Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Ramona Morrison Replies

Concerning my post of the article BLM made serious mistake with show of force at Nevada standoff retired agency officials say , Ramona Morrison wrote:

Fascinating rewriting of history by two former BLM Officials. Here is my response to the Author:
“In your Bundy article quoting Ford and Abby, you might want to investigate Clark County, NV BLM land auctions and Abby and Ford’s connection to them, including settled lawsuits. In addition, for those horrified with 200 armed federal bureaucrats surrounding the Bundy family, prior to protestors showing up, to gather cows, you need look no further than Bob Abby for the blue print and MO. The differences were the scale of the operation, Abby never had a court order, and he never raided a ranch right next to a major freeway, i.e. witnesses.”

For at least part of what Ramona is referring to, see  
Former BLM chief pushed deal favoring his future firm -- IG  Former Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey was "personally and substantially" involved in the sale of federal lands in Nevada that would have earned his future consulting firm $528,000, in violation of an ethics pledge he signed, the Interior Department Office of Inspector General said in a report released today. The report also concluded that Mike Ford, a consultant and former BLM employee who was Abbey's business partner before and after Abbey's tenure as BLM director, leveraged his connections to agency leadership to gain insider knowledge of the land sale and expedite its approval. The joint investigation by the IG and FBI was requested by former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Interior's solicitor and former House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.)...

Enviros unhappy with Bundy Trial result, 'Trump is coddling violent zealots; 'Bundy is still an outlaw'; 'Public is being robbed'

I don't normally enjoy reading press releases from environmental orgs. But I'll have to admit, I experienced some type of gleeful joy in reading this from the Western Watersheds Project

 “Bundy is still an outlaw when it comes to his grazing actions, and the prosecutorial failings in the Bunkerville case do not excuse him from the decades of unauthorized livestock trespass on our public lands,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project. “BLM needs to enforce the law and remove his cattle, which are destroying habitat for threatened species.”

 “The Trump administration is coddling violent zealots and preventing the public from feeling safe to enjoy our new national monument,” said Patrick Donnelly, the Center for Biological Diversity’s Nevada state director. “Zinke needs to stop this illegal grazing, which amounts to theft from the American people and future generations. Our government can’t allow Bundy to claim our protected public lands as his personal empire and defend his theft with force and intimidation.”

 “Nothing in yesterday’s ruling absolves BLM of its duty to protect public lands on behalf of the American people. BLM must remove Bundy’s trespassing cattle,” said Chris Krupp of WildEarth Guardians. “We will continue to call for the roundup of Bundy’s cattle until BLM meets its obligation.”

 “The feds shouldn’t avoid the chance now to ensure that some justice is served to the American public that is being robbed by this family. Gold Butte and the desert tortoise still deserve protection,” said Kirsten Stade of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

And here are some others

"This is a very sad day for America's public lands," said Peter Walker, a University of Oregon geography professor who studies the social and political environmental aspects of the American West and is writing a book on the Bundy family's conflicts with the federal government.

"This court decision will cause every person who agrees with the Bundy ideology to believe they can threaten federal employees on public land with firearms and pay no cost," Walker said

The Center for Western Priorities, a conservation and advocacy group, said the outcome “should send a chill down the spines of anyone who values our parks, wildlife refuges, and all public lands.”.

“My organization has been following the Bundys and their criminal activity for 10 years,” Patrick Donnelly, Nevada state director for the Center for Biological Diversity said. “We are absolutely outraged at the incompetence of the prosecutors and the department of justice in handling this case. There is clear evidence that laws were violated by the Bundys and the militia that they roused.”

The most egregious is the one by Peter Walker saying the ranchers would "pay no cost." LaVoy Finicum is dead and Cliven Bundy spent 700 days in jail based on lies by the U.S. Attorney. I would say those are pretty high costs.

I also find it disconcerting not a one expressed concern about the prosecutorial abuses.

Shame on me, though, cuz I still get a certain pleasure reading of those quotes.

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Our selection today is Hank Thompson's 1956 recording of The Blackboard of My Heart


Monday, January 15, 2018

BLM made serious mistake with show of force at Nevada standoff, retired agency officials say

By Maxine Bernstein

Cliven Bundy and his two sons have repeatedly denounced the massive buildup of armed tactical officers, surreptitious surveillance and use of stun guns and police dogs near the family's Nevada ranch in the days leading up to the 2014 federal roundup of their cattle. Now two retired high-level managers with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management are condemning their agency's militarized show of force during that operation. Their criticism underscores deep divisions over how the government handled the case from the beginning all the way up to last week's remarkable dismissal of federal charges against the Bundys...The presence of more than 100 federal law enforcement officers was a highly unusual tactic to corral cattle. Many dressed in camouflage and carried rifles. Some took up sniper positions at observation posts near the Bundy ranch. "It was a strategy that certainly was a poor one,'' said Robert Abbey, who served 30 years with the bureau, including eight years as its Nevada state director and then his final three years as national director through 2012. "In hindsight, the agency knew or should have known better.'' Land resource managers or range conservationists traditionally run the roundups of trespassing cattle in eastern Oregon or Nevada with the help of local sheriff's deputies, said Abbey and Mike Ford, who retired in 1999 as the land bureau's Nevada deputy director. "It was never a law enforcement action in the BLM I grew up in,'' said Ford, who worked in the agency for 25 years. "For whatever reason, the BLM elected to turn this Bundy situation into a 100 percent law enforcement operation. That in my opinion was a grievous error. This entire operation was handled poorly from the beginning.''...The Bureau of Land Management brought in the FBI for back-up after then-Sheriff Doug Gillespie had the Las Vegas Metro Police Department pull out before early April 2014. The sheriff was concerned about the timing of the impound during the spring when cows were having calves and the failure of the BLM to heed his advice to wait...If the bureau moves in again to impound the cattle, local authorities must play an active role from the start -- but as support, not leaders, Ford said. That should include the county sheriff, the state of Nevada, the Nevada Cattlemen's Association and perhaps county commissioners and local government "that Bundy purports to recognize,'' he said...more

This case raises so many questions, and I'm pleased to see that Congressmen Bishop and Westerman have initiated  an inquiry. Perhaps this is just a first step, but I'm not convinced asking BLM to assess it's own actions, identify problems and propose solutions, will provide the public or Congress with sufficient information to fully analyze what happened and why. Until we have a complete picture of who did what and when, any proposed changes in policy or procedure would suffer. Here are some things Congress should be pursuing.

° There should be an inventory of BLM law enforcement assets. First of course, would be the number and type of personnel, and an examination of their authority, including the statutory authority for their classification. Also, an inventory of the number and type of weapons, the number and type of vehicles, the number of aircraft, including drones (owned or leased), the amount and types of ammo, the number of attack dogs or other tools and equipment in BLM's possession.

° A complete list of the personnel and their agency which were involved in the Bundy ranch operations (to include NPS, FBI and all federal agencies).

° A complete list of assets that were deployed for the Bundy operation by all agencies. 

° A thorough review of all memos, emails, phone logs, notes, etc. to determine what factors and alternatives were considered prior to undertaking the operation

° A thorough review of all memos, emails, phone logs, notes, etc. to determine who made the final decision to undertake the operation as a law enforcement effort and who made the decision to continue the operation by bringing in the FBI after the Clark County Sheriff withdrew his officers

° A thorough review of all memos, emails, phone logs, notes, etc.. to determine who, and on what basis, made the decision to stand down.

° A thorough review of all post-operation memos, emails, phone logs, notes, etc. to determine who was responsible for providing agency documents to the U.S. Attorney's office, and any issues related to the prosecution of the case.

° A complete explanation of the authority and role played by BLM management and line officers and the same for the DOI Office of Law Enforcement and Security (OLES), and how those dynamics played out prior to and during the operation.

° An explanation and analysis of why BLM refuses to comply with state law on trespass the way other landowners do, so that the confiscation and disposal of livestock is accomplished by state officials.

I'm sure others will have additional items, but these are my preliminary thoughts. I would welcome comments or other ideas, keeping in mind the January 24th date of the Congressional staff briefing.

Again, for the public to have meaningful input, we must first have a complete understanding of all that occurred during the operation. Only then could we make reasonable recommendations for change.

Perspectives: Things the media may have missed while covering the Bundy case

Bryan Hyde

It was fascinating to watch Navarro’s growing recognition of just how badly the prosecution had been violating the rules that govern due process. When she outlined her reasons for dismissing the case last week, Navarro called out the government’s flagrant misconduct in no uncertain terms. When she announced that a “universal sense of justice has been violated,” it was clear that the truth had finally triumphed. I don’t know what might have changed in Navarro’s understanding or within her heart since the previous two trials, but I’m grateful she took the approach she did. It’s no secret that throughout the trial, the Bundy family had consistently called upon their supporters to pray for Navarro as well as other members of the government’s team that their hearts would be softened. Before entering the courtroom last Monday, Ryan Bundy led those waiting in the hallway in a heartfelt prayer. In his prayer, Bundy specifically prayed for Navarro – for her well-being and for her to be guided in her understanding. As Navarro later explained the relevant precedents and case law that supported her decision to dismiss with prejudice, I’m certain she saw many heads bowed in prayer in her courtroom. When her decision was announced, the celebration that swept through the courtroom was mostly silent tears of joy with occasional whispers of “thank you, God” and “praise God.” This reaction underscores a powerful spiritual dynamic that has been ever-present from the very beginning of this saga, though rarely reported on or understood by the public generally. The Bundys have placed their trust in God from the start. I can sympathize with those who would dismiss such things because they haven’t experienced them personally. If I had not seen and experienced them firsthand for myself, I would be inclined to doubt as well. The difficulties and pain of the past couple of years have not broken this family. They have become stronger in every way. Their faith in God has been strengthened, not diminished, by their suffering. Their marriages and family ties have been forged in the fires of hardship. The intense heat and pressure directed at them has served to refine them like diamonds. They are battle-hardened but not bitter or hateful. When they speak, the Bundys still speak with love but also with the conviction of people who genuinely have skin in the game and who have been willing to suffer for their beliefs. Armchair quarterbacks simply don’t have that kind of credibility...more

Fed's misconduct in Cliven Bundy case stems from Ruby Ridge

James Bovard

Federal judge Gloria Navarro slammed the FBI and Justice Department on Monday, Jan. 8, for “outrageous” abuses and “flagrant misconduct” in the prosecution of Cliven Bundy and sons, the Nevada ranchers who spurred a high-profile standoff with the FBI and Bureau of Land Management in 2014. Navarro condemned the "grossly shocking” withholding of evidence from defense counsel in a case that could have landed the Bundys in prison for the rest of their lives. Navarro, who had declared a mistrial last month, dismissed all charges against the Bundys.
Navarro was especially riled because the FBI spent three years covering up or lying about the role of their snipers in the 2014 standoff. The Bundys faced conspiracy charges because they summoned militia to defend them after claiming FBI snipers had surrounded their ranch. Justice Department lawyers scoffed at this claim but newly-released documents vindicate the BundysIn an interview Saturday, Ammon Bundy reviled the feds: “They basically came to kill our family, they surrounded us with snipers. And then they wanted to lie about it all like none of it happened."
Many of the heavily-armed activists who flocked to the scene feared that the FBI snipers had a license to kill the Bundys. Their reaction cannot be understood without considering a landmark 1990s case that continues to shape millions of Americans’ attitude towards Washington: the federal killings and coverups at Ruby Ridge.
Randy Weaver and his family lived in an isolated cabin in the mountains of northern Idaho. Weaver was a white separatist who believed races should live apart; he had no record of violence against other races — or anyone else. An undercover federal agent entrapped him into selling a sawed-off shotgun. The feds then sought to pressure Weaver to become an informant but he refused.
After Weaver was sent the wrong court date and failed to show up, the feds launched a vendetta. Idaho lawyer David Nevin noted that U.S.:
“Marshals called in military aerial reconnaissance and had photos studied by the Defense Mapping Agency. They prowled the woods around Weaver’s cabin with night-vision equipment. They had psychological profiles performed and installed $130,000 worth of long-range solar-powered spy cameras. … They even knew the menstrual cycle of Weaver’s teenage daughter, and planned an arrest scenario around it.”
On August 21, 1992, six camouflaged U.S. Marshals carrying machine guns trespassed onto the Weavers’ property. Three marshals circled close to the Weaver cabin and killed one of their dogs. A firefight ensued and 14-year old Sammy Weaver was shot in the back and killed as he was leaving the scene. Kevin Harris, a family friend, responded by fatally shooting a federal marshal who had fired seven shots in the melee.
The next day, the FBI sent in its Hostage Rescue Team snipers with orders to shoot to kill any adult male outside the Weaver cabin. A federal appeals court ruling later noted that:
“FBI agents formulated rules of engagement that permitted their colleagues to hide in the bushes and gun down men who posed no immediate threat. Such wartime rules are patently unconstitutional for a police action.”
FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi shot Randy Weaver in the back after he stepped out of his cabin, wounding him. Horiuchi then shot and killed Vicki Weaver standing in the cabin door holding their 10-month old baby. A confidential 1994 Justice Department task force report concluded:
“The absence of a (surrender demand) subjected the Government to charges that it was setting Weaver up for attack.”
 Weaver and Harris surrendered after an 11-day siege. At their 1993 trial, federal prosecutors asserted that Weaver long conspired to have an armed confrontation with the government. The feds bizarrely asserted that moving from Iowa to a spot near the Canadian border in 1985 was part of Weaver’s plot. After an Idaho jury largely exonerated the defendants, federal judge Edward Lodge slammed DOJ and FBI misconduct and fabrication of evidence in the case.
Regardless of the judge’s condemnation, FBI chief Louis Freeh in 1995 exonerated the FBI for its actions at Ruby Ridge. That year, after I slammed Freeh’s whitewash in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, Freeh denounced my “inflammatory and unfounded allegations.” Five months later, I snared a confidential 542-page Justice Department report on Ruby Ridge, excerpting its damning findings in a Wall Street Journal piece. The coverup unraveled and the feds paid the Weaver family $3.1 million to settle their wrongful-death lawsuit. A top FBI official was sent to prison for destroying key evidence
But the FBI sniper who killed Vicki Weaver never faced justice. When Boundary County, Idaho, sought to prosecute Horiuchi in 1998, the Clinton administration invoked the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution (which blocks local and state governments from challenging federal power) to torpedo their lawsuit. Solicitor General Seth Waxman absolved the sniper because “federal law-enforcement officials are privileged to do what would otherwise be unlawful if done by a private citizen.”
While that claim may sway federal judges, it often fails to charm jurors. A Justice Department brief in the Bundy case revealed that prosecutors dreaded jury nullification — “not guilty” verdicts due to government abuses. That specter spurred prosecutors to withhold key evidence from both the court and the defense counsel, resulting in a mistrial and dismissal of charges.
Judge Navarro rightly declared that “a universal sense of justice has been violated” by federal misconduct in the Bundy trial. Americans’ trust in the FBI and Justice Department will not be restored until those agencies are compelled to obey the law and the Constitution. Until that happens, federal prosecutors should continue fearing verdicts from Americans who refuse to convict those whom the feds wrongfully vilify.
James Bovard is a USA Today columnist and the author of 10 books, including “Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty” (St. Martin’s Press, 1994).

These Birds of Prey Are Deliberately Setting Forests on Fire

A new study incorporating traditional Indigenous Australian ecological knowledge describes the largely unknown behaviour of so-called 'firehawk raptors' – birds that intentionally spread fire by wielding burning sticks in their talons and beaks. These flying firestarters are spread across at least three known species – the Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus), and Brown Falcon (Falco berigora) – but while their hell-raising may be observed in Indigenous knowledge, that's not so elsewhere. "Though Aboriginal rangers and others who deal with bushfires take into account the risks posed by raptors that cause controlled burns to jump across firebreaks, official skepticism about the reality of avian fire-spreading hampers effective planning for landscape management and restoration," the international team explains in their paper. While news of aerial arsonists fire-bombing the landscape may seem surprising or even shocking, the researchers are eager to emphasise that this destructive phenomenon has actually been witnessed for untold millennia. "We're not discovering anything," one of the team, geographer Mark Bonta from Penn State Altoona, told National Geographic. "Most of the data that we've worked with is collaborative with Aboriginal peoples… They've known this for probably 40,000 years or more." According to the team, firehawk raptors congregate in hundreds along burning fire fronts, where they will fly into active fires to pick up smouldering sticks, transporting them up to a kilometre (0.6 miles) away to regions the flames have not yet scorched. "The imputed intent of raptors is to spread fire to unburned locations – for example, the far side of a watercourse, road, or artificial break created by firefighters – to flush out prey via flames or smoke," the researchers write. This behaviour, documented in interviews with the team and observed first-hand by some of the researchers, sees prey driven toward the raptors by a wall of flame, enabling them to engage in a feeding frenzy upon fleeing or scorched land animals...more

Also repoerted in Live Science 

Question: Would the BLM brand  these birds as terrorists, like they did with the Hammonds?
See Hammond Family: Ranchers or Terrorists
The Case for Civil Disobedience in Oregon
Editorial - Justice not served in Hammond case

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Its Swingin' Monday and we bring you Pins and Needles by the bluegrass group The Whites. The tune is on their 1984 album Forever You.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Where's Hollywood's Apology For Donating To The Clintons While Ignoring Sex Abuse Allegations Against Them?

In President Donald Trump era, Hollywood has become more political and less entertaining, while Washington, D.C., has become more entertaining and less political. The theme of this year's Golden Globes awards show was "Time's Up," the movement to salute the women who have come forward to tell their stories of sexual abuse, assault or harassment in the workplace.

Actress Reese Witherspoon said, "I want to thank everyone who broke their silence this year and spoke up about abuse and harassment. You are so brave. ... So people out there who are feeling silenced by harassment, discrimination, abuse: Time is up. We see you, we hear you, and we will tell your stories."

But for years women have publicly told their stories of sexual abuse and rape by Bill Clinton. One alleged rape survivor, Juanita Broaddrick, claims that Hillary Clinton attempted to verbally threaten her into silence about two weeks after Broaddrick's alleged rape by Bill Clinton. The Hollywood community raised millions of dollars for the Clintons, despite Broaddrick's accusation and the accusations of sexual harassment and battery by Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey. It's hard to get much more public than telling your story on "60 Minutes" and "Dateline NBC," as did Willey and Broaddrick, respectively. Yet this did not disturb the Hollywood community.

Nor is the "Time's Up" Hollywood community bothered by how it treats conservative females. HBO's Bill Maher, who contributed $1 million to a Democratic super political action committee, called former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin both the C-word and a "dumb t---" (a derisive slang word for female genitalia). He also referred to Palin and former Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who ran as a Republican presidential candidate in 2012, as "two bimbos." If any guests, female or male, canceled appearances or refused to appear on Maher's show until he apologized for his vulgar insults of conservative woman, it did not make news.

In three hours of the Golden Globes' celebration of the empowerment of women, neither host Seth Meyers nor Oprah Winfrey, who was given a special award for "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment," nor any presenter or winner found time to say something, anything, about the abuse and oppression of women in the Muslim and Arab world. Not one word.

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy (revisited)

Resolving to be inspired 

By Julie Carter 

It is that time of year again. People are talking about resolutions and a better year ahead.

I haven't ever figured out why the change of a particular month, day or year is supposed to magically motivate you to be a better person and make life run smoother. 

If that is the case, then I would pick June 30 or Sept. 1. The weather is much better for parties, barbecues and other celebratory events. 

I have learned that my resolve for anything is never based on the calendar but more often grounded in something that inspires me. 

Inspiration moves body, mind, spirit and soul but resolve often gets no further than making a promise soon to be forgotten. 

So on Jan. 1 when you've risen early, jogged a mile, even if it's in segments between the coffee pot and the easy chair, sworn that as soon as you catch your breath you'll eat something healthy and begin your journey to a better 2006, let me give you something to inspire you. It did me. 

This week I met a couple that didn't have any idea they were inspiring anyone. They are just who they are, a cowboy and a lady. What you see is what you get, on all levels.

He shoes horses for a living. Now before you shrug and say, "Okay, so what?" let me say, he will soon be 72 years old. 

Life as a "farrier" is hard back-breaking work and I know men who would like to give that job up a good 20 years sooner than this cowboy has. 

If you want a "what it is like" simulation exercise for that job, bend over and lift up one end of your biggest sofa and peer underneath it for ten minutes without letting it down. 

Then for a little more realism, have a child jump up and down on it while you try to hold it up. Do this at all four corners without a lengthy pause in between and you'll get the picture. Now do that 10-15 times a day and see how you feel at sundown. 

This obviously tough cowboy said he has cut back some from his prior years of long days and hundreds of miles. He now tries to only do five horses a day. 

Folks, that's inspiration to be able to "cut back" to more physical work than many of us do in a week. 

He used to do most of his work at the racetracks. He no longer does that but he does still shoe racehorses for owners at the training farms. 

So not only is he still shoeing horses, he is shoeing horses that are hot blooded, eating hot feed and with temperaments that are not always complimentary to the equine species.

This isn't the same as putting iron on the bottom of ole Dobbin's hooves.

In the interest of manners, I didn't ask the age of his wife, but this gal is one of those country ladies that is timelessly classy. I watched with envy as she waltzed around the party in double criss-cross strapped three-inch stilettos like runway modeling was her other profession. 

To offset that visual, I marveled at her delight in receiving a new shotgun for Christmas so she could shoot rattlesnakes at the ranch. 

I'm inspired. I know if I work a little harder at life I can be like that when I grow up.

Now I'm off to lift the sofa (or maybe just the rug next to it) and clean my shotgun. 

Happy New Year!

Copyright Julie Carter 2006

Bryan’s Song

Of Miles and Time
Bryan’s Song
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            I remember the day he was born.
            Uncle Bill and I were plowing the field around the Indian ruins. I was just a little kid settled comfortably in my spot between the seat and the left fender on the Allis Chalmers. I was there when my uncle needed me. One of my jobs was to help pull the trip release on the 2-way rollover plow. Anybody with any sense knew that was important.
 It was with that frame of reference that things crashed to a halt when Nana drove up and yelled that Aunt Judy was in labor.
“Oh, I’ve gotta’ go!” was my uncle’s response.
“Can’t you go later or even tomorrow?” was my thought if it didn’t actually come out of my mouth. “Why do you have to go at all?”
Things would never be quite the same.
Of Miles and Time
This has been a hard week.
Uncle Bill called me and told me Bryan passed away. That little baby that was born that day long ago has gone on before us. His life was not easy and, yet, he made little pretense about all the terrible things resulting from diabetes. He was diagnosed at age eight and for the next 50 years he fought it valiantly. Along the way, he experienced all the classic cruelties of its torment to his body. His sight was impaired. Through the reduction of circulation, his extremities were ravaged. And, then, a generation ago, his kidneys ceased to function, and he was put on a transplant list.
He received that gift along with a functioning pancreas in 1996. The doctors in Denver told him he would have ten years if rejection could be controlled. Our only witness to the difficulties living with that sentence was watching him lay out the handful of pills he had to take every time he ate. Never complaining, he had little sympathy for any short term, mundane dilemmas.
When our youngest daughter was retiring her California State Officer FFA jacket in April 1997, she asked him to be present for her farewell address and convention ceremony. His health continued to be a problem and he was unable to make the trip. Instead, he surprised her with a video, and it was shown to the assembled association as the proxy for his presence and the ceremonial removal and acceptance of her jacket. Others will remember segments of his message, but the lasting memory I have was his urging for her to reach for a star.
She was overwhelmed.
Bryan’s Song
We are in Colorado Springs today for Bryan’s memorial.
The significance, of course, is to pay respects to the passage of time and miles of his life through the relationship we all had with him. It will be difficult for everybody particularly for Aunt Judy and Uncle Bill, but there will be an assemblage of friends and family to make the transition more manageable.
It will also have a wondrous undertone and that is the 22nd anniversary of his transplant. He stretched that ten years of window to 22. Everybody should take heart of such hope through medical miracles. It has been given to all of us not just those who struggle with such terrible, debilitating diseases. Bryan symbolizes that gift.
At the time of that day on the tractor, the gift of family was mostly taken for granted. At least it was in my case. I think we had lost only two great grandparents by that time (both of whom I had seen and still remember), but several more were still living as well as all sets of grandparents.
Such a blessing that was.
The basis of our foundation was family, and that started with fellowship. It took place around the kitchen table on Bell Canyon just west from the irrigation ditch in a network of support, and the outward demonstration was our grandparents’ love. Since then, every time we were together we talked about memories, stories, and laughter of events we shared.
An example is we didn’t pass biscuits. We tossed biscuits. When somebody needed one, a trip to the open oven was in order and a query was sounded.
“Who needs a biscuit?” and it was tossed to the respondent with the expectation that it would be caught regardless of how hot it was.
Bryan caught those biscuits just like everybody else. Together, we share that in a capsulated bond with nobody else. It was a snippet of our time, our lives, our family, and our closed world.
It is ours for the ages to come.
This news all came during a dreaded birthday week.
Flippancy could be offered that years don’t matter, but they do! I’ve even taken to doing exercises, so I don’t look like an old man getting horseback. I’ve also practiced stepping to the ground when a horse reaches his last step, but that is getting harder and harder especially when I find myself stumbling around like a drunk trying to get my balance in the process.
I’ve got a grandson, though, and he is going to get his fill of me. We have him mounted on a horse that seems to fit. He also knows to take his hat off when he goes into the house as a continuing, generational demand from his Nana whom he knows only though our words.
When it comes to shear will and toughness, though, it will be recounted to him through our memory of the best model. He will be told that toughness must be accompanied by humility and grace. There will be a name in that lesson.
He will be told Bryan Rice was one tough, gracious human being, and … we miss him.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Lord, God we lift up this star to you … the son of Peter, the son of Lee, the son of Carl and the son of William.”

Baxter Black: Braymer Bait

I started out in the cattle business south of the Little Ear Parallel. That line that runs approximately from Fresno to Atlanta. South of that imaginary boundary cattle with 'a little ear' do real well. Braymer and braymer cross is what we're talkin' here.
They differ from the European breeds in several ways, particularly in their resistance to hot weather and bugs. But they differ in another important trait which affects the way you handle them. They are not afraid of human beings.
Oh, they'll give us a wide berth given a choice but they adjust very quickly to the company of men as long as you don't stir 'em up. Which explains why Zebu and not Charlois are worshipped in India. But start messin' with a Santa Gertrudis calf and you better be lookin' over your shoulder. Or pushin' a sick braymer…he's liable to charge your horse.
As a young stupid youth I worked in the feedlots in the southwest. We fed lots of braymers. They arrived right out of the swamp or piney woods, or off the desert and soon adjusted to life at the bunk. But they were not very good patients at the doctor shack. 'Specially after they got to weighin' six or seven hundred pounds.
In spite of my counseling, they got real testy about goin' through the squeeze chute for a little needle and bolus therapy. I can remember many occasions acting as braymer bait. They'd get on the fight and one of us would stand in the gate waving like a shipwrecked sailor, trying to entice them out of the pen. Even when sick, they were fast and I've had more than my share of snot on my shirt tail.
Rick said he was attempting to drive a braymer cross cow to the corral. It was hot that spring in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. He'd pushed the ol' darlin' within half a mile of the pen when she sulled up and got on the fight. In a moment of brilliance…he roped her. She kept chargin' but he held his dally 'til they came to a standstill.
He managed to get Joe's attention. Joe climbed out of the pickup near the corral where he's been waiting and walked to Rick. The ol' cow snorted and charged Joe!
Joe lit out for the pickup. "Run to the corral!" yelled Rick, spurrin' up behind the cow, holdin' her like a Doberman on a leash.

Lee Pitts: In Theory

I used to have this theory, now debunked, that postulated that if you added up the IQ of a person with the IQ of their dog the total would be exactly the same in every case. For example, if you add up the IQ of a sheepherder with that of their Border Collie the total would be the same as if you added up the IQ of a smart lady and her Pekingnese purse dog or Dandie Dinmont. A breed, by the way, that missed the meeting where brains were handed out. If the Border Collie is the Albert Einstein of the dog world then the Dandy Dinmont is Curly of Three Stooges fame.
I developed this theory mostly because my highly intelligent grandmother had the dumbest dog on earth, a Chihuahua that bit me above eye when I was a kid. My theory was debunked however when my smart friends Shanny and Dustin started breeding Border Collies.
One of the problems with my theory was I could not put an accurate number on the IQ of dogs. About the closest thing we have for an IQ test for dogs was developed by Stanley Cohen who wrote the book, "The Intelligence of Dogs". In trying to quantify the intelligence of dogs Stanley found he only had to repeat a command five times and 95 percent of the smartest dogs would get the message. But with the dumbest dogs he had to repeat a command 80 to 100 times and even then only 25 percent of the stupid dogs would get the message. Interestingly, I've performed the same test on teenagers and got the same results.
After further experimentation I found that my theory works on some species but not on others. For example, it works with dairymen and their cows because dairymen are highly intelligent, yet the cattle they raise are dumber than a doorknob. Holsteins don't recognize their own offspring at birth and their life consists of making the same walk to the same spot in the same milking parlor two or three times a day and they do this without protest or variation until they have nothing left to give and are sent to the butcher.
Compare their boring lives to that of PRCA or PBR bucking bulls who live like rock stars, eat the best food, stay in the best accommodations and see the world and all they have to do is buck eight seconds every few days. Talk about smart cattle! Yet the folks who own them are smart too. I can only deduce that my theory doesn't hold true with beef cattle. Without starting a breed war, I'd say the smartest cattle I've ever raised were five purebred Brahma bulls I raised from calves. I swear, they knew what I was going to do before I did. If there was a MENSA for cattle it would be filled with Brahma cattle. According to my theory Brahma breeders should be dumber than a watermelon but I've found them to be amongst the smartest of us all.
My theory also falls apart when you consider the renegade cattle of the southwest who are able to hide from cowboys every year come roundup time. Talk about sneaky smart! If they had fingers they could beat me in a game of chess or checkers. Almost invariably these southwest mavericks have a little Brahma or Longhorn blood, two of the brainer breeds of cattle. Theoretically, that means the cattlemen who own them should be dumber than a post but that's definitely not the case. Anyone who can make a living and thrive in America's great southwest has to be highly intelligent to even survive, let alone prosper. Going all the way back to Charles Goodnight, John Chisum and Oliver Loving the southwest has always been home to intelligent cattle and cattlemen.

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Our gospel tune today is When The Darkest Hours Pass by Jann Browne. The tune is on her 1994 CD Count Me In.