Thursday, May 19, 2016

Battle over Bears Ears intensifies in Utah

Phil Taylor, E&E reporter

Debate over a 1.9-million-acre national monument in southeast Utah is escalating this week as state lawmakers prepare to take up a formal resolution opposing President Obama's use of the Antiquities Act in the Beehive State.

A poll released yesterday by Creation Justice Ministries, a Washington, D.C., faith-based environmental organization, found 71 percent of registered Utah voters support Obama designating a Bears Ears national monument to protect the area's tribal cliff dwellings, rock art, burial sites, pit houses and ancient roads.

But several Navajos joined state lawmakers and Gov. Gary Herbert (R) yesterday on the steps of the statehouse to denounce the monument proposal, which they argue lacks local support and would limit tribal access to firewood, medicinal plants and ceremonial sites.

The conservative, Salt Lake City-based Sutherland Institute yesterday also released a five-minute documentary featuring testimony from Utah Navajos who oppose a national monument.

Bears Ears is believed to be near the top of Obama's list of tracts to permanently protect under the Antiquities Act. At 1.9 million acres, it would be his largest land-based designation to date -- and his most controversial.

The proposal is strongly opposed by Utah's congressional delegation and Herbert, who hand-delivered a letter to Obama in February warning that a unilateral designation would "only exacerbate an already tense situation" surrounding public land management in Utah.

What is a State anyway? Apparently not much if it contains federal land.  Here we have a proposal that is opposed by Utah's congressional designation (2 U.S. Senators and 4 members of the House of Representatives), the Utah state legislature and the sitting Governor.  And yet, one man, 2082 miles away, can totally ignore them and change the land use on 1.9 million acres within the state.  Such is the state of federal land policy today.

So we are witness to Utah leaders shakin' like a hound dog shitting a logging chain and expecting a hook any minute.  No wonder they are taking the lead on reform of this abomination.

National Park System Expansion: Confronting A Second Century Challenge

The national park system centennial in 2016 presents an important opportunity to reflect on the system’s enormous growth and change since its inception. From a mere handful of national parks scattered across the West in 1916, the system now exceeds 410 units stretching across all 50 states and covering roughly 84 million acres. It contains national parks, monuments, preserves, recreation areas, seashores, battlefields, and heritage areas along with nearly a dozen other specific designations, all deemed nationally significant enough to merit a place in the system. In 2014, Congress commendably added another seven units to the system, and the President has since added several more national monuments. These actions confirm that this revered national treasure is not complete, and raising the prospect that the centennial itself might yet see more additions to the system. The spectacular growth in the national park system presents the question of how additions come about and what might be done to prompt further additions as we move into the system’s second century. Under existing law, Congress and the President are each empowered to add new units to the national park system; the Congress through its usual legislative process, and the President through the Antiquities Act, which gives him authority to proclaim new national monuments on public lands. A new park designation decision is thus inherently a political matter that is in the hands of our elected federal officials. It is not a prerogative of the National Park Service nor of state or local officials, though each can certainly promote new additions to the system as well as a vision for the future. More often than not, as Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan reminded us in their sweeping PBS documentary series, new national park designations have come about through aggressive citizen advocacy prompted by a few foresighted individuals committed to protecting these special places. One person who understood these political realities was Stephen Mather, the first Director of the National Park Service, whose tenure and insights set the tone for the agency over the ensuing years. As we ponder further expansion of the national park system during its second century, we can learn from Mather and his unabashed commitment to promoting the nascent system by supporting efforts to attract visitors to the parks. Occasionally criticized for his booster-like initiatives, Mather was intent on bringing Americans to these special places, convinced that once they had experienced a national park they would appreciate its value and support the new system. He understood that in the world of politics, public support was essential to ensure the system endured and prospered, whether the issue was budget appropriations for infrastructure, new national park designations, or the expansion of existing ones...more

"The National Park Service is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, but the system faces a multibillion dollar maintenance backlog that officials say is no cause for rejoicing. The bill for deferred work is nearly $12 billion nationwide — a $440 million increase over last year."  AP 2/5/16

There should be no talk of expansion when they can't even manage what they have.

Jarvis didn't change minds of vocal opponents of monument

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Some critics aren't buying the National Park Service director's message that a national monument in northern Maine won't place restrictions on land or impose air quality standards that could stymie certain industries. One of them, Bob Meyers from the Maine Snowmobile Association, said the director's "don't worry" attitude was troubling because, in his view, there's plenty to worry about. Director Jon Jarvis held forums in East Millinocket and Orono on Monday with a goal of hearing from Mainers before recommending whether President Barack Obama should designate the 87,500 acres east of Baxter State Park as a national monument. Critics are distrustful of the federal government and believe National Park Service ownership could lead to restrictions of land uses.

Nice to see the folks in Main understand the primary purpose of designating a Nation Monument is to RESTRICT PUBLIC ACCESS.

Looking for middle ground at Middle Fork; Camping damaging archeological resources

Concern over cultural and archeological resources at campsites along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River won’t lead to rapid changes there, such as the feared sudden closure of camps or reduction in rafting permits. Instead, officials with the Salmon Challis National Forest say they will take a methodical approach to the problem while working with the Shoshone-Bannock tribes, rafting outfitters and private boaters to better protect artifacts and other resources associated with the camps in the heart of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area. Last fall outfitters and private boaters came away from a progress meeting on the agency’s Historic Preservation Plan for the wilderness area with the impression that the U.S. Forest Service and tribe were pushing to close several campsites and perhaps dramatically reduce rafting levels. Elizabeth Townley, ranger of the Middle Fork District, said poor communication led to the mistaken impression. There are no plans to close campsites or limit use. There are 94 regularly used campsites along the Middle Fork, 67 of which have cultural resources associated with them...more 

Nice to see the Forest Service will now take a "methodical" approach.  What kind of approach were they taking before?  Uh oh, it includes a team and "collaboration".  Bet on this:  over the years there will be fewer campsites and fewer days of camping.  Campers are now on the list to be eliminated from Wilderness.


Rangers investigating sabotage on the Little Scraggy Trail say this is the second time they've found concrete-anchored spikes buried in the middle of a Pike National Forest mountain bike trail. "This is a significant safety concern for us," U.S. Forest Service spokesman Lawrence Lujan said Wednesday. Tim Fishback was riding Little Scraggy Trail in the Buffalo Creek network last weekend when his buddy Nick Kostecki got two flat tires in a relatively smooth section. When Fishback returned to help his pal, he too flatted. They poked around the trail and found a long nail sticking out of the dirt. They tried to pry it up but it was mounted in a concrete brick. More riders on the trail that day reported flats. Across a mile span, Fishback and his friend found three 2-pound bricks that had been formed around 3-inch nails and buried in the middle of the singletrack. A similar spiked device was found buried in a trail in the Pike's Rampart Range in May 2014, Lujan said. "I've never seen anything like it. Someone manufactured these things. It took some effort to dig those holes and put those in there and they were spaced out a good bit. Somebody was trying to do some real harm and they were targeting bikers," said Fishback, who regularly rides the Buffalo Creek area, where mountain bikers have spent two decades working with the U.S. Forest Service to develop and build one of the state's richest webs of flowing singletrack...more

America’s mad cowboy disease: The Bundys’ lunacy has infected our state governments

This is the third time I've come across this article on the 'net.  It was originally published on TomDispatch as Privatizing America’s Public Land:  How the Raid on Malheur Screened a Future Raid on Real Estate  and has also appeared as Do the Bundys Signal the End of the Great American West?  If you just happen to be in the mood for a wide ranging, left-wing attack on the land transfer movement, the Koch brothers, etc., then this your ticket.

Wolf lawsuit watched closely here

The recent legal back-and-forth between the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has local stakeholders holding their breath, as the two agencies’ disagreements over the controversial reintroduction of the Mexican gray wolf may hit close to home. The agencies are tied together in collaboration on many projects but have clashed in recent years over the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program, through which Fish and Wildlife has been tasked with reintroducing and developing populations of Mexican wolves in suitable habitats in Arizona and New Mexico. In 2014, when Fish and Wildlife revealed its revised plans for wolf recovery, they included an expansion of the permitted range of the wolf from isolated spaces in New Mexico and Arizona to almost all of the land in those states between Interstate 40 and the U.S. border with Mexico. The Service also accelerated plans for reintroductions and translocations of wolves from captivity or elsewhere in the wild, respectively, according to a system of three zones. It is these reintroductions that have the two agencies at odds. The conflict has its roots in the balance of powers between the state and federal agencies, with state Game and Fish asserting that federal Fish and Wildlife requires its permission to introduce any wildlife in the state. On Friday, May 13, Game and Fish announced that it had filed suit in 7th Judicial District Court to force a halt of Fish and Wildlife’s “unpermitted” and “illegal” releases of wildlife — especially the Mexican wolf — in a press release titled “Department Takes Action to Stop USFWS from Ignoring Federal and State Law.”...more

Ferrets Back to Meeteetse

Ferrets are on their way back to Meeteetse this summer, and the people there are prepared. Wyoming’s Game and Fish biologists held an open house in the small northwest Wyoming town Wednesday, and found most of the people are excited to get the ferrets back. Black Footed Ferrets were discovered on two nearby ranches in 1981, when the animals were considered possibly extinct. There were only eighteen left when they were trapped and put into breeding facilities. Since, hundreds of ferrets have been released in six western states, Canada, and Mexico. But, Meeteetse couldn’t get them back because the ferrets prey, prairie dogs, were dying from the plague.Wyoming’s Game and Fish researchers tested a new plague vaccine on the Meeteetse ranches, and found it was successful in bringing back healthy prairie dog colonies. The Game and Fish hopes to re-introduce ferrets to the Meeteetse area in late July...more

Ride TV brings nationwide audience to Ruidoso Downs Triple Crown races

Fans of the triple crown races at Ruidoso Downs Race Track that live throughout the nation will have the opportunity to watch the Ruidoso, Rainbow, and All American Futurity and Derby trials and finals this summer on RIDE TV, channel 248 on Dish Network, Armstrong, and Windstream cable subscribers throughout the United States. RIDE TV is a 24-hour, high-definition television network that showcases the horse culture and lifestyle. The network’s programming features shows all about horses. While rodeos and other sporting programs have been featured, this is the first effort to display quarter horse racing to their viewers. “Our job will be to introduce the quarter horse triple crown to our viewers,” Anthony Lucia said. He along with longtime racing color commentator Tom Dawson will be the hosts of the daylong broadcasts that begin with opening day, May 27 at Ruidoso Downs. “While Tom has the insight of years of experience watching the trials, I will come at it a little differently,” Anthony said. “We are introducing thousands of our regular viewers to the futurity and derby trials and so I’ll be asking questions of those involved in the stakes races and hopefully getting answers that someone at home watching might want to know.”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day 1615

Another favorite by Guy Clark is Homegrown Tomatoes.  The tune is on his 1983 CD Better Days.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Malheur Refuge standoff: The ranchers’ story

The standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge captivated the nation for 41 days and 40 nights. De facto militia leader Ammon Bundy staged the armed occupation under the notion of representing the disenfranchised people of Harney County. But is it true? Do the people of Burns feel the United States government is ruling with an iron fist? Gary Marshall, a 7th-generation rancher in Harney County, told KOIN 6 News the militia never spoke for him or for anyone else he can think of that owns property in Burns. “It was not true. [The militia] were just wrong,” said Marshall, “When they came they didn’t understand the situation here.” Marshall owns a little over 11,000 acres of land in Harney County. It’s private property. But for about 6 months a year, he needs to graze his cattle on the surrounding federally-owned land. He pays a fee and has a permit. It’s just one example of how private land ownership and federal land management works. “There has not been a major clash or battle that’s happened,” Marshall said. In all of Oregon there are more than 63 million total acres of land. The federal government owns or manages more than half. At first glance, it’s easy to assume the feds have all the power and can do whatever it pleases. But that’s simply not the case, said Brenda Smith, the chair of the High High Desert Partnership. “It’s not just about the land. It’s about our community, it’s about the social fabric of our challenges that we need to meet. It’s also about the economics of what needs to go on,” said Smith. The High Desert Partnership is a coalition in Harney County of all different people who live and work near (or on) the County’s federal land. It ensures everyone has a seat at the table. In Harney County, 75% of the land is federally owned...more

Utah activists disrupt BLM auction of oil and gas leases

As BLM auctioneer Glen Parker began soliciting bids on a handful of Utah oil and gas leases Tuesday, about 40 visitors chanted softly in two-part harmony, the latest effort by climate activists to disrupt sales of hydrocarbon minerals under public lands. The auction, which proved to be a near-total bust, went on after Salt Lake City police peeled singers off the floor and escorted them from the meeting room at the city's main library while the chanting grew louder. "People gonna rise up with the water, "We're gonna calm this crisis down," they sang. "I hear the voice of my great-grandaughter, " 'Keep it in the ground.' " A few sarcastic remarks aside, the scene was remarkable for the civility and respect protesters and police showed each other. Officers refrained from arresting anyone, although Bureau of Land Management officials cautioned auction observers that disruptions would be met with arrest. Across the West, activists are protesting federal oil and gas auctions, arguing that publicly owned fossil fuels should be left in the ground because burning coal, oil and gas is creating "climate chaos" by filling the atmosphere with excess carbon dioxide...more

Showdown over federal coal leasing reform at Casper hearing

Emotions ran high in a showdown Tuesday between environmentalists and the mining industry over coal-leasing reform and whether the federal government should increase how much it charges corporations to mine federal reserves. On one side, landowner advocates and environmentalists told a U.S. Bureau of Land Management public hearing that change is overdue — up to and including halting coal mining to limit climate change. Others in this coal-friendly city rejected any change to the leases amid a three-year federal leasing moratorium Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced in January that has added uncertainty amid coal bankruptcies, layoffs and mine closures. No justification exists for higher federal royalties, Cloud Peak Energy Vice President Richard Reavey said at a pro-coal rally held by the Wyoming Mining Association before the hearing. “Here we are at another one of the secretary’s Soviet-style show trials, where the verdict has already has been decided and the sentence already issued. The verdict is that coal will be found to have been guilty of delivering reliable, affordable electricity. Guilty of providing well-paying jobs in flyover states that don’t support the Obama regime. Guilty of trying to make the American economy stronger,” Reavey said. “And the sentence? The sentence is keep it in the ground,” he said...more

Spread of brucellosis blamed on elk, not bison or feed grounds

Efforts to control brucellosis in cattle around Yellowstone National Park may be focusing on the wrong wildlife suspects, according to new DNA research on the disease. The study suggests elk are the most likely source of brucellosis outbreaks in domestic cattle. That complicates the work of officials around Yellowstone charged with controlling the spread of brucellosis. Suspicion that bison were the main spreaders of the disease to cattle prompted extensive restrictions on bison trying to migrate out of the park into grazing lands of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Those restrictions have included hazing the herds back into the park, and hunting, butchering or quarantining thousands of bison that could not be driven back into Yellowstone.“Of all the cases we had, we found no direct links from bison to livestock,” said Pauline Kamath, U.S. Geological Survey ecologist and lead author of the study. “That’s suggesting there’s little transmission from bison to animals in other areas in the Greater Yellowstone.” Brucellosis causes infected females to abort their calves. Its presence in an area may require ranchers to quarantine their herds and incur expensive testing and vaccinations before the animals can be sold or moved. The Greater Yellowstone area is the last reservoir of the disease in North America, and about 20 private herds of cattle or bison have reported infections in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming since 2002...more

Guy Charles Clark November 6, 1941 – Tuesday May 17, 2016

Grammy-winner, Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame member, Academy of Country Music Poet’s Award honoree, and fearless raconteur Guy Charles Clark (death details here)
He was born in the dusty west Texas town of Monahans on November 6, 1941. The family lived at his grandmother’s 13-room shotgun hotel; home to bomber pilots, drifters, oilmen and a wildcatter named Jack Prigg, the subject of Clark’s famous song “Desperados Waiting For A Train.” When Guy’s father returned from WWII and graduated from law school, the Clarks moved to the Gulf coast town of Rockport, Texas. Guy came of age in the pretty little beach town. As captain and center, Guy led the football team. He played guard in basketball, ran the 100-yard dash and threw discus in track and field. He won science fairs, joined the Explorer’s club, presided over the junior class as president, acted in school plays, excelled on the debate team, illustrated the yearbook, and fell in love with Mexican folk songs and the Flamenco guitar.
After a couple of false starts at university, Guy joined the Peace Corps in 1963. He trained in Rio Abajo, Puerto Rico, practicing water survival, rock climbing and trekking, followed by a month of book learning at the University of Minnesota. After turning down an assignment in Punjab, India, Guy moved to Houston, where he opened a guitar repair shop with his friend Minor Wilson. He played guitar and sang folk songs at the Houston Folklore Society, Sand Mountain coffee shop and the Jester Lounge, where he began life long friendships with fellow struggling songwriters and musicians Mickey Newbury, Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker, Kay Oslin, Frank Davis, Gary White and Crow Johnson. He married his first wife, folksinger Susan Spaw, and they had a son Travis in 1966.
In 1969, after splitting with Susan, Guy moved to San Francisco and again joined Minor Wilson in a guitar repair shop. Within a year, he moved back to Houston, met and fell in love with a beautiful dark haired painter named Susanna Talley. Susanna moved from Oklahoma City to Houston to be with Guy and after a few months, she sold a painting to fund the couple’s move to Los Angeles. Guy landed a job building Dobros at the Dopyera Brothers Original Musical Instruments Company. He played with a bluegrass band on the weekends and pitched his songs to publishing companies in between. 
He signed a publishing deal with Sunbury Dunbar and moved to Nashville in the fall of 1971. He and Susanna crashed on songwriter Mickey Newbury’s houseboat for a few weeks and then moved into a small rental house at 1307 Chapel Avenue in East Nashville.  Guy and Susanna returned to Newbury’s houseboat on January 14, 1972 along with Mickey and Susan Newbury and Townes Van Zandt as best man; the five friends sailed up the Cumberland River to the Sumner County Courthouse where Guy Clark and Susanna Talley married.
In that first year in East Nashville Susanna and Townes wrote “Heavenly Houseboat Blues,” while Guy turned out “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” “L.A. Freeway,” and “That Old Time Feeling.” By the time Guy released Old No. 1, his debut critically acclaimed album for RCA Records in 1975, he had written several soon-to-be classic songs including “She Ain’t Going Nowhere,” “Let Him Roll,” “Rita Ballou,” and “Texas 1947.”
He jumped from RCA to Warner Brothers in 1978, scoring a number one song with Ricky Skaggs’s take on “Heartbroke” in 1982 and breaking into the Billboard country chart with “Homegrown Tomatoes” in 1983. Clark hit his stride when he signed with Sugar Hill Records in 1989, and then released a string of significant folk and Americana albums with Sugar Hill, Asylum Records and Dualtone Music Group during the next two-and-a-half decades: Old Friends, Boats to Build, Dublin Blues, Keepers, Cold Dog Soup, The Dark, Workbench Songs, Somedays the Song Writes You and his final 2013 Grammy-winning Best Folk Album, My Favorite Picture of You.
For more than forty years, the Clark home was a gathering place for songwriters, folk singers, artists and misfits; many who sat at the feet of the master songwriter in his element, willing Guy’s essence into their own pens. Throughout his long and extraordinary career, Guy Clark blazed a trail for original and groundbreaking artists and troubadours including his good friends Rodney Crowell, Jim McGuire, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Joe Ely, Lyle Lovett, Verlon Thompson, Shawn Camp, and Vince Gill.
His beloved Susanna died from complications of lung cancer in 2012. Due to ongoing health problems, Guy stopped touring and recording shortly thereafter. He is survived by his son Travis and daughter-in-law Krista McMurtry Clark; grandchildren Dylan and Ellie Clark; sisters Caroline Clark Dugan and Jan Clark; manager and friend Keith Case; caretaker and sweetheart Joy Brogdon; nieces, nephews and many, many dear friends, colleagues and fans.
Funeral arrangements are pending

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1614

To honor his passing, we'll have some songs by the great songwriter and entertainer Guy Clark.  This wasn't one of his big hits, but is special to me:  Randall Knife.  The tune is on his 1983 CD Better Days.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

New Mexico county restricts public access to historic road

Wealthy land owners have made a big push to keep the public away from their property. But they’re also keeping them away from a beautiful spot that’s been open to the public for more than 100 years and the government let them have their way. For more than 100 years, people have been able to drive through the the Monticello Canyon. It’s an 17-mile stretch of dirt road that runs along side and through the Alamosa Creek. The road is an easy four-wheel drive through a beautiful canyon called the Monticello Box. The canyon’s eastern entrance is about 90 miles southwest of Socorro. Half of the road is in Socorro County. The other half is in Sierra County. “It truly is at the county border in the middle of the wildnerness,” said Delilah Walsh, the Socorro County Manager. Recently a Texas oil man bought land near the Monticello Canyon. He banded together with other surrounding land owners and petitioned both counties and last August those counties locked up the road. “The man has a Texas rancher mentality – lock the gate, keep the hell off my land,” said Tom Stroup, the President of Friends of the Box, a group fighting to keep the road open to the public. The land owners say people have been leaving the public road and trespassing on their property. They recorded video, they say, shows people stealing wood from their private property, barbecuing off the main road and climbing rocks on private land. “They were concerned about use on their private property and people trespassing, the littering and the amount of traffic and the inability of the sheriff’s office to respond (because of it’s remote location),” said Walsh. Visitors can get access to the canyon and the road if they buy a $25 land permit from the New Mexico State Land Office. The road will also be open during the hunting season.  The Socorro County Manager told KRQE News 13 that the road is difficult to maintain and is prone to flooding. Aubrey Dunn, the Commission of Public Lands also wrote a letter in August to the Monticello Community Ditch Association saying part of the land that is chained off is “blocking access to State Trust Land” and “cannot allow this hindrance of access to our land.”...more

‘Longmire’ author tries his hand at writing about the supernatural and a dead lawman

Netflix’s “Longmire” crime series is filmed in northern New Mexico, but the show – and the novels on which it is based – is set in Wyoming. That’s just fine with Wyoming-based Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire mysteries. “I think the production folks have done a magnificent job in re-creating Wyoming, with the exception of maybe all the snow we get up north,” Johnson said in an email. “But then if you guys had as much as Wyoming, maybe I wouldn’t be in as much of a hurry to get down there in the spring.” Johnson is an executive creative consultant to the TV series. “I can offer advice on lots of things, but where I’m probably the most help is in the writing,” Johnson said. “The producers send me each of the scripts as they’re written, and I go through them and give them a line edit on things I agree with and things I don’t.” Johnson’s newest novel is “The Highwayman.” It features a strong supernatural element. Wyoming Highway Patrolman Rosey Wayman is hearing strange “officer needs assistance” calls coming in at the same hour – at 12:34 a.m. to be exact — and only in the Wind River Canyon. The calls are all from the ghostly Bobby Womack, a legendary Arapaho patrolman who died in the canyon decades ago. “I do think there’s a lot more out there than we know, and I like writing about those types of experiences – not Stephen King-type stuff, but just the things out of the corner of your eye,” Johnson said. “The Highwayman” is his first, full-blown ghost story, “but as the tale unfolds, we discover it’s a lot more than that,” he added. Johnson’s next Longmire novel is “An Obvious Fact,” planned for release this fall...more

Hundreds of miles of Colorado wilderness lost to 21st-century development boom

A 21st-century development surge has transformed at least 525 square miles of Colorado, an area bigger than Rocky Mountain National Park, as once-wild land vanishes across the West. The urban expansion, road-building and energy production is causing a breakup of natural space that threatens wildlife as people push into their habitat. A bear walking a random path couldn't go farther than 3½ miles on average before encountering "significant human development," according to an analysis by Conservation Science Partners, being unveiled Tuesday at the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C., conservation group.  Colorado ranked second to California (785 square miles) in total natural area affected. Development across 11 Western states now covers more than 165,000 square miles, with more than 4,321 square miles converted since 2001, the "Disappearing West" study foundAnd urban sprawl, commerce and drilling claim the equivalent of a football field every 2½ minutes — roughly a Los Angeles-sized area of open land per year...more

So, we have another "crisis" and Congress must act.  An often-used tactic to stir public opinion and help the enviro lobbyists.  And this all happens while the Park Service is pushing their 100th anniversary and the Land & Water Conservation Fund is up for reauthorization.  Just a coincidence, I'm sure.

According to the NRCS, the U.S. contains 1.4 billion acres, 94 % of which is not developed.  That's a helluva lot of football fields.  Do the math and you'll see this is hardly a crisis.

Bundy Ranch Prisoner Drops Bombshell from Jail

Reporter and political prisoner Pete Santilli of The Pete Santilli Show dropped a bombshell from jail earlier this week. He claims that the information below, once it comes out in the open in court, will have the US government in a panic. In a recorded statement by Deb Jordan, Pete’s co-host, Santilli said that the information comes from the congressional record 1866. “The dirt at Bundy Ranch is in Clark County,” Santilli began. “Clark County has always been a part of the State of Nevada and is not federal land in any way shape or form, period.” “It is documented and we have the documentation,” he continued. “We will be going through the court system appropriately, but the entire Bundy Ranch debacle and what Cliven Bundy said on that stage to that Sheriff… unfortunately, these buffoon people that the US government’s US Attorney’s Office actually put on the record that Nevada, part of the Hidalgo Treaty and all this stuff is absolute lunacy that they are lining us all up about an incident that took place in Clark County Nevada that has never been part of federal lands since 1866.” Santilli is right too. Even according to Clark County Nevada’s website, it was on May 4, 1866 that Nevada extended southern border into Arizona Territory, covering territory to point where Colorado River meets California Border. However, on January 17, 1867, the Nevada State legislature voted to extend southern border, taking in today’s Clark County. That makes the land of Clark County a legal part of the State of Nevada, not federal land. Prior to that, according to the website, “10/31/1864 Nevada becomes a state during the Civil War. Area now encompassed by Clark County is not part of original state of Nevada but is part of Arizona Territory.” Clark County came into existence on July 1, 1909. In all of the records on the Clark County website, there is no mention of what the Constitution demands for the federal government to acquire land in the state, namely the approval of the State legislature. Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 of the US Constitution is clear about federal control of land.

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of Particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings– (Emphasis added)...more

This is the first I've seen this particular twist and it is very interesting.  While I haven't had time to really study this, I do have some questions.

Its my understanding that Article I, Section 8, Clause 17, generally referred to as the enclave clause, is primarily about jurisdiction.  If the feds want "exclusive" jurisdiction over the property then they must have the consent of the state legislature.  Otherwise, jurisdiction is held, or shared, by the state. The clause is silent on the feds owning property as the sole proprietor, and doesn't prevent them from doing so.  It only kicks in when the feds want "exclusive" jurisdiction.

Also, the article says Clark County was in the Arizona Territory before the boundary was changed to make it part of Nevada.  Territorial lands are owned by the feds.  So the question becomes when the lands were transferred to Nevada did they retain their federal ownership status or was the land ceded to the state?  The article is written as if it was the Nevada legislature which acquired the land.  However, I'm pretty sure it would take an act of Congress to modify the boundary of a state.  Key would be the language in that Act.

At first blush, it would appear this may not be the "bombshell" many are hoping for.

RJ, other media argue against court secrecy in Bundy case

News organizations led by the Las Vegas Review-Journal have filed court papers bolstering their opposition to a government push for secrecy in the Bunkerville standoff case. Attorney Maggie McLetchie — who represents the Review-Journal, Battle Born Media and The Associated Press — argued federal prosecutors have failed to establish good cause for a proposed “expansive protective order” to withhold their mass of evidence from the public in the high-profile case. Prosecutors contend a protective order is needed to ensure the safety of witnesses. In recent court papers, prosecutors cited examples of anti-government “cyber bullying” by defendants charged in the April 2014 armed confrontation involving Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy, his followers and law enforcement. But according to McLetchie, none of the social media examples “constitute actual, specific threats” that justify putting all of the government evidence under an “impenetrable shroud of secrecy.” Last week, U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen issued an interim order maintaining the confidentiality of the evidence, as prosecutors met a court-imposed deadline to begin turning over documents to the defense. Leen expects the order to remain in effect for weeks until she decides whether to issue a permanent one barring public disclosure of the evidence. Prosecutors want to prohibit defense lawyers from making public copies of critical trial evidence, including sworn search warrant affidavits and FBI investigative reports. Lawyers for most of the 19 defendants, including Bundy and four of his sons, also oppose the government proposal...more

Feds Advised To Confiscate Livestock While Men Locked-Up

Environmental and wildlife groups are pleading to government to use force and possible violence to steal the Bundy’s livestock that could ignite another intense standoff between Freedom fighters and armed federal agents. A collaboration of environmental and wildlife organizations sent letters to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Monday demanding the federal henchmen to seize the Bundy’s cattle near Gold Butte, Nevada. Jeff Krauss, a BLM spokesman said in an email: “Mr Bundy’s cattle continue to be in trespass. There are no plans for a gather at this time as we continue to cooperate with the Department of Justice on the ongoing legal matter.”...more

OFFSHORE DRILLING: Greens hit streets of D.C. to protest as Senate panel waits its turn

In the debate over new oil and gas leasing, whose voice is the loudest? Hundreds of activists made the case for the anti-drilling movement in Washington, D.C., yesterday, using drums, songs and chants to protest the Interior Department's 2017-22 oil and gas leasing program. The program -- now in draft form -- would allow up to 13 oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic. "The oil and gas industry is shivering in their boots right now," the Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. of the Hip Hop Caucus shouted to a crowd carrying elaborate homemade signs and miniature windmills. "It has been shown that organized people beat organized money every single time." The rally spanned a noisy two hours, beginning in front of the White House and ending at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. It was the latest from the "keep it in the ground" movement, which has brought together dozens of small and large environmental groups that believe new drilling will thwart efforts to keep the global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters,, the Alaska Wilderness League and many other organizations have led the call to arms...more

Border security dispute only part of Bootheel’s story

By Lauren Villagran
Beware those stories from the border, especially from that corner of New Mexico called the Bootheel, that sketch a black-and-white picture. Ranchers outraged over border security. Sportsmen riled over access to public lands. Border Patrol struggling with a lack of resources.
I’ve written these stories, and they have been true, but they have left out some fundamental knowledge: that the border is at best a fuzzy gray line where two countries and two peoples rub shoulders, sometimes cozily, sometimes not, and things are rarely simple.
A Bootheel rancher whose place has been broken into multiple times in recent years and who has spoken out about border security problems keeps bread, bologna and water bottles in an outdoor refrigerator.

The fridge was there in the past for migrants heading north in search of work. Now the fridge is more often raided by drug mules after they’ve trekked the Bootheel’s rugged mountains for days, dropped off their loads and are heading back to Mexico hungry and parched.

A Border Patrol agent tells me: “That rancher complains about security, but just when we are about to catch drug mules who have become tired and weak, they refuel at the rancher’s watering hole.”

The rancher tells me: “That’s the way I was raised. Just feed ’em and water ’em and send them on their way.”

It was the good Samaritan thing to do when you knew the people were poor and desperate and looking for work. Now it’s a safety precaution so the drug runners – potentially armed – don’t break into homes to steal food...

...A sheriff’s deputy talks about the drug scourge and the effort it takes to intercept the loads carried by these drug mules. Then he marvels for a moment at the backpackers’ perseverance. He uses the word “amazing.”

He has seen them literally sprint the last mile to the interstate after walking seven days over perilous mountain ridges carrying 50-pound sacks of dope – including at night, with no flashlight. He is tasked with helping apprehend guys like these, but you can hear something like respect in his voice.


Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1613

Buck Owens - Waitin' In Your Welfare Line was written by Buck Owens, Don Rich & Nat Stuckey and recorded on August 24, 1965 and released on January 3, 1966.

Monday, May 16, 2016

How Cattle Ranching Can Positively Affect Carbon Absorption

by Courtney White

...On the other hand, for cattle ranchers like Tom and Mimi Sidwell, it’s not necessary to bring up the topic at all. That’s because healing the carbon cycle is what they do for a living. Whether it improves you-know-what isn’t on their minds.

In 2004, the Sidwells bought the 7,000-acre JX Ranch south of Tucumcari, New Mexico, and set about doing what they know best: earning a profit by restoring the land to health and stewarding it sustainably.

As with many ranches in the arid Southwest, the JX had been hard used over the decades. Poor land and water management had caused the grass cover to diminish in quantity and quality, exposing soil to the erosive effects of wind, rain, and sunlight, which also diminished the organic content of the soil significantly, especially its carbon...

Enter the Sidwells. With thirty years of experience in managing land, they saw the deteriorated condition of the JX not as a liability but as an opportunity. Tom began by dividing the entire ranch into sixteen pastures, up from the original five, using solar-powered electric fencing. After installing a water system to feed all sixteen pastures, he picked cattle that could do well in dry country, grouped them into one herd, and set about carefully rotating them through the pastures — never grazing a single pasture for more than seven to ten days in order to give the land plenty of recovery time. Next he began clearing out the juniper and mesquite trees on the ranch with a bulldozer, which allowed native grasses to come back.

As grass returned — a result of the animals’ hooves breaking up the capped topsoil and allowing seed-to-soil contact — Tom lengthened the period of rest between pulses of cattle grazing in each pasture from 60 days to 105 days across the whole ranch. More rest meant more grass, which meant Tom could graze more cattle — to stimulate more grass production. In fact, Tom increased the overall livestock capacity of the JX by 25 percent in only six years, significantly impacting the ranch’s bottom line. The typical stocking rate in this part of New Mexico is one cow to 50 acres. The Sidwells have brought it down to one to 36 acres, and hope to get it down to one to 30 acres some day. Ultimately, Tom hopes to have the ranch divided into twenty-three pastures. The reason for his optimism is simple: the native grasses are coming back, even in dry years. Over the past ten years, the JX has seen an increase in diversity of grass species, including cool-season grasses (which grow primarily in the spring and fall), and a decrease in the amount of bare soil across the ranch. Simultaneously, there has been an increase in the pounds of meat per acre produced on the ranch.

...In 2009, the Sidwells converted their beef business from a conventional feedlot-based system to an entirely grass-fed, direct-marketed operation. Grass-fed means the animals have spent their entire lives on grass — which is what nature intended for them — and no time in stinky feedlots, eating corn and other assorted industrial by-products. Grass-fed beef consumes less fossil fuel in its production and distribution, especially if the customers are only a short drive away from the farm, ranch, or processing facility. It also has another benefit: profitability. As an added-value food, grass-fed meat sells for as much as 50 percent more than conventional meat — if customers are willing to pay the higher premiums, which in the Sidwells’ case they are. And this extra profit, even on a smaller herd, has allowed the Sidwells to make it through the dry times financially.

What the Sidwells have done on the JX is reassemble the carbon landscape. They have reconnected soil, water, plants, sunlight, food, and profit in a way that is both healing and sustainable. They did it by reviving the carbon cycle as a life-giving element on their ranch and by returning to nature’s principles of herbivory, ecological disturbance, soil formation, microbial action, and good food. In the process, they improved the resilience of the land and their business for whatever shock or surprise the future may have in store.

Tom Sidwell is President-elect of the NM Cattle Growers

Bundy Women Pull Together As Defense Teams Press For Family Members’ Pre-Trial Release

It’s been more than two years since Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy — along with his sons and hundreds of supporters — made headlines in their resistance of heavily armed Federal agents as they attempted to seize the family’s cattle in a dispute over grazing fees with the BLM. On Saturday, with 70-year-old Cliven Bundy in solitary confinement and four sons behind bars facing years in Federal prison — Cliven’s wife, Carole Bundy, along with a group simply known along the Arizona Strip as The Bundy Women, gathered at the site of the standoff as they prepare to do battle with the government yet again. Only this time around there were no militia members — just a small army of defense attorneys and their private investigators who had come to survey the site of the 2014 standoff. One of The Bundy Women — MaryLynn Bundy, wife of Cliven’s son Dave Bundy, will spend Monday in a Nevada courtroom, where she’ll learn whether her husband will be released from custody pending trial on conspiracy and other charges related to the Bunkerville standoff. Only this time around there were no militia members — just a small army of defense attorneys and their private investigators who had come to survey the site of the 2014 standoff. One of The Bundy Women — MaryLynn Bundy, wife of Cliven’s son Dave Bundy, will spend Monday in a Nevada courtroom, where she’ll learn whether her husband will be released from custody pending trial on conspiracy and other charges related to the Bunkerville standoff. “I’m really hoping something will touch the judge and the judge will do what is right, and let him come home,” MaryLynn Bundy told Gephardt Daily...more

Crying wolf: Apex predator makes its way back into Colorado

To date, there has been no reintroduction effort in Colorado, nor will there be in the immediate future. On Jan. 23, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission voted against the reintroduction of wolves into the state. Even so, lone wolves are beginning to make their way south and across the Wyoming border on their own — a development that raises several questions.

• Could wandering wolves establish stable packs in Colorado without an active reintroduction effort?
• If not, should such an effort be undertaken?
• And if wolves do eventually return to the state — either on their own or as the result of human intervention — how will they be managed?...more

Possible county road closure riles Bootheel residents

Take this gravel road through pale yellow grassland and dark, rugged mountains into the heart of a perennial conflict over public access to public lands in New Mexico. Drive it now, before Hidalgo County abandons it to a private landowner. County Road 001 cuts south through the Bootheel almost to the Mexican border. The road provides the surest access to prime hunting grounds for deer, pronghorn antelope and javelina; access to camping and hiking in the Coronado National Forest; and a passable path for local ranchers and emergency vehicles. But like many sparsely populated counties in New Mexico, Hidalgo County is strapped for cash. County manager Bob Hill – a neutral party – says the road may be too expensive to maintain at current levels. Commissioner Darr Shannon, a local businesswoman, has proposed abandoning nearly 9 miles of it, which would effectively revert the road to the Bootheel’s largest rancher, Seth Hadley. Locals say Hadley, who owns the sprawling Diamond A and Gray ranches, famously gates and locks the roads on his properties and has previously cut off access to public lands, including at Black Point. Numerous “no trespassing” signs flank Diamond A and Gray ranch gates off County Road 001...more

New desert monuments are celebrated with style

Cheers, tears and smiles were plentiful as several hundred people attended the long anticipated National Desert Monuments designation celebration on Thursday, May 5, at the Whitewater Preserve.
The designation came after decades of work from Senator Dianne Feinstein and other conservationist to protect the desert. David Myers, Executive Director of the Wildlands Conservancy, hosted the celebration at the Whitewater Preserve. He was moved to tears as he thanked everyone who helped make the day a reality and told the story of an anonymous husband and wife who donated $1 million, then later pledged $35 million to protect over a half million acres of wilderness. About 15 years ago, the Wildlands Conservancy made the largest conservation land gift in American history when it donated some 560,000 acres in the Mojave Desert to the U.S. Department of Interior. Under the leadership of Myers, The Conservancy has worked tirelessly to conserve landscapes across California. Myers thanked the Sec­retary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who was present at the celebration and led a group of environmentalists and dignitaries on a seven mile-hike through the Whitewater Preserve the day prior...more

 The enviros put on a show to get the designation and then put on another show to celebrate their success.  Meanwhile, the rest of us watching the show are doing so from the farthest back seats or otherwise from afar.

Feds might deny oil, gas leases to climate activist

The Bureau of Land Management has been auctioning off public land for oil and gas drilling for decades. But nothing could have prepared the agency for what's happening now in Utah. Nearly 100 climate activists disrupted a lease auction in Salt Lake City earlier this year, saying the United States needs to stop extracting oil and gas if it hopes to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The fireworks continued after the auction, when the environmental writer Terry Tempest Williams submitted bids for two oil and gas leases — covering more than 1,100 acres — that hadn't drawn any interest during the auction.  Williams wanted to make sure that no one could drill on those lands. She and her husband Brooke were willing to pay $2,500 out of their own pockets to make it happen. But the federal government might not let them. Three months after the auction, the Bureau of Land Management still hasn't decided whether to give Williams the leases she successfully bid on. Officials at the agency's Utah office are "seeking to clarify Ms. Williams' intent to exercise reasonable diligence in developing and producing the oil and gas leases she has offered to purchase," Ryan Sutherland, a spokesperson for the Utah office, said in an email last month...more

Florida home-grown beef to hit store shelves next January

A dozen Florida cattle ranchers have formed a new company that will market beef grown entirely in the Sunshine State. In the past, almost all cattle raised in Florida was sold and sent to feed lots in the Midwest to be fattened up before it was slaughtered. But the ranchers believe there is a strong demand for “grown in Florida” food. The Florida Cattle Ranchers company will send about 25,000 head of cattle to a feed lot in North Florida to be fattened up. That's possible because more corn is being grown in Florida. "It's very exciting to me because it's from one point from the beginning to the end,” said Dr. Robert Gukich. There will be a special label on the beef at the store. Customers will be able to scan a bar code with their cell phones. It will tell them where their beef was grown and how it was raised...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1612

Its Swingin' Monday and Alison Krauss & Union Station have taken one of my favorite Jimmie Rodgers tunes, Any Old Time, and added a nice bluesy, swing beat to it.  The Tune is on the 1997 CD The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers by various artists.

Swedish Govt Spends Millions Telling Citizens To Eat Insect “Meat” To End Climate Change

The Swedish government is showing their commitment to green principles and fighting climate change by spending tax payer money on developing ‘meat’ made out of crickets and mealworms. 
Vinnova, the Swedish government agency that distributes money for research and development, spending some 2.7 billion kronor (£230 million) a year has announced its latest tranche of funding for creating a greener, more sustainable future — by weaning Europe off meat. It is hoped people will want to eat a so-called “climate smart” diet instead, reports FriaTider. Green activists and the United Nations are behind such political initiatives as ‘Meat Free Mondays’ — a gateway to full vegetarianism — which are based on the premise that meat consumption is driving man-made climate change. Another method to reduce that so-called burden on the earth is replacing meat protein with that harvested from insects instead.  To that end, Vinnova is awarding half a million kronor each to fifteen different projects across the country, each of which tasked with creating an “edible prototype” of a new food. Among the mouth-watering projects being funded are an attempt to produce a “good and healthy product from mealworms which are fed on vegetable food scraps to become a climate friendly source of protein”, “food prototypes” made from “refined mealworms”, and mincemeat made out of “climate smart insects” such as crickets...more

I speculated on being an insect rancher here

And so it continues.  Please enjoy.

Woman says Yellowstone tourists put baby bison in their car because it was 'cold'

In clear violation of the 'Leave No Trace' policy, tourists at Yellowstone National Park picked up a baby bison and put it in their car, according to one woman. Karen Richardson of Victor, Idaho was visiting the scenic park last week when she saw a man and his son roll up to a ranger station with a baby bison in the back of their SUV. "They were demanding to speak with a ranger," Richardson told "They were seriously worried that the calf was freezing and dying." Bison have existed in the wild for millions of years but sure, that baby really needed human intervention. According to witnesses, the man was insistent that he was being helpful. Luckily, park rangers — who are actually helpful — took the baby bison back to where it was found and released it. No word on if the mother was waiting there to give the tourists a piece of her mind.  AP

Immigration offenders jam federal court in NM

Carlos Morales had been in jail five weeks when he faced U.S. Judge Robert Brack in federal court one morning. He was third in a line of about 20 men who would all be sentenced for a similar crime: illegal re-entry into the country following deportation.  Brack’s docket of immigration cases has ranked among the largest in the country. He sees about a dozen immigration cases a day, three days a week, every week. When Judge Kenneth Gonzales was appointed in 2013 to the court in Las Cruces, Brack said he assumed he would see his immigration caseload reduced. It stayed the same. Gonzales’ docket grew to nearly the size of Brack’s. Other federal judges, including from Albuquerque, began rotating into the court to help. Criminal felony immigration cases in New Mexico federal courts have increased 80 percent in five years to 3,749 in 2015 from 2,078 cases in 2011, according to U.S. court statistics compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Each of the five federal border districts handles immigration cases differently, and New Mexico takes the unusual approach of charging nearly 100 percent of re-entry cases as felonies and not allowing defendants to plea bargain down to a lesser charge. But sentences meted out in New Mexico tend to be shorter than in other districts. Which approach is more effective as a deterrent is still unclear; what is clear is that repeat deportees continue to fill federal court dockets. The Las Cruces court handles the vast majority of the district’s immigration cases. Brack alone sentenced about 1,800 cases last year; Gonzales saw about 1,600 cases, mostly immigration. Visiting judges, including Judge William “Chip” Johnson from Albuquerque, picked up another several hundred...more

64 Killed by Lightning In Two Days

More than 60 people have been killed by lightning over the past two days during tropical storms across Bangladesh, local media said Saturday. Most of the 64 lightning deaths since Thursday have occurred in rural Bangladesh, where farmers are busy with the current harvesting season, leading Bengali-language newspapers Prothom Alo and Samakal reported. The reports of casualties could not be verified independently, with lightning deaths not usually monitored by government agencies. Experts say increased deforestation and people's exposure to metal equipment like cellphones are the reasons behind lightning deaths in Bangladesh. AP

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Last man standing

by Julie Carter

The cowboy world is full of hired hands. Most who have lived in the cowboy world have either been one or hired one – or both. And, like everything else in the world, there are good ones, bad ones and those that fall somewhere in a category of “all the above.”

Skeet Becker was a bad cat cowboy with a reputation or two he’d sure enough earned. He was always available for day work, but only those desperate for help or who didn't know better would give him a call.

Skeet had been married any number of times -- both formally and informally. Even he didn't know for sure how many of either. If you ever happened to run into Skeet when he was all dressed up - that is, he had on a clean silk wild rag, he likely was on his way to get married.

He traditionally bought one pair of Wranglers and wore them until they were worn out. He didn't own a washing machine and didn't have time to go to a washateria. The other punchers knew to stay upwind from him when they worked cattle in the same vicinity.

Handling cattle slowly wasn’t in his resume. He liked to stir up the occasional wreck with the cattle so he could do some strategic roping. Known to drink a little, he mostly settled discussions with his fists and his reputation was to be a dirty fighter.

One of his many wives had previously been married to a very well-known professional boxer and she’d gotten a ranch in the divorce. This place had a swimming pool but no pens that were handy for the horses.

Skeet kept up a jingle horse that he’d use to drive his riding horses into the swimming pool beginning at the shallow end. Holding them in the deep end, he’d throw a houlihan over whichever horse he wanted at the time and lead it on out of the pool.

When he got tired of that wife, he threw her out of her own ranch and lived there forevermore.  She was happy to get out alive and no one, including the pro-fighter, was brave enough to evict Skeet. He put his brand up over the entrance gate and that was the end of it.

One guy told me that working with people like that is why they made cowboys quit wearing guns. I’ve often thought the same about working some particularly stupid cattle, but I can see his point.

Being on the boss end of the hired hand business can also be a little tricky.

One time the head honcho at a big feed yard, full of cattle at the time, had his entire cowboy crew come to work severely hung over. It was a cold, miserable Amarillo winter morning and the cowboys were lingering in the break room, hunkered down next to the stove.

Finally on his last nerve, he told them, “All you S.O.B.s either get out of here and go to work, or else go home.” Directly he found himself with 50,000 head of cattle standing in pens and not a cowboy in sight.

Mr. Last Man Standing was thinking he might have to rephrase his orders next time.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Sweatin’, Smokin’, Drinkin’, and Cussin’

Lessons Learned
Sweatin’, Smokin’, Drinkin’, and Cussin’
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            The silks are off.
            It’s too hot to wear them. The comfort of wearing them in the morning is just not warranted. I’ll find something to do in the pickup if it is too cool.
            My grandfather wore his all year. At least, I think he did. Winter was a sure deal and I saw enough hints of them in the summer that it makes me think he wore them then, too. The difference in his and mine is the material. I like silk and I know he wore only cotton. His options were fewer, but he wouldn’t have bought the more expensive silk. He was wired to be thrifty in everything. His choice, though, was probably more practical. The difference in the two is the bulk created. I don’t care for it.
            In the winter, mine provide light weight warmth. His provided warmth in winter and cooling in summer. People who have never experienced the evaporative cooling that comes along with sweating don’t understand its practicality. I prefer to rely on my long sleeved shirts without all the bulk.
            You have to sweat profusely to get the evaporative cooling started, but you can withstand high temperatures. I look at people who think they have to shed clothes and expose skin to be cool and it makes me shudder. I already have enough exposed, sun damaged skin. Adding sunburn to reduced cooling, and … it is no longer a picnic I’ll join.
            It’s branding time.
            It is a time I look forward to and dread. I look forward to the immensity of tradition. It was basic in the formulation of childhood impressions. It was a wondrous time to ride with the adults and work cattle under whatever conditions the day brought. As kids, we were expected to not just fill a spot but perform. Those grand old horses we rode weren’t the plugs we viewed them as then, but old campaigners who had long before served their time in the toughest situations and perfected their craft. They remained because they were trust worthy and solid. They took much better care of us than we ever realized.
            When we left the corral, we were expected to keep up. Our spur rowels rang just like the rest of the cowboys. We opened gates if it was our duty, and we rimmed out if our position in the drive required it. Two or more works and we became a necessary and legitimate part of the crew. Our presence was important.
            We filled important spots in every drive even though that usually meant riding drag. Riding drag makes a horseman out of every kid if he or she has the natural aptitude to learn to feel the horse.
We learned the skill it takes to pen cattle and the methods of how individual brandings proceeded. To save time (which was common), we wouldn’t sort anything. We’d start the juniper and oak fire, and, when the irons were hot, Grampa’ would start roping. He’d never miss the early loops, and most of them he’d just dab down there into unsuspecting calves without prompting any alarm. We had no idea then what we were witnessing. What I know now is that it took a master to keep calves at the fire like he did. With prior experience flanking, we’d go down the rope and flank the calves grabbing a left ear with our left hand and the right flank with our stronger arm.      
What I didn’t like about those brandings was the constant vigil we had to maintain to keep those horned Hereford cows off us. We’d be exposed, and too many of them would come right up there with us and their calves pawing the ground and slinging snot around.
“You boys stay right there with that calf,” he’d say as he coiled his rope and turned back into the herd without a hint of a cue to the horse. “That ol’ cow’s not going to bother you.”
In the midst of the noise and the confusion, there would be the smoke.
It was a wonderful combination of wood smoke from the fire, hand rolled cigarettes dangling from the lips of cowboys, and the burning of hair under hot irons. From sweet to acrid with dust mingled in to add flavor, the mix would fill the air. When the wind was right, it was only a background. As the day got hotter, the air heavy and still with the smell of concentrated cattle, horses, and men working, the blend would penetrate everything.
Today, there are fewer and fewer smokers and oak fires are nearly absent in our country, but I still look forward … to the smoke.
Grampa’ Wilmeth had an unwritten policy.
            Nobody drank (or ate) unless the same was offered to the horses. They always got first consideration. Crowding around a water trough was special. It could be a tight squeeze. The ranch horses would not hesitate as they pushed in and drank deep with some of them plunging their noses deep into the water. Then there’d be the horse or two that would commence rubbing on a bridle or playing in the water. We’d be expected to take care of that.
            It was also a time for gear to be inspected and discussed. Saddles would be points of discussion. Young cowboys would be brought into the discussion, patted on the shoulder or have a hat reset for a more refined look. It was a time of sharing the moment and the event in terms of equality.
            It was our time to drink, too.
We were taught to force drink on days of physical demands. I believe it was a self prescribed decision. I don’t remember anybody actually telling me to do it. Learning the lesson of being thirsty first hand was pretty powerful. I can remember standing in front Nana’s sink and drinking glasses of her cold well water.
            There was never alcohol around those corrals. Seldom was there tea which was the second most common daylight hour beverage around that domain. The sports drinks were not even invented and soft drinks were something only experienced during a town visit or at some get together. Water was the drink, and it was largely from the source feeding the trough where the horses crowded.
            There were various community containers from which to drink. Cans, several cups, or straight out of the discharge from the windmill or the pump were the options. In rare occasions, perhaps a canvas water bag was available. They would be hung on the front of a pickup or under a shade, but what pleasurable experiences those were to drink water cooled by evaporation on hot days. There was a different odor to the water, but the coolness offset any suggestion of unpleasant odor.
            Seldom did my grandfather ever drink, but others would drink. They’d do so with long, deep drafts. We now know about hydrating, but in those times it was done on the basis of knowing the next drink might not be available for a long time.
            Iced tea, milk, and coffee might take precedence when meals were served, but water was the basis of working in the heat. I can remember as a child wondering if there were people who didn’t like water. There were lots of people who wouldn’t eat this or that, but … I had never met one that wouldn’t drink water.
            Too many words used today in conversation are appalling.
            Sure, there was color applied around cow work, but not the vulgarity we hear now. Grampa’ wouldn’t put up with it. In the Fred Ramsey book, These were my People, the continued reference to the “boss” was my grandfather. He was a stern taskmaster who accepted nothing out of sorts and that included cussin’.
There is a great story about him years ago at a rodeo in Silver City. There was a fellow in the crowd using foul language. The profanity continued with the crowd of families and elders becoming more embarrassed. Grampa’ never said a thing, but got up and made his way down to the man. He grabbed his straw hat and jammed it down breaking it around the crown and the brim and shoving the brim down around his shoulders. The force of the action stunned the fellow. Grampa’ then whispered something to the man who got up and staggered out of the grandstand. The crowd applauded.
            I didn’t see it since it took place before I came along, but I can imagine the look on my grandfather’s face. There was likely not a hint of anything just those blue eyes exploding. That was enough in itself to remind you of certain boundaries.
            We didn’t cuss … we learned to describe our surroundings in acceptable English.

            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Proper lessons learned are more important today than ever.”

Baxter Black - The Story of Little Chip

Most of us, rural or urban can get attached to an animal. Our barn cat Jay Jay has a special place in my mind. Somebody dumped a litter of kittens on the church grounds. I took three of the little tomcats. We got them situated and when the time came I castrated them in the tack room.

Within six months only one was left. The others had been victims of coyotes or other predators that fly, crawl, slither or pounce. Jay Jay staked his claim and learned to move around the corrals and outbuildings “up high”. He travels from the shop to the tack room on the rock walls, pole fence, shed roofs, cross beams, feeders and hay stacks. During his reign our leather tack has remained free of pack rat damage.

As a lad I had many dogs, cats and horses that still remain in my mind.  Our neighbors weren’t farmers but they, too, had a string of pets, real and unreal.  Young Ty expanded on his herd by adding turtles, gerbils, canaries, fish, reptiles and an invisible pet named Chip. The family didn’t have any photos of Chip but he became a real part of the family. And it was fun for all of them to pretend.

“How’s Chip this morning?” they would ask Ty, five years old at the time, “Did he eat his breakfast?”
Ty would solemnly recite how Chip was feeling, i.e., …he slept okay but the dogs’ barking woke him up. And he doesn’t want Grape Nuts ‘cause they stick in his teeth, he wants to go for a walk and see the crawdads in the ditch…”

It was humorous and touching how Ty took care of Chip and the family played along. But his invisible pet began to complicate things. When they drove to town, Chip had to have his own baby seat, complete with seat belts. Taking Chip into the restaurant required a high chair.

The family began to worry that Ty’s little invisible friend would eventually divert his embryonic cerebrum to the point where the human instincts meld into virtual reality. Is he dreaming when he’s awake or dreaming when he’s asleep?

There came a point when they began to take it seriously. It happened when Dad walked across the wood floor, slipped and fell on his elbow! Ty started scolding Chip while simultaneously rubbing the floor with a paper towel.  “Sawy Dad,” he said, “I’m twaining him but he dint make it to da poddy. Sawy.”