Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mexico destroys 8mn chickens amid bird flu outbreak

Eight million chickens have so far been slaughtered in Mexico and 66 million more were vaccinated in a bid to contain a bird flu outbreak in the west of the country, authorities said Tuesday. The agriculture ministry said in a statement that during the vaccination process in the Los Altos region of Jalisco state, diseased chickens were identified, leading to the destruction of the flu-carrying fowl. Food safety officials say the outbreak, which was first detected on June 20, is confined to Los Altos, which is an egg-producing area. Inspections in other parts of the country have not turned up any signs of the disease. A national animal health emergency was declared at the beginning of July, and the prices of both eggs and chickens have skyrocketed...more

Friday, August 10, 2012

2nd moratorium after oil spill was legal, Justice Department lawyer says

Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar should not be held in contempt of court for issuing a second moratorium on deep water drilling following BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a federal attorney argued on Wednesday.  A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in a case brought by offshore companies against the Interior Department, which stopped the drilling in May 2010 and then did it again that July despite a court ruling overturning the previous shutdown. The offshore companies are seeking $500,000 in attorney's fees from the Interior Department. In February 2011, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman held Salazar and the Interior Department in contempt for what he described as "dismissive conduct" of the ruling. Feldman blasted the agency for issuing what he called a "substantively identical moratorium" to the one he overturned in June 2010. At the time, Salazar said shutting down deep water drilling was necessary because it was unclear whether burrowing at depths greater than 500 feet could be done safely.  Brabender argued that Salazar did not show contempt for Feldman's first ruling, which he said was limited to the agency's first moratorium. He argued that the agency's second shutdown was different and that it was backed up by more research and offered more details about why a moratorium was necessary. Judge Jennifer Elrod said: "It seems that you're saying they could put a new title on a document and re-issue it?" Brabender said a federal agency could do just that if it thought it necessary and he added that a federal court's power to restrain a federal agency's actions was limited. Carl D. Rosenblum, a lawyer for 39 offshore companies that sued, called the Interior Department's actions a "pattern of contempt." He argued that "by hook or by crook" Salazar was determined to "shut down the industry."...more

Links of interest

Interior Secretary Salazar plans tour of Alaska; state awaits word on Shell drilling request

Bill Clinton shines light on clean energy at greenie confab

Greens Sue Salazar to Save American Eels

Secretary of interior: Grizzlies doing fine

Song Of The Day #903 (Sharon's Birthday)

It's Sweet Sharon's birthday, so Ranch Radio asked her to pick a song. She chose Westphalia Waltz - seems as though she liked dancing to this tune with yours truly. Here's the tune, done auto harp style by Cathy Brittel.

Love you darlin' and Happy Birthday!

Drought-hit US crops worse than feared, squeeze looms

* Smallest corn crop in 6 years, 2 pct below estimates
* Soy crop 4 pct below trade expectations
* Lowest U.S. corn use in 6 years, soy in 9 years
* Russia wheat down 12 pct, China corn up 2.5 pct
* Record soy crop makes Brazil No. 1 in world

The worst U.S. drought in more than half a century has battered the corn and soybean crops with larger losses than expected, causing domestic stockpiles to shrivel to near bare-bones levels, government data showed on Friday. In the most authoritative statement yet on the withered U.S. crops, the Agriculture Department, based on its first samples this season from parched, scorched fields, estimated the corn harvest would drop 13 percent from last year. With production at just 10.8 billion bushels, the yield would be the lowest since 1995. It would be the third disappointing crop in a row for the world's largest corn grower and main agricultural exporter. The USDA slashed its estimate of the corn crop by 17 percent, following a big cut in July. Its latest estimate was 2 percent lower than traders had expected.  U.S. inventories of soybeans, a key component of livestock feed from India to Indiana, would be the smallest in nine years after the USDA said only 2.69 billion bushels would be harvested this fall, 4 percent less than traders had expected. Stocks will drop to 115 million bushels, the second-smallest since 1973. Corn prices, which have rallied more than 60 percent since mid-June, briefly surged to a record when the USDA released its report. They later retreated as traders assessed signs that soaring costs were helping curtail demand...more

Estate tax policy changes affects farms and ranches

A major federal tax policy is set to expire at the end of 2012, and it could have a significant impact on Montana's farms and ranches. The federal government taxes estates as the property changes hands; under current federal law, estates valued at less than $5 million are exempt from the tax; estates over that threshold are taxed at 35%. Unless Congress acts, this tax policy is set to expire at the end of the year, which means that all estates valued at $1 million or more will be taxed at 55%. Attorney Brand Boyar explained, "The estate tax is a transfer tax. It's a tax on the ability to transfer value at death. In order to calculate the tax you look at something called the gross estate, which is everything that you own or have control over." Montana's farming and ranching community says this could have a detrimental impact on their business. Errol Rice of the Montana Stockgrowers Association said, "When a family ranching business is put in the position to where they have to sell off parts of the ranch, or all of the ranch, or parts of the cattle, or all of the cattle, essentially that part of your business is gone and it really diminishes the ability of that next generation to come back and take over the family business." Rice says farmers and ranchers sometimes are land-rich and cash-poor, so when the tax comes due they often times don't have money in the bank to pay it...more

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Adapting agriculture for climate change

Cattle are being bred with genes from their African cousins who are accustomed to hot weather. New corn varieties are emerging with larger roots for gathering water in a drought. Someday, the plants may even be able to "resurrect" themselves after a long dry spell, recovering quickly when rain returns. Across American agriculture, farmers and crop scientists have concluded that it's too late to fight climate change. They need to adapt to it with a new generation of hardier animals and plants specially engineered to survive, and even thrive, in intense heat, with little rain. On his Kansas farm, Clay Scott is testing a new kind of corn called Droughtguard as his region suffers through a second consecutive growing season with painfully scarce precipitation. "These are products I really need," Scott said. "I couldn't be any happier that they are working on these products." At least one rancher is now breeding cattle with genes that trace to animals from Africa and India, where their ancestors developed natural tolerance to heat and drought. Ron Gill, a rancher who also heads the animal science department at Texas A&M University, said research has been under way for years to develop cattle that can withstand heat and grow on lower-quality forage. Last year, he started incorporating into his herd Beefmaster cattle, a cross between Brahman cattle, which originated in India, and European breeds that include Herefords and Shorthorns. He's also experimenting with the appropriately named Hotlanders, a Texas breed developed for its heat tolerance using genetics from Senepol cows bred in the Virgin Islands. As ranchers replenish their livestock, the advice from experts is to breed drought tolerance into herds. It's no different for farmers in the nation's Corn Belt, who are confronting a drought that stretches from Ohio west to California and from Texas north to the Dakotas. Only in the 1930s and the 1950s has a drought covered more of the US, according to the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. ..more

Wolf kill fails to placate Washington rancher

The decision by state wildlife officials to kill a wolf that had been attacking livestock in northeastern Washington is too little, too late, says the rancher who has suffered losses there since 2007. he department took action after a series of wolf attacks on the Diamond M herd dating back to two calves that were killed in 2007. Department officials also cited higher-than-normal calf losses and documented wolf activity around the calving operation. An adjacent ranch had wolf problems at its calving operation this spring, Pamplin said. Diamond M ranch owner Len McIrvin, of Laurier, Wash., said he remains skeptical of the department's actions and would only believe it when he saw a dead wolf. "They distort facts so much, they've lied to us continually on this thing," he said. "First they said there was no wolves in the area. We showed them that there was. Then they said there might be wolves, but they'll never eat a cow. We showed them that they did." McIrvin said wolf activity has been escalating. Last year 11 calves and five bulls were killed, he said. He will tally how many have been killed this year in the fall. "We know we've had two kills. We know we've had four other calves attacked and severely wounded," he said. McIrvin said there's no way to protect against wolves on the rough, big timber country range, where he runs roughly 300 pairs of cattle. McIrvin owns a lot of the area and has state Department of Natural Resources leases and U.S. Forest Service grazing permits in the area. McIrvin said he's seen wolves in the area. Cowboys coming in after dark with horses have wolves following within several hundred yards, howling. "You can't see them, but you can hear them all the time," McIrvin said. He has a kill permit for depredation if wolves are caught in the act, but said there's little chance of meeting that requirement...more

White House to seek $7B in green energy contracts for military

The White House announced Tuesday it is inviting contract proposals from green energy firms to boost the Army’s use of renewable energy. The administration is making $7 billion available for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to spend on locally-generated biomass, geothermal, solar or wind energy for up to 30 years. The move is part of a broader White House-led push to green the armed forces, over GOP opposition, which claims the efforts are a waste of taxpayer dollars. The Defense Department has set ambitious targets, aiming for renewable sources to account for 25 percent of its energy by 2025, with the Army working toward getting 1 gigawatt of power from green sources by that year. Heather Zichal, the White House deputy assistant for energy and climate change, praised the DOD’s “extraordinary work” to promote renewable energy usage, in a media call on Tuesday...more

Obama fast-tracks federal wind, solar energy projects

President Obama is fast-tracking seven federal wind and solar projects as the administration touts its energy policies amid GOP criticism over green investments and rising gas prices. The projects in Arizona, California, Nevada and Wyoming will produce 5,000 megawatts of power, enough to run 1.5 million homes, the White House said in a statement announcing the decision. While the expedited projects announced Tuesday deal with electricity, rather than direct fuel substitutes for gasoline, it's nonetheless part of a wider push to promote the administration's policies on alternative energy and energy security...more

Dams Contribute to Climate Change

Washington State Univ. researchers have documented an underappreciated suite of players in global warming: dams, the water reservoirs behind them and surges of greenhouse gases as water levels go up and down. Bridget Deemer, a doctoral student at Washington State Univ.-Vancouver, measured dissolved gases in the water column of Lacamas Lake in Clark County and found methane emissions jumped 20-fold when the water level was drawn down. A fellow WSU-Vancouver student, Maria Glavin, sampled bubbles rising from the lake mud and measured a 36-fold increase in methane during a drawdown. Methane is 25 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. And while dams and the water behind them cover only a small portion of the earth's surface, they harbor biological activity that can produce large amounts of greenhouse gases. There are also some 80,000 dams in the U.S. alone, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Inventory of Dams. "Reservoirs have typically been looked at as a green energy source,” says Deemer. "But their role in greenhouse gas emissions has been overlooked.”...more

U.S. Drought Worsens in Hard-Hit Corn, Soy Areas

The worst U.S. drought in decades intensified in hard-hit corn- and soy-growing regions of the Midwest during the past week, even though overall drought conditions eased in the region and the country as a whole, the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map showed Thursday. In Iowa, the top state for production of both corn and soybeans, 69.1% of the state was in "extreme" drought, the second-worst category, up from 30.7%. None of the state was in exceptional drought. The amount of the corn crop in the two worst drought categories has nearly quadrupled over the last three weeks, from 14% to 53%, said Mark Svoboda, climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which releases the drought map in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For soybeans in the last three weeks, the proportion of the crop in the two worst drought categories has tripled from 16% to 50%, he said. "People on the surface might say, 'Hey, the overall drought number went down this week,'" Mr. Svoboda said. But in key corn- and soybean-growing areas, "those numbers have actually intensified," he said. Expansion of the drought caused U.S. futures prices for soybeans and corn to soar to all-time highs last month...subscription required

Song Of The Day #902

The George Jones 1956 recording of Go Away With Me is our tune on Ranch Radio today.

Livestock mutilations shake up Gunnison ranching community

Recent livestock mutilations have Gunnison area ranchers shaken and on the alert for more strange attacks on cattle and horses. In recent weeks, a horse was shot and had its head skinned at the LeValley Ranch property, which is part of the Esty Ranch holdings about eight miles east of Gunnison. The horse also had its tongue and anus removed. Less than two months ago, a prize heifer in the same heavily traveled area just off of Colorado 50 and Colorado 114 had its tongues, lips and anus removed. "To me it looks like a ritualistic issue. Either that, or they are high on drugs. There is just no logical explanation for it," said Esty Ranch owner Mike Clarke. Two other incidents took place on other ranches in that vicinity in May and July. The four mutilations have prompted the Gunnison County Stockgrowers Association to offer a $500 reward for any information that will lead to a conviction. The Colorado State Patrol has also been alerted to watch for strange activities in that area. The Gunnison County Sheriff's Office, the agency investigating the mutilations, did not return phone calls asking for comment. Clarke's ranch foreman, Allen Roper, told the Gunnison Country Times that the mutilated animals appeared to be shot, but no bullets were found and that the mutilations were done with knives and were not a result of predators...more

Virginians Claim USA Can't Make Water Rules

A Virginia group claims the U.S. EPA violated the Tenth Amendment by imposing a "coercive ... unfunded mandate" on a watershed, "to implement a federal program - one not imposed by or under Virginia Law.  The Occoquan Watershed Coalition's federal complaint is the latest in a rash of lawsuits all over the nation in which states, groups and people claim that federal rules and regulations-often involving the environment - violate states' rights. The Occoquan Watershed Coalition claims the Environmental Protection Agency unconstitutionally ordered Virginia to control the amount of rain water allowed to flow into a Fairfax County stream, a mandate aimed at protecting benthic organisms that can be killed off by sediment-rich rain water.  The benthic zone is the lowest region of a body of water, along the bottom. The Occoquan Coalition claims the so-called unfunded mandate will cost Virginia $225 million and the Virginia Department of Transportation $70 million, to comply with "total maximum daily loading (TMDL) for benthic impairments in the Accotink Creek watershed." It claims the rule will pull Fairfax County and state money away from other projects, including "desperately needed" road maintenance and construction. "This is the kind of coercive commandeering the Constitution does not authorize - commandeering that tramples the sovereignty of the state and local governments," the group claims in its complaint. The group claims that the Clean Water Act gives the EPA responsibility to manage sediments flowing into the Accotink through pipes, or point sources, but gives state and local governments the power to manage nonpoint sources...more

Court Grants Feds Warrantless Access to Utility Records

Utilities must hand over customer records — which include credit card numbers, phone numbers and power consumption data — to the authorities without court warrants if drug agents believe they are “relevant” to an investigation, a federal appeals court says. The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 allows the authorities to make demands for that data in the form of an administrative subpoena, with no judicial oversight. In this instance, the Drug Enforcement Administration sought the records of three Golden Valley Electric Association customers in Fairbanks, Alaska suspected of growing marijuana indoors. “The information subpoenaed does not need to be relevant to a crime; in fact, it may be used to dissipate any suspicion of a crime,” Judge William Fletcher wrote for the unanimous, three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. “The information subpoenaed need only be relevant to an agency investigation. Energy consumption records can be relevant to an investigation into a suspected drug crime.” The decision appears to be an end-run around the Supreme Court’s 2001 ruling requiring the authorities to obtain search warrants to employ thermal-imaging devices to detect indoor marijuana-growing operations. The court ruled that the imaging devices, used outside a house, carry the potential to “shrink the realm of guaranteed privacy.”...more

Links of interest

Greens Fight to Keep ATVs Out of Forest

Greens Sue Commerce to Save Sperm Whale

New report shows exodus of Arizona immigrants since 2007

Green Activist Now an International Fugitive

Carbon Credits Increased Greenhouse Gases

California official replaced after killing cougar

Randy Travis Threatened to SHOOT, KILL ... Cops Say

300 cockfighting roosters euthanized in S. Calif.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Arizona may sue to get action by feds on air-quality plans, official says

Arizona is tired of waiting for the federal government to act on the state’s proposed air-quality plan and “very well may” sue the Environmental Protection Agency if action is not taken soon, a state official said Thursday. “I’m getting ready to sue the EPA over SIPs (state implementation plans) because that seems to be the only way to get their attention,” said Henry Darwin, the director of Arizona’s Department of Environmental Quality. He was one of several state environmental agency directors on Capitol Hill for a congressional roundtable Thursday on the Clean Air Act. In written remarks, Darwin said states have become “marginalized” by the EPA’s current process for considering state implementation plans. “EPA often decides when to review SIPs based upon the risk of being sued by special interest groups,” he said. “This has led to the state process being marginalized, and resulted in significant delays in implementing environmental protections.”...more

Calif. regs killing lumber manufacturers

California’s private forest lands are some of the most productive in the world. But state regulation of timber harvesting practices have become so overbearing and complex that the industry is losing lumber manufacturers by the droves, production has been drastically reduced and nearly 10,000 jobs have been lost. California’s forest land permit fees are 10 times more expensive than the permits of land owners in neighboring states. California is not only producing a fraction of the wood products consumed by the state. But the timber industry was forced into a compromise by the state and is actually asking for a 1 percent assessment to pay for a review of the process and to provide funds to help reduce the cost of forest restoration and fire protection...more

Court Upholds Domestic Drone Use in Arrest of American Citizen

A North Dakota court has preliminarily upheld the first-ever use of an unmanned drone to assist in the arrest of an American citizen. A judge denied a request to dismiss charges Wednesday against Rodney Brossart, a man arrested last year after a 16-hour standoff with police at his Lakota, N.D., ranch. Brossart's lawyer argued that law enforcement's "warrantless use of [an] unmanned military-like surveillance aircraft" and "outrageous governmental conduct" warranted dismissal of the case, according to court documents obtained by U.S. News. District Judge Joel Medd wrote that "there was no improper use of an unmanned aerial vehicle" and that the drone "appears to have had no bearing on these charges being contested here," according to the documents. Court records state that last June, six cows wandered onto Brossart's 3,000 acre farm, about 60 miles west of Grand Forks. Brossart allegedly refused to return the cows, which led to a long, armed standoff with the Grand Forks police department. At some point during the standoff, Homeland Security, through an agreement with local police, offered up the use of an unmanned predator drone, which "was used for surveillance," according to the court documents...more

Below is a map showing where the FAA has issued a Certificate of Authorization for a drone, followed by a list of organizations that have received the COA.  Notice there are two in NM:  NMSU & NM Tech.  Also note the Forest Service has two.

Army investigating collision of two unmanned aircraft

Army officials are investigating after two remotely piloted aircraft collided on the runway in El Mirage, causing damage to both pricey planes. The unmanned aerial vehicles were of different variations operated by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. of San Diego, a U.S. Army spokesman said in an email. The enhanced Predator-type UAVs were undergoing individual flight tests at El Mirage Flight Test Facility on July 25, he said. “There was some damage to both aircraft in this procedural incident,” Army spokesman Randy Tisor said. “Army officials are investigating to ensure that all appropriate actions are taken to prevent future incidents.” An MQ-1C reconnaissance model undergoing General Atomics pilot training and an MQ-1C Gray Eagle capable of being armed, which was going through acceptance training, made contact on an active runway, according to the statement. Although the extent of damage was undisclosed, each UAV is worth $6 million to $8 million, according to one estimate...more

FAA chief won't stand in the way of unmanned aerial vehicles

For the Federal Aviation Administration, regulating the skies is about to get much more complicated. The FAA's acting administrator, Michael P. Huerta, told drone industry leaders gathered in Las Vegas on Tuesday that the agency is poised to "realign" itself to prepare for the coming explosion of unmanned aerial vehicles. They're now available only to military and law enforcement, but the FAA will begin granting personal and commercial licenses in 2015. It estimates that there could be as many as 30,000 drones flying above the U.S. by 2020. While speaking frankly about the daunting challenges confronting the FAA, Mr. Huerta assured the drone sector — posited to become a multibillion-dollar business within the next few years, analysts say - that the FAA won't stand in the way of technological development and will help promote the new crafts as the next generation of flying machines...more

University develops drone software technology to monitor crops

Assistant Professor Duke Bulanon and students of the Northwest Nazarene University physics and engineering department have been experimenting with crop-monitoring software for drones over the orchards of Parma and Caldwell. Initial testing has turned up promising results, according to the Nampa-based university. In response, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture has given the School of Science and Mathematics an $84,000 grant to continue the project in November. Growers rely on accurate, real-time monitoring of crops to ensure that their harvests remain free of diseases and pests. For years farmers have been paying for satellites to capture images of their crops or for pilots to fly over their land, snapping photos to help identify potential health issues. Both techniques are costly and time consuming. Using drones — also called unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs — to capture images is a new trend. The unmanned vehicles are controlled remotely and are cheaper to buy and use than a full-sized airplane....more

Rockwell Collins develops stamp-sized GPS device for mini drones

Two of the major challenges the government faces in attempting to allow thousands of small drones into U.S. airspace are knowing where the aircraft are in relation to other aircraft flying nearby and making sure they're safe from hacker attacks. Rockwell Collins Inc. believes it has addressed both concerns with a device that's slightly larger than a postage stamp. The company's unassuming MicroGRAM device promises to provide precise and secure GPS technology for the kind of small drones that police agencies want to use to spot runaway criminals. "It's the smallest device out there with this kind of capability," said Dave Schreck, Rockwell's director of unmanned aerial systems and control technologies. MicroGRAM has been in production since March, but Rockwell spoke about its capabilities Tuesday at this week's Assn. for Unmanned Vehicle Systems trade show in Las Vegas. Hundreds of robot makers have gathered here to show off their wares...more

Privacy a major UAV industry challenge

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) released a draft bill on Wednesday that would require drone operators to meet certain privacy standards. The bill would require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to consider privacy issues in its rule-making process for granting licenses to commercial drone operators. The bill would also require the drone operators to disclose the kinds of data they plan to collect and how they plan to use it. Police are already allowed to fly drones in American airspace, and the FAA is developing rules to grant licenses to civilian operators. Markey's bill would require law enforcement agencies to develop a "data-minimization" plan to limit the data they collect with their drones. According to an FAA estimate, by 2020, there could be 30,000 drones in use in the United States. In a statement, Markey noted that many drones are equipped to carry surveillance equipment like video cameras, infrared thermal imagers and radar...more

FBI’s Facial Recognition is Coming to a State Near You

Recently-released documents show that the FBI has been working since late 2011 with four states—Michigan, Hawaii, Maryland, and possibly Oregon—to ramp up the Next Generation Identification (NGI) Facial Recognition Program. When the program is fully deployed in 2014, the FBI expects its facial recognition database will contain at least 12 million “searchable frontal photos.” (p. 6) The documents, which the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) obtained from a recent meeting of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Advisory Policy Board,1  shed new light on the FBI’s plans for NGI—the Bureau's massive biometrics database that combines fingerprints, iris scans, palm prints, facial recognition and extensive biographical data collected from over 100 million Americans. The Advisory Board documents show that FBI's database of facial images will provide search results automatically (the system won't need to rely on a human to check the results before forwarding them to the state or local agency) and that the FBI is developing "Universal Face Workstation software" to allow states that don't have their own "Face/Photo search capabilities"  to search through the FBI's images. After we read through the Advisory Board documents, we quickly sent Open Records requests to several of the states involved in the pilot program. The documents we received from Maryland and Hawaii further flesh out the story. For example, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Hawaii and the FBI shows that the government is building NGI to “permit photo submissions independent of arrests.” This is a problem because, the FBI has stated it wants to use its facial recognition system to "identify[] subjects in public datasets” and "conduct[] automated surveillance at lookout locations" (p.5). This suggests the FBI wants to be able to search and identify people in photos of crowds and in pictures posted on social media sites—even if the people in those photos haven’t been arrested for or even suspected of a crime. The FBI may also want to incorporate those crowd or social media photos into its face recognition database...more

Song Of The Day #901

Ranch Radio's selection today is Soldier Boy Stomp by Lew Preston & His Men Of The Range. The tune was recorded in Ft. Worth at the WRAP studio in the Blackstone Hotel, on March 12, 1941.  In the band at that time was Foy Willingham, who later would form the group Foy Willing & The Riders of the Purple Sage.

The tune is on the 28 track CD Nite Spot Blues: Hot Western Swing from the Southwest 1929-1941.

Lew Preston

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

HCN Interviews Hugh B. McKeen

Here are some excerpts from the High Country News interview by Neil La Rubbio, but I would encourage you to read the whole interview here:

MCKEEN: For years, the people that live here, we knew that the forest is overgrown. And we know it’s unhealthy. When I was a kid, Mill Creek, which comes down at Alma, my granddad had a farm up there. He had a house up there and a big barn. There used to be trout in that creek, and over the years, since all of that growth back in the wilderness and back in the forest, all the tree growth has taken that stream. In other words, the stream used to run year around. My granddad used to raise alfalfa and everybody else did along the creek. Well, it’s all gone. So all those little farms and all those gardens and all that stuff that supported people here, it’s all gone. You take any stream up here that comes out of the forest, they’re all the same. They’re gone. It’s all been soaked up with trees.

What I’m saying is, the water is all disappearing, because the forest is so unhealthy.

HCN: Is that why people are angry? Because the forest is overgrown?

MCKEEN: They want the watershed taken care of, and the Forest Service, all they want to do is preserve things. And the environmental crowd, course, they don’t want anything touched. They want more wilderness. And when you get more wilderness, what does it do? You can’t go in there to do anything...

MCKEEN: Well what they did, they kept putting fires out up here. Every time a fire starts, they put it out. If it’s a wilderness, then it’s a wilderness and leave it alone. Let it be a wilderness.

You’re the Forest Service. There’s a fire up there. What are you going to do?

HCN: Me? I shouldn’t answer.

MCKEEN: If you put it out, you get paid! Yeah, you get paid to go up there and put it out, and you get hazard pay. You get a lot of money to go put that fire out. So what are you gonna do? You’re gonna put the fire out. You’re not going to care about the environment or the watershed. You’re gonna put the fire out because it’s money in your pocket. So somebody else needs to manage the fire up there for watershed instead of the people making money off it. Look at the fire up there this time. How many millions of dollars went into the Forest Service peoples’ pockets?

HCN's title for this piece is Talking Mean With Hugh B. McKeen.

I don't see anything "mean" in his comments.  I know mean rhymes with Mckeen, but a rancher and county commissioner criticizing the Forest Service and pouring his heart out over his future as a federal lands rancher is not mean.

However, my compliments to HCN for seeking out McKeen and printing the interview.  It gives everyone a glimpse of what is happening to ranchers in and around wilderness areas.  I just wish this could be replicated across the West.

If you really want the complete Hugh B. McKeen, get a copy of his 2011 book Liberty And Justice For All (What A Joke!) There, in 284 pages, you will find his 48 years of life's experiences as a rancher and county official. In 46 Chapters, with many photos, you'll get his take on the Forest Service, various Rangers in the Gila, the county land use movement and much more.  As McKeen writes:

I have written this book to show how the lack of "Liberty and Justice" has gone on for more than 48 years for me, and I am but one of thousands who have the same situation in their business ventures.  What I will say is not fiction, but after reading about my experiences and those of others, you may say that it can't be true.

If Amazon is out of the book, you can still get it straight from the publisher

EBID asks police to be on alert for water theft

Law enforcement officials were asked recently to be on the lookout for theft of irrigation water, after a two-year drought has intensified demand for the resource. Elephant Butte Irrigation District, which delivers Rio Grande water to farmers throughout Doña Ana County, sent a letter in July to Las Cruces Police Chief Richard Williams and Doña Ana County Sheriff Todd Garrison, asking their agencies to be on the lookout for people stealing water. EBID Manager Gary Esslinger said people often think, wrongly, that water flowing in through canals across the county is "there for public use." "But it isn't," he said. "It's there for EBID members only. If you own a yard next to a ditch, you don't have a right to that." Esslinger said the theft of water has been more problematic this year and last year that it once was, especially along privately owned ditches that connect to the irrigation district's network of canals. While EBID can shut off illegal diversions of water that stem directly from its own system, it can't do anything about water that's stolen by property owners along a private ditchbank that connects to an EBID canal, he said. But in cases involving private ditches, law enforcement can get involved, irrigation officials said. Farmers said theft is noticeable, because water pressure will drop unexpectedly during a scheduled delivery...more

Environmental meetings to examine mine, power plant

A series of public meetings to examine the environmental impact of Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Mine kicks off Thursday with a meeting in Hotevilla, Ariz. The meetings will come to Farmington, Shiprock, Durango, Colo., and other areas next week. Operators of the coal mine and power plant propose to extend the life of the operation by 25 years from agreements that end in 2016, triggering an environmental impact statement. The EIS is an in-depth study on the mine and power plant's effects on air and water quality and cultural resources that may take years. It is the first time federal agencies have considered the combined effects of the mine and power plant, which reside on the edge of the Navajo Nation west of Farmington. Environmental groups long have sought such a study. "Navajo Mine and Four Corners Power Plant have never really been analyzed as far as the impacts of that coal facility," said Dan Randolph, executive director of San Juan Citizens Alliance, an environmental group based in Durango. "We really see the mine and the power plant as functionally one unit." Four Corners Power Plant is seeking approval from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs of its lease extension with the tribal government, while Navajo Mine requires permission from the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement to expand into previously unmined areas...more

Little Bear Fire aftermath leaves Ruidoso relying solely on groundwater wells

Because surface water is running thick with sediment and ash after the Little Bear Fire, the village of Ruidoso is forced to depend solely on its groundwater supply wells for the foreseeable future, Ruidoso officials contend. The annual operating plan approved by village councilors last week for the village's North Fork wellfield on Eagle Creek in the Lincoln National Forest reflects that dependency. Wording states that the wells will be pumped as necessary to provide for the village water supply and for the protection of public safety and welfare. The village will continue to operate the wellfield within constraints imposed by the Forest Service based on pumping limitations identified in a geohydrological study. The village also implemented Stage 5 water restrictions, which severely cut back outdoor use of water by residents. An environmental impact study required before the issuance of a new pumping permit recently completed by the USFS proposed to cut by more than half the amount of water that could be pumped from the wells, but that study is under review and revision because of the changed conditions in the watershed. The annual plan approved by village councilors also contains modifications because the fire burned the majority of the watershed around the wells and that will change how water flows and recharges. The new operating plan notes that the Little Bear Fire impacted about 98 percent of the watershed upstream of Alto Dam and reservoir...more

Idaho county loses suit challenging road closures

An Idaho county has lost a lawsuit challenging a federal road closure policy that it claims immobilizes residents and discourages tourism. Chief U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill has rejected Valley County's arguments that the U.S. Forest Service road policy in the Payette National Forest violates environmental and administrative laws. The agency's review of the policy, which effectively closed many roads, "adequately considered the history and environmental impact" of road usage in the national forest, the judge said. Valley County was joined by a recreational group and private citizens in its opposition to the federal travel plans, which they accused of being implemented without sufficient public process and socioeconomic study...more

For Sale: Site of Custer's Last Stand

If you've always wanted to buy an entire town, but you've been waiting for one with some real historical cred … today is your lucky day. Garryowen, Montana, famed as the site of Custer's Last Stand, is for going up for auction this month with an opening bid of $250,000, Reuters reports. The 7.7-acre town near the banks of the Little Bighorn River has just two residents: Chris Kortlander, who bought Garryowen in 1993 after his California home was destroyed by a wildfire, and a caretaker. The town is named after a song Custer adopted for the 7th US Cavalry, which fought a losing battle against the Sioux and Cheyenne on June 25, 1876. The auction winner will scoop up even more history: The town is also the site of a monument dedicated to an unknown soldier. Garryowen's gas station and convenience store are also included in the sale, as is a collection of manuscripts, documents, and photographs belonging to Custer's wife, Elizabeth Bacon Custer.  newser

Protest could keep air tanker on ground through fire season

A protest of the U.S. Forest Service’s next-generation air tanker contract may leave three new jet-powered firefighting planes on the ground for the rest of the 2012 firefighting season. One of those planes is Neptune Aviation’s Tanker 41, a BAe-146 that arrived at the company’s Missoula base last week. Neptune already has another BAe-146 under contract with the Forest Service, in addition to seven Lockheed P2V planes. It expected to take delivery of a third BAe later this month. Minden Aviation of Minden, Nev., was to bring on a new BAe-146 this summer under the new Forest Service contract. That five-year program was worth $225 million. Two other firefighting aviation companies protested the contract in late June. The federal General Accountability Office allows 100 days to review and decide the case. That means the contract could be delayed until early October...more

Their rule may "allow" 100 days to review and decide, but that doesn't mean they have to take all that time.  They've already had the protests for a month, plenty of time to act.

Links of Interest

Politics of renewable power lead agenda at Reid-hosted national green energy summit in Vegas

Wind, solar projects in Arizona on fast track

Defense and Interior Departments Join Forces on Clean Power

U.S. Military Opening 16 Million Acres For Renewable Energy

Wolves, eagles poisoned in Bob Marshall Wilderness

Uncorrected Forest Service errors block marble mine

Florida Environmentalists Seek $10 Billion for Conservation

Florida Cops Chase Topless Woman

Farmers want to end protection for killer whales

The iconic orca, or killer whale, should swim free of federal protection, a farmer from California's San Joaquin Valley urged in a petition filed Thursday. Backed by a conservative legal advocacy group based in Sacramento, Fresno County farmer Joe Del Bosque and his allies argue that the population of killer whales often found in Pacific Northwest waters doesn't deserve defending under the Endangered Species Act. Protecting the whales also costs farmers precious water, growers say. "It seems almost outrageous that a whale out in the ocean is restricting our water," Del Bosque said. "Restrictions in the water flows are definitely affecting us." The petition, prepared by the Pacific Legal Foundation, asks the Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service to change the status of the so-called "southern resident" population of killer whales from endangered. The population was listed as endangered in 2005, after a pronounced decline in its numbers...more

So how does a killer whale swimming in the ocean affect an ag producer on the land? Its about diet:

Hungry killer whales particularly like to gobble up chinook salmon. Indirectly, this causes a problem for certain farmers. In order to protect the salmon population, in part to help feed the killer whales, federal officials restrict irrigation-water deliveries in the San Joaquin Valley.

Thousands of fish die in Midwest due to heat

Biologists in Illinois are blaming hot weather for the death of tens of thousands of large- and small-mouth bass and channel catfish, according to ABC. The extreme heat is also threatening the population of the greater redhorse fish, a state endangered species. An estimated 40,000 shovelnose sturgeon were killed in the last week as water temperatures reached 97 degrees. NBC reported that so many fish died in one lake that the carcasses clogged an intake screen near a power plant. The station eventually had to shut down one of its generators due to low water levels. Mark Flammang, a fisheries biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, told NBC, "It's something I've never seen in my career, and I've been here for more than 17 years. I think what we're mainly dealing with here are the extremely low flows and this unparalleled heat."...more

Two Southern Arizona Plants Move Toward Endangered Species Act Protection

Two rare southern Arizona plants moved closer to Endangered Species Act protection today as part of a 2011 landmark legal settlement by the Center for Biological Diversity to speed protection decisions for 757 species around the country. Today’s positive “90-day finding” from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service kicks off a one-year review of the plants’ status to determine if they qualify for federal protection. Bartram stonecrop and beardless chinch weed are two of a dozen endangered animals and plants threatened by the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine near Tucson, which would impact more than 145,000 acres of wildlife habitat. “These two lovely plants are in danger of disappearing, so we’re elated they’re a step closer to protection by the Endangered Species Act,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist with the Center. “The Act is 99 percent effective at preventing the extinction of the plants and animals under its care. These Arizona plants need all the help they can get because they’re in the path of destruction of the Rosemont mine.” The plants occur in Pima, Cochise and Santa Cruz counties. Bartram stonecrop is known from only 12 locations and beardless chinch weed from 13, though several populations of both species may already be lost. Both plants were first known to be in need of protection in 1980 when they were identified as candidates for federal listing. Beardless chinch weed is a tall yellow flower in the aster family that is found in the footprint of the proposed Rosemont mine and would be crushed by mining activities. Bartram stonecrop is a succulent known for its beauty that is found near the mine and  would be impacted by dust, water depletion, and the spread of invasive plants resulting from ground disturbance. Both plants are also threatened by livestock grazing, and the stonecrop is threatened by collection. “The diversity of the Rosemont area is significant on a global scale. The mine would be a disaster for hundreds of wildlife species and for the quality of life and economic health of people around Tucson due to air, noise and water pollution and to loss of tourism and recreation dollars,” said Curry...Press Release

Is this press release about the Rosemont Mine or endangered plants?

The Rosemont Mine is mentioned 6 times. Once again this demonstrates the enviros use the ESA to influence land use, with protection of species being secondary.

Texas cowboys go on New Mexico crime spree

All the High Fives Gang had to show on Aug. 6, 1896 for the comedy of errors they had the nerve to call a bank robbery was the posse hot on their heels. As far as anyone can tell, the original members of the band that borrowed the name of a popular card game were: Tom Harris, a 24 year old Texan whose favorite alias was Cole Estes; George Musgrave, 22, born somewhere in Texas but raised in New Mexico; escaped convict Sam Hassels of Gonzales County, who went by the name Bob Hayes; Will Christian Jr., originally from Fort Griffin and an Indian Territory fugitive, known simply as Black Jack; and Tom or Frank Anderson, who may have been Will’s brother Bob. The High Fives started out small with a twilight raid in July 1896 on Separ, a one-horse town in the southwestern corner of the New Mexico Territory. They relieved the post office and general store of $250 in cash and supplies without firing a shot...The quintet came out of hiding two months later for the purpose of plundering a passenger train 30 miles south of Albuquerque. The railroad robbery was foiled by a deputy U.S. marshal, who caught Cole Estes in his sights. “Go ahead, boys. I’m done for,” Estes called out in the darkness. His four companions heeded their mortally wounded leader’s dying words and fled the scene. With Will Christian, alias Black Jack, at the controls, the desperadoes finally got out of the red. The stagecoaches running between San Antonio, New Mexico and the mining town of White Oaks were such easy pickings the gang kept going back for more. George Musgrave was absent because two days earlier he had settled a personal score. Returning to the Circle Diamond Ranch south of Roswell, he chewed the fat with former co-workers until the cattle boss showed. “I have come all this way across this territory to kill you,” Musgrave told George Parker as he drew his pistol, “and now I’m going to do it.” Without another word he pumped four bullets into his tongue-tied target. Sam Hassels, a.k.a. Bob Hayes, held the dozen and a half witnesses at gunpoint, while Musgrave explained his motive. He claimed the dead man not only sicked the law on him for his own crimes but also swindled his poor old mother out of her herd...The final chapter in the High Fives story was written in 1910. George Musgrave was recognized on a street in Grand Junction, Colorado and brought back to Roswell to stand trial for the murder of George Parker. Musgrave swore he shot in self-defense, and no eyewitness could be found to contradict him. He was acquitted and lived to celebrate the Allied victory in World War II...more

Song Of The Day #900

Today Ranch Radio brings you Johnny Horton and his 1960 recording The Same Old Tale The Crow Told Me.

EPA's fired 'crucify' guy seeks to kill coal in Texas

In his first comments since resigning from EPA in April, [Al] Armendariz unloaded on the coal industry, called President Obama the most environmental president ever, and attacked the state of Texas for fighting the EPA in court:

Armendariz: I have a small handful of objectives [working for the Beyond Coal campaign]. The first is to stop the construction of any new coal plants in Texas. And also to stop the expansion of any additional coal exports from Texas ports [to] overseas. The second objective is to work on the transition … to clean renewable sources of energy. ...more

Monday, August 06, 2012

Gibson Guitar and US Department of Justice reach settlement agreement

The US Department of Justice announced today (6 August) that the Gibson Guitar Corporation has entered into an agreement to resolve the investigation into whether the company used illegally harvested wood and ebony, thereby violating the Lacey Act. Under the agreement, Gibson will pay a $300,000 penalty, plus a $50,000 donation to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help promote conservation of protected trees. In addition, according to a press release issued by the Department of Justice, "Gibson will also implement a compliance program designed to strengthen its compliance controls and procedures. In related civil forfeiture actions, Gibson will withdraw its claims to the wood seized in the course of the criminal investigation, including Madagascar ebony from shipments with a total invoice value of $261,844. During the yearlong investigation, Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz maintained that the company was innocent of any wrongdoing. In a August 2011 press conference, he stated, "We feel totally abused. We believe the arrogance of federal power is impacting me personally, our company personally, and the employees in Tennessee – and it's just plain wrong." Responding to the agreement today, Juszkiewicz said, "We felt compelled to settle as the costs of proving our case at trial would have cost millions of dollars and taken a very long time to resolve. This allows us to get back to the business of making guitars. An important part of the settlement is that we are getting back the materials seized in a second armed raid on our factories and we have formal acknowledgement that we can continue to source rosewood and ebony fingerboards from India, as we have done for many decades."...more

This is the "justice" you get from the feds - spend millions of dollars on attorneys or settle.

For background on this case see my posts:

Gibson Guitars And The Lacey Act Misused

GuitarGate: Three House Committee Chairs criticize Memphis and Nashville raids on Gibson Guitar

CEO of Gibson Guitar a Republican donor; Democrat competitor uses same wood

Land Owner CR-Peeved

Sioux Falls veterinarian Mike McIntyre thought opening up CPR acres designated as wetlands was the perfect prescription to help ranchers like him battling drought. "I just thought 'halleluiah,' life is great, everything's coming around, life is good. Dad went into the local FSA office the next day, called me with the bad news and I was like, this can't be real," McIntyre said. It turns out, McIntyre will only be able to get hay from a small fraction of his CRP land north of Salem. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) says that's because much of the land serves as a narrow buffer to a wetland property that is not included in the latest government release. McIntyre says that leaves him only about 60 acres for haying, which is not nearly enough to feed his all livestock. "It breaks my heart knowing that I might have to sell some of my cattle or do anything to cut down on my herd, just because somebody in Washington, D.C. won't let me use the feed I have sitting at my place," McIntyre said...more

Well, it breaks my heart that you signed up to take taxpayer money to set aside your land in the first place. You made the decision, you took the money, now live with it.

McIntyre has been pleading his case to lawmakers and bureaucrats in Washington. He wants other farmers to know that when it comes to relying upon CRP land for drought relief, the devil is in the details.

No Dr. McIntyre, the devil is in the program itself. Quit "pleading" to DC and instead use all those degrees you've earned. Whether or not land is put into production is a decision to be made by the landowner and the market - not the gov't.

New Hampshire leads nation in percent tree cover

Tree cover in the nation's Lower 48 states covers 659 million acres, more than one-third of the nation, according to a U.S. Forest Service study of national tree cover and impervious surfaces. New Hampshire leads the nation in percent tree cover (89 percent), followed by Maine (83 percent) and Vermont (82 percent). On the other end of the spectrum, North Dakota has the lowest percent tree cover (3 percent), followed by Nebraska (4 percent) and South Dakota (6 percent). Using aerial photograph interpretation of circa 2005 imagery, U.S. Forest Service researchers Dave Nowak and Eric Greenfield found that in urban and community areas, percent tree cover is highest in Connecticut (67 percent) and lowest in Nevada (10 percent). The study, "Tree and impervious cover in the United States," was recently published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning...more

Delay in plans for a $1B science ghost town raises eyebrows

This artist rendering provided by the Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation shows the $1 billion scientific ghost town
Pegasus Global Holdings' surprise announcement that it was pulling out of plans to build a $1 billion scientific ghost town in eastern New Mexico is stirring skepticism of the private firm's grandiose plans for transforming 15 square miles of this largely rural state into a next-generation research center. Lea County had been working closely with the company after winning the bid to house the Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation. But "when we started pressing for details, that's when they decided to look elsewhere," county manager Mike Gallagher said. Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb said he didn't even know the group was abandoning its plans until he read a news report that followed a late-evening announcement on Friday, July 13. Cobb said he was told the group cited problems with mineral rights on the private land it was trying to acquire. But he said third parties hold mineral rights underneath a lot of New Mexico's land and there are solid legal protections for financial reimbursement if someone decides to exercise them. "From a practical standpoint it's a non-issue," Cobb said. The selection of Lea County was announced with much fanfare at a news conference in May with Gov. Susana Martinez and her economic development secretary, Jon Barela. Plans called for an uninhabited replica of an average, mid-size American city to help researchers test everything from intelligent traffic systems and next-generation wireless networks to automated washing machines and self-flushing toilets...more
Off to the doctor and some other stuff in town.  Back to posting later.

Roswell UFO Crash: There Were 2 Crashes, Not 1, Says Ex-Air Force Official

...Until now, most debunkers doubted that there was even one crash. Now, in an exclusive interview, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Richard French told The Huffington Post that there were actually two crashes. This revelation is especially remarkable considering that French was known in the past to debunk UFO stories.  "There were actually two crashes at Roswell, which most people don't know," French told HuffPost. "The first one was shot down by an experimental U.S. airplane that was flying out of White Sands, N.M., and it shot what was effectively an electronic pulse-type weapon that disabled and took away all the controls of the UFO, and that's why it crashed." French -- an Air Force pilot who was in Alamagordo, N.M., in 1947, being tested in an altitude chamber, an annual requirement for rated officers -- was very specific in how the military allegedly brought down what he believes was a spacecraft from another world. "When they hit it with that electromagnetic pulse -- bingo! -- there goes all their electronics and, consequently, the UFO was uncontrollable," said French, who flew hundreds of combat missions in Korea and Southeast Asia, and who held several positions working for Military Intelligence.  "No chance! Zero chance!" said Army Col. John Alexander, whose own top-secret clearance gave him access in the 1980s to official documents and UFO accounts. He created a top-level group of government officials and scientists who determined that, while UFOs are real, they couldn't find evidence of an official cover-up. French says he was told about the UFO "shootdown" by another military officer -- a confidential source -- from White Sands Proving Grounds, an area of the New Mexico desert where the U.S. military tested many weapons systems. His source told French there was a second UFO crash near Roswell a few days after the first one. "It was within a few miles of where the original crash was," French said. "We think that the reason they were in there at that time was to try and recover parts and any survivors of the first crash. I'm [referring to] the people from outer space -- the guys whose UFO it was." While French offered no further details on what he says was a second UFO crash, he teased something else. "I had seen photographs of parts of the UFO that had inscriptions on it that looked like it was in an Arabic language -- it was like a part number on each one of them. They were photographs in a folder that I just thumbed through." That's an interesting parallel to the recent story of ex-CIA agent Chase Brandon, who claimed he found a box at CIA headquarters in the 1990s -- a box labeled "Roswell." Brandon told HuffPost he looked in the box and went through written materials and photographs confirming his suspicions that the object which crashed at Roswell, "was a craft that clearly did not come from this planet."...more


Song Of The Day #899

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here's Caleb Klauder with his version of It's All Your Fault.

The tune is on his 12 track CD DANGEROUS MEs and POISONOUS YOUs.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Cowboy henhouse ways

by Julie Carter

Saving things is an expected trait among rural folk. Sometimes it is a “must” but most often it simply because they want to. It’s “how they were raised.”

If you are married, related or a neighbor to one, you undoubtedly have heard them say, "Well, I have to be a saver, we grew up poor. We had clean clothes, even if they were patched, and enough to eat, even though it was mostly beans." Add that to the "I walked five miles to school every day, uphill both ways" and you have the full story.

Some bit of time ago, a cowboy and his wife set out to put in a new drinking tub for a little dab of cattle they kept close to the house.

The very fact he was going to do this for his wife was a mark of love. She had been putting out the cattle every day, sometimes twice a day, and bringing them in, sometimes twice a day, through four sets of gates that had to be set coming and going.

This feeding rotation was an effort to save that high priced hay and let them pick their own groceries, utilizing what little grass there was. They also had to come in at night. There was no drinker in that trap either.

Much to her surprise, her cowboy actually bought a new drinking tub. In preparation for installation, the couple went through their “saved” supply of short pieces of water hose, float housings, floats and valve connections. This collection came from past decades of repairing countless drinkers. The supply was somewhat depleted, but available just the same.

There were plenty of the hose assemblies for replacements because of past frozen winters, where it had been easier to change out a frozen hose than try to thaw it. The cowboy would bring the ice-solid hoses in and put them in the bathtub for thawing overnight in order to keep the rotation supply available.

That didn't always make the frozen wife happy since the only thing that would thaw her out after a long, cold day was a hot bath. It was a period in their marriage where her comfort was not his primary concern. That period has lasted 35 years.
Gathering up an armload of the various lengths of hoses, they headed out to get the new drinker connected to water.

First up was to make a float from several old ones. And, it seemed all the hoses had one end or the other that was nonfunctional and needed new connections. This required hose clamps which he cannibalized off various other components.

He finally got the valve replaced, built a hose, built a float, got a housing that almost fit over the float and soon there was water in the drinker.

This major project took the better part of the afternoon. The wife was there mostly in an advisory capacity (or standby beverage fetcher). However, she did manage to hand him the pipe wrench that takes two hands to pick up, the vise grip pliers, the pipe dope and, of course, generally contribute to the fellowship.

In all their years of working daily, it was her rule to not keep secrets from him.
However, she distinctly remembered being in the mercantile and seeing a brand new 50-foot hose for $5.39 and new float that would add about $2 to the bill.

She thought about telling him that, but after serious consideration, decided that all afternoon for two cowboys for a $7.39 savings, was about the usual rate of pay.

Henhouse ways have saved fortunes for the cowboy world. That's why there are so many rich cowboys and why baling wire, twine and tape (electrical and duct) are such valued commodities.

Julie can be reached for comment at the henhouse at

Frontier Days and Summer Rains

The ‘4th’ in Silver City
Frontier Days and Summer Rains
A.D. Sietzler saddles
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            If not profound, my knowledge of A.D. Sietzler has tacit impact on my daily life. Right there … is Aunt Izzie’s (Isabelle Moss Estes Kinney) Seitzler made saddle. It is the one in the second rack second from the top. I rode it as a kid at Cliff at my maternal grandparents’, Carl and Leona Rice.
            I would wager the little silver horn saddle that we primós rode on the Mangus at our paternal grandparents’ was also a Seitzler. I have no idea where that saddle is today. I hope J.T. McMillan has it in Texas where he moved after they sold the ranch.
            The only mental picture I have of Seitzler is the picture in the Shelley book of A.D. at his shop. I always thought it was on 13th Street until I looked at the picture last night. It says it was on College Avenue. He was gone when I came along.
I still like the idea of it being on 13th Street. That was where Mr. Mauldin’s little grocery store was. That was where I first kissed my wife, and that is where the image remains of Terrell Shelley coming up the then unpaved street with his hound dog rigged with lace up leather gators on each leg above the paws.
            “What’da need them on there for?” I had asked.
            “’Cause he needs ‘em that’s why,” was Terrell’s ‘Shelley’ answer.
            “I knew that …”
            Bonnie Maldonado’s poem
            Hank Hays sent me an email entitled The Day the Horses Come to Town. It sat there for days as I was hitting the high spots (at long intervals) in the rest of my life.  I finally read it. It was nostalgic.
            It was a poem by Bonnie Buckley Maldonado. The setting was Silver City, New Mexico, 1960’s, and the Fourth of July. Those were the years of ‘Frontier Days’. Lucky were we who lived there and experienced that time … especially the early ‘60s, before Viet Nam, the Beatles, and Yesterday. The world has never been the same since.
            We all went to the parade in the morning. Bonnie writes about pitching horses on Bullard Avenue where the parade would proceed. Maybe there were, but the ranch horses that came to town that I knew were broke horses that had seen everything, done more, and had a pretty good handle on the antics of human beings.
There they’d be standing hocked up dozing while the proceedings were coming together. Some little kid had been thrown up on more than a few while the parade riders were commiserating with each other and more than likely smoking cigarettes.
            I never had the urge to smoke, but I loved to smell those cigarettes when they were first lit. It mixed with the smell of horse. It was part of our lives around horses. I can remember my grandfather riding along rolling a cigarette and lighting it while shielding it from the wind up under his open ‘jumper’. He could do it with one hand. You always caught that first sweet whiff.
            With riders formed, the parade would start. There was probably a parade marshal, but he wasn’t enough of a feature to remember who he was. The horsemen were mostly known. Their union was amongst themselves. The gathering was for them and they owned the moment.
            The crowd was always big. It was packed with town and country folk alike. Nobody was offered public endearment without earning it. A dude could be spotted as far away as he could be seen. Assessment was usually silent and final, but blatant demonstrations would be checked and lightly tolerated.
            “Hey, you’d better pucker on both ends there, Bub,” a shrill suggestion might be offered. “You hold on much tighter and you’ll break that horn off.”  The crowd would laugh … and humiliation was complete.
            The Sheriff’s Posse was always front and center. It was there that Ms. Maldonado’s reference to A.D. Seitzler saddles was likely made. They were scattered from front to back in those formations.
She could have also mentioned Williams’ saddles. Those saddles were contemporaries early in Doc Seitzler’s reign as ‘maker’.
 There would have also been a sprinkling of Dick Hays, Wilburn Thomas, Garrett Allen, and another young man from the Animas country who would build his own reputation, Clifford Yarbrough. They no doubt learned from Doc or those who sat around his shop, talked, and watched him skive, pound, stitch, and carve. We knew them. We called them by their first names.
What wonderful, memorable days it was to order one of those saddles. My only such unconcluded memory was with Garrett Allen. Garrett brought his order book out and asked the questions. Cantle height, swell measurement, gullet height … “uh, Garrett, what do you think?”
The questions about seat length, straight up or Cheyenne roll, and horn type could be answered. So could the matters of eye appeal. Buck stitching, tooled or rough out, and conchos were all known and comfortable to answer.
You didn’t order a new shop made saddle every day. The fact of the matter was saddles were like buying a house. You did it only a few times in your life. Those custom saddles were just too expensive.
Horses and cowboys
To start a ‘Fourth of July’ parade description of horses, Johnnie would have to be highest on our list. He was everything anybody would ever dream of having as a ranch horse. He had come from Oklahoma with his brother, Joe. He was a bay horse with the classic quarter horse good looks of the day.  
My Uncle Bill roped on him and my maternal grandfather would take him to the parades. He liked the crowds and the Williams’ saddle over there in the first rack … on top … was the saddle that would be used. It was a full tooled, silver horn saddle with medium length taps. It still looks like a parade.
By the first performance of the rodeo, the roping and barrel horses would be warmed up and ready. For a local rodeo, the Grant County pool of talent was very good. More than a few have said that six or eight of the local ropers could have competed at world levels if they had been inclined and could have traveled.  
There was a world champion barrel racer. Joyce Shelley was also Miss Rodeo America. From 1964 to 1968 she would leave her mark on rodeo that was eternal.
Another barrel racer had similar talent and rode really good horses. Pammie Wilmeth Calloway, and, in particular, a little home grown palomino were sensational. Her dad, Roy, good enough to be mentioned in the second book of legends, would rope off those good looking Mangus and Skipper W stud horses. They’d behave like choir boys.
Calf roping was the event in those days. Team roping was not the dominant event it has become. Otho Woodrow on any number of superb horses would be there. Otho continued to rope into his ninth decade. There is a story of what kind of cowboy Otho was. There had been a bull that jumped out of the arena and was looking for a fight. Otho arrived immediately and defused the thing before it even got started. He roped the bull and didn’t trip him, but got him choked down until other ropes got there. The cowboys all came back in after the big adventure smiling and talking to each other, coiling ropes, and ready to rope again.
Jim Brister, Preacher Green, Young Wells, Clyde Yarbrough, Tip Pinkerton, Walt Nichols and a few others were area ropers who could, on any given night, beat the best anywhere. Jim Brister was not just a good rodeo cowboy he was a great cowboy. One of his last roping horses was a horse he called Jiggs. Jiggs was an overo sorrel paint. Jiggs came to be turned out on my grandparents place.  He was standing by the road one evening with a dangling leg. How he broke it nobody knows. My dad put him down.
Blessed rain  
Summer rains make New Mexico. How many times during those years did the clouds open up and the first welcome rains of the monsoon season fall during that first performance?  For years it was almost an annual event down to the very hour. When that happened everybody would cheer, hats would come off, and arms would extend to the heavens. Blessed, blessed rain …no rain would smell better … no circumstance would be more appealing than the first performance of the Frontier Days Rodeo … ‘the day the horses (came) to town’.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Chalky, Champ, Panda, Goofus, Jack, Mangus, Bingo, Snooper, Chico, Biscuit, Berta, Joe, Buster, Dunny, Pecos, PeeWee, Dolly, Blue, SOB, Papalote, Sebas, … you remain forever in our memories, and … in our hearts.”


One of my fondest memories was getting to know and rope with Otho Woodrow.

As a sign of the times, the Sietzler saddle below is for sale on Craig's List.