Monday, May 21, 2018

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Its Swingin' Monday and you can get your feet tapping with the 2003 recording of Deep In The Heart Boogie by Retta & The Smart Fellas

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sweet Sharon & The Egg with Eyes

Sweet Sharon went out to her Chicken McMansion this morning to feed her chickens and gather eggs. She had gathered the eggs, when, even though its kinda dark in there with no lights, she noticed an egg down low. She bent over and reached for the egg…but stopped, as she wondered, “Why is that egg staring back at me?” Turns out the egg was in the mouth of a bull snake.

After considering her options for, I don’t know, maybe half a second, she decided to just let the damned ol’ snake have the egg. I surmise this was not good for Sweet Sharon’s blood pressure.

The whole episode must have affected the snake too. When Sharon went out later the snake was gone, but the egg was left there.

That wise old snake figured out what I learned a long time ago: You don’t mess with Sharon or her things!

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy (revisited)

Code of the West rules needed

By Julie Carter

The West has long been a frontier to those seeking a romanticized version of it or simply the quiet solitude away from the noise of industrial civilization.

Ours is a nation of immigrants - people who have never been content to stay in one place but always wanting to see what is "over there."

The frontier has been the line separating civilization from wilderness. For hundreds of years in America it has been a fluid line, moving westward as men sought open spaces and new horizons.

In the 19th century, people who were willing to take a chance on the unknown moved to a vast, unsettled land that beckoned to the daring and called to the hardy, courageous folks of pioneer stock.

The call of the wild is the same in the 21st century but comes with new kinds of issues that catch these new pioneers by surprise. That newly purchased 20-acre piece of paradise requires owners to realize they aren't in the suburbs any more.

Poor roads, wildlife damage, water shortages, high utility costs and the threat of wildfires are just a few major items on the list for these new pioneers.

Many city dwellers move into the country and expect to get the same local government services they received in town.

They want the solitude of living in the country but they also want 911 to respond in three minutes to a residence 25 minutes from the nearest emergency station.

It is such a common issue in rural communities across the West that many communities have compiled information into publications to be distributed to prospective property owners.

Some of these booklets are titled "Code of the West" in reference to the Code of the West novel by Zane Grey. The original unwritten code - based on integrity, self-reliance and accountability - guided the men and women who moved into the region during the westward expansion.

Most of the today's "code books" cover water rights, split estates and open range. Many explain why dogs can't run wild and why rural residents often have to haul their own garbage. They warn that roads might not get plowed, cell phone service could be iffy, and emergency response time longer. They also address accepting "ag-related annoyances" that existed long before they moved in.

One example is the 52-page booklet from Sweet Grass County, Montana offering information on everything from fire prevention to noxious weeds to billboards. It gives suggestions for preserving viewsheds and designing homes compatible with the rural landscape.

County commissions and a long list of agencies continue to address complaints and demands from these new pioneers who, one issue at a time, try to turn the West into the East under the guise of their rights as taxpayers.

Those that were already in the West before the new pioneers arrived fight to keep the simple basic lives they led before the onslaught of subdivisions and the pandemic growth of golf courses.

It is America and subject to ongoing change, even in the West.

And those ag-related annoyances? They are someone's livelihood that undoubtedly have become disturbed by the un-ag-related annoyances that just moved a double wide home into the pasture next door.

A "Code of the West" booklet might be the answer for those willing to accept the changes. But for most, I suggest making the covers something tasty and edible. At least they'll find some use for it.

© Julie Carter 2006

The Knife

Another Tragedy
The Knife
Everybody … Nobody
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Perhaps it would have been best if only Governor Greg Abbott had spoken at the Santa Fe School news conference Friday.
            Abbott has enough visceral aptitude to put things into as much perspective as the Santa Fe tragedy could allow. The chants from the peanut galleries were simply not useful nor were they helpful. They were hollow and woefully lacking.
            Too many questions are unanswered in this school shooting melee that plagues us. This time it wasn’t an apparent malcontent or a committed jihadist that will eventually have to meet his maker. It wasn’t an AR or a BAR or a Gatlin gun that did the dirty work, either. The smoke poles that were used for the death and destruction were from the most sophisticated side of the firearm ledger, a shotgun and a .38. It does appear there were explosives. There was a car, too, which could have been an effective killing tool, but it was rendered interesting only on the basis of finding another piece of evidence.
            There was no hammer nor was there a pole axe.
The only commonality in this killing and those before was the trigger animal. As it turns out, we are told he is nothing more than another … stupid kid.
The Knife
I’ve known it all my life.
It is a big folding hunter that fits uncomfortably in a front pocket in a pair of Levi’s, but it was there that it was carried during many, many hunts in the life of my maternal grandfather. I always assumed it was a Case, but that couldn’t be confirmed from the escutcheon because it was worn completely smooth. When the knife came to me recently, I was surprised that Western States could be made out on the heel of spay when inspected with a magnifying glass.
My memories of it began with 3:30 mornings when I would get up after a sleepless night prior to the opening day of deer season. It would be placed there on the kitchen table alongside the “car’tidges” that were to be carried that day. It was already stropped and oiled and placed there to observe, but never unsupervised at that point.
So many stories were told during those precious minutes before any interruptions began. They were all life lessons, and I knew that knife was along for the conclusion of some of them.
I surmise it was along, too, the day of the grizzly bear. That was April 1931. Afoot because they couldn’t ride any further down the rocky, precipitous Rain Creek Divide, the Rice brothers, my grandfather and his brother, Blue, followed the dogs that finally ran the big bear to ground and barked “treed”. When they climbed over the rock which shielded them from the view of the terrific battle that was then underway, the verbal history got suspenseful.
“The bear immediately looked up, saw us, and came to us,” my grandfather remembered. “He was shedding dogs like he was raking bees.”
“He never blinked and he never took his eyes off us.”
When it was over and the smoke and the dust still hung heavy in the air, the bear was on the rock with the brothers where they had taken their stand. Between them, there was one loaded “car’tidge” remaining.
In several accounts, I have related the question, “Were you scared, Boppy?”
“I didn’t think so,” he began. “But, when I tried to roll a smoke, I couldn’t
keep the tobacco on the paper!”
            Years later, I was with him when we finally hauled the moth-eaten hide to the hand dug pit on the mesa. He had brought a five gallon can of gasoline and doused the garbage pile. When he lit it, my memory suggests it was the biggest explosive discharge I had ever heard. Just how big the discharge was must have equaled the collective gunfire of the day of the bear.
            How do we know that?
            “If you were looking just right, you could see daylight between the top of the pit and the garbage blown sky high!” he had laughed when he admitted to his brother what the ruckus had been.
            Another Tragedy
            Today, I have that beautiful old knife.
In fact, it is laying on the desk beside the laptop as I write this. It is one of several generational responsibilities that I cherish. It is an immense gift of family history, and it represents all the collective mentorship, the role modeling and the forebearer counseling that makes me who I am.
It is obvious that isn’t the case of too many today.
There is plenty of blame to go around, but, until each step of the process is corrected, there will be more tragedies. There would be no circumstances short of threat to our lives that this sort of nonsense would have happened fifty years ago. None of the peripheral paraphernalia would have offered any tendency to kill wantonly. We could have packed guns into school and the entire issue would have been made safer by our presence. We wouldn’t have just policed ourselves. We would have policed the adults. The fact of the matter is, we knew more about guns than the majority of our teachers!
It was the teachers we respected in other ways. If there were conflicts, we needed to conclude them in the classroom rather than to be marched down the hall to see the principals Ms. Jones, Ms. Schumpelt, or Mr. Grounds.
Worse yet, we had to go home where our parents had been served notice!
No, today the problems are as extensive as they are seemingly complex. The only problem is they are not complex. We have simply lost the collective will, the responsibility, and the fundamentals of fixing anything.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “What does an old knife and a school shooting have in common? The answer is … more than you think.”

I think it would be appropriate here for me to re-share one of my favorite tunes by Guy Clark: The Randall Knife.

Baxter Black: Feedlot Cowboy

Let's put in a good word for the feedlot cowboy. That group of fellers that meet every mornin' early at the horse barn, saddle up, get their instructions and ride off down the alley. These boys and ladies come from everywhere. Most are fair to middlin' horsemen with some sort of rural background. A few have come in from the outside, doin' ranch work. These particular buckaroos and brush poppers often have trouble adapting to a world of crowded pens, clangin' gates and speedin' feed trucks. They're used to a little slower pace and the madhouse routine of pen checkin', processin', doctorin', sortin' and shippin' leaves 'em a little bamfoozled. Some of 'em catch on and other's just float around the yard hopin'a heifer will calve or a steer will get out on the road.

A big bunch are young people who grew up around feedlots or horseshoers, rodeos, small farms or sale barns. They gravitate to bein' a feedlot cowboy. Some are naturals. They have cow savvy and a good eye. They put in their apprenticeship and work their way up to be the cattle foreman or manager someday.

There's another group who have a little college, maybe a degree, who are willin' to work and learn from the more experienced cowboys. If they don't get shot or run off by the crew they eventually gain a position of responsibility.

Lots of feedlot cowboys are married. It's a steady job, often with housing furnished, a place to keep a horse or two and they're home every night. 'Course there's always a few young single bucks who sleep in the bunkhouse, stay up late and stay broke.

All of 'em complain about the mud, heat, cold, wind, sorry company horses, Holsteins, the cattle Foreman, the pay, the doctorin' the cattle buyer, the no rope no dog rules and countin' with bankers.
They love harrassin' the new man, coffee in the shack, Sunday afternoons, tellin' jokes, seein' someone else get bucked off and Copenhagen.

Lee Pitts: A rare bird

The closest town to mine is a well known bird sanctuary and once a year "birders" migrate to the big bird bash where they fill up the hotels, dine in local restaurants and put a smile on the face of the fine feathered folks at the local Chamber of Commerce. Believe it or not, 20 percent of Americans are proud to call themselves bird watchers and they annually spend in excess of 36 BILLION dollars to add to their "Life Lists" of birds they've seen.

There are thousands of rural towns in this country struggling right now and they could sure use the cash derived from such birdbrained activities. The problem is that most towns just don't have the birds for it. Oh sure, they might have their share of lemmings, pigeons and jail birds, but that's just the city council, and I really doubt rich people from the east would pay to see them. So I asked myself, what do rural towns have that are vanishing everywhere else that folks would flock to see?"
Cowboys, that's what!

There are many advantages of "cowboying" over "birding". Cowboys are more colorful, interesting and they don't bomb you from above, if you know what I mean? You don't need expensive binoculars, spotting scopes or cameras and unlike bird watching, you can watch for cowboys in the air conditioned comfort of a mall, bar or airport. Like birds, the cowboy species you'll see will vary by where they're from, and are identifiable by the shape of their hats, their saddle rigging and the sounds they produce. In Nevada you'll see the black booted buckaroo, in Texas it's the red-necked cow puncher, and in California you might catch a fleeting glance of a silver-saddled vaquero.

To watch cowboys all you do is find a bench on Main Street and start watching. You can do it anywhere, although cowboy watching might be a little slow in Santa Monica or New York City. Even if you did spot one wearing colorful plumage in their hat and silver tips on their boots, it's probably just a hair dresser.

Species of cowboys include dudes, rodeo and drugstore cowboys, along with the much rarer working varieties. Subspecies include team ropers, stove-up old cowboys who had to resort to sheepherding, corn farmers who would run from a uterine prolapse, Harley riders who look like they could bulldog a steer from their bike and politicians who wear boots in states like New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming where the cowboy vote can swing an election.

Spotting the genuine article is not as easy as spotting someone in a hat and boots and walking like their legs were wrapped around a barrel. It could be a Sheriff, lawyer, or line dancer...

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Our Gospel tune today is the 2015 recording of Cattle On A Thousand Hills by Buck Helton.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

National parks report finally released, uncensored

Backing away from attempts at censorship, the National Park Service on Friday released a report charting the risks to national parks from sea level rise and storms. Drafts of the report obtained earlier this year by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting showed park service officials had deleted every mention of humans causing climate change. But the long-delayed report, published Friday on the agency’s website, restored those references. The scientific report is designed to help 118 coastal parks plan for protecting natural resources and historic treasures from the changing climate. Maria Caffrey, the study’s lead scientist, said she was “extremely happy” that the report was released intact...MORE

Farmington student arrested for making hatchets in welding class

Two Farmington schools were placed on lockdown this morning when a juvenile male accused of making two weapons in welding class at the Career and Technology Education (CATE) Center fled school grounds. A 15-year-old male student was arrested by Farmington Police Department officers and accused of felony counts of carrying or making a weapon on a school campus and larceny, along with a petty misdemeanor count of interference with the educational process, according to spokesperson Georgette Allen. He is accused of making two hatchets in a welding class at the CATE Center at 901 N. Court Ave., Allen said. A teacher confronted the student about the weapons, and he then fled school grounds. The CATE center was placed on emergency lockdown, and Farmington High School was placed on a preventive lockdown around 9:58 a.m., according to the Farmington Municipal School District and Farmington High School Facebook pages. The student was taken into custody by Farmington police around 10:25 a.m. The lockdowns then were lifted, according to the Farmington High School Facebook page. The student was apprehended at his residence...MORE

Trump should pardon Oregon ranchers -- They aren't terrorists

William Perry Pendley

In April, President Trump pardoned I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr., top aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney, who was convicted in an abuse of prosecutorial discretion. Now the president should do the same thing for Dwight L. Hammond, Jr., 76, and his son Steven Dwight Hammond, 49, long-suffering ranchers in rural Oregon.
...The Hammonds are the victims of one of the most egregious, indefensible and intolerable instances of prosecutorial misconduct in history. Their situation cries out for justice that can come only from President Trump.
The Hammonds’ crime? They set a legally permissible fire on their own property, which accidentally burned out of control onto neighboring federal land. Normally, that is an infraction covered by laws governing trespassing, and the guilty party is subject to paying for damages caused by the fire – if the neighboring land belongs to an ordinary citizen.
But not when a vindictive federal government is involved.
In the “high desert” environment of Harney County – and throughout the West – federal, state and private landowners use controlled or prescribed burns for prairie restoration, forest management and to reduce the buildup of underbrush that could fuel much bigger fires.
But sometimes the controlled fires get out of control and sweep onto neighbors’ land. That is legally deemed a trespass, and the landowner who set the fire is liable for any damages.
Only the federal government has the power to cite the trespasser criminally for his or her actions. That is what happened to the Hammonds.
It did not happen in a vacuum. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has long coveted the Hammond Ranch for inclusion in its surrounding Malheur Wildlife Refuge. The federal agency pressured members of the Hammond family for decades to follow all of their neighbors in selling their property to the federal government.
...In 2001, after alerting the Bureau of Land Management, the Hammonds set a legal fire to eradicate noxious weeds. It spread onto 139 acres of vacant federal land. According to a government witness, the fire actually improved the federal land, as natural fires often do.
In 2006, Steven Hammond started another prescribed fire in response to several blazes ignited by a lightning storm near his family’s field of winter feed. The counter-blaze burned a single acre of federal land. According to Steven Hammond’s mother, “the backfire worked perfectly, it put out the fire, saved the range and possibly our home.”
The Bureau of Land Management took a different view. It filed a report with Harney County officials alleging several violations of Oregon law. However, after a review of the evidence, the Harney County district attorney dropped all charges in 2006. 
The Bureau of Land Management did not give up. In 2011, federal prosecutors – referencing both the 2001 and 2006 fires – charged the Hammonds with violating the ‘‘Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996,” which carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years.
...In 2012, the Hammonds went to trial. As the jury was deliberating, they agreed not to appeal the jury verdicts in exchange for the government dismissal of a slew of ancillary charges, including “conspiracy” to commit the offense.
The jury found both Hammonds guilty of the 2001 fire and Steven Hammond guilty of the 2006 blaze; he was acquitted on charges the 2006 fire did more than $1,000 in damages.
At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan concluded the fires did not endanger people or property. He declared that the law the Hammonds were convicted of violating was aimed at more serious conduct than their case involved.
Hogan added that the Hammonds had “tremendous” character, and stated that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution – barring “cruel and unusual punishment” – justified a sentence below the statutory minimum sentence.
Consequently, Judge Hogan sentenced Dwight Hammond to three months in prison and his son to a year and a day. Both served their sentences and then returned home.
But the federal government was not finished. Federal prosecutors, contending the agreement did not bar them from further action, appealed to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which, without oral arguments, quickly issued a terse ruling reversing the Oregon federal district court.
...Congress passed the 1996 law under which the Hammonds were convicted in response to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City and the 1995 federal building bombing in Oklahoma City in order to “deter terrorism.”  Lawmakers did not have in mind a rancher’s efforts to eradicate noxious weeds or to prevent the spread of a lightning fire onto valuable crops.
That apparently did not matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon, the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service and officials who are supposed to provide adult supervision to prevent personal animus, agency vendettas and prosecutorial abuse.
...Now it’s up to President Trump to deliver justice to the Hammonds – something the federal government has long denied them.

William Perry Pendley is president of Mountain States Legal Foundation in Denver and author of "Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan’s Battle With Environmental Extremists and Why It Matters Today" (Regnery, 2013).

A big THANK YOU to Pendley for this column. Amongst all the hub-bub over the Malheur and related events, the plight of the Hammonds and this total miscarriage of justice continues to fly below the radar. Let's hope that Pendley's exposure of this issue on Fox News will catch the eye of someone in the White House.

Hammond Family