Sunday, May 25, 2008

Know when to hold 'em, know when to run
Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Julie Carter

Kenny Rogers was wise with years when he sang " You gotta know when to hold 'em ... a song that finished with "know when to run."

Every cowboy with any amount of experience has been in that place in time when he knows it is just better to bail out, or off, to save his life.

Johnny had a new job and a new wife. His first assignment on the new ranch was to gather a fence-jumping bull out of a set of heifers where he didn't belong.

When he asked the cow boss which horse would be good enough to take on this mission, he was directed to a big, rawboned, feather-legged dun.

Johnny saddled the big horse, loaded him and his new wife, and off they went to the pasture. So far, so good.

Instructions for the new wife included watching him rope the wandering Romeo, after which she was then to bounce across the cactus, sagebrush and rocks with the pickup and trailer so Johnny could load the bull.

Johnny cut the bull out of the herd of heifers, roped him handily and waved to his wife.

Simultaneously, the bull decided to get on the fight. He made a run at Johnny and the dun and, in the process, he somehow got the rope caught under the rubber wrap on the saddle horn.

The horse remembered what the cow boss had forgotten to tell Johnny - that he would buck at the first opportunity he sensed the cowboy's attention was not fully on riding.

Johnny couldn't get his dally off, couldn't get the horse to quit bucking, couldn't find a soft spot to land, or at least, one without cactus. And worse, he couldn't hurry his wife up. At any rate, he was in big trouble.

Finally, he decided that it might be a good time to let the horse and the bull have it and he bailed off. The horse stopped bucking, the rope came off the horn and the bull came on the fight. "Know when to run."

The only thing that saved Johnny's life was that he was jumping over the sagebrush and the bull was going around them.

Eventually, the wife pulled the truck and trailer in between Johnny and the bull and he bailed in, but not without words of gratitude. Although a few years later, in divorce court, the wife mentioned she wished she had let that bull run over his sorry hide.

Dan had a big outlaw horse in his string named Cobra, named such because no tie-down in the world would keep his head from that "cobra" position. Dan had nightmares about Cobra coming out of a basket, swaying that head at him.

About that time, Robert Redford arrived on the big screen with the Horse Whisperer and Dan decided that laying Cobra down and sitting on his head might be the treatment of choice.

Redford looked pretty good doing that, he thought, and little children could ride the horse afterward, so it must work. Tim came to help, and beer was involved.

They roped Cobra, saddled him, laid him over and Dan was sitting on his side. Cobra objected and was fighting the weight planted on his side. The big horse somehow caught a hole in Dan's britches on the saddle horn and he could find no good way to get loose.

Dan was aware of the theory that you should always wear clean drawers in case you're in a wreck, but he didn't have on any drawers at all that day. He would have been happy to let old Cobra up but he really didn't want to be shucked out of his britches right then.

That's where the "know when to hold 'em" wisdom came in handy.

Julie, also wise with years, can be reached through her website at

It’s The Pitts: A Fate Worse Than Debt

Recently I gained some insight as to how farcical our credit problems are in this country when Aussie Pitts received a letter in our mailbox offering her a $100,000 home equity line of credit. First of all, Aussie Pitts is my dog and I doubt that her dog house is worth anywhere near $100,000 after the recent real estate collapse. Then there is the fact that Aussie has been dead several years now.

Besides dogs being offered credit cards in the mail there are other signs of an economic ill wind all around us. It’s bad enough that 28% of Americans have their total retirement savings tied up in lottery tickets but even more distressing is the fact that a Bangladesh bank has opened what it hopes will be the first of many branches in the U.S. When the only way people can get their hands on lunch money is to borrow from a third world bank you know we are in trouble.

I’m already hearing the blame being laid at the muddy feet of “greedy” farmers and ranchers for the impending recession. Before we all get too carried away let’s put things in proper perspective. It’s true, food prices are up 7% over the last year, but compare that with an increase in gas prices of 27% and banking fees that are up 25%. The Post Office is charging me 50% more per year to mail one of my books this year than they did last year and they are getting ready to raise their rates yet again. The water company is talking about tripling our water rates, trash collection charges are up 10% and electricity 11%. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics health insurance premiums for the average American have risen 78% since 2002 and it now costs more to send your son and daughter to an Ivy league college than the median income in this country. Just one textbook for one college class can now cost more than I paid in 1972 for a full year’s tuition. And yet people are mad they are paying 7% more for food!

Even that figure distorts how much farmers and ranchers are really receiving. My wife works in a grocery store and hears the complaints every day from people wailing that a head of lettuce costs $1.99. What they don’t know is that the farmer who cared for the crop for three months received just 36 cents of that. Top sirloin steak may be $7.99 per pound but I don’t think the 89 cents of that the rancher received is too much to ask for a year’s worth of work. It’s true, food prices have gone up 7% this past year but when you consider that the producer gets just 20% of the food dollar it means that the producer received an increase of 1.4% this year.

When I was in college I recall that the average American paid 16% of their disposable income for food. Know what it is now? Less than 10% and that includes all food, even eating out. That’s the lowest rate in the world, by the way.

The Farm Bureau has an eye-opening way of putting all this is proper perspective. Farm Checkout Day was February 6 of this year. This means that your average American earned enough money in 37 days to pay for their family’s food for an entire year. By comparison, it takes 60 days to pay for housing, 50 days for health and medical care and 50 days for recreation and clothes. And get this. Tax Freedom Day, the date when your average American earned enough to pay his family’s taxes for the year, occurred on April 23, the 114th day of the year!

I hope that the city folks who read this column won’t be so quick to blame the farmer and rancher the next time they go to church just to get something cheap to eat at communion. What they should be doing is getting down on their knees and thanking God that our farms and ranchers are not being run by the DC fat cats who are taking three times more of your money than what it costs to feed your family for a year! Even the Wall Street speculators who got us into this mess could tell which of the two is the better investment.

1 comment:

Kanani said...

Thanks for this outtake. I hope you are doing well.
As far as Aussie Pitts receiving an offer to refi the dog house, the worse would be when the bank came in to foreclose upon it.

Anyway, as far as the costs of things go, I know how stripped down things can get. I run a surgical clinic. What we bill out and what we get back is incredible. The healthcare insurance industries take in way more than us, and as proof, you'll find it supports thousands of executives who make not life or death decisions and have salaries of over $1 million.