Thursday, January 31, 2013

China's Filthy Air Prompts Mask Rush and Sale of Fresh Air in Cans

For the fourth time this year, a murky haze has descended over north China, leaving residents of Beijing choking on toxic smog. China's air hasn't been this bad since 1954, according to the state-run People's Daily newspaper. In a remarkable record of dirty air, 24 out of January's first 29 days this year had air classified as hazardous. And the skies have still not cleared. The Air Quality Index from the U.S. embassy, designed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, shows that the concentration of fine particulate matter, known as PM 2.5, has been hovering at the top of the scale since last Friday. It's in a range described as "hazardous" and calls for protective measures to be taken...more

Let's see, China is a country where the government owns all the resources - air, land & water.  And the environment is filthy.  We found out the same was true when the government in the Soviet Union fell.  Here in the U.S. the D.C. Deep Thinkers turn to who to protect the environment?  The government.  Sounds like a plan for success.

Here's the ABC News video report:

Speaking of government control, there is this:

Adolf Hitler's memory is a 'constant warning', Merkel says on 80th anniversary Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that Adolf Hitler's rise to power 80 years ago should go on reminding Germans that democracy and freedom cannot be taken for granted. Mrs Merkel was speaking at the inauguration of an exhibition in Berlin to commemorate eight decades since Hitler became chancellor on January 30, 1933 - an anniversary which has aroused much interest in Germany. "Human rights don't assert themselves. Freedom doesn't preserve itself all alone and democracy doesn't succeed by itself," Mrs Merkel said. "That must be a constant warning for us, Germans," she added referring to Hitler's arrival at the chancellery. The exhibition, "Berlin 1933. On the Path to Dictatorship", is on a site charged with history as the former headquarters of the Gestapo, the secret police of the Nazi regime. It now houses The Topography of Terror, an open-air documentation centre whose exhibition traces Hitler's first months in power through photos, newspapers and posters...more

You don't have freedom where the government controls the natural resources, period.  And even if the gov't allowed it, you couldn't have an exhibition like this is China because its "open-air". 

Burger King Will Start DNA Testing for Horse Meat

Just to be clear: Burger King (BKW) says there is no horse meat in its burgers. And just to make sure, Burger King tells Bloomberg Businessweek, it plans to test its beef patties for foreign DNA, including horse, pork, and lamb. Details for DNA testing have not been worked out, and no timeline has been set for implementing the new procedures, says Diego Beamonte, Burger King’s vice president of global quality. Burger King will test specifically for equine DNA following revelations that food processor Silvercrest Foods sold beef products containing horse meat to other retailers, including Tesco (TESO). Both companies have severed ties with Silvercrest, and Tesco has also said it will do DNA testing on all of its meat products. Burger King said in a statement today that while the beef it sent to a lab in Germany earlier this month tested negative for any equine DNA, it decided to drop Silvercrest after learning this week that a small percentage of beef the vendor had sold to the chain came from a non-approved supplier in Poland, rather than the 100 percent British and Irish beef patties it had undertaken to provide. While samples taken from the Silvercrest plant contained equine DNA, Burger King says this product was never sold to its restaurants...more

The "100 percent British and Irish beef patties" are for Burger King restaurants in the U.K, Ireland and Denmark.

Burger King's official statement says while only "trace amounts" were found, they have "transitioned all of our restaurants in the UK, Ireland and Denmark to other BURGER KING(R) approved suppliers from Germany and Italy as a precaution."

I had no ideal that Poland, Germany and Italy produce "100 percent British and Irish beef patties".

Just wait until they find out what's in those "French" fries.

And now for those Burger King restaurants in China...

5-Year-Old Threatened With Suspension For Making Gun Out Of Legos

A mother says her 5-year-old boy was threatened with suspension after he made a gun out of Legos during an after school program. Sheila Cruz received a written warning recently about her son from the after school staff at the Hyannis West Elementary School because he had been using toys inappropriately. While Cruz thought her son Joseph Cardosa was just being a kid, she said school administrators called his actions a threat. “I was given a book and they told me he’s going to be suspended if he does it again and to sign here,” Cruz told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 Tuesday. “I just couldn’t believe it. He’s 5-years-old.” Joseph’s parents called the school principal but were given the same warning...more

Remaining jailed New Mexico gun dealer family members granted bond

After 18 months behind bars, Rick and Ryin Reese have been granted bond today, Judge Robert C. Brack of the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico ruled. They are the last two members of a New Mexico gun dealer family jailed for allegedly knowingly selling guns to cartel members, but who were found not guilty on the most serious charges of conspiracy and had money laundering charges against them dismissed. They were convicted on a handful of lesser charges of making false statements on forms, basically under the presumption that they should have know federal agents were lying. Wife Terri Reese was released on bond last year, and son Remington was cleared of all charges. The case has taken many strange and disturbing turns, most recently with charges that the prosecution withheld evidence of a corruption investigation against a key law enforcement witness the jury chose to believe, a development reported Tuesday in Gun Rights Examiner. The Luna County Sheriff and the law enforcement officer involved decried the testimony of an Assistant United States Attorney and an FBI agent as being “thrown under the bus” and asserted his innocence, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported in a follow-up story. Tea Party Patriots of Luna County, which has been chronicling the case with summaries of court proceedings and testimony, shared the details of the bond ruling in a post this evening. Conditions include “$10,000 bond each, they will have ankle monitoring bracelets, they will be allowed to go to church [and] arrangements for other off property trips can be made with the probation office.That the bond is so low after such an extended ordeal is further evidence of an overzealous and now unraveling prosecution. Those who agree are being asked to help get Rick and Ryin out of jail and home immediately, and to spread the word so that the funds can be raised without any further delay. Those interested in helping can do so by contributing to the Reese Defense Fund, Attention Patricia Arias, First Savings Bank, 520 South Gold, Deming, NM 88030...more

14 dead, at least 100 hurt in Mexico oil company blast - video

An explosion at the main headquarters of Mexico's state-owned oil company in the capital killed 14 people and injured 100 on Thursday as it heavily damaged three floors of a building, sending hundreds into the streets and a large plume of smoke over the skyline. Another 30 people remained trapped in the debris late Thursday, according to the Interior Ministry, as teams of military with rescue dogs showed up to extract the victims. The blast occurred in the basement of an administrative building next to the iconic, 51-story tower of Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, one of the tallest buildings in Mexico City. A reporter at the scene saw rescue workers trying to free several workers trapped. Television images showed people being evacuated by office chairs, and gurneys. Most of them had injuries likely caused by falling debris. Police landed four rescue helicopters to remove the dead or injured. About a dozen tow trucks were furiously moving cars to make more landing room for the helicopters. Streets surrounding the building were closed as evacuees wandered around, and rescue crews loaded the injured into ambulances...more

Here's the video that accompanies the CBS story

Center for Biological Diversity Rally to Protect Wildlife in the Gila National Forest

The diverse wild animals and plants of the Gila National Forest urgently need your help. Radical anti-environmental county commissioners are trying to block off-road vehicle restrictions that protect the Gila's native wildlife.

On Feb. 4 the Southwest County Commission Alliance plans to meet in Silver City, N.M., to attack the Gila National Forest's Travel Management Planning process.

We need to stop this attack on our wildlife.

The Gila National Forest is home to critically endangered Mexican gray wolves, Mexican spotted owls, loach minnows and spikedace -- each a species in dire need of protection to survive.

The forest also has more than 4,500 miles of roads fragmenting habitat and watersheds -- enough to drive from Hawaii to the North Pole -- many of which are never used. The U.S. Forest Service plans to leave over 3,300 miles of those roads open to public use -- an excessive amount. But county commissioners don't want to see a single mile of road closed.

Don't let these misguided and irresponsible commissioners bully the Forest Service. Join the Center for Biological Diversity at a rally to protect the Gila's endangered wildlife.

Event details below:

What: Rally to protect wildlife in the Gila National Forest
When: Feb. 4, 5:30 p.m.
Where: County Building at 1400 Highway 180 East, Silver City, N.M.

Email Cyndi Tuell at for more information.

Song Of The Day #1009

Country Roots on Ranch Radio was interrupted by a Drs. appt. and other stuff so we'll double up today with two songs from 1926. First up is Burnett & Rutherford with Curly Headed Baby.  Others would record this as The Hesitation Blues.  Then we have Kelly Harrell with Bright Sherman Valley.  You will recognize the tune as Red River Valley.  It turns out Red River Valley was the original song, dating from 1879, and was probably based on an incident in Canada.

Please note these and many of the songs this week were recorded before the Bristol Sessions in July of 1927, where Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family were discovered.  The next time we do this roots thing, I'll bring you the first two documented country songs recorded (by fiddler Eck Robertson), and possibly selections from the Bristol Sessions or from "black face" singer and song writer Emmett Miller, who recorded songs in the 20s that were hits many years later for Hank Williams, Eddy Arnold and Bob Wills.

Obama’s path toward energy poverty

by Tom Harris

In his inaugural address last week, President Obama demonstrated that he is putting people at risk with misguided climate and energy policies.

If there really were an increased threat from “raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms,” as the president indicated in his speech, then America would need more, not fewer sources of reliable and affordable energy to prepare for and cope with these hazards. More electricity would be needed to handle greater demands for air conditioning and heating. More power would be required to irrigate drought-ridden lands, build dikes, harden public infrastructure and relocate populations living on flood plains or in harm’s way due to tornadoes and hurricanes.

Yet instead of promoting the most reliable and least expensive energy technologies, such as coal-fired electricity generation, Mr. Obama encourages the least reliable and most expensive sources. It was certainly an understatement to say, as he did in the address, “The path toward sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.” He should have added, “and virtually useless,” because the sustainable energy sources he has most in mind are wind and solar power.

The president presents the transition to these technologies as an economic benefit. He asserted, “We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality.”

No, that is how you ruin a country’s economy.

Sustainable energy sources have had decades to mature. Energy from wind and solar power still costs between 3 and 10 times more than energy from conventional sources like coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear. The government had to funnel billions of dollars into subsidies for “green energy” technologies just to keep them afloat during Mr. Obama’s first term, and some failed even then. The Energy Information Administration shows that for 2010, non-hydroelectric renewable electricity generation was still only 3.6 percent of all generation, but it received 53.5 percent of all federal financial support for the electric power sector.

No country, the United States included, can afford to sustain this indefinitely.

Border numbers rise ahead of talks on immigration

Seeking to boost the bipartisan momentum in Congress for tackling immigration reform, President Obama said Tuesday that he now sees “a genuine desire to get this done soon” — but warned that the debate will get more heated in the weeks ahead. Mr. Obama traveled to Las Vegas to deliver a major speech on immigration just a day after a bipartisan group of eight senators announced a framework for a bill calling for most illegal immigrants to obtain legal status “on Day One,” with green cards and a full path to citizenship to follow once more action has been taken to secure the border. “The good news is that — for the first time in many years — Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together,” Mr. Obama said, blessing the broad outlines of the senators’ deal and saying the borders are secure enough to begin granting illegal immigrants citizenship. But the latest numbers suggest that illegal crossings from the Mexican border once again may be on the rise after falling for six years. The U.S. Border Patrol made 356,873 arrests on the border in fiscal year 2012, up 9 percent from 2011. The Border Patrol figures that apprehensions are a good proxy for illegal crossings, so when the numbers go up, it means that the flow of illegal immigrants is rising as well...more

Meet The Agency That Would Enforce Obama's Gun Control

By John Diedrich and Raquel Rutledge

A store calling itself Fearless Distributing opened early last year on an out-of-the-way street in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood, offering designer clothes, athletic shoes, jewelry and drug paraphernalia.

Those working behind the counter, however, weren't interested in selling anything.

They were undercover agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives running a storefront sting aimed at busting criminal operations in the city by purchasing drugs and guns from felons.

But the effort to date has not snared any major dealers or taken down a gang. Instead, it resulted in a string of mistakes and failures, including an ATF military-style machine gun landing on the streets of Milwaukee and the agency having $35,000 in merchandise stolen from its store, a Journal Sentinel investigation has found.

When the 10-month operation was shut down after the burglary, agents and Milwaukee police officers who participated in the sting cleared out the store but left behind a sensitive document that listed names, vehicles and phone numbers of undercover agents.

And the agency remains locked in a battle with the building's owner, who says he is owed about $15,000 because of utility bills, holes in the walls, broken doors and damage from an overflowing toilet.

The sting resulted in charges being filed against about 30 people, most for low-level drug sales and gun possession counts. But agents had the wrong person in at least three cases. In one, they charged a man who was in prison - as a result of an earlier ATF case - at the time agents said he was selling drugs to them.

Other cases reveal that the agency's operation was paying such high prices that some defendants bought guns from stores such as Gander Mountain and sold them to the agents for a quick profit. The mistakes by agents are troubling and suggest a lack of planning and oversight, according to veterans of the ATF, who learned about the operation from the Journal Sentinel. The newspaper combed through police reports, court documents, social media and materials left behind by the ATF, all of which provide a rare view inside an undercover federal operation.

Supreme Court accepts raisin case tied to Depression-era law

The Supreme Court agreed to address what may constitute an improper government "taking," in an appeal by California raisin growers who objected to a federal program designed to stabilize supply and prices in the raisin market. The court agreed to address the constitutionality of a "reserve tonnage" program overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under a law dating from 1937, near the end of the Great Depression. It requires raisin "handlers", who include farmers and packers, to set aside part of their crops, in an effort to prevent supply gluts and price volatility. In the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 years, 47 percent and 30 percent of the raisin crops, respectively, were set aside. California produces virtually all U.S. raisins and about 40 percent of raisins worldwide, according to the California Raisin Marketing Board. Marvin and Laura Horne, the operators of Raisin Valley Farms in central California, claimed that the reserve requirement violated the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which permits the federal government to take private property, but requires it to pay "just compensation." In July 2011, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, California, rejected the Hornes' takings claim on the merits, finding that the reserve requirement did not deprive them of an ability to profit. Eight months later, it revisited the issue and decided it lacked jurisdiction to decide the takings claim, saying Congress had allowed farmers like the Hornes to seek compensation in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which handles lawsuits seeking money from the government. In their appeal, the Hornes called the reserve requirement an improper "direct" appropriation of their crops, and said the 9th Circuit's findings conflicted with rulings from the Supreme Court and five other federal appeals courts...more For more background see Raisin Farmers Have Constitutional Rights Too


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Butting heads: Ranchers unhappy with lawsuit; Bighorn sheep bill moves forward

Patrick O’Toole and his family are concerned about the lawsuit filed against the U.S. Forest Service by Biodiversity Conservation Alliance. If the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance wins its lawsuit, O’Toole will not be issued anymore permits for his sheep to graze on federal land. “There are people who don’t want people to have livestock,” Rancher Patrick O’Toole said. As a multi-generational ranching family, the O’Tooles utilize rotational grazing on private, privately leased, state leased, BLM and federal lands. The O’Toole’s raise cattle, sheep and horses and his family raised livestock since the Great Depression. Senator Larry Hicks maintains that if the lawsuit filed by BCA succeeds, it would wipe out sheep producers in Carbon County.  “They hate ranchers,” he said. BCA is involved in a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service regarding its practice of issuing permits for domestic sheep grazing in the Medicine Bow Forest. The concern is that bighorn sheep herds in the area will be in danger. “It would be a fundamental loss for people who ranch in the Western state, particularly Wyoming,” O’Toole said.  Disease transmission from domestic sheep herds to the bighorn sheep herds is at the root of BCA’s concern. BCA claims that the sheep are in danger of contracting diseases that could potentially wipe out the Encampment herd and impact the diversity required to maintain healthy herds of bighorn sheep in the Medicine Bow Forest...more

Forest Service begins public vetting of new ski area water rights rule

The Forest Service will soon launch a national public process as it renews efforts to install a ski-permit rule requiring operators to transfer water rights used on public land to federal government. A U.S. District judge in Denver last month overturned the new Forest Service rule, arguing that the agency had ran afoul of procedural guidelines when it sculpted new 2011 and 2012 permitting regulations requiring ski area operators to transfer water rights to the federal government as a condition of the ski area permit. Judge William Martinez sided with the National Ski Areas Association, which had sued the Forest Service in January 2012 to stop the new permit water rules. The Forest Service this week announced it would begin a public process this spring — following federal procedural rules this time — gathering input from ski areas, ski area communities and others as it sculpts a regulation addressing water rights. The agency will work to develop rules that keep water connected to the land, not the permit-holder. "We would like to keep a situation where the water that is being used in the future - that is necessary and dependent for that ski area to operate - stays with that ski area for snowmaking and ski area operations," said Rocky Mountain Regional Forester Daniel Jirón. "With climate change and other thing we are seeing, being able to maintain water at the ski area is going to be really, really important."...more

No, what is "really, really important" to the Forest Service is to keep the water in government hands, not private hands.

The FS should follow state law, which is being revised because of this situation:

The process launched this week when the Colorado House agricultural committee heard testimony on a water rights bill. House Bill 1013 would prohibit a landowner from conditioning a special-use permit on the transfer of privately owned water rights. The bill was amended and a vote delayed until next week.

Owyhee County facing grazing reductions

The Bureau of Land Management is restricting grazing on allotments in Owyhee County after a federal judge's ruling in a lawsuit over sage grouse habitat. The Idaho Statesman reports the ruling in the case between environmental group Western Watersheds Project and the BLM means cutbacks for three of four allotments in the region, reducing the number of cattle that can graze the land and limiting the amount of time the cattle can graze. The announcement Monday angered ranchers, who said the cuts could put them out of business. Owyhee County rancher Kelly Aberasturi was so mad at the grazing cutbacks that he had to briefly leave the county courtroom in Murphy where the meeting was being held. "This really ticks me off," Aberasturi said as he went to cool off. He returned later as BLM Owyhee field office manager Loretta Chandler explained the cuts, which range from 35 percent to 47 percent in the three allotments. "What do you expect these people to do?" said Aberasturi, who is also a county commissioner. "This will put them out of business." BLM's Boise District manager, Jim Fincher, said the agency didn't have a choice if it wants to satisfy U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill. Ranchers have 15 days to protest Monday's decision...more

Environmentalists to Sue on Rattlesnake Protection

Environmentalists are launching a lawsuit aimed at speeding up federal action on a request to give endangered species protection to the eastern diamondback rattlesnake. The Tucson, Ariz.-based Center for Biological Diversity and others filed a formal notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday. The environmentalists say the rattlesnake is threated by loss of habitat and human predation across the Southeast. There are no bag limits in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. The agency last year agreed to conduct a review of the request, but spokesman Tom MacKenzie said it will be several years before that can be accomplished. He said that's because the service already is reviewing 400 other species due to prior lawsuits filed by the center. AP

Bag limits for rattlesnakes...that's hard for this old boy to fathom.

Feds: Austin-area salamanders' endangered listing could cost $29M in developmental impacts

Possible designation of critical habitats for the Jollyville, Georgetown, Salado and Austin Blind salamanders could cost $29 million in developmental impacts during the next 23 years, according to a draft economic analysis released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Jan. 25. The designation of critical habitats has been a concern throughout Williamson County as officials fear the measure could hamper development in the area. The $29 million figure accounts for impacts to possible development, transportation, mining, and species and habitat management activities in the proposed habitats, but it does not cover water management activities, utility projects and livestock grazing activities, according to the analysis. Williamson County Commissioner Valerie Covey, who serves on the board of the Williamson County Conservation Foundation, said the science and economic impact do not justify listing the salamanders. "I believe the decision should be science-based, and the science does not prove or substantiate the need to list the salamander," Covey said. "So when you look at that and you look at the financial impact it's going to have on our county, it frustrates me greatly to see that a decision is going to be made for political reasons, not science-based."...more

Stanford University sued for alleged Endangered Species Act violations

Two environmental organizations filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Stanford University, claiming the school's management of Searsville Dam and Reservoir harms steelhead trout and violates the Endangered Species Act. The suit alleges the dam prevents steelhead, a federally threatened species, from migrating farther up the San Francisquito Creek watershed, while Stanford's use of water from the reservoir for irrigation degrades habitat downstream of the dam by reducing water levels. Our Children's Earth Foundation and the Ecological Rights Foundation want to force Stanford to curb its use of water from the reservoir and implement a plan to allow the fish to get past the dam, either by creating a bypass or removing the entire structure. They also want Stanford to obtain an Endangered Species Act permit, which is required for any activity that harms a threatened or endangered species. Christopher Sproul, attorney for the two environmental groups, said Stanford has been dragging its feet in addressing the problem of the dam and reservoir, situated west of the main campus in the school's 1,189-acre Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. The goal of the suit, filed in federal court in San Francisco, is to spur Stanford to action...more

Animal rights group helps cancel SoCal elephant rides

Several organizations have yanked elephant rides from street fairs, festivals and zoos in SoCal, thanks to the lobbying efforts of Animal Defenders International. The company that provided the pachyderms, Have Trunk will Travel, Inc., is owned by Gary and Kari Johnson in Perris.  Several other SoCal municipalities and venues have severed ties with Have Trunk Will Travel amidst protests and public outcry, including the Orange County Fair, Los Angeles County Fair, Santa Ana Zoo, and the cities of Fountain Valley and Sierra Madre...more

No wonder people are leaving California.

For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II

...Thus it was in the remote south of the forest in the summer of 1978. A helicopter sent to find a safe spot to land a party of geologists was skimming the treeline a hundred or so miles from the Mongolian border when it dropped into the thickly wooded valley of an unnamed tributary of the Abakan, a seething ribbon of water rushing through dangerous terrain. The valley walls were narrow, with sides that were close to vertical in places, and the skinny pine and birch trees swaying in the rotors' downdraft were so thickly clustered that there was no chance of finding a spot to set the aircraft down. But, peering intently through his windscreen in search of a landing place, the pilot saw something that should not have been there. It was a clearing, 6,000 feet up a mountainside, wedged between the pine and larch and scored with what looked like long, dark furrows. The baffled helicopter crew made several passes before reluctantly concluding that this was evidence of human habitation—a garden that, from the size and shape of the clearing, must have been there for a long time. It was an astounding discovery. The mountain was more than 150 miles from the nearest settlement, in a spot that had never been explored. The Soviet authorities had no records of anyone living in the district... Slowly, over several visits, the full story of the family emerged. The old man's name was Karp Lykov, and he was an Old Believer—a member of a fundamentalist Russian Orthodox sect, worshiping in a style unchanged since the 17th century. Old Believers had been persecuted since the days of Peter the Great, and Lykov talked about it as though it had happened only yesterday; for him, Peter was a personal enemy and "the anti-Christ in human form"—a point he insisted had been amply proved by Tsar's campaign to modernize Russia by forcibly "chopping off the beards of Christians. Things had only got worse for the Lykov family when the atheist Bolsheviks took power. Under the Soviets, isolated Old Believer communities that had fled to Siberia to escape persecution began to retreat ever further from civilization. During the purges of the 1930s, with Christianity itself under assault, a Communist patrol had shot Lykov's brother on the outskirts of their village while Lykov knelt working beside him. He had responded by scooping up his family and bolting into forest...It was not until the late 1950s, when Dmitry reached manhood, that they first trapped animals for their meat and skins. Lacking guns and even bows, they could hunt only by digging traps or pursuing prey across the mountains until the animals collapsed from exhaustion. Dmitry built up astonishing endurance, and could hunt barefoot in winter, sometimes returning to the hut after several days, having slept in the open in 40 degrees of frost, a young elk across his shoulders...more

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Is the U.S. Government complicit in killing over a thousand wild horses?

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers is urging Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to disclose whether as many as 1,700 federally protected wild horses now unaccounted for were sold to a middleman who illegally transported them to Mexico for slaughter. Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., in a letter to Salazar being circulated this week to other lawmakers to cosign, write they are troubled by the department’s lack of response to “legitimate concerns” that the government may have sold these captured mustangs to a “kill buyer,” who then shipped them to a slaughterhouse. “It is our understanding that this investigation is ongoing,” the letter states, referring to an inquiry by Interior’s Office of Inspector General. But it also says that a number of animal-welfare organizations and worried citizens have been raising concerns, and that “as of today, these citizens haven’t heard from you.” Adam Sarvana, a spokesman for Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulations, said the two lawmakers want Salazar to provide answers before he leaves the Obama administration. Salazar has said he will leave his Cabinet position at the end of March. Tom Gorey, a Bureau of Land Management spokesman, said Monday that the inspector general has not yet released its findings and that “we don’t know when [the investigation] is going to be done.” But he said it would be wrong to suggest that the bureau sold any of these horses realizing they might be sent to slaughterhouses...more

Obama appointee Tony Babauta resigns from DOI

A Department of Interior official whose official travel and other conduct was being investigated has resigned. Tony Babauta, the Assistant Interior Secretary for Insular Areas, is leaving the agency Feb. 1, a spokesman tells the Loop, though Babauta has been on administrative leave since Nov. 17 while the investigation was pending. President Obama named Babauta, a native of Guam, to the position in 2009. He was tasked with overseeing U.S. territories including Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The Interior Department’s inspector general reportedly was looking into Babauta’s travels as well as grants awarded by his office...more

San Diego Police Chief: We Can Disarm Americans Within a Generation

San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne is fully supportive of the Obama/Feinstein gun grab, and says if lawmakers play it right Americans can be completely disarmed within "a generation." Lansdowne has gone on record saying: "I could not be more supportive of the president for taking the position he has. I think it's courageous with the politics involved in this process. [And] I think it's going to eventually make the country safer." He made it clear that it may take "a generation," but new laws could eventually take all guns off the streets. This is quite a departure from other law enforcement personnel we've seen around the country--particularly Sheriffs--who've come out firmly against any infringement on the 2nd Amendment. We've cheered those officials for standing with the people, and now Lansdowne has taken a position completely opposite them. Moreover, Lansdowne has also been slamming the NRA in interviews. And he seems overtly thrilled at the money the NRA is being forced to spend to get their message out in the wake of the crime at Sandy Hook Elementary. "We broke the NRA," says Lansdowne. Breitbart News contacted Lansdowne's office about these statements but received no comment.

Veggies Have Feelings? Taco Bell pulls ad that mocked veggies

Taco Bell is pulling a TV ad after receiving complaints that it discouraged people from eating vegetables. The ad by the fast-food chain was touting its variety 12-pack of tacos, with a voiceover saying that bringing a vegetable tray to a party is "like punting on fourth and one." It said that people secretly hate guests who bring vegetables to parties. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health advocacy group, this weekend urged people to tweet their complaints about the ad and the chain quickly made the decision to pull it. "We didn't want anyone to misinterpret the intent of the ad," says Rob Poetsch, a Taco Bell spokesman. The Center for Science in the Public Interest thanked Taco Bell for its speedy response. AP

Song Of The Day #1007

Country Roots continues on Ranch Radio with the Kessinger Brothers and their 1930 recording of Everybody To The Punchin'.  Although billed as the Kessinger Brothers, Clark Kessinger is the fiddler and his nephew, Luches Kessinger is the guitarist.

The All Music Guide writes, " Clark Kessinger played like few country fiddlers, with a clear intonation and a range that dazzled onlookers and fellow musicians. He was such a daunting talent that, as Charles Wolfe cited in his essay on the duo, other fiddlers would simply decline to compete with him in contests."

Pearce: New Mexico Jobs Endangered...Again

By U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce

Two decades ago, the Mexican spotted owl was listed under the Endangered Species Act.  New Mexicans weren't told then what that would mean, only that the listing was necessary to save the species.  The details would be sorted out later.  The Fish and Wildlife Service claimed logging was the problem, and implemented a series of restrictions on logging.  Twenty years later, more than 100 timber mills have closed their doors.  A once-thriving industry vanished—and the jobs with it.

Earlier this year, Fish and Wildlife reevaluated their decision.  They casually mentioned that logging wasn’t the problem after all.  In fact, they said we need to bring logging back, because forests have grown so overcrowded that the owl is now at risk because of fires!  Our state lost hundreds of good paying, middle class jobs, all because of one reckless decision.

In 2010, it was the same story all over again.  Fish and Wildlife spent a year and a half pushing to list the dunes sagebrush lizard as an endangered species.  But this time, the people of New Mexico spoke up.  We remembered the jobs we’d already lost, and we couldn't afford to lose more.  So we questioned their science, we held them accountable.  And we were proven right.
Six months ago, the Department of the Interior ruled that “landmark” voluntary conservation efforts by landowners protect the lizard better than the Endangered Species Act.  These homegrown agreements were praised as “a great example” for other conservation efforts.  Top officials at both the Department of the Interior and Fish and Wildlife proclaimed what New Mexicans have known all along: sound solutions that engage local voices can protect both the species and our jobs, without the need for a listing.

It was a great victory for conservation and for New Mexico’s economy: our farming, ranching, and energy production continue today, while lizard populations remain safe.  For a moment, Washington seemed to have learned from past mistakes.  It seemed to understand that listening and bringing everyone to the table works much better than heavy-handed regulations driven by politics and special interests. 

But late last year, while everyone’s attention was elsewhere, Fish and Wildlife quietly announced plans to list another species, the lesser prairie chicken, under the Endangered Species Act.  Shockingly, the chicken is already protected—under the exact same types of agreements that protect the lizard!

Either the Administration has forgotten its promises to New Mexicans, or it’s more interested in power and politics than the solutions it praised only months ago.
Power and politics often trump common sense and problem-solving in Washington.  Fish and Wildlife faces constant legal pressure from powerful, well-funded interest groups, like the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians, which have made careers out of suing the government and living on your tax dollars. These groups openly sue for the listings of thousands of species at a time—not to protect the species, but because the Endangered Species Act is a good way to make money and keep a stranglehold on an agency that’s supposed to be accountable to you.

The push to list the lesser prairie chicken comes straight from a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity.  It was chosen not because of science, but to attack our energy production, farming, and ranching here in southern New Mexico.

New Mexicans are honest, hardworking people.  If you tell us we can save our jobs and businesses by investing our own time, money, and efforts to protect a species, we’ll do it!  And we have done it, very successfully, for years. We've done it so well that top officials at federal agencies have praised our achievements.  We've held up our end of the bargain.  But now, Washington is going back on its word.

The Endangered Species Act is one of the most heavy-handed, unbending laws we have.  As we've already seen, it gives bureaucrats the power to destroy entire economies with hardly a second thought.  And these bureaucrats have already proven that they can make decades-long, job-killing mistakes—mistakes that cost the middle class dearly.  In fact, Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, told me in a closed door meeting that his agency is not required to take into account the impact that a listing has on your job. This is unacceptable.

New Mexico already has one of the weakest economies in the nation.  In the last three years, every single state has gained more jobs than we have.  This is no time to be playing games with our already fragile economy.  Our jobs, our livelihoods, our communities, and our culture are endangered. 
Enough is enough.  Tell Washington to stop playing political games with our jobs.  Tell Washington to stand by its promises, and drop its plans to list the lesser prairie chicken.

Not mentioned by Pearce is the section of the ESA authorizing appropriations for the act expired in 1992.  However, each year Congress has continued to fund the Act, even in years where Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress.  House rules prohibit consideration of measures  that contain unauthorized appropriations.  The House Rules Committee can issue a special rule which waives the prohibition.  So as you can see, the Republicans in the House have to turn to extraordinary measures to continue to fund the Act.  

One has to admire Pearce though, for all his activities which have drawn attention to the Act and forced the envirocrats to select more "reasonable" methods of implementation.  The last Congressman who drew attention to the Act's failings and pushed through significant reform legislation was Richard Pombo.  The next election he was targeted by the enviros and defeated.  

Our problem is not the lesser prairie chicken, its the chickens in Congress. 

They need wolves at Denver International Airport

Rabbits at Denver International Airport are chewing through the wires of cars in the parking lot causing tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage. The airport is home to hundreds of bunnies, who are not living up to their cute reputation as they chew through brake lines, clutch lines and other wiring. Local car repair shops in the Denver area estimate that the rabbits are doing massive damage and car owners affected have pleaded with the airport to do something about the growing menace. The rampaging rabbits at Denver are not a new problem: In 1999 they were biting their way through the wires of de-icing equipment - and now it seems they have moved their warren to the outlying parking lots...more

Traps?  No, far too cruel 

Pesticides?  No, too harsh on environment 

Wolves?  Absolutely.  The only way to have a eco-friendly, sustainable solution.

The new proposed recovery area almost reaches there anyway.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The water woes of Eddy County: Now entering the third year, severe drought is forcing area farmers to make tough decisions

On his family farmlands in the Otis area, Walterscheid is more fortunate. There, he has three supplemental wells he can turn on. But he worries what is going to happen to the water table when other farmers with supplemental wells turn them on. The cost of farming has also gone up because of the drought. "I heard that the CID is only going to give us .08 acre-feet per acre this year," Walterschied said. "That's nothing. In good years when there is water, we are allocated up to 3.697 acre- feet per acre. Our plan is to cut back on planting. Normally, we would plant about 100 acres in hay and cotton. Last year we pumped water because we didn't get a good water allotment. But it was costly electricity wise. Maintenance of the pumps is also expensive. I'm not talking fixing something on the surface. It's the down-in-the-ground pumps that are expensive to fix. You have to pull the pumps and repair them when they go out. Still, I'm glad we have the pumps. Farmers without supplemental wells are really in dire hurt." This past year Walterscheid refurbished a dormant well so that he would have additional water for his crops. The well water is currently at a depth of 56 feet, but he fears that will drop drastically once pumping begins. CID water Dudley Jones, CID manager, said although there is a lot of speculation about the amount of the water allotment for this current growing season, it is too early to tell what the allotment amount will be. However, he concedes it probably won't be much if the heavens don't open up soon and bring the needed moisture. The CID Board of Directors will announce the allotment amount at its March 12 meeting, Jones said. Jones said 2013 is going to be even more challenging than 2012 was. He said there is not an infinite water supply and there will be more stress put on the all aquifers. "Already, some Eddy County farmers are having difficulty getting water out of their wells," Jones said...more

Bill for background checks on all NM gun purchases is blocked on 8-8 vote

A bill to require state background checks for people who buy firearms in private transactions and at gun shows could be dead, having stalled Monday night on an 8-8 committee vote. Democratic Rep. Eliseo Alcon joined seven Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee in voting against the bill. The other eight Democrats on the panel supported it. Alcon, of Milan in northwestern New Mexico, said he did not support the bill because his constituents, mainly older people and native Americans, did not like it...more

Arroyo Hondo board member trial starts today

A member of the Arroyo Hondo Land Grant Board is scheduled to face trial for forgery and attempted fraud at 9 a.m. today (Jan. 28). The charges are related to a deed filed more than two years ago that has stalled real estate transactions inside the 20,000-acre Spanish land grant north of Taos. A jury trial for Lawrence Ortíz is set in district court in Taos before Judge Jeff McElroy. Ortíz is a member of the Arroyo Hondo Land Grant Board of Trustees — a five-member board that claims to represent the heirs of the original settlers of the grant. In October 2011, the board filed documents with the Taos County Clerk that lay claim to the 20,000-acre grant. A warranty deed purportedly signed by Manuel Ortíz — the father of two board members — was among those documents. The deed has essentially clouded title to thousands of properties inside the grant and has prevented lenders from issuing mortgages and stopped sellers from selling property. The Hondo deed was filed the same day that a property owned by Lawrence Ortíz was set to go up for auction as a part of a foreclosure proceeding. Eighth Judicial District Attorney Donald Gallegos has said the timing of the deed and the property auction led him to seek charges for fraud...more

Song Of The Day #1006

Ranch Radio continues with Country Roots music. Today's selection is Henry Ford's Model A by Oscar Ford.  The tune is available on the 22 track CD Georgia Songsters.

It turns out Oscar Ford is actually Clayton McMichen (of Skillet Licker fame), who recorded under various pseudonyms for Columbia between 1926 and 1931.

Obama campaign mgr. to Mayor Bloomberg’s office to talk guns

Jim Messina, President Barack Obama’s campaign manager, who will chair the relaunched, tax-exempt version called Organizing for Action, visited New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office at City Hall last week to coordinate the fight for gun control legislation, POLITICO has learned. Aides to Bloomberg, one of the faces of gun control nationally, had already been working with Vice President Joe Biden’s task force on a gun control bill before it was recently unveiled. But Messina spearheads Obama’s political arm, which has been established outside the boundaries of the Democratic National Committee and has listed gun control as one of its coming priorities, and Bloomberg has already made clear he’s willing to spend from his personal fortune as a counterbalance to the National Rifle Association. The meeting took place late last week in the mayor’s “bullpen,” Bloomberg’s trademark walls-free office at City Hall...more

Radical activists are desperately trying to derail Canadian oil sands

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has approved his state’s portion of the Keystone XL pipeline, explaining that its revised route avoids areas that critics had earlier claimed were environmentally sensitive. The Alberta-to-Texas pipeline would create more than 5,500 Nebraska jobs during its construction period and support 1,000 permanent jobs through 2030. During the project’s lifetime, KXL would generate $950 million in labor income, $130 million in property, sales and other state and local taxes, and $679 million for the state’s gross domestic product, by bringing Canadian oil sands petroleum to Texas refineries. President Obama’s second term agenda, continued viability of Medicare and Social Security programs, and America’s economy and environment need the pipeline and oil even more than Nebraska does. The pipeline and Alberta petroleum could mean $45 billion per year by 2035 in increased goods and services, up to 465,000 more jobs in the 2,000 American companies that already support oil sands operations or utilize the hydrocarbons in motor fuel and petrochemical manufacturing – and billions in annual state and federal tax revenues. While all fifty states would realize employment and economic gains, California, Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas, Ohio, New York, Montana and Michigan would benefit most (in that order) from this job and economic activity, the Canadian Energy Research Institute calculates. Canada has an estimated 169 billion barrels of oil sands fuel that can be recovered economically with today’s technology – 20% by mining and 80% via in situ drilling and steam injection. Much of this oil is destined for the United States via the KXL pipeline, to replace similar heavy crude that we now import from Mexico and Venezuela, and oil from other nations that have much lower environmental standards and far worse human rights records than Canada, including Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Russia, Iraq and Algeria...more

NM elk video goes viral

Federal judge to rule on oyster farm's bid to stay open

A federal judge Friday heard arguments but delayed a decision on a bid by Drakes Bay Oyster Co. to avert a government-ordered shutdown while the company's legal challenge is resolved. U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers conducted the hearing before a packed courtroom while a crowd of more than 50 people was left standing in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Oakland. Kevin Lunny, operator of the embattled oyster farm in the 2,500-acre Drakes Estero in Point Reyes National Seashore, is fighting Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision Nov. 29 denying renewal of the operation's federal permit. The judge did not indicate when she would rule on the request for an injunction but seemed to cast doubt on the oyster company's case when she questioned whether the court has jurisdiction in the matter. “Now, it's waiting time,” Lunny said in the federal building courtyard after the hearing. Drakes Bay Oyster Co. plants and harvests 8 million oysters — worth about $1.5 million a year — from the estero, a five-fingered estuary in the national seashore in Marin County. The judge did not say when she would issue a decision, said Lunny and his attorney, Amber Abbasi, of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group Cause of Action. Lunny, who was born and raised on a ranch next to the estero, said he was “absolutely hopeful” of a favorable decision. “This is a matter of law. Our attorneys did a beautiful job.” But without a stay of the Feb. 28 deadline to shut down, Lunny said his enterprise, which employs 31 full-time workers, will be lost. If he is forced to lay off the staff, remove their housing and kill 19 million oysters in the estero, “there's no recovering this business,” he said. Lunny said he is already scaling back the operation, harvesting oysters but no longer planting oyster larvae in the estero's clear, cold water. “It's hard to look at what could happen here,” Lunny said. “It could devastate a small community.” The prolonged battle over Drakes Bay Oyster Co. pits supporters of West Marin County agriculture, who fear that Salazar's decision foretells the loss of permits for onshore ranches in the national seashore, versus wilderness advocates who insist that all human activity must be removed from the estero based on its congressional designation as a wilderness area...more

Tax credit for historic preservation to be reviewed

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in Detroit Friday that he has ordered a review of rules governing the use of historic preservation tax credits with a view to making the credits easier to use in cities like Detroit. He made the remarks following a tour of several historic preservation projects accompanied by U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Quicken Loans founder and chairman Dan Gilbert. The U.S. government allows developers of historic properties to take a 20% tax credit of their project costs. The goal is to encourage more preservation of historic architecture. Salazar said that over the years the historic tax credit has been used to renovate 39,000 historic buildings in the U.S., involving $66 billion in private investment and helping create more than 2.2 million jobs...more

Utah anglers, boaters use 1800s law to fight 2010 waterway law

In the 1880s and 1890s, the Provo River through the Heber Valley served as a floating highway for timbers and railroad ties logged in the Uinta highlands. That century-old practice is being cited today in court to argue that Utah boaters, anglers, hunters and others should be allowed access to waterways even when they flow through private property — access that has been blocked by a law adopted in 2010.  Representing the Utah Stream Access Coalition (USAC), attorney Craig Coburn argued last week in a Heber City courtroom that HB141 violates the "public trust doctrine" in a case that highlights the growing tension between private property and recreational access to public land and waters. Public trust is a centuries-old legal concept that maintains certain natural amenities — like coastlines, lakes, rivers and their beds — remain public domain because of their importance to commerce, according to University of Utah law professor Robin Craig. USAC claims the doctrine imposes a duty on government to manage such assets for the benefit of the public, while streamside property owners and the state say the government meets its obligation by simply retaining title or control. "The public has the same right as the owner of that [river] bed to use those waters. It includes the right to reasonably touch the bed. The only caveat is the public has to gain lawful access to those waters. They can’t cross private land to get there," Coburn told 4th District Judge Derek Pullan on Tuesday. HB141 made it so anglers, kayakers and others have to get a landowner’s permission before walking on the private bed of a public body of water...more

State resolution would snub Tester forest jobs bill

Rep. Kerry White, R-Bozeman, Friday presented a resolution to the Montana Legislature opposing U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Bill. House Joint Resolution No. 8 would establish no law; if passed, it would simply be a statement of opposition to Tester’s bill. But it still compelled more than 40 Montanans to speak to the resolution during a committee hearing Friday. Tester’s bill, initially introduced in 2009, was born when three working groups approached him separately with the idea of creating wilderness in exchange for guaranteed timber harvest and a streamlining of regulatory approval for timber contracts.While some roadless or wilderness study areas would be converted into wilderness, Tester’s bill would also guarantee motorized recreation in other areas. Tom France, who opposed HJ 8, was part of the collaborative group that negotiated the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Forest Plan. Two other groups worked through their differences on the Kootenai and Lolo National Forests. “We visited with (Sen. Max) Baucus and (Rep. Denny) Rehberg, but it was Tester who said, ‘I see a theme here,’ and threw us all together,” France said. “Saying no to (Tester’s) bill is saying no to collaboration.” The 18 opponents to White’s proposed resolution included wildlife advocates, hikers, hunters and those from the timber industry. The 26 proponents included Beaverhead and Madison County commissioners, geologists and mining officials, members of Citizens for Balanced Use and livestock owners, many of whom had grazing allotments in the proposed wilderness areas. White, a first term legislator, is an executive co-chairman of CBU...more

Montana bison ranch sees resurgence in consumers craving lean, local meat

Moving in on foot isn’t a good idea, so Troy Westre fires up a John Deere four-wheeler, loads the grass pellets and heads across the snow, cutting the herd of bison as if it were easy. Along the way, he keeps a watch on the bulls who are watching him and that sack of tasty pellets. These aren’t cattle roaming around, Westre notes. Rather, they’re 2,000-pound animals, fast in spurts and often unpredictable. “There’ve been times they’ve come at me on a full run,” said Westre, co-owner of Bitterroot Bison Co. near Lolo. “I’ve made it to the gate just in time. I’ve had my close calls for sure.” So goes the life of a bison rancher, and Westre should know. He’s been ranching bison for 13 years, rolling out hay on cold winter mornings, separating the bulls and running irrigation lines for summer grass. After back surgery in 2009, Westre merged operations with his surgeon, Christopher Mack, on land Mack owns on the Bitterroot River. They’ve been growing their outfit ever since, keeping an eye on the market and the public’s growing demand for lean, local bison meat. “We’re seeing the supply-and-demand thing right now,” Westre said. “There’s not enough bison for the demand of the people. They’re getting more health conscious. They want to eat local and they want to know where the animals are grown.” Westre and the nation’s bison ranchers received unexpected but welcome publicity last Monday. Before a national audience, President Barack Obama dined on hickory-grilled bison with red potato horseradish cake and wild huckleberry reduction sauce as part of his second-term inauguration festivities...more

Keystone XL pipeline: Nebraska’s approval puts Obama in a bind

On Tuesday, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R), who previously hesitated at approving the project, sent Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton a letter saying he is now satisfied with the pipeline’s new routing. The potential environmental risks, he says, are lessened. TransCanada is set to carry $200 million in third-party liability insurance to cover any cleanup costs, Governor Heineman says in the letter. He also writes that the proposed reroute “avoids many areas of fragile soils in Northern Nebraska” and “avoids a shallow groundwater area ... where the aquifer is thin, wells are shallow, and bedrock is close to the surface.” The pipeline construction would generate $418 million in economic benefits to the state and about $13 million in property-tax revenues in its first year of operation, Heineman adds. The backing of Nebraska’s governor is seen as putting Obama in a tougher bind over a decision expected to receive heavy criticism either way. Environmental opponents view the pipeline as dangerous because it would carry oil extracted from Canada’s region of oil sands, which produce up to 30 percent more greenhouse gases than conventional crude oil. There are also worries about potential spills in the nation’s most sensitive agricultural terrain...more

Judge rules EPA can’t mandate use of nonexistent biofuels

A federal court delivered a serious blow to the ’s renewable fuel agenda, ruling that the agency exceeded its authority by mandating refiners use cellulosic biofuels, which isn’t commercially available. The court sided with the country’s chief oil and gas lobby, the American Petroleum Institute, in striking down the 2012 EPA mandate that would have forced refineries to purchase more than $8 million in credits for 8.65 million of gallons of the cellulosic biofuel. However, none of the biofuel is commercially available. “[W]e agree with API that EPA’s 2012 projection of cellulosic biofuel production was in excess of the agency’s statutory authority,” reads the court decision...more

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Trading up –Dad to a drill sergeant 

by Julie Carter

Ranch raisin’ is the best way any kid can grow up. It teaches life's lessons in the most basic ways during all the formative years. Then one day the ranch kid wakes up and he is an adult with big-people dreams and plans that often don't include staying at the ranch.

And honestly, no one blames them. Cowboy life is not always awash in glamour. A good bit of it involves farm implements, a shovel, plumbing tools, fence stretchers and carpenter skills. It's that seedy side of the career than will send a young man looking for other excitement.

My younger brother was a good example of this natural migration. Being the last one left at home - his older brothers already gone, making the big bucks in the construction industry - he was the last cowboy standing. Well into that stage of maturity where Dad didn't know a thing about anything, ranch work was just another frontier of disagreement. To improve his circumstances, he joined the U.S. Army.

The irony was that after basic training, the Army sent him to live on an Army-owned ranch in Colorado to be in the cavalry regiment that performed in parades and Old West re-enactments. In this newfound career, he cleaned stalls, tended to horses and the usual ranch chores.

Eventually his tour was up and he moved back home. However, cowboy glamour at the ranch soon departed in the midst of moving sprinkler pipe in the hay fields and other such tedious chores.

The lad re-enlisted, but not without throwing in a tour of duty tending bar in a big city honky-tonk, teaching country dance lessons and landing a role in a beer commercial for the really big bucks. His cowboy expertise continued to come in quite handy.

Through the years, the armed forces have been the "great escape" for a number of cowboys.

In Texas, another cowboy reached adulthood while still living at home, helping his dad out with the family ranch, all the while considering his career opportunities. During a rainy spell, his dad decided that the house roof needed new shingles and his son came to mind for this job.

The young man soon found himself up on the ridge row with a shingling hatchet, a bundle of shingles and a nail apron firmly in place. After the first couple of rows of shingles, the summer sunshine was losing its appeal.

He managed to work the head off the hatchet and was climbing down when Dad, who was paying more attention than the lad realized, tossed him up a hammer. It took him a while to break the handle on the hammer, but he got it done. Dad had another one ready for him.

While nailing down a couple more rows of shingles, he decided that Dad was preoccupied. The hammer “slipped” out of his grasp and landed about 500 feet away in the stock tank. It just so happened this was the last hammer on the place, so Dad sent his son to the hardware store in town for more hammers to finish the job.

On the way to town, the boy noticed he had a couple of extra shirts and pairs of jeans in his truck so he headed directly to the Army recruiters office and joined up.

Three years went by before he returned stateside. When he got back to Texas and on his way home, he remembered what started it all.

He stopped by the hardware store, bought a couple of hammers and when he walked in the door at home told his Dad, "Here are your hammers. I got them just like you told me."

Julie can be reached at