanks to a lack of people and an abundance of dense vegetation, and they provide an environment in which the plants can thrive, David Ferrell noted. "There is an extensive system of roads and trails (both open and closed), soils are fertile, and water for irrigation is available for the diverting." And it's wreaking havoc on the environment: Chemicals including rat poison get dumped on land and washed into streams coursing through the parks; plots are razed to make way for the plants, disrupting wildlife in the process; and a massive amount of water is removed from lakes and streams to sustain the pot...more

Stupid laws can have devastating affects.

Song Of The Day #739

As Ranch Radio continues its Western Swing Christmas Week, here's them boys again...The Texas Playboys and Let It Snow.

Tax Cut? No, Just Another Raid On Social Security

But Obama and his Democrats don't want to direct any tax cuts toward investment for long term growth — as corporate tax cuts do — but to hand them out to taxpayers like party favors in the hopes it'll pay off come November. It's a political game, but they have few other options aside from cutting spending. But there's a big catch: The payroll tax cut they seek is nothing more than taking cash from the back pockets of taxpayers and handing it to them up front. The supposed payroll tax cut, as blogger Don Surber has noted, is a Social Security tax cut that comes through the Federal Insurance Contributions Act. That means the tax cut will be achieved by taking $120 billion from the Social Security "trust fund." Instead of getting rid of a bureaucrat or a thousand, the idea is to simply raid the Social Security trust fund one more time, hastening the day it goes bust...more

Just thought you'd want to know...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Feds use 7 attorneys to file forfeiture proceedings against Deming gun shop

A 10-count civil forfeiture complaint was filed yesterday in the District of New Mexico seeking forfeiture of assets related to a gun shop in Deming, N.M ., whose owner and employees were previously indicted on charges related to firearms smuggling and money laundering, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales of the District of New Mexico and Dennis A. Ulrich, acting special agent in charge of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in El Paso, Texas. The complaint alleges that, between April 2010 and July 2011, property associated with New Deal Shooting Sports was used in connection with, among other things, a conspiracy to make false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms and to illegally export firearms to Mexico, a conspiracy to engage in money laundering, and a conspiracy to facilitate the trafficking of release

Read the release and you will see they are using seven attorneys in the forfeiture case.

Gee, you think there is some money for them in this? You bet.

Head of NM Wildlife Federation tapped by Obama to serve on Valles Caldera board

President Barack Obama has tapped the head of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation to serve as the newest board member of the Valles Caldera Trust. Kent Salazar has been sworn in to fill the vacancy left by Stephen Henry in 2010. Salazar owns an environmental consulting firm and is a former member of the state Game Commission. Salazar's trustee position will focus primarily on management of wildlife and fish populations across the 89,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve in northern New Mexico. The federal government bought the former cattle ranch in 2000. The goal was to develop recreational opportunities but maintain the preserve as a working ranch. Some are calling for the preserve to become part of the National Park Service, saying the trust has been unable to fulfill its mandate. AP

National Guard troops at Mexico border cut to fewer than 300

The Obama administration will keep a reduced contingent of National Guard troops working along the Mexican border for the next year, the Defense Department said Tuesday. Starting in January, the force of 1,200 National Guard troops at the border will be reduced to fewer than 300 at a cost of about $60 million, said Paul Stockton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense. The remaining troops will shift their focus from patrolling the border on the ground looking for illegal immigrants and smugglers to aerial surveillance missions using military helicopters and airplanes equipped with high-tech radar and other gear. Exactly where those troops will fly or how many aircraft will be used has not been decided, he said...more

Gary Johnson to drop out of GOP primary to run as Libertarian

Gary Johnson will quit the Republican primaries and seek the Libertarian Party nomination instead, POLITICO has learned. The former two-term New Mexico governor, whose campaign for the GOP nomination never caught fire, will make the announcement at a press conference in Santa Fe on Dec. 28. Libertarian state directors will be informed of Johnson’s plans on a conference call Tuesday night, a Johnson campaign source told POLITICO.

Barbed Wire & Sagegrouse

Ranchers…no more need to ride fences ‘cause barbed wire’s a killer according to a research study and some folks want it removed. An ongoing study found that collisions with a relatively short section of barbed-wire fence killed dozens of sage grouse over a seven-month period. This could affect a decision on whether to protect the bird under the Endangered Species Act. Biologists said that quite a few sage grouse are dying as a result of colliding with the thousands of miles of barbed-wire fence crisscrossing the West. Wyoming Game and Fish Department documented 146 instances of finding sage grouse feathers and/or carcasses on or near a 4.7-mile section of barbed-wire fence. Idaho Farm Bureau Range Specialist Wally Butler comments: “You would question finding feathers doesn’t mean the bird’s been injured. I’m an old guy and lose hair on occasion too. I’m sure there’s some truth to it but I’m not so sure about the numbers.” Is this another case of something being black or white…all wrong vs all right. Here’s a shade of gray called compromise. Researchers discovered that placing colored tags on the fence to make the wire more visible seemed to reduce the number of birds killed by about 60 percent. Go here for an audio of this FB report.

The EPA's Fracking Scare

The shale gas boom has been a rare bright spot in the U.S. economy, so much of the country let out a shudder two weeks ago when the Environmental Protection Agency issued a "draft" report that the drilling process of hydraulic fracturing may have contaminated ground water in Pavillion, Wyoming. The good news is that the study is neither definitive nor applicable to the rest of the country. "When considered together with other lines of evidence, the data indicates likely impact to ground water that can be explained by hydraulic fracking," said the EPA report, referring to the drilling process that blasts water and chemicals into shale rock to release oil and natural gas. The news caused elation among environmentalists and many in the media who want to shut down fracking. More than one-third of all natural gas drilling now uses fracking, and that percentage is rising. If the EPA Wyoming study holds up under scrutiny, an industry that employs tens of thousands could be in peril. But does it stand up? This is the first major study to have detected linkage between fracking and ground-water pollution, and the EPA draft hasn't been peer reviewed by independent scientific analysts. Critics are already picking apart the study, which Wyoming Governor Matt Mead called "scientifically questionable." The EPA says it launched the study in response to complaints "regarding objectionable taste and odor problems in well water." What it doesn't say is that the U.S. Geological Survey has detected organic chemicals in the well water in Pavillion (population 175) for at least 50 years—long before fracking was employed. There are other problems with the study that either the EPA failed to disclose or the press has given little attention to...more

Conservation groups protest Wallowa County's wolf compensation committee

Just days after state officials said they're adopting a framework for wolf compensation claims, conservation groups lashed out, saying they’re worried about how the plan will play out on the ground. Specifically, they’re concerned about Wallowa County. In a letter to Governor Kitzhaber dated Friday, they accused the county of forming an anti-wolf compensation committee even before the state finalized rules on the program. The program will compensate ranchers who lose cows to wolves. The Imnaha pack of at least five gray wolves has killed six cows since October when a lawsuit stayed the state’s plans to eliminate wolves that feed on livestock. The pack has killed 20 cows since the spring of 2010, according to the Department of Fish & Wildlife...more

Activists aim to halt horse castration plan

A coalition of conservationists and wild-horse activists is suing the government to block its implementation of a precedent-setting plan to castrate hundreds of wild stallions in eastern Nevada. The lawsuit, filed by the Western Watersheds Project, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and the Cloud Foundation, follows the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's decision in July to back off a similar plan to castrate hundreds of wild stallions in Wyoming. The complaint contends the BLM's "scientifically unsound, controversial, untested and radical approaches'' to managing wild horses in the 855,000-acre complex violate federal law while the agency continues to authorize thousands of sheep and cattle to graze on public lands in the area. "The BLM has violated the law by failing to analyze impacts of domestic livestock and wild horses," said Jon Marvel, executive director of the Idaho-based Western Watershed Project. "I hope this case ends once and for all BLM's illegal bias in favor of cattle and sheep over wild horses and all other native wildlife."...more