Friday, March 06, 2015

Second grader to Michelle Obama: 'You have ruined Taco Tuesday'

Richard "Trip" Klibert, 7, of LaPlace became pretty upset last November when he began noticing changes in his lunch at St. Joan of Arc School in LaPlace. His main complaint was about the new wheat tortillas and pizza crust. His taco shell and pizza just weren't as tasty anymore.

So concerned about these changes, he voiced his displeasure to his second grade teacher, Margaret Cerami, who suggested he learn more about the lunch changes, and perhaps, write a letter to the person responsible for the changes, First Lady Michelle Obama.

What began as an expression of displeasure turned into a valuable lesson about  English, letter writing, nutrition as well as civics.

Wanting to get to the bottom of this school lunch situation, Trip followed through on Cerami's suggestion. He went home, spoke with his parents, Ricky and Katie Klibert, about the matter, then proceeded to dictate a letter to his mom. He then copied it in his own handwriting in a letter to the First Lady. Here is what he said:

Dear Mrs. Obama,
Thank you for trying to make my school lunch better, but you have ruined Taco Tuesday. Please bring back the old taco shell. I miss them. Also, the pizza is terrible. If you would like to try the new tacos, I will buy you lunch.
Thank you,
Trip Klibert

Native Americans Call on Buffalo, NY to Change Its “Racist” Name

Mark Beasley, a member of the Navajo Nation, has started a petition for Buffalo, NY to change its “racist and offensive” name. According to Beasley, he speaks for his “Native American colleagues.” Beasley writes in his petition that “Buffalo is the name of the animal that was driven almost to extinction by the non-Native forces in order to annihilate and drive out my ancestors from the American landscape.” Further, “Within only a few years from the beginning of the campaign, all Native nations were driven off their lands and into reservations, where we have prior and since been unduly subjugated and and [sic] exposed to genocidal horrors unimaginable to the rest of the world and throughout history.”
For these reasons, Beasley writes, Buffalo “should change their offensive and racist names containing the word “Buffalo.”” If the city does this, they will “End the use of racist and genocidal imagery and symbols toward Native Americans today” and “End the pain and denigration these symbols and images incite and the damage to the psyches of Native Americans everywhere.” On top of that, changing the name of Buffalo will “restore Native people’s dignity.”...more

Obama Claims It’s Easier To Buy Guns Than Books And Vegetables; That Some Want Machine Guns In Bars

Citing his failure to pass stricter gun laws in 2013, President Obama used dramatic language to discuss the gun debate on Friday. “It is hard to reduce the easy availability of guns,” Obama complained during a town hall meeting at South Carolina’s Benedict College. “As long as you can go on into some neighborhoods, and it’s easier for you to buy a firearm than it is for you to buy a book, there are neighborhoods where it’s easier for you to buy a handgun and clips than it is for you to buy a fresh vegetable,” Obama continued. “As long as that’s the case, we’re going to continue to see unnecessary violence.” “Despite the failure of Congress to act, despite the failure of too many state legislators to act, in fact, in some place it is goes in the opposite direction,” he said, asserting that some gun rights supporters believe “we should have firearms in kindergarten and we should have machine guns and you know in bars.”...more

Guns are barreling back, thanks to women


...Smith & Wesson, one of the three biggest U.S. gunmakers (along with Sturm, Ruger & Co. and privately held Freedom Group, which owns Remington), beat analyst expectations this week with its third-quarter earnings. Quarterly revenue of $130.6 million was down nearly 11% from the third quarter of last year, but that still topped predictions. Across the board, indicators that were down were not down by as much as expected, and the market responded: Smith & Wesson stock shot up nearly 10% on Tuesday after the earnings announcement. The stock is up nearly 5% in the last year, and 45% in the past two years. It was, in all, a very good earnings report for the gunmaker.

...There is another factor helping Smith & Wesson (and its biggest competitor, Ruger, whose shares are up 5% in the past week after its own sunny earnings report): Interest in shooting for sport — that can mean target-shooting or hunting — has risen steadily recently. And the main group fueling this growth? Women.

According to the National Sporting Goods Association, from 2001 to 2013 there was a 60% rise in women who participate in target shooting. On the hunting side, there was 85% growth. Sales have risen along with the rise in the activity, and the firearms industry overall has enjoyed 8% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) over the last 30 years.

“The biggest driver is women getting into the shooting sports, and practicing concealed carry,” said Ruttenbur. “When you look at the demographics, what has happened is there’s been a rise in women being head of the household. So it started with concealed carry, as a protection thing, but now women are going and taking the family to the range for fun. You don’t see it in the major cities, but go 10 miles outside the city, and gun ownership goes through the roof.”


White-tailed deer shown to raid nests, eat eggs and baby birds, USGS reports

Seeing fewer quail on your hunting lease? Maybe it's time you stop pointing the finger at coyotes, raccoons and fire ants and place the blame on your murderous herd of white-tailed deer. Believe it or not, researchers have discovered deer will raid the happy homes of ground-nesting birds and enjoy a nice breakfast of eggs or fledglings. Pam Pietz, a wildlife biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in North Dakota, set up miniature video cameras that ran 24 hours a day to document the fate of grassland songbird nests, according to the USGS.  She was surprised to find deer raided as many nests as badgers, and more than weasels or red foxes...more

video - Rep. Young says wolves would solve homeless problem in certain Congressional districts

Secretary Jewell was defending Interior's budget before the House Natural Resources Committee when Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) stated:

“The grey wolf in fact is a predator that’s killing the cloven hoof animals. And we’ve got 79 congressmen sending you a letter, haven’t got a damn wolf in their whole district. I’d like to introduce them to your district. I introduce them in your district, you wouldn’t have a homeless problem any more.” Source

The letter referred to was sent to Jewell a day earlier and Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), was among the 79 signatories.

Young's quip about wolves and the homeless is creating a minor stir among the D.C. Deep Thinkers.  I think its funny as hell and sure emphasizes his point.  Perhaps he should have also mentioned the wolves killing a young female teacher in Alaska.

More than a year and a half after a young, Alaska teacher was found dead -- apparently killed by wolves -- the state Department of Fish and Game has officially concluded that wolves indeed killed her. A report the agency released Tuesday said there is conclusive evidence 32-year-old Candice Berner was attacked and killed by two or more wolves while jogging near the village of Chignik Lake on the Alaska Peninsula.
Berner's death left the village terrified for days. She had come to Chignik to teach children with special needs.

Here's the video of Young's remarks.  Got to love his demonstration of Interior thumbing their nose at the state.

Interior secretary under fire on wolf protection

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is standing by a proposal to de-list the gray wolf as an endangered species, but she stops short of endorsing legislation to overturn court orders that are keeping the animal under protection. Jewell is coming under pressure from House Democrats to heed the courts and at least protect the wolf under a downgraded, threatened status. The Fish and Wildlife Service proposed in 2013 to de-list the gray wolf in most of the continental United States but courts have blocked the action in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes region. Legislation was recently introduced to finalize the de-listing. Under questioning by one of the bill's cosponsors, Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich., at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing Thursday, Jewell didn't endorse the measure (HR 884), but she said the administration would follow its directive if enacted. “Clearly we will uphold whatever laws are passed by Congress,” she told the committee. “My preference is certainly not to legislate the Endangered Species Act (ESA). But if Congress passed legislation certainly we will uphold the law.” But a letter to Jewell signed by 79 House members, mostly Democrats, and delivered to Jewell ahead of the hearing proposes to list the gray wolf as threatened, rather than endangered. Downgrading the wolf to threatened status would “allow states significantly increased certainty and flexibility” in managing the animals, the letter said. Jewell said the department would see “what we're permitted to do under the law.” Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee and another cosponsor of the del-isting legislation, wrote to Jewel in January, asking her to appeal the court decision that reinstated protections for the wolf in his home state. Peterson said reversing the court ruling would return management of the animal back to the state and help farmers and rancher facing a difficult decision between protecting their livestock and complying with another difficult federal court decision. On a separate issue, Jewell assured the committee the department would heed a policy rider in the fiscal 2015 omnibus spending bill that would prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from finalizing rules to protect sage grouse habitat under the Endangered Species Act. But she said the department would still meet a court-ordered deadline in September for determining whether the bird merits protection under the law. "The rider prevents us from writing any regulations .. however, it doesn't prevent the service from coming to a determination on a listing decision."...more

Chairman Murkowski has issues with Interior budget

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Chairman of the Interior Appropriations subcommittee, today criticized the Interior Department’s $12.1 billion budget proposal for programs within the subcommittee’s jurisdiction– including the over $1 billion increase – for ignoring the statutory caps placed on Congress by the Budget Control Act. Senator Murkowski also pressed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on a number of issues important to Alaska: Arctic infrastructure, offshore oil development, revenue sharing, tribal courts and the administration’s commitment to Alaska’s coastal communities. “Your budget proposes new spending as if we had already lifted sequestration,” Murkowski told Interior Secretary Sally Jewell at Wednesday’s hearing of the Interior and Appropriations Subcommittee. “That amounts to wishful thinking, not responsible governance.” “Your approach conveniently avoids the tough choices that must be made between programs in the constrained fiscal environment in which we’re operating,” Murkowski said. “In all likelihood, we will have roughly the same amount to spend this year as we did last year under the budget caps, yet you have proposed $1.4 billion above that level. This subcommittee is forced to make very difficult choices in how to prioritize among the many programs in this bill, and your budget does not help by giving us guidance as to programs the administration sees as a priority.” Senator Murkowski raised with Secretary Jewell a number of issues important to Alaska’s economic and cultural future, including the more than 22 million acres the administration has withdrawn from energy development in recent weeks...more

GOP chairman slams ‘underimpressive’ Interior budget plan

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) on Thursday blasted the Interior Department’s budget request, arguing it avoided confronting major problems while creating expensive, unnecessary programs. Bishop, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the plan was “really underimpressive” and that he “found no idea in there that I consider creative or different or unusual.” He criticized what he saw as “just the same old, same old, raise taxes, raise fees, write more regulations and then throw money at a problem” in the $13.2 billion budget request, including money to acquire new federal land while current property needs maintenance...more 

Read Bishop's full statement here.

USDA Taking Comments for Ag Conservation Easement Program

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA is accepting public comments on its interim final rule for the new Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, which is designed to help producers protect working agricultural lands and wetlands. The 2014 farm bill consolidated three previous conservation easement programs into ACEP to make it easier for diverse agricultural landowners to fully benefit from conservation initiatives. Under ACEP's agricultural land component, tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs are eligible to partner with USDA to purchase conservation easements. NRCS easement programs have been a critical tool in recent years for advancing landscape-scale private lands conservation. Last year, NRCS used $328 million in ACEP funding to enroll an estimated 143,833 acres of farmland, grassland, and wetlands through 485 new easements...more

Climate Consequences for the Western U.S. Farm/Ranch Market

Over the past several years, I’ve been spending a lot of time studying online real estate ads for farms, ranches, and other rural properties. For a few more years than that, I’ve also been watching the flow of science about climate change impact on aquatic and associated terrestrial systems. While I’ve followed the combination of agricultural land market and climate trends across North America, I’ve been especially interested in the trends for climate science and farm-ranch sales pitches in drier regions such as the interior West’s mountains and plains, where I live.

The interior West is the focus of my following observations. My observations will try for some inclusiveness, but won’t be exhaustive. I’ll describe some plausible differences between what sellers and their agents/brokers disclose of current farm-ranch conditions and the conditions buyers can plausibly expect as rising heat forces change across these and adjacent landscapes.

I’m not about to do anything as serious as give “advice” here, but the short story is that I’m seeing a lot left unsaid about the expected effects of climate change– heat, drought, fire, and flood — on these properties. And what I’m seeing in the science journals suggests that changes of climate will, inevitably and unavoidaly, begin to affect what buyers are willing to pay for them.

I’m not fabricating this scenario of climate forcing change on land and land prices from scratch. It’s a scenario recognized across a variety of sources, including this assessment: “Climate change will alter ecosystem services, perceptions of value, and decisions regarding land uses.” It’s a sentence straight out of the Forest Service’s General Technical Report PNW-GTR-870 December 2012

The Steel Guitar Rag Story with Leon McAuliffe

An interesting seven minute documentary on this famous song, compliments of radiobob805 who has everything you'd want about Bob Wills.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

DEA warns of stoned rabbits if Utah passes medical marijuana

Utah is considering a bill that would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions to be treated with edible forms of marijuana. If the bill passes, the state's wildlife may "cultivate a taste" for the plant, lose their fear of humans, and basically be high all the time. That's according to testimony presented to a Utah Senate panel (time stamp 58:00) last week by an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration. "I deal in facts. I deal in science," said special agent Matt Fairbanks, who's been working in the state for a decade. He is member of the "marijuana eradication" team in Utah. Some of his colleagues in Georgia recently achieved notoriety by raiding a retiree's garden and seizing a number of okra plants. Fairbanks said that at some illegal marijuana grow sites he saw "rabbits that had cultivated a taste for the marijuana. ..." He continued: "One of them refused to leave us, and we took all the marijuana around him, but his natural instincts to run were somehow gone."...more

 Oh, no.  We'll have a Drugs Bunny instead of a Bugs Bunny?  Bugs Bunny Bongs?  Really though, how else can we calm down the Energizer Bunny?  

And remember when President Carter was attacked by a rabbit?  We now know that rabbit had been hanging around the forest with Buds Bunny and Smokey Tokey Bear.

N.M. senator stands guard in debate over Interior, EPA riders

In late January, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) took to the Senate floor to defend a tiny, grayish-brown grouse. He was opposing a GOP amendment to a bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline that would have overturned the Fish and Wildlife Service's decision last May to list the lesser prairie chicken as a "threatened" species. While the amendment by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) may have been popular in Udall's home state -- where oil and gas companies and four counties had recently sued to overturn FWS's decision -- Udall criticized Moran's amendment as a "top-down political approach." "Listing and delisting of the species by Congress goes against the intent of the law," Udall said, referring to the Endangered Species Act, "which requires the government to make these decisions based on science, not politics." To environmentalists, Udall's help in defeating the amendment -- it died 54-44, failing to garner a required 60 votes -- was a sign that he'll stand strong against future GOP attempts to saddle appropriations bills with environmental policy riders seeking to undo or undermine President Obama's energy and natural resources agenda. As the new ranking member of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, New Mexico's Tom Udall is the Democrats' first line of defense against expected bids to roll back U.S. EPA clean air and water regulations and the Interior Department's protection of lands and wildlife.  Udall, who was elected to a second term in November, said he has a "good working relationship" with Interior-EPA panel Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), though he said he's worried that GOP leaders have pledged to topple Obama's environmental agenda...more

A long, but interesting article by E&E's Phil Taylor, which says Little Tommy YouDull is now the big man on the envirocampus and shows how one man from NM can bring absolute harm to the entire nation.

Scientists Need Your Help to Decode the Secret Language of Wolves

Dogs bark, wolves howl, and coyotes yelp—but what are they saying? Researchers who are asking that question need your help. The answer could benefit the conservation of several species related to your household pooch. Welcome to the world of canine crowdsourcing. The Candid Howl Project, an international collaboration of biologists, behaviorists, sound experts and others is encouraging people to analyze thousands of recordings of dogs, dingoes, coyotes and wolves in the safety of their own homes. The nonprofit International Wolf Center recently asked its nearly 70,000 Facebook followers to volunteer. The information gathered will provide clues to the meaning of each type of howl, such as defense of territory or preparation for hunting. The research might benefit endangered gray wolves, common targets of ranchers. “We are hoping…to identify clear differences between howls of different ‘meanings,’ ” Arik Kershenbaum of the University of Cambridge and the project’s creator, said in an email...more

This whole thing is a Howler, especially when all they have to do is contact Laura Schneberger.  She can tell them what wolf advocates sound like too.

New numbers won't change debate about Snake River structures

 by Rocky Barker

Jim Waddell is walking the path blazed by McCall biologist Don Chapman.

Waddell, a retired U.S. Army Corps of Engineers economist, now says the agency's 1999 calculations - released in final form in 2002 - on the cost and benefits of the four lower Snake River dams in Washington were wrong. Breaching the dams, he says, was the most economically sound route for the Pacific Northwest, not gold-plating the dams with fish-passage devices, new electric-generating turbines, new locks and repeated, regular dredging.

Chapman is a former University of Idaho fisheries professor who went from beloved mentor for a generation of fisheries biologists to become the hydroelectric industry's most respected defender in the 1990s. He said until 2005 that the fish-bypass systems were adequate, until it became clear that the rising temperature of the Columbia River and its tributaries and the effects of global warming on ocean conditions made breaching those dams the best hope for Idaho's wild salmon to survive or flourish.

 It's a decade later and little has changed. Cyclical Pacific Ocean conditions - cold currents that increase the availability of food and keep predator numbers low - have allowed salmon and steelhead numbers to balloon since 2000, when the decision was made to forgo breaching despite the scientific consensus of the time. Fish-passage devices at the dams and increased spill of water over the dams ordered by a federal judge to aid migration have helped boost salmon populations, as have a host of other costly actions throughout the watershed.

But the overall scientific argument has changed very little. The science continues to show that breaching the four dams is the most effective way to restore salmon in what is the best, healthiest habitat left in the Pacific Northwest...

Colorado land impact of oil and gas boom: scars spread and stay

Oil and gas companies have yet to fully restore land around half of the 47,505 inactive wells in Colorado, and 72 percent of those un-restored sites have been in the process for more than five years, The Denver Post has found. The state requires oil and gas companies to restore all sites completely — to reduce erosion, loosen compacted soil, prevent dust storms and control invasions of noxious weeds. But Colorado does not set a timetable for getting the job done. Nor do state regulators track how long companies take to complete required work. And unlike other states, Colorado does not require companies to submit reclamation plans before drilling. The result is a worsening problem of damage from the oil and gas boom. On Friday, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission chairman Thomas Compton said he would like to consider improving state rules. The lags in land restoration reflected in state data "are probably not acceptable," Compton said. "It may mean we need to step up our game." In particular, he favored requiring companies to submit reclamation plans in advance. Surface landowners would have to have opportunities to shape those plans, he said. Such plans would help spur proper reclamation done according to a timetable — "as long as the timetable is reasonable and allows for some sort of disruption short-term and long-term as far as what the weather patterns are." On Monday, the COGCC plans to review a Colorado Prairie Initiative from a group of law students proposing tougher rules for restoring damaged land...more

Federal judge mostly upholds government roundup of 1,263 western Wyoming wild horses last year

CHEYENNE, Wyoming — A judge mostly upheld a U.S. Bureau of Land Management roundup of hundreds of wild horses in western Wyoming that horse advocates had claimed violated several laws. The roundup was proper under a federal wild horse law and 34-year-old federal court order in which ranchers voluntarily agreed to allow wild horses to roam the area where the roundup occurred, U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal ruled Tuesday. "None of the arguments advanced by petitioners and nothing about BLM's horse management program inspire this court to change the approach sanctioned by the court in 1981," Freudenthal wrote. She ordered the Bureau of Land Management to go back and correct procedural deficiencies in planning the roundup, however. The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and others tried but failed to persuade judges to block the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from gathering 1,263 horses east and south of Rock Springs in September and October. The horse advocates pressed on with their lawsuit after the roundup, and oral arguments in the case occurred Monday. The federal agency improperly planned the roundup under a legal exemption to an otherwise required environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act, Freudenthal ruled. Freudenthal otherwise upheld the roundup under laws including the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. The act requires the government to maintain wild horses on public land and to round them up from private land when asked to do so by the landowner...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1388

Carl Smith recorded Dog-Gone It, Baby I'm In Love in Nashville on Oct. 30, 1953.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

New footage of shooting released as BLM faces lawsuit

Newly released Nevada state trooper dash cam and motorist videos of the moments before the fatal shooting of a 20-year-old man by U.S. Bureau of Land Management officers will be helpful in a federal wrongful death lawsuit related to the slaying, an attorney representing the dead man's family said Tuesday. Testimony also revealed during a public airing of evidence Monday that D'Andre Berghardt Jr. twice shrugged off stun gun darts and was hit in the head with a baton before he was shot and killed when he got into the trooper's cruiser on a state highway near Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. "We're going to obtain accountability for the Berghardt family. I'm confident of that," said attorney Jacob Hafter, who represents Berghardt's mother, Tracy Meadows. Hafter alleges the federal officers were undertrained, overzealous and enraged that Berghardt didn't follow their instructions. The federal lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages for Meadows and a declaration that the Bureau of Land Management rangers used excessive force and violated Berghardt's civil rights. Thirteen shots were fired, and Berghardt was struck seven times, according to testimony. Bullets broke his ribs, pelvis and an arm. The Clark County coroner ruled the shooting a homicide, although the finding does not establish fault...more

Proposed state control of federal public lands divides Nevada interests

A Senate resolution that asks Congress to convey more than 7 million acres of federal land to state control generated a large volume of testimony on both sides of the issue at a Monday hearing, but the issue appeared to be as polarizing as ever. Ranchers, farmers and some rural Nevadans supported Senate Joint Resolution 1, while conservation and wildlife groups argued against any such land transfer. SJR1 was requested by several Republican lawmakers as a follow up to a 2014 study on the viability of the state taking over some of the millions of acres of land in Nevada that is now under federal control. About 81 percent of Nevada is under the control of various federal agencies, with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management overseeing the largest share. The Nevada Land Management Task Force in 2014 issued a report arguing that the state would benefit from such a transfer, although opponents of the idea disputed the findings and said Nevada could not afford to manage additional lands transferred from the federal government. A transfer of 4 million acres of U.S. Bureau Land Management land could bring in anywhere from $31 million to $114 million a year, based on a review of four Western states that have significant amounts of trust lands under their control, the report said. The revenues would come from the sale and lease of the resources on the lands, including through mining and grazing rights. The study was prepared by Intertech Services Corp. and was paid for by the Nevada Association of Counties. The task force recommended a phased-in transfer of public lands, starting with lands in the original railroad corridor across Northern Nevada and lands already identified for disposal by federal agencies, among other priorities that would total 7.3 million acres or about 10 percent of the public lands total in a first phase. Wilderness, national conservation areas and several other types of lands would not be included in any such transfer...more

Divisive federal land grab legislation gets its first hearing

A retread of the Sagebrush Rebellion is ramping up in the Legislature thanks to a GOP-backed measure calling upon the federal government to transfer 7.2 million acres for the state to manage. The effort, backed by 10 Republicans, repeats a decades-old rallying cry in the West that puts lawmakers and constituents at ideological odds about Nevada’s ability to manage more property without costing taxpayers money. Senators in a legislative operations committee met Monday for more than two hours to hear public testimony on the proposed resolution, SJR1. Dozens of supporters and opponents filled committee rooms in Carson City, Elko and Las Vegas to provide input on the bill, diving into a topic that involves some of the most complicated and emotionally charged land issues in the West. Nevada has been in this position before. It considered a similar proposal in 2001 and was a state at the forefront of a public lands debate known as the Sagebrush Rebellion in the 1970s. Nevada’s efforts dovetail with similar efforts currently in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and New Mexico...more

Gov. Herbert says Utah committed to protecting public lands

Gov. Gary Herbert said Tuesday that the state is committed to protecting Utah’s pristine public lands, while also allowing access to ranchers and farmers and for energy development. During the opening of the state’s second annual Outdoor Recreation Summit in Salt Lake City, the Republican governor told more than 500 attendees that embracing the burgeoning outdoor industry is a key part of his plan to grow the state’s economy. The event is part of an ongoing effort by Herbert and state officials to show the lucrative industry that Utah is an ally that shares many of the same visions. “Our goal is to make sure we have that appropriate balance that allows us to protect those iconic vistas and venues that we have in the state (and) let our ranchers and farmers have access,” Herbert said. His comments came a day after several hundred people rallied at the state Capitol against Utah’s push to take control of 31 million acres of federally owned land in the state. Holding signs that read, “Protect Wild Utah” and “No Utah land grab” the people called on Herbert to retreat from the effort, saying transferring nearly 31 million acres of public land in Utah would limit access for hunters and outdoor-recreation enthusiasts and harm wildlife by splintering habitat. Herbert told The Associated Press after his speech that there are misunderstandings about the state’s push to take control of federal lands. He said the 2012 law he signed that demands that the federal government hand over the lands was fueled by the belief that locals know how to run the lands better than federal officials thousands of miles away. “We hear the argument that they are going to try and grab the lands and sell them off. That couldn’t be farther from the truth,” Herbert said. “We think we should have more to say about what’s taking place. . . It’s not just for outdoor recreation only. There is also industry and natural resource development and energy. All those things need to meet together in responsible ways.”...more

BLM fixes fences to help pronghorn migrations

Abel Guevara, a wildlife biologist with the Bureau of Land Management in Glasgow, has watched pronghorn running at top speed slide under a fence and pop up on the other side. It's something to see, he said. "They don't really stop," Guevara said. "It's like a baseball slide." In February, BLM's Glasgow Field Office modified several miles of fence on both sides of U.S. Highway 2 west of Glasgow to give pronghorn a better chance of a safe slide. "It's a good project," Guevara said. Pronghorn antelope usually crawl under fences, rather than jumping over them, he said. But some types of fences can prevent them from crossing underneath, and barbed wire can grab their backs when they do, he added. The low, barbed wire scrapes the fur off of the backs of pronghorn, making them susceptible to frostbite and infection, Guevara said. Pronghorn sometimes run back-and-forth for days along fences they can't pass, or get hung up trying to get through, he said. "It's just a horrible way for an animal to go," Guevara said. The BLM's recent work modifying the fencing is part of a bigger effort by government land and wildlife management agencies and private groups in northeastern Montana to remove obstacles in east-west running fences that hinder seasonal north-south movements of pronghorn. "We're looking at it on a landscape level," Guevara said. "It's not just a one-time fix." Over two weeks last month, BLM wildland firefighters Jason Snellman and Rich Hayner replaced the bottom barbed wire with smooth wire, and raised the fence bottom 16 inches off the ground, on five-and-a-half miles of fencing...more

I'll bet the coyotes will like it too. And here we go with that landscape thing again. As a reminder, you might want review what I've previously written on landscape planning.

White House issues more veto threats

The White House put out veto threats Tuesday against a pair of Republican House bills on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) use of scientific research. One bill aims to stop the EPA from using "secret science" to back up its regulations, while the other would put new requirements on the EPA's scientific advisory panel of experts.  But the White House complained that the legislation would handicap the agency's attempts to write necessary regulations...more

300 cows from mad cow investigation already slaughtered

More than 300 of 750 head of cattle identified as being part of the investigation into the latest case of mad cow disease have been slaughtered, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). That is to be expected, said the head of Alberta Beef Producers, and shouldn’t be cause for alarm. “The fact a number of these animals have already been processed isn’t a food safety issue,” said Rich Smith, executive director of Alberta Beef Producers. “Aside from our work on BSE surveillance, the steps we take to protect the food chain are always there.” The latest BSE case was found last month on a northern Alberta ranch and is the first reported in Canada since 2011. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has reported the cow was born on the same farm as a previously diagnosed case found in 2010. CFIA has also reported the BSE case came from a cow born after imposition of an enhanced feed ban in 2007. Smith said the steps taken by the federal government have mitigated the risk to the public, including the mandatory removal of specified risk materials — tissues affected by BSE infection — from cattle since 2007. “None of that ever gets into actual food, feed, pet food or fertilizer,” said Smith...more

Lincoln County pursues better communication on land use issues

Lincoln County pledged $2,500 as its share of a match for a grant to cover the cost of establishing a committee to coordinate land development issues among three military installations, six counties and three cities. But Commissioner Tom Stewart said he'd like to see some of the benefits to Lincoln County better defined. In July 2012, the counties of Doña Ana, Otero, Lincoln, Sierra, Socorro and El Paso, and the cities of Alamogordo, Las Cruces and El Paso agreed to participate in the Southern New Mexico/El Paso Joint Land Use Study, County Manager Nita Taylor reminded commissioners at their February meeting. Their partners are the New Mexico State Land Office, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, Fort Bliss, Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range. The entities entered into a Memorandum of Agreement for the purpose of organizing a regional planning organization and conducting a joint land use study. Lincoln County's fee for that phase of the work was $5,000. "The purpose of the (study was) to develop and to further strengthen clear and consistent channels of communication across all stakeholders groups in the region, and also to promote interjurisdictional and interagency cooperation on critical planning issues related to military-community compatibility," according to the memorandum of agreement. With the completion of the study and issuance of a final report, an implementation committee must be established, Taylor said. County Planning Director Curt Temple, who represents the county in the study group, said a $500,000 federal grant will cover the operational budget and each party is being asked to pay an amount that will bring in $50,000 for a 10 percent match. Lincoln County's share is $2,500, he said. "The basic study has been completed by the contractor on the original $1 million grant given by the feds with Doña Ana County as the fiscal agent," Temple told commissioners...more

Dunn announces 20% increase in grazing fees

 Today, Commissioner of Public Lands Aubrey Dunn announced the 2015 grazing fees on state trust lands would be set at $4.80 per animal unit month (AUM) , to take effect Oct. 1, 2015 . The 2014 fee was $3.99. Grazing fees on state trust lands are set by the Commissioner, using a formula determined by New Mexico State University, after considering market conditions. This year, NMSU determined the fee per AUM would be increased by 20.25 percent. Federal grazing fees also increased this year by 25.18 percent per AUM on public lands. The increase will raise the total income to state land trust beneficiaries to $8.08 million. Tota l lands included in the agricultural leasing program are 8,746,502 million acres...more

Hemp legislation moves forward with relative ease

Janet Jarrett’s family has a history with hemp. In his younger days, her father raised the plant and used its fiber for rope on the farm. Now 94, his daughter says he still doesn’t forgive the government for making growing hemp illegal. “He can’t get good hemp ropes anymore. He always liked to rope with them better, and the plastic ones are too stiff,” says Jarrett, a dairy farmer in Valencia County. New Mexico might be changing that law soon, as least incrementally. So far, the hemp issue seems to be cruising through the legislative session. “What’s old is new again,” Jarrett says. “I think there’s a real opportunity to maybe reestablish some of the things in a less hysterical way.” A bill that would allow the state to grow hemp for research purposes recently jumped through three Senate committees with little opposition before passing the upper chamber by a 33-8 vote. Janet Jarrett Though similar bills have failed the legislature in over the past 15 years, this time lawmakers have something they’ve never had before—cover from the feds. “There seems to be a whole change in the attitude and people are embracing it,” says Jaime Chavez, a field organizer for the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association. Like its psychoactive counterpart, marijuana, hemp is a distinct species of cannabis. It can be used to create products as diverse as paper, oil and biofuels...more 

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1387

Here's Ernest Tubb with his 1949 recording of Till The End Of The World

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

American Paydirt - Underdogs win at America's richest rodeo

In its second year, The American proved that it continues to be a star-studded rodeo of opportunity for those not ranked among the sport’s elite. Taylor Price and Reese Riemer split the $1 million bonus for contestants who qualified for The American and won one of its seven events. The RFD-TV event, presented by Polaris Ranger, was held March 1 in Arlington, Texas. Neither Price, who won the bareback riding, nor Riemer, who captured the tie-down roping title, were ranked nationally in the top 10 of their respective event. So rather than receiving an invitation to The American, they each paid a $500 entry fee to compete and qualify via the American Semi-Finals. After winning their event and also earning their piece of the $1 million underdog pool, each took home $600,000. Price, of Huntsville, Texas, won the bareback short go with a score of 89 points. “I’m still just blown away,” Price told reporters. “This is the coolest rodeo I’ve ever been to! I was too broke, so my parents had to pay my entry fees to the Semi-Finals. This takes away a lot of the financial troubles I’ve had.” Riemer, of Stinnett, Texas, won the tie-down roping after recording a time of 7.59 seconds. K.C. Jones of Decatur, Texas, won the steer wrestling with a time of 4.19 seconds. Lisa Lockhart of Oelrichs, South Dakota, completed her pattern in 14.726 seconds and captured the barrel racing title, as she did last year. Kaleb Driggers of Albany, Georgia, and Travis Graves of Jay, Oklahoma, also successfully defended their title, marking the fastest team roping time (4.52 seconds). Yet another repeat champion, Wade Sundell of Coleman, Oklahoma, topped the saddle bronc riding with a 90.75-point ride. Finally, Silvano Alves of Pilar Do Sul, Brazil, won the bull riding with a score of 88.25.  Western Horseman

NM - Move to ban horse slaughter doesn’t make it

The latest attempt to ban horse slaughter in New Mexico effectively died in the Legislature on Monday. The House Committee on Agriculture, Water and Wildlife tabled three bills sponsored by Gail Chasey, D-Bernalillo, that would have prohibited the slaughter of horses for human consumption, granted horses protection under the state’s cruelty-to-animals law and required the Livestock Board to monitor horse exports at the Mexican border. Although no horse meat processing plant exists in New Mexico, litigation by the state Attorney General’s Office continues over a plant that had been proposed by Valley Meat Co. in Roswell. Last year, Valley Meat backed off its plan to process horse meat at a retrofitted cow processing plant and transferred the Roswell plant’s ownership to D’Allende Meats of Texas. The plant is now up for sale, according to attorney Blair Dunn. New Mexico shipped more than 19,000 horses to a border crossing with Mexico in 2013, up from about 8,500 horses five years prior, according to the latest statistics available from the Livestock Board. The state does not track exported horses’ final destination...more

New Natural Resources chairman vows to find solutions to longtime disputes

WASHINGTON - For decades, county commissioners and conservationists in Utah have been battling over land in the eastern part of the state, squaring off over potential protections, oil drilling and potash mining in the territory. It's almost been a "100 years war," observed Mike Matz, director of public lands for Pew Charitable Trusts. Enter Republican Rep. Rob Bishop, a seven-term lawmaker who nearly three years ago set out to bring the warring interests together and hammer out a massive land management deal. Through hundreds of meetings with thousands of stakeholders, Bishop has steered the group closer to a plan for divvying up millions of acres - with some land poised to garner new wilderness protections and other tracts set to be earmarked for energy development. Bishop has urged county commissioners to view potential wilderness designations as a kind of "currency" with value that can be traded for "some specific, tangible benefit," such as special zones for oil drilling and rights of way for roads. Depending on who you ask, it's either a cynical approach to conservation or a pragmatic strategy for dealing with a complex, controversial issue. It's one indication of how Bishop may approach his new congressional role as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. Bishop sees the chairmanship as a chance to shake up the way the United States manages federal and Indian lands, from protecting treasured areas to permitting drilling in others. "We haven't had a change in the way people look at the stewardship of the federal government and land in 50 or 60 years," Bishop said. "We are timed for a paradigm shift, and I want to be part of that." For Bishop, who convenes his first panel hearing Thursday with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, that means giving local, state and tribal governments greater control of federal lands. It also means undoing legal constraints, including litigation under the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act...more

Relations fraying, GOP to grill Jewell on $13.2B budget

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell heads back to Capitol Hill this week for two more rounds of GOP grilling on her agency's $13.2 billion fiscal 2016 funding request. There will be new Republican faces but similar attacks on the Obama administration's proposed spending hikes and its energy and natural resources policy. Jewell will appear Wednesday before the Senate Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, which is led by one of her top critics, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). On Thursday, she will testify before the House Natural Resources Committee, which is led by new Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah). Neither forum will be particularly inviting. Jewell's $13.2 billion requested budget -- an 8 percent hike above current funding levels -- also contains a wish list of longtime administration proposals to increase inspection fees on oil and gas drillers, encourage more diligent development, reform federal royalties, and hike grazing fees. Those proposals stand little chance of passing in a Republican-controlled Congress, considering that they also failed to pass when the Senate was in Democratic hands. Jewell's budget also leans heavily into conservation and recreation. It offers $900 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), three times the current funding level, and would provide $3 billion for the National Park Service, a $433 million increase over current levels and enough to hire 471 additional full-time employees as the agency approaches its 2016 centennial...more

National monuments in California: Lawmakers, advocates really want designations

California lawmakers and advocacy groups are ramping up efforts to win national monument designation for four scenic vistas in the state, from vast stretches of the Mojave Desert to redwood stands along the Pacific Coast Highway to canyons and mountains near the state’s famous wine country. The designation typically takes lands already owned by the government and walls them off from new mining, roads and power lines. Recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking and horseback riding are commonly allowed, though each national monument has its own dos and don’ts. Supporters of the proposed monuments in California are pursuing two paths. The first is through legislation. Many Republicans are wary, though. So, supporters are also placing greater emphasis on Plan B: Executive action from President Barack Obama. The narrowing window for that option is adding urgency to their efforts...more

How ESA advertising requirement snagged fish delisting

Farmers and ranchers campaigned for years to persuade the Fish and Wildlife Service to drop endangered species protection for a tiny fish found in the streams of northeastern California and southern Oregon. In 2014, they almost succeeded. The service was set to delist the Modoc sucker last February but neglected to publish a newspaper notice mandated by the Endangered Species Act. That meant another year of federal protection for the 6-inch fish -- which has been on the endangered species list since 1985 -- and another year of frustration for agribusiness interests in the Pacific Northwest. Critics of the 1973 Endangered Species Act say its newspaper ad requirement is antiquated and a prime example of why Congress should overhaul the Nixon-era law. At the time of the law's enactment, "an appropriate means of public communication certainly could have been publication of a local classified ad, but it is 2015," said Ryan Yates, chairman of the National Endangered Species Act Reform Coalition, an alliance of industry groups. "This is one more example of how the ESA is an outdated law that needs to be updated and modernized," he added. Last reauthorized by Congress in 1988, the ESA specifically orders federal agencies to publish a summary of regulatory changes "in a newspaper of general circulation in each area of the United States in which the species is believed to occur." Fish and Wildlife belatedly satisfied that obligation for the Modoc sucker last month by running a 4-inch notice on Page D5 of the Sunday, Feb. 15, Klamath Falls Herald and News, just above some real estate listings and next to an ad for "50% OFF Mondays!" at Chrome Wrench Auto Works. The Modoc sucker notice cost $132.81, a tiny fraction of the $159,662 that Fish and Wildlife spent on required newspaper ads in 2014...more

Rally at Capitol blasts Utah’s ‘land-grab casino’

Transferring public lands to Utah is a "disastrous, frivolous policy" that is more likely to bankrupt the state, wreck a robust outdoor economy and industrialize scenic landscapes than solve the state's endless fights over land management, a diverse parade of speakers proclaimed Tuesday in the Capitol Rotunda. Such a move, codified by a Utah law enacted three years ago, is really a reckless gamble that is diverting resources to "the land-grab casino" and ruining real chances for land-management reform, according to speakers who included educators, environmentalists, sportsmen and makers of outdoor gear. "Governor, we call on you to distance yourself from the few legislators who cooked up this mess. Collaboration is the best way to solve our problems," said Dan McCool, a University of Utah political science professor who acted as MC for the rally. "This effort is unconstitutional, yet the state insists on pressing forward in this fruitless war on our public lands." In the audience was one of Utah's key advocates for land transfer, Rep. Mike Noel of Kanab, who took the mic after the last speaker. Under a hail of boos, he argued access and stewardship would improve under state control. After the sound was cut off, the Republican went nose-to-nose with transfer critics, some holding signs with slogans like "Stop the Klepto Terra Ists."...more

House panel rejects federal lands transfer study bill

A House committee has rejected a proposal to create a commission to study whether federal lands should be transferred to the state. The House Judiciary Committee today tabled House Bill 291 on a bipartisan, 8-4 vote. Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, sponsored the legislation, which drew opposition from a range of public lands users and conservation groups. “We should be in control of our own lands … managing them on more of a local level,” Herrell said. She disputed the argument of opponents that transferring land to the state would lead to its being sold to private interests. But critics of the bill said the transfer of federal lands was unworkable and unconstitutional. Victor Reyes of Conservation Voters New Mexico said it would be “wasting our state agencies’ scarce time and resources” to study land transfers.  AP

McDonald’s sustainable beef pilot moves into high gear

McDonald’s has put its foot on the gas, and is revving up its verified sustainable beef pilot. The largest buyer of Canadian beef has developed a set of 40 ‘indicators’ to assess sustainability; created a scoring system to grade ranches, feedlots and others in the beef value chain; and chosen an American verification company to oversee the process. But producers shouldn’t be worried by these moves, McDonald’s sustainability manager for Canada said at the recent Alberta Beef Industry Conference. “This is not a certification regime — this is a verification opportunity,” said Jeffrey Fitzpatrick-Stilwell. “It’s about information sharing, not policing. It’s about producers demonstrating how they meet the criteria. It’s not an audit and it’s not pass/fail.” Since picking Canada for its global sustainable beef pilot last year, the fast-food giant has given few details on how that will work — even though it has promised to start using sustainable beef in 2016. But in consultation with an advisory board from across the Canadian beef sector, the company has developed ways — dubbed ‘indicators’ — to score practices on animal care, environmental stewardship, and food safety. Not every indicator is applicable to all segments of the value chain, but each one comes with a scoring system ranging from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent). Each aligns with principles set out by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and the Global Roundtable on Sustainable Beef...more

DHS Installs Seven Camera Towers on Border in Fourth Virtual Fence Attempt

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is installing seven towers equipped with sophisticated cameras in southern Arizona as part of its Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) program. These towers are going up in Santa Cruz County, specifically near the cities of Nogales and Rio Rico, as part of a test run. But this is the fourth attempt by DHS to set up such a system, and the last one got cancelled after five years and one billion dollars spent. Customs and Border Protection Operations Officer John Lawson told KVOA News in Tucson, “Previously officers had to use cameras to pan around to look for things, but with this new radar system, it will tell them right away where there is action.” Some towers are currently being tested, while others towers are in various stages of construction. All are expected to be operational by August. That timeline is dubious, based on DHS’ history. The IFT contract award was pushed back by several months many times, and what was known as the virtual border fence project under the Secure Border Initiative was pushed back by several years, only to ultimately be scrapped. The virtual border fence was preceded by two other projects that attempted to interconnect underground sensors and above ground cameras and radar with very little success. Many local ranchers and residents in southern Arizona are happy to see the towers go up because there is so much illegal immigrant and drug smuggler traffic near—and sometimes on—their property...more

Air Show Pilot Spencer Suderman Will Attempt to Set New Guinness World Record®

Air show pilot Spencer Suderman, the current GUINNESS WORLD RECORD holder for "Most Inverted Flat Spins in an aircraft" will attempt to break his own record of 81 rotations set in 2014 with an even more impressive spin of over 100 rotations.  The current record can be viewed here:

The attempt will occur on April 12th, 2015 at the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma in Arizona.  This flight will occur over the USMC Barry M. Goldwater Range, West Segment where the restricted airspace has been reserved to an altitude of 50,000 feet for this world record breaking effort.

The aircraft to be used for this attempt is an experimental variant of the legendary Pitts Special aerobatic biplane.  The plane, designated the Sunbird S-1x, was originally built and flown by noted aerobatic competitor and air show pilot Dick Green and is the only one of its kind featuring an oversized engine and propeller...more

Dick Green, now deceased, was my brother-in-law and it was through his kindness and generosity that I was able to purchase my handicapped van sooner rather than later.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Former Ag Secretaries Urge Congress to Pass Trade Promotion Authority

A bipartisan group of former U.S. Agriculture Secretaries, representing all past Administrations from those of President Jimmy Carter to President George W. Bush, issued the following open letter urging Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority. The former secretaries note that boosting trade and exports is highly beneficial to America's agriculture economy and that Trade Promotion Authority--which has been given to all previous presidents since Gerald Ford (with similar authority granted to all presidents since Franklin Delano Roosevelt)--is critical for successfully negotiating new trade partnerships that boost exports and create jobs. Congress could begin consideration of legislation to grant President Obama Trade Promotion Authority as early as next week. The letter from the former secretaries follows...more

Government says America's beef cow inventory up 2 percent from 2014

U.S. beef cow inventory increased 2 percent from a year ago, signaling expansion among herds across the nation, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Agricultural Statistics Service cattle report. "I thought the report showed more beef cows added than I expected," said David Anderson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service livestock specialist in College Station. "But record prices in the last half of 2014 will do that." Anderson said prior to the report, industry experts had the mindset the current rebuilding phase will be longer and slower. "It might have to be re-thought," he said. Seven percent more beef cows were reported in Texas on Jan. 1 compared to the same time last year. When the final numbers come in, Anderson said it potentially could be the largest year-to-year percentage increase in Texas beef cows since 1972-1973, when the cowherd grew 14 percent...more

A 'run through the mustard'

RUN THROUGH THE MUSTARD. In late spring, wild mustard grew on thick stalks, the tallest up to six feet. And the mustard grew in such abundance throughout Southern California that, even when the yellow bloom was gone, the dry stalks could conceal cattle. Ranchers would arrange a “run through the mustard” – a two or three day search to track down strays. C. H. Brinley, manager of Rancho Los Alamitos, wrote of inviting other rancheros to participate: “The Temples,, Manuel Dominguez, and the Coyotes will be there sure, and most likely a sufficient number of people will be brought together to effect some good.”  San Diego Reader

Victoria blacksmith's handiwork gets some TLC

Victorians heard the ring of Joe Bianchi's anvil on South William Street for almost six decades. In the 58 years he was in business, Bianchi dominated the spur business in the coastal cow country of South Texas. The shank on his spurs, often called the bottle opener or Victoria style, was his distinguishable mark. Passers-by are hearing a new sound on his old block. Instead of the ping of metal on metal, it's hammers and carpenters working on a major restoration project to bring the 109-year-old home back to life. David and Tammy Murphy, the current property owners, received a historic preservation grant through Victoria Preservation Inc. and the Victoria City Council to save the hand-forged iron fence Bianchi built around his home at 405 S. William St. Since the restoration began, the Murphys have taken a keen interest in researching the original owner and paying their respects to the contributions they made to Victoria. They've uncovered "treasures," spurs and bits, saving them in pill bottles for safe keeping. Bianchi added a brass tag in the fence's concrete post, dated July 4, 1935. His brand, +A, lives on at the curb on the southeast corner of the lot. "The history of this house holds the history of Victoria," David Murphy said. While Bianchi built the fence and others like it, he was most well-known for his hand-forged tools for Texas cowboys. He went by Joe, but his birth name was Giuseppe. He was born as the fifth of eight children in 1871 in the northern Italian city of Origgio, according to family history books. In 1885, when he was 14, he joined his family aboard a ship headed for Victoria. He later moved to Oklahoma to try to make a name for himself, but eventually came back to Texas. In 1901, he and his older brother Paul opened Bianchi Brothers Blacksmith Shop in Victoria. They manufactured hand-forged spurs and bridal bits, plain and silver mounted. The Bianchi brothers' blacksmithing firm was one of the most established and successful in town, according to Victoria Advocate archives. Bianchi purchased the lot at the corner of South William and Convent streets June 9, 1904, to build his home. He was single at the time, but less than a year later married. By 1907, he and Paul dissolved the business and he opened his own shop next door to the house on South William Street. He advertised "horse-shoeing on short notice" and was known for his craftsmanship and high quality work, according to family history books. People could tell the owner of a ranch from one of his cowboys by looking at the spurs. All the prominent ranchers in the area wore Bianchi spurs...more

Song Of The Day #001

We'll feature some videos made by other folks from time to time.  Its Swingin' Monday so here's Kristyn Harris with Yodel Western Swing, from her CD Let Me Ride.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The magic in the makeup drawer

by Julie Carter

You have heard it all many times before. Beauty is only skin deep. Take care of the inner self and the outer self will take care of itself.

Women tend to look at themselves in parts as opposed to the whole package created by God. We see our hair as not long enough, not thick enough, not curly enough, or not straight enough.

We see our eyes as not big enough, not wide-set enough and never the right color. Our lashes are never long enough and as we age, they appear even shorter as gravity forces the eyebrow area to a lower elevation.

And then there are the rest of our parts. Never the skin we would like to have, never the height, weight or shape that pleases ourselves.

The magic drawer

At my house, beauty is in the mysterious “magic drawer” -- a name my makeup magician sister-in-law gave to her stored concoctions of beauty. She would disappear to her boudoir, open this big dresser-drawer full of magic makeup and momentarily re-appear looking like something off the cover of Vogue.

I thought having a drawer like that was a very good idea, but over time I discovered my magic drawer contained more of a Parks and Wildlife look than the Vogue variety. The contents of such a drawer are very proportional to the lifestyle it enhances.

The cover girl look has always eluded me and in fact, I’ve noticed a transition in the drawer inventory that tells a story about then and now.

Hot pink anything is gone

Hot pink blush has been replaced by under-eye concealers. Hot pink pearlized lipstick is now medicated lip balm. The hot pink nail polish is gone and clear Hard as Nails is in its place. The bright blue eye shadow to make your eyes sparkle is now a soft beige version to conceal the puffiness.

Over-the-counter pills for weight control and ever-lasting energy are long gone and in their place is an industrial sized bottle of Tylenol PM. Birth control pills are replaced by hormonal therapy pills and the tropical coconut-pineapple-banana suntan oil has morphed into a jar of mega-moisturizer with a 10,000 SPF factor.

Sunglasses with crazy-colored frames to match every outfit have been replaced by a plethora of reading glasses conveniently placed everywhere.

Looking cute and coiffed at the ranch while you work like a hired hand is a futile effort at best. Usually no one is more surprised how good you clean up than the boss himself.

New hair-do?

I was having lunch with one of those ranch-wife hired hands and her husband joined us at the restaurant. His first inquiry to his wife was, “Did you just get your hair done?”

“No,” she explained. “You just haven’t seen me with it fixed in so long you forgot what it looked like.”

Of course he doesn’t have much hair so the concept of keeping it presentable in all weather, wearing all kinds of winter gear and hats, has never been an issue for him.

The upside to the lifetime transformation of the magic drawer is about the woman herself.

At this point in life she knows who her real friends are and having them doesn’t require a certain “look.”  She knows that being appreciated is far more valuable than being a cover girl.

Dignity and self-assuredness are the absolute best elements of beauty. You won’t find them in a drawer, magic or otherwise.

Julie can be reached for comment at

McFarland - Trabajo y Memorias

Almond bloom and sulfur dust
Trabajo y Memorias
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            A week ago yesterday almond bloom peaked in Kern County, California.
            I remember the first time I experienced it. There were still a few Kern Royals in old orchards and that red against the white blossoms captured attention as much as the essence in the air. It was the latter that just consumed you. The drone of bees deadened other sounds and the sweetness of the smell was almost overpowering.
            Within days, the first applications of sulfur would follow to commence the mildew programs for the sea of grapes that stretched north and east for miles. The smell of sweet almond bloom would then be corrupted by the biting edge of sulfur.
As the freshness of California spring played out, the heavy, dirty air of the blistering harvest season would start to build. It was then the dreary expectation of marathon 100º days would sink into your soul. The yellowish air would steal away any glimpse of the Sierras, and … summer would descend.
            On the same day of peak almond bloom, we sat in a darkened theater and watched the new movie, McFarland. I was surprised by the emotion it prompted.
            The story is good. It follows the career of Coach White and his nationally recognized cross country program at McFarland High School located in California’s southern San Joaquin Valley. His first year was 1987.
            We preceded him to the McFarland area in 1981.
That was the year I finished graduate school at NMSU and California became home. Similarly to the suggestion by the young English teacher who spoke to Coach White on his first day of class, our home became Bakersfield. The cultural impact and the feeling of loneliness and despair demonstrated by the character were no different from our arrival responses. There was little comparison to our roots in New Mexico. It was intimidating.
That first job in California was with Superior Farming Company. The company farmed just over 41,000 acres of ground in Kern, Fresno, Madera, and Imperial counties. Over half that acreage was trees and vines and the field headquarters was just south from McFarland on Kimberlina Avenue.
McFarland became a landmark and hub that impacted our entire California career.
The references uttered here and there within the script were lost among the majority of watchers, but they were not missed when I heard them. Kite Avenue and Elmo Highway are real as are Whisler and Sherwood avenues. Kite Avenue was not just a route to run in the difficult practices, it was the home of Hollis Roberts and the center of an empire that began in Dust Bowl poverty in Texas and wound up with more than 165,000 acres of farmed land in California. I came to know Hollis well, and the immensity of his human experience was no different than that of the kids and the coach the story portrayed.
In fact, the parallel of McFarland on many people is striking. If you were engaged in the business of farming in McFarland at that time, chances were you faced the same challenges of escaping poverty or lower middle class that the story reserved for farm workers.
In the end, a half dozen New Mexico kids migrated there simply trying to find a place to gain a toehold and exist. We had nothing but a shared will and driving ethic. We were terrified of failure. If our circumstances could be caricatured by military vernacular, we had long outrun our supply lines and were operating totally on our own.
As for the farm workers, though, they were very much part of our lives.
My negative memories come from the violence advocated by Caesar Chavez. Delores Huerta, and the United Farm Workers. McFarland was the center of that universe. I will remember the firearms in the vineyard on Ashe’s Alley, and confrontation years later when our company inherited a major fruit operation and its ongoing labor union dispute. Without question, I was despised by the position I held and the color of my skin.
Positive memories come from the interaction with the crews and individuals. From those ranks came men and women who are brothers and sisters for life. Xavier Salinas, Genaro Monzon, and Narciso Arzate became not just capable supervisors they became trusted comrades and good businessmen. They demonstrated what the American dream means.
Women were no different. The crew leaders and individuals, ladies who endured, were, in 1981, young and ambitious just like me. I remember how I was taken by the bright colors of protective scarves and covering that the table grape crews wore to protect themselves from the sun and heat. When I last walked among them calling old friends by name, we were no longer so young. Those of us who had been together for those 20 years understood what that meant.
When we started our own company, Met West Agribusiness, McFarland continued to be important. We were managing an almond orchard on Whisler Avenue, but when we took over the management of 4200 acres of vineyard on Sherwood, we were on our way.
New Mexican, Mike Dallas, became manager of that division. Through Mike’s efforts, the company’s impact on McFarland became more profound. He would serve as president of the local school board. He would become the chairman of the local irrigation district. He founded a Christian ministry in the prison that was a feature in the movie, and he was a deacon in his church. He made that division the most consistently profitable in the entire company. He also suffered the accident that resulted in his death …all of which took place in the town of McFarland.
The spirit
I watched the movie trying to recognize land marks and points of correctness for 1987. I’ll suggest period and authenticity shortfalls for matters like tarped and ground stored almonds, poled tomatoes, the prison, and covered grapes in that era, but the immensity of the industry is correct. It was and remains monstrous. I reveled at glimpses of the citrus belt, the Friant Kern Canal, and vineyards (that were more likely Delano than McFarland), but what a homecoming the experience sparked.
We saw the movie with our youngest daughter, Lindsay, and her family. Like her mother and I, the movie became a personal reflection. She and her older sister, Stephanie, were both California State FFA officers and their respective years of service each took them the length and breadth of California.
Lindsay talked about her chapter visit to a McFarland FFA banquet. She walked through the front door of the high school exactly as it appeared in the movie. It was her favorite visit and it became a topic of continuing discussion that evening. It was suggested a similar story line could be developed with the McFarland advisor, Mr. Elliot, and his program. The same tough little town and kids fighting for a chance were exact parallels to Coach White and his cross country teams. Like Coach White, Mr. Elliot chose to make McFarland home. His FFA program showed the results.
Lindsay remembered how motivated the members were. She invited them to the upcoming state convention. They took her up and descended around her prior to her retirement address. She doesn’t remember last names or skin color. She remembers kids of the San Joaquin learning, creating, and growing in confidence and expression.
It was so familiar.
The hot, clammy yellow haze of late summer was captured brilliantly in the filming. The almond orchards they ran through displayed stress induced from water being cut off for harvest. The citrus scenes were right at the 500’ frost line elevations, but the glimpse that created the most emotion was a glimpse of the Friant-Kern canal.
It was right there one morning John Oglesby and I found a dog in the canal. The situation was critical. The pads of his front feet were bleeding where he had been trying desperately to climb the steep concrete walls.
“What are we going to do,” John asked.
“We are going to get him out,” was the response.
In John’s pickup, I found a short piece of hemp rope. It wasn’t long enough so I tied a chain to it.  I then tied a honda and shook a loop out. On the first shot, I roped that dog. The dog was big probably weighing over one hundred pounds. John joined with me pulling him up the embankment. When we got him to the top, he never stopped. He climbed right up and looked me in the eye. I fell back into John sending us all to the ground. There I laid under that soaking wet dog as he licked my face in serious appreciation.
“Can all you New Mexico boys rope like that?” John asked from underneath me.
I never said yes, but … I never said no, either.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “McFarland … go see it.”

A budget that grows government and cultivates dependency

By Rick Manning

You can tell a lot about someone’s priorities by sneaking a peak at their budget. From churches and charities to Fortune 500 companies and individual households, financial statements show true colors, not just lip service.

President Obama’s recently-released budget is no different and it showed the world what we already knew — he’s a tax-and-spend liberal with out-of-whack priorities.

Take its effect on America’s family farmers and ranchers, for example.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack described his boss’ plan this way: “The budget proposal achieves reforms and results for the American taxpayer… and creates a pathway towards continued growth and prosperity in rural America.”

But that’s just the press release version. The numbers behind the budget show only a desire to grow government and cultivate dependency.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would expand discretionary spending by $1 billion in 2016 under the plan. Meanwhile, it would continue the increase of overall USDA spending — up $40 billion since 2009, when the president began his term.

Not exactly a nod to taxpayers or fiscal discipline.

Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would also get a big raise under the budget to help them tighten their regulatory hold. Spending there would increase $450 million, or about 5 percent.
That is hardly a pathway to rural prosperity given the regulatory burden already weighing down farmers and ranchers. Not to mention the daily efforts by the government to overreach at the altar of climate change.

And how does the Administration expect to pay for its Big Government budget increases? Through new taxes and by gutting an efficient policy run by the private sector, of course.

First, farms would shoulder a brand-new death tax under the White House plan.

When land is passed to the next generation, heirs would face a new and immediate capital gains tax — even before they sell the land — in addition to the estate taxes already on the books.

Administration spin-doctors, who have made an art of class warfare, described it as “closing a loophole on the rich,” but the real-world implications would reverberate through rural communities from coast to coast.

Farmers, who tend to be land rich and cash poor, would be left with no recourse other than to liquidate the inheritance just to pay the taxman. Keeping the family farm in the family wouldn’t be an option.
And those lucky enough to succeed in the face of growing environmental regulations and new taxes would be left with fewer tools to fight Mother Nature under Obama’s plan. Because the one area of the farm budget he actually cuts is crop insurance.

For years, Congress has been transitioning to an insurance system that is run by the private sector and partially-funded by farmers. They did this in order to end old-style government subsidies and annual disaster bailouts.

Crop insurance still costs taxpayers money because the government helps offset premiums, but for the first time in the history of ag policy, most farmers get an insurance bill every year instead of a government check.

And thanks to private-sector efficiency and the fact that growers collectively pay $4 billion a year in premiums, overall farm policy spending has declined in recent years.

Now the president wants to undo these positive steps in the name of more government and, ultimately, more taxpayer risk.

White House messaging might say otherwise, but the numbers reveal a plan that weakens the private sector in favor of a more government-centric bureaucracy that raises taxes in pursuit of an extreme environmenal agenda.

Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government.

Reprinted with the permission of the ALG.