Sunday, May 28, 2017

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Getting the lessons

by Julie Carter

As was common in those days, Bill was one of those young men who struck out to make his name in the cowboy world as a teenager. It was 1948.

At only 14, Bill spent the summer away from his Colorado home cowboying on a ranch in the Davis Mountains in Texas.  When he arrived, the heavy summer rains were beginning to fill a large manmade lake at the ranch. The cow boss, Charlie Greer, was worried that it may wash out. He kept a close watch on the water level.

Bill and another young cowboy, Slim Benson, came by the lake about four one afternoon on their way to the headquarters five miles beyond.  They ate a late dinner, hungry as the pups they were. As they finished their meal, Charlie Greer walked in and both boys cowered. To them Greer was the meanest son of gun they knew and they were both scared to death of him.

Greer spoke. “Bill, how much does the water level have to rise in the lake before it starts to run out the spillway?”

Bill, feeling like a big dumb kid, turned to his partner and said, “Oh I don’t know, what do you think Slim?”

Charlie Greer got right in Bill’s face and shouted, “If I had wanted Slim’s opinion, I would have asked him. If you don’t know, you get your butt back on your horse and trot back down there and find out. And you damn well better not come back until you find out.”

Bill saddled up and rode the five miles back to the lake, made his calculations and trotted back to headquarters. He made his report to Greer sometime after 10 pm and long after dark.

Lesson learned.

Whenever a new hand showed up at the ranch he was given an assigned string of horses to ride. That cowboy had to ride them no matter if they were sorry, bucked or were just plain dumb. The cowboys were allowed to trade horses with each other if they wanted.

Charlie Greer rode the best horses since he was the boss. He had one horse called Rocky that Bill thought was the best horse he’d ever seen.  His mouth watered every time Charlie rode Rocky. Bill really wanted him in his string.

One day later in the summer Greer said to Bill, “Would you trade me Jughead for Rocky?” Now Bill knew Jughead was the dumbest horse ever born but he knew he’d trade any horse he had, real quick, for chance at Rocky.

The next morning Bill rode Rocky and he was everything he thought he might be. He was one happy cowboy. The following morning when the remuda came in, he saw that Rocky had a big swelled up place on both sides of his withers. He felt terrible and couldn’t figure it out. He hadn’t made a horse sore all summer.

Three days later Greer told Bill, “I know you feel bad about Rocky’s back, don’t you.” Bill admitted he did. Then Charlie said, “The next time someone offers to trade you a good horse for a dumb one, you had better run your hands over his back and legs and really look him over close. Rocky was getting a sore back when I traded him to you.”

Lesson learned.

Life’s lessons await us in every single day, every action. It can be a long stretch from teen to adulthood. Some make the trip in a reasonably timed fashion. Others never get there at all.

If we get to thinking too highly of ourselves all we need to do is try ordering someone else’s dog around. That’ll bring a rapid humbling.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Open Letter to Secretary Zinke regarding the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument

The Honorable Ryan Zinke
Secretary of Interior
Monument Review
MS-1530, U.S. Department of Interior
1849 C. Street, NW
Washington, D.C

RE: Open Letter to Secretary Zinke regarding the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (OMDPNM) review

Dear Secretary Zinke:

In the greater scope of your monument review process, my letter may not materially impact readership, but I live face-to-face with this monument. The designation of the OMDPNM impacts my life every day and I have come to feel helpless in the preservation of my life’s investment and the continuity it represents since before my great grandfather trailed cattle across our ranch on the Butterfield Trail in 1888.

He watered at our headquarters at a spring then known as Neire Springs. It was one of only a few natural waters in the big dry stretch of country from Picacho Peak to Ft. Cummins. Arguably, it was the most dangerous stretch of the trail from St. Louis to San Francisco.

We have reason to now believe his partner was Boze Ikard, the enduring character the world now knows as Deets in the made for television series, Lonesome Dove. Both had ridden for Charles Goodnight in Texas. Ikard was with Goodnight and Loving in the horrendously difficult first trips up the Goodnight-Loving Trail while my grandfather came later and trailed JA and PAT cattle north on the Palo Duro- Kansas railhead routes.

Their partnership was the unheralded but hugely difficult task of driving “mixed” herds (cows, calves, and bulls as opposed to mature steers) with the intention of establishing permanent ranching operations as opposed to driving cattle to markets. In that process, they assumed the responsibility of not just the stewardship of those cattle, but the creation of infrastructure that allowed them to exist. Today, there is diminishing understanding of the implications of that undertaking.

They joined what my friend, Myles Culbertson, refers to as the “economic and cultural phenomena of a grazing society” that remains uninterrupted since the era of settlement following the Spanish exploration. It is a society that provides 99.7% of every drop of water that is available to livestock and wildlife alike in the OMDPNM footprint. It is also a fragile society. Within the agriculture community in Dona Ana County, the county most impacted by the designation, recruitment of next generation stewards is 17%. That means that only 17% of the farming, ranching, and dairy segments has a young steward standing in the wings. We can’t offer assurances or robust opportunities because of the uncertainties emanating from federal land use dominion. Please remember that all this “iconic” monument land is simply reshuffled within a framework of government owned land that already consumes 94.5% of the entire county!

Our private land, therefore, is ever dearer in order to create infrastructure that makes our operations more productive and secure. This raises the two points of this letter. The first deals with the proclamation setting forth the creation of the monument and the disposition of private lands landlocked within the footprint. This concern arises from the NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARRACK OBAMA vested authority clause which states that Lands and interests in land within the monument’s boundaries not owned or controlled by the United States shall be reserved as part of the monument upon acquisition of ownership or control by the United States.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand the implication. The United States intends to control our lands. It can be further determined from the maps wherein our private ranch properties are not excluded by boundary demarcations (unlike the upper end imbedded residential developments along the Organ Mountain face).

Certainly, we are subjects of existing rights, but, when the allowances of the Antiquities Act are considered, only two protected objects are allowed. Those are scientific and historic. That doesn’t include “iconic landscapes, ecological diversity, general and widespread southwestern fauna and flora, or prehistoric matters that may or may not be “ripe for discovery” without qualification. Likewise, they are not authorizations to pick winners or losers. You mirrored our fears when you said, “Monuments should never be put in a position to prevent rather than protect.”

There are 90 families directly impacted by this monument that exist only because of the land on which they fill the role of steward. If they wrote you a comment, they would represent three tenths of one percent of the number of public comments you received the first week of the comment period. Like mine, their letters may not “materially impact readership”, but they also live face-to-face with this monument and feel totally exposed and unprotected.

What they represent is historic in every sense of that word, and has been recognized as so by the local conservation district as well as the seven-member Council of Border Conservation Districts.

This, my second point, elevates the requirement of federal law to observe and deal with local governance in land use planning. When you offer your recommendations to President Trump, you must recognize this designation treats the matter of historic in antagonistic juxtaposition to valid local land use planning. Your task of resolution is not just proper and fitting.  It is required by law.

I look forward to meeting you and discussing this. My colleagues, this local cadre of a greater organized society, do as well. We take our stewardship very seriously. In this unbroken four century historic relationship, future generations should be elevated into the consideration of purpose of land designations rather than a conditional use.

It is that simple, and it is that important.


Stephen L. Wilmeth
OMDP Monument Rancher

    Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “There is a big storm brewing over the status of these monuments that was under estimated. The size of these designations are simply too monstrous. The outcome is likely going to be greater political tit for tat over which only deeper resentment and distrust will result. We have all been put into a terrible situation.”

Baxter Black: The grapevine

What better way to impress his new lady friend, thought Rob, than to take her to his friend's rancho for an afternoon branding and BBQ? His '84 model two horse trailer had been repaired so many times that it looked like a well drillin' rig! The '98 pickup was using 2 quarts of oil to a tank of gas and his horse was…well, ol' Yella looked right at home.

Rob was eager as a piddlin' puppy when he picked up Delilah and headed north outta Los Angeles. One large obstacle lay in the pit of his stomach like a pea in the Princess's mattress…THE GRAPEVINE! It was a monster of a hill dreaded by truckers and people who still drove a small hatchback. The engine was screamin' when they finally leveled out at the summit of the Grapevine. Rob gave Delilah a comforting look. She smiled back uneasily. Then the motor blew! A big dent appeared in the hood and it sounded like someone had dropped a Caterpillar track into his fan! They crossed silently into a service station at the bottom of the grade. He assured his sweetheart there was 'no problema'.

By dark he'd borrowed a pickup and they both agreed returning back home was the best option. He loaded Yella, hooked up the trailer and back over the Grapevine they flew! Halfway down to Rob managed to slip his arm behind Delilah's neck. Soon she was lulled into discussing her dreams of home and family. She snuggled closer as he noticed a tire bounce by him on the driver's side! He couldn't help but see the huge rooster tail of sparks spraying up from beneath his trailer!

Lee Pitts: Turning Minutes Into Hours

Realizing that I have had vast experience in organizational work (I was once appointed Keeper of the Cards in the Nipomo Men's Club and Poker Society), several people have inquired as to how they too could be as successful in organizational work as I have been. As a public service I will now answer some of your questions.

Q. I have recently been urged by mail to become a "stakeholder?" What is that?

A. Generally, if the dues of an organization are less than $50 a year such people are known as "members." Once over that threshold mere members become "stakeholders." See how much more important and impressive that sounds? Henceforth when people see you at the auction barn they'll point to you and say, "See that guy over there, the guy with his shirt tucked in, he's a stakeholder!"

Q. What is required of a stakeholder?

A. Let me put it in terms you might understand. For there to be leaders we must have followers. Have you ever seen a cow in heat followed by several steers? The steers have no idea why they are following the cow and if they caught her they wouldn't know what to do with her. Even if they did know what to do, they wouldn't be very effective because they are, well, they're steers now aren't they? But they do serve a purpose. The rancher will know which cows are in heat and can then inseminate them. That's why we need people like you as stakeholders. Got it?

Q. I think so. Does that mean I should aspire to become a leader or officer of a club or organization? 

A. Meetings are a male dominated ritual much like musical chairs… and when the music stops you definitely want to be sitting in one. This is known as "going through the chairs." The primary benefit of going through the chairs is that when you attend your annual convention several gaily colored ribbons will dangle from your name badge, thereby setting you apart as someone who has enough working knowledge of parliamentary procedure to bring the cocktail hour to a close. 

Q. How does one rise to ascendancy in organizational work?

A. I can best answer that question by comparing it to the life of a cattle grub, and I mean that in a flattering way. After you get bitten by the bug to be a politician you begin your organizational life in its lowest form, on the membership committee in charge of recruiting new members. This is tough duty. You'll soon learn what a heel fly feels like walking around in manure 24 hours a day. But soon you will begin your upward ascendancy through the body of the organization. If you only speak when spoken to and use the proper fork when eating your hearts of palm at the annual banquet, eventually your time will come and you'll one day pop out the top.

Q. Are there any short cuts to the top?

A. It's imperative that you feel obligated to speak in a solemn voice whenever a crowd of three is gathered. Preferred topics include estate tax relief, ancestor worship and where the next vacation, I mean meeting, will be held. You must sprinkle these impromptu speeches liberally with key words such as paradigm, unity, empowerment, strategize, Power Point, human resources, synergy, cloud-centric, actualize and empower. Talk a lot about your "vision", even if it is somewhat impaired from the previous night's executive session in the hotel bar. 

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1856

Our gospel tune today is Hank Snow’s 1952 recording of I’m Moving On To Glory.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Interior Secretary Zinke Defends Agency Budget Cuts

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is defending the Trump administration’s budget proposal unveiled last week, despite deep cuts it would make to land-management agencies that could have severe consequences in Montana and other western states. The budget, which is still subject to approval by Congress, carries cuts to the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture — agencies that, combined, manage more than 700 million acres of public land. The Trump administration’s budget would cut Interior funding by about 11 percent, reducing funding to $11.7 billion in fiscal 2018 — about $1.6 billion less annually. The proposal would also eliminate programs that Zinke has previously championed, but which he now says the administration considers unnecessary, duplicative or considers a low priority. “It was not an easy job. There were difficult decisions that were made,” Zinke said in a May 23 call with reporters. “This budget overall speaks to the core mission of the Department of the Interior. It funds our highest priorities — safety, security, infrastructure.” Among the programs Zinke said were redundant are discretionary grants to help reclaim abandoned mine sites, National Heritage areas that Trump administration officials say are more appropriately funded locally and National Wildlife Refuge payments to local governments. The budget also significantly decreases funding for new major acquisitions of federal land, cutting such appropriations by more than $120 million. Cuts to the popular and bipartisan Land and Water Conservation Fund total nearly $54 million, an 80 percent cut to this year’s enacted level. Zinke said the administration intends to focus on investing in and maintaining existing federal lands. In particular, the proposal would boost money to help address the roughly $11 billion maintenance backlog within the national park system. Defending the cuts to the land acquisition program, Zinke said, “We need to take care of what we have first.” “I don’t think we need to buy more land, but take care of what we have first before we buy into more acquisitions,” he said...more

The Coors Cure for Colic, or Dos Equis for Equines

I received the following email from Steve Wilmeth today:

We spent a suspenseful last evening with a colicking Popolote. 

He has never shown a hint of trying to colic but there we were with high respiration, no good hind gut sounds, a bit of sweat, and trying to lay down. He had been shod three days ago and he had been gimpy since on his front feet and I was thinking he was just in pain. He had loped out toward the irrigated pasture, though,  when I turned the horses out to graze, but he was heard nickering and  back up at the arena and when I found him he was trying to lay down 

I was immediately on edge. I gave him an injection of banomine immediately and walked him. I called Skip and he was found smiling and sitting on a stool in Pagosa Springs and useless to the current predicament. A call to another vet was not helpful. ...So, I called Pepe to make sure he didn't think it was a shoeing and front feet problem and he came over. We looked at Pop and Pepe asked me if I wanted to try what the Castro's would do in this situation Well, Yea! So to the ice box we went to get a six pack of beer and Pop started getting single swallow drenches until all the beer was gone ... in this case only four bottles. Interestingly, we started noticing he was swallowing the beer more agreeably and was even leaning against the pourer rather than trying to pull away. 

We watched him for a while before Pepe had to leave (to go practice for an upcoming Chareada) but his respiration was down, he had dropped his donger and he was interested in the feed bin. I texted Pepe when he stretched to pee and then he proceeded to push his favored mare (that had rejoined the proceedings from the pasture and who was, by the way, very interested in how Pop smelled with beer on his breath) out of the way and commenced working on the feed bin. Before sunup this morning he nickered at me when i stuck my head out to see if he was still on his feet. 

"Hey,Ace, we could use a little feed out here!" he was suggesting. "Sooner than later if you don't mind ..."

So, the story line is keep some beer on hand if your vet friend happens to be sitting on a stool in Pagosa Springs for your next colic session. Our only adjustment will be Pop won't get the good beer ... he will get the cheap stuff. (These Castro boys are riding 20-30 horses all the time and learned this trick from a horse vet from Mexico and Pepe swears by it) I do too!

Forest Service Owns ‘National Junkyard’ of Thousands of Unused Buildings

The Forest Service oversees thousands of buildings that are unused, many that are falling apart, full of mold, and pose safety hazards, according to a new audit. The inspector general for the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that the Forest Service has compiled over $5 billion worth of repairs to buildings, roads, dams, and trails it operates. Officials admit they are becoming a "national junkyard" by overseeing thousands of decrepit buildings the government does not need. "During our fieldwork, we observed [Forest Service] buildings that were not inspected as well as buildings that forest officials stated had structural issues, mold growth, wide-spread rodent droppings, and other health and safety concerns including 20 buildings with concerns so severe that officials referred to them as ‘red tagged,'" the inspector general reported. "Red tag" refers to buildings and structures that are so unsafe they are closed. Some buildings had asbestos, and one residential building observed by auditors had a 15-foot hole in the roof, as well as mold and fire damage. "As a result, unsafe structures can pose health and safety risks, such as hantavirus or other concerns, to [Forest Service] employees and the public," the inspector general said. Auditors surveyed a sample of 182 dams the Forest Service oversees, and found 76 percent either had no documentation or did not receive required safety inspections. Seventy-seven percent of dams considered to be high hazards "did not receive required safety inspections within the last 5 years." Sixty-one percent had no emergency action plan, and some that did had not been updated since 1982. Dams are considered high hazards if their potential failure is "expected to cause the loss of one or more human lives."...more

Smokey management par excellence? Not hardly 

For your weekend reading, the report is embedded below:

Zinke fills in Interior staff despite key leadership gaps

The Interior Department announced Friday that it is filling in key support staff, while still missing official high-level nominations by President Trump to lead them. The only senior official to be named by the president, other than Secretary Ryan Zinke, is David Bernhardt as deputy secretary, who still needs to be confirmed by the Senate. Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Thursday that she will hold a vote on Berhardt's confirmation at the committee level when the Senate returns after its week-long Memorial Day recess. But then he must be voted on by the full Senate. It has been tough to move political appointees through the Senate, but on top of that Trump has been slow to announce who will fill key posts in many of the offices that Zinke will rely on to move the Trump agenda ahead. The announcements made Friday do not require Senate confirmation. Scott Hommel, a decorated Marine, will serve as Zinke's chief of staff. Caroline Boulton, who served on Zinke's staff when he was a member of Congress, will be Zinke's special assistant, along with Natalie Davis, who served on Trump's inaugural committee. Laura Keehner Rigas, a former official who served under the George W. Bush administration, will be communications director for the agency...more

Trump Might Try To Take The Ax To National Monuments And These People Are Not Here For It

But if the Trump administration does ultimately go after the monuments, the president may end up expending significant political capital in a battle with dubious outcomes. Some also expect protests on the ground. Advocates for multiple monuments under review spoke to BuzzFeed News about how they anticipate responding to any White House effort to curtail what's already been established...Native Americans groups are already gearing up for a legal fight over Bears Ears National Monument in Utah's remote San Juan County, Jonah Yellowman, a board member of the Navajo nonprofit Utah Diné Bikéyah, told BuzzFeed News. President Obama created the monument in December. "If they decide to rescind or shrink, or whatever they're going to do, we're going to go into a lawsuit," he said. "Or whatever it takes." Eric Descheenie, a member of the Navajo Nation and the Arizona House of Representatives, told BuzzFeed News that native leaders are currently involved coordinating a campaign to raise awareness about the monument review. Still, he believes the "writing is on the wall" for Bears Ears. "I think the more level-headed individuals within the administration will recommend a significant downsize, a shrinkage of the monument," he said. "The tribes stand ready to immediately file a lawsuit." Attempts at changing Bears Ears may also prompt a response on the ground. Descheenie said that while demonstrations haven't yet been organized, action by the Trump administration could be "enough to galvanize people's intentions to protest." "If it means congregating in or around bears ears, sure," he said. Terry Tempest Williams, a prominent Utah author and activist, raised the stakes even further, writing earlier this month in the New York Times that Bears Ears "could very well become another Standing Rock in both desecration and resistance."...more

Bear Eyes monument status generates 57K public comments

Tens of thousands of people from across the U.S. have weighed in about whether the new Bears Ears National Monument should be preserved, downsized or rescinded, confirming the monument's center stage position in a review of 27 monuments ordered by President Donald Trump. About 57,000 submissions with comments mentioning the 1.3-million acre (5,300 square kilometers) monument in southeastern Utah had been submitted to a federal government website by Friday evening on the final day of a two-week public comment period that is part of U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's review of the monument designated by President Barack Obama. That accounts for more than half of the 113,000 comments submitted so far about all the monuments under review, which includes monuments created by three former presidents on large swaths of land home to ancient cliff dwellings, towering Sequoias, deep, canyons and oceans habitats where seals, whales and sea turtles roam. Some Bears Ears comment submissions include conservation groups that compiled thousands of individual comments and made one submission, meaning the actual number of people offering their opinion could be much higher...more

Friday, May 26, 2017

A-10 Celebrates This Weekend

No doubt this cowboy has been celebratin' for quite a spell.  If sober, I'm sure he would've hollered Yee-Hah instead of Hee-Yah. LOL

Horse Diapers on Trial

Russellville, KY – 13 members of the conservative Swartzentruber Amish are heading to trial after a judge set their court date for August 2nd. The members of the Amish community are accused of refusing to obey a city ordinance which requires them to put waste collection bags, or diapers, on their horses when traveling on the street. The Swartzentruber Amish believe placing the bags on their horses would be a violation of their religious beliefs, and are fighting the ordinance based on religious freedom. They believe the ordinance specifically targets their religion, but the city says the ordinance is necessary for public safety and is applied to everyone equally. There are 37 lawsuits pending against the 13 Amish. “I’m going to be asking for 37 separate trials,” attorney Travis Lock, who is representing the Amish, told reporters. The penalty for violating the horse diaper ordinance is typically a fine and court costs, but previously Amish have refused to pay the fine and have been placed in jail. Amos Mast is one of those who was sent to jail for refusing to pay a diaper fine. “I’m a farmer, I don’t travel much because I just stay on the farm,” Mast said. “There’s times that I need to be out (on the road), so we just go and face what happens.” The ordinance is facing legal challenges in federal court. link

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1855

TGIFF! Its Fiddle Friday and from his 1970 album Hoedown here’s Chubby Wise fiddlin’ Long John.