Sunday, May 31, 2015

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Golf is not my game

by Julie Carter

There are a few sports I’ve not ever learned much about nor have I spent a lot of time honing my writing or photography skills involving them.

Usually it is simply a geographical issue or a difference in social circles. Car racing, shuffleboard, chess, martial arts to name a few. However, golf is another and not because there aren’t golfers and golf courses around.

One time when I worked for a small newspaper, I had to fill in for the sports editor and shoot photos of a golf tournament.  With a willing nature, I stepped up for a quick lesson and thought perhaps it would add to my sports photography resume that covered basketball, football, volleyball, track, roping, rodeo and even a few stick horse events.

The sports guy gave me a crash course in the nuances of photographing golf and truly, it was almost a literal crash as he herded our golf cart down the path like a NASCAR driver. He rattled off the particulars at warp speed, quite confident I was going to remember it all as well as recall how to find 4-5 particular local golfers in a “pasture” stocked with 75 guys in kakis and polo shirts.

He pointed at the green spots between little hills, peering right, left and back to find a certain golfer. All this while waving a little golf course map in my face assuring me it was not a hard assignment.

I was holding on to the cart, my camera and my concern for my safety as trees flashed by, we met other carts and the rapid U-turns indicated we were headed the wrong direction. Not that I’d have known. I assure you I was in a foreign land.

If you are a golfer, you love the sport. If you are not a golfer, you yawn. But if you do, do it very quietly. Even TV golf teaches you part of the protocol is to be very quiet, as indicated by the wimpy little “golf clap” that is allowed eventually.

I’m a rowdy sport kind of girl. I like sports where, as a spectator, you can cheer, yell and holler a little to release some exuberance for what is happening on the field, track, floor or arena. If I spent very much time on the golf greens, I’d undoubtedly be asked to leave.

Bogeys, birdies, putts, tees, par, chip shots, in the rough, on the green, fairway –all a foreign language to me. I was just happy I only had to photograph it, not write it. I did, however, have some concern I’d end up on the news end of a camera while being escorted from the course for forgetting I wasn’t supposed to cheer.

There are some similarities to this sport and my cowboy world of roping and rodeo. Both use handicaps to give the less skilled competitors a better chance. It brings in more entry fees for the really good guys to win a bigger pot. It just isn’t polite to call it what it really is –“Sucker, come donate your money.”

Both have tours, pro’s and am’s, champions and hot shots with big egos. Even the name of one of the tournaments that annually came to town, the Tight Lies Tour, could just as easily been the name of a team-roping event.

I know where to stand, sit or hide when I’m taking pictures at a rodeo, roping or on the ranch. It is basic instinct for me to not get hurt by the livestock, the action of the event or an irritated competitor.

I’ve never been whipped with a rope and so far, I can also say the same about a golf club.
Julie, who now enjoys the pace of stick horse rodeos, can be reached for comment at


Fresh air and sunshine
Revealed to the world
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Hands down, a mule is preferred to any New Mexico canary.
            That matter of burros and mules was settled long ago. The first mule of my memory was stationary. Boppy hauled him home from somewhere and there he remained for some brief period of time. Fairly quickly, my grandfather found out he was a good ornament, book stop, or baby sitter. He saddled him and left him in the flat in front of the tractor shed for me to climb on, under, and over. He stood like a statue, unmoving, and resolute in his mulish mindset.
            I think he was a bay, but he could have been mouse colored as well. He must have been fairly small because I could climb on him by myself. I now wonder what saddle was used.
The first burro was another matter. He appears in my memory at the mouth of the Mangus at Aunt Mary and Uncle Hap’s. He was a sorry sucker and only got sorrier. He was a gray, evil thing that had no steering. The watershed experience with him was on the east side of the house at the clothesline, or, more accurately, under the clothesline. He had homed in on it from up near the fence line water storage and never deviated. In a straight line as if it was plotted on navigational beacons, he came. Never wavering and locked in compound he plodded toward that destructive child shedding device. His every intent was not just to get rid of me, but to murder me in the process.
            Trying everything, I ran out of time, space, and ideas all at the same time. The first wire hooked my left ear as I canted right and backward in attempted avoidance … “OW!”
            The second wire nearly took my nose off in a straight pull that drug me out of the saddle seat, and up and back over the cantle. “Hey, WAIT!”
            The fourth and fifth wires were not even in play as the third wire was taken fully under my chin. Choking, scraping, and stretching my neck to ugly proportions it gagged me until my still stirruped feet met resistance and finally broke free. Suspended horizontally and momentarily in space, the plummet to earth was inevitable. The number three wire completed that son of Satan’s intention of extricating me forcefully from his back. Into the goat heads I flopped as a cloud of dust rose around me.
            When enough air was exchanged, the stars cleared, and I discovered I was still among the living, the utterance was … “AUNT MARY!”
            The externalities
            My departed friend, Brown Smith, he of a long line of Brown Smiths of Brazos River fame was the first to describe the more practical uses of the clotheslines of his youth. His claim was his dad deducted early on he wasn’t the brightest apple in the sunlight plus he was “bad to run off”. In order to avoid lost time searches for him, he was fashioned with a harness and clipped to a clothesline wire with a chain lead attached to a snap. There he was left to play cowboys and Indians, eat dirt, and wander endlessly back and forth the length of the wire.
            That arrangement was finally concluded when he advanced to more mobility and was snapped similarly to a railroad tie cut in half. Turned loose, Brown was able to discover the world in a broadening arc around the ranch headquarters. The tie also left drag marks sufficiently so he could be trailed easily if they needed to capture him for supper or family visits.
            Joe’s brother-in-law, Harlie, was fitted similarly with a dog collar and set of doors in the fresh air on more than a few occasions as well. His mother, sole proprietress of a restaurant, motel, and store about an hour west of some of the best remaining pie selections extant in the arid West, had to revert to the same clothesline containment procedures. She would check on him occasionally, and, there he’d be, sitting watching the traffic going by when he ran out of other things to occupy himself in the endless forays back and forth under 45 feet of clothesline. Folks would honk and wave.
            Fighting wasps was another point of clothesline adventure for many of us who subscribed to such opportunities. Invariably, open ends of the pipe used to hold the lines would become the nesting preference for wasps. Our mothers would scream for elimination of the swarms and we’d rise to the task. Those attacks would become fully orchestrated campaigns. We’d call for reinforcements. Time was spent placing convenient as well as strategically located ammunition stockpiles. It was then time to step off. To get things stirred up, we’d open up with BB guns. We’d then progress to mud clods hurled at the exposed ends and wind up sending a runner up there to make the final plug(s). Seldom were we stung having become such competent wasp fighters from years of experience. It was all just part of living in the West.
            And, of course, there was the actual and original use of the structures … drying clothes.
            The core issue
            Remember the word dingy?
Hanging clothes was much akin to fighting wasps. Skills and astute observations were perfected only by experience over long periods of time. That applied to the actual practice of hanging fresh wash as much as it applied to the judgment of the outcome. Our mothers, and, perhaps more so, our grandmothers were relentless critics of every clothesline in the county. So and so would always show here true colors by the appearance of her weekly wash. Somebody else demonstrated “pure ‘D’ old laziness” in her laundering skills, and heaven help the lady who might reveal evidence of forbidden guests. In fact, few secrets could be kept by such intelligence gathering.
As a result, procedures were perfected that put the best blush on the laundering process.
The older campaigners would likely set the shields early. The big stuff went on the outside wires the world would see. It was there sheets, towels, and pillow cases went to block off direct line of sight to the more private stuff. In fact, very few of us can probably remember hanging clothes. Taking them down was another matter, but setting them out was the domain of the matron in charge and we can now look back and maybe discern the issues involved.
Wash day was traditionally Monday. That put much of our generation in school and out of the way to allow concentration of the task. It also allowed the stewardess of the clothesline full control of the sights and soundness doctrine of the process. Secret additives particularly for whiteness could be parlayed without divulging the recipe. Placement onto the clothesline could also be done with the least public observation.
Protocol was strict. Whites were hung with whites. Darks were hung with darks. The white unmentionables were buried in the middle with line of sight shields obstructing critical reviews. The proper way to hang socks was by the toes not the tops. Levi’s were hung by the cuffs not the waistbands. Never were shirts allowed to be hung by the shoulders. They were to be hung by the tails. Most importantly it didn’t matter if it was hot or cold, wash day was maintained with enforced discipline.
Taking down the clothes was our assignment. When we arrived home on washday, it was also the day butter was usually churned. We didn’t have a milk cow after we moved to the outskirts of town, but our neighbors, George and Dolly Brown, did, and we bought milk from them. After it was cooled and the cream separated, the latter would be skimmed off into the churn. When we arrived home, one of us would be tasked to turn the crank on the churn until butter made. Somebody else would be sent to ‘gather the clothes’. There was an old wicker basket and we’d go get the wash. We had a cloth pen holder and we’d push it along with us putting pens in it as we unpenned the clothes and dropped them into the basket. Clothes would be off the line within 30 minutes of our arrival home from school. They would be hung or folded immediately thereafter and put away.
At places like Minnie Rice’s, the sheets and handkerchiefs were not folded. They were put aside and ironed. My mother, a subsequent generation matron of the clothesline, looked at that Herculean task as archaic and out of date. Minnie looked at it as the finishing touches of original domestic stewardship.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “If there is a single smell of the past that I miss the most … it is the smell (and feel) of fresh, clean sun dried sheets from the clothesline.”

Group says New Mexico’s national parks need $102M in maintenance

National parks and monuments like Carlsbad Caverns, Chaco Canyon, White Sands and Bandelier attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to New Mexico each year. Those numbers are expected to increase next year when the National Park Service begins what is expected to be a huge public relations push for its centennial celebration. But national parks and monuments across the country, including in New Mexico, have maintenance and repair projects that remain on the drawing boards due to chronic underfunding in a broken federal budget system, park supporters say. “Our national parks are more than just our nation’s crown jewels. Parks like Carlsbad Caverns are major economic drivers in their communities,” U.S. Sen. Tom Udall told The New Mexican recently through a spokeswoman. “We owe it to all Americans to solve the maintenance backlog so that visitors can continue to enjoy our natural wonders.” John Garder, director of budget and appropriations for the National Parks Conservation Association, said in a recent interview that the maintenance backlog has yet to have a visible effect on the number of visitors to New Mexico parks. “Many of the things needed are not really visible to visitors,” he said. But he warned, “If this continues, you can expect to see a decline in visitors, which will affect local economies.” The national maintenance backlog, according to the National Parks Conservation Association, entails projects totaling more than $11.5 billion. And here in New Mexico, there is $102 million worth of maintenance that needs to be done. According to the Washington, D.C.-based association, Carlsbad Caverns in Southern New Mexico has more than $31 million in deferred maintenance needs. The parks and monuments generate almost $89 million annually in visitor spending for the state and support 1,400 jobs, the National Parks Conservation Association says. Both Udall and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., blamed the sequester — across-the-board cuts that chopped $1.5 trillion out of the federal budget over 10 years beginning in 2013 — for the maintenance backlog at the national parks...more

Both Udall and Lujan "blamed the sequester", which began in 2013, for the backlog.  That's weird, because the same organization, NPCA issued a report in 2004 saying the backlog was $6.8 billion back then.  The truth is, that backlog has been there, and been growing, for years.  Yet, Udall-Heinrich-Lujan keep adding additional units to the system (2 monuments + 1 park preserve totaling over 800,000 acres in NM in the last two years) when they know what currently exists can't be maintained.  If they can't get funding for the Carlsbad Caverns do they really think these new areas will be appropriately funded and managed?

Picking up a gun is no way to address grievances in this country

By Lauren Howells

The Ballots Not Bullets Coalition, concerned with the increasing use of violence as a tool to affect public policy, announced its launch on May 19. The organization's launch comes on the heels of the standoff in Bunkerville, Nev., between cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government over unpaid grazing fees, which escalated to an armed confrontation. The dispute came to an inconclusive end after the government backed down to avoid bloodshed.

The coalition advocates three principles: First, the Second Amendment does not provide any individual the right to shoot government officials upon personally concluding that the government is behaving in a "tyrannical" manner. Second, there is no legitimate role for violence in American democracy. Third, the rule of law must be enforced to avoid setting a dangerous precedent that threatens American freedoms.

One year after the Bundy stand-off, we again find ourselves amidst a conflict where some Americans opt for metal barrels and silver bullets as the mechanism for objection to governmental policies.

Last month, a group of armed constitutional activists swarmed to the Sugar Pine Mine in Oregon to guard property against a stop-work order from the Bureau of Land Management. The dispute escalated when the mine's co-owners asked for assistance from a local chapter of the Oath Keepers, an insurrectionist group that encourages law enforcement and military service members to disobey orders they deem "unconstitutional." The Oath Keepers' presence at the mine has steadily expanded over the past month as more anti-government extremists flock to the site from all over the country. Most concerning is that no one seems to be paying attention.

All the concern is expressed about private citizens taking up arms. No concern is expressed about the number of federal agents and their weapons.

New Mexico search, seizure laws don't apply at border

New Mexico's highest court ruled Thursday that the state's protections against search and seizure do not apply at international border checkpoints. The five-member panel made the distinction in overturning a previous ruling made by an appeals court in a 2012 drug smuggling case. In the opinion, Justice Edward L. Chavez wrote the state law does not mean greater protections against searches at an international border checkpoint. If anything, "all motorists stopped at international fixed checkpoints are known to be international travelers who are not entitled to the heightened privacy expectations enjoyed by domestic travelers," the opinion stated...more

On the Trail of a Creole Music Pioneer, Still Alive in Song

PINEVILLE, La. — Somewhere among the thousands beneath a grassy hill here lies the body of Amédé Ardoin. He was singular in life: one of the greatest accordion players ever to come out of south Louisiana. A Creole prodigy who traveled the countryside playing his bluesy two-steps and waltzes, he changed Cajun music and laid down the roots for zydeco. At his death at the age of 44 in 1942, he was Case No. 13387 in the state psychiatric hospital, destined for an anonymous burial. Years of attempts to recover the body of Amédé, as he is widely known, have come to nothing. As with Mozart’s grave, Amédé’s is known only by its general vicinity: the area where the blacks were buried. But a desire for some sort of physical commemoration of his life, beyond a few documents and a blurry photograph, has not gone away. “I started thinking of possible symbolic ways of bringing Amédé home, placing a kind of image of him in the culture, something physical,” said Darrell Bourque, a former state poet laureate, who has been trying to raise funds to have a statue erected, most likely in Eunice, La., where Amédé spent much of his life. Mr. Bourque described Amédé as bringing the white Cajun and black Creole traditions together in a society that policed racial boundaries so rigidly that it ultimately brought about his death. His music, Mr. Bourque said, represented “a little pocket of possibility that didn’t get replicated in the larger culture.” It was only after he began looking for Amédé that Mr. Bourque came to learn how complicated those boundaries could be for whites and blacks at that time — and how deeply connected he was to the people who crossed them. Amédé was born in 1898 in the countryside between Eunice and Basile. A small man, not much for field work, he made his living with his accordion. He played and sang on porches and at dance halls, for Creole and Cajun audiences alike, sometimes alone and sometimes — improbably for the era — with a Cajun fiddler named Dennis McGee. Goldman Thibodeaux, an 82-year-old musician who says he is the last living person to have heard Amédé perform live, remembers waiting as an 8-year-old under a china ball tree, watching him come up the road on horseback, his accordion hanging beside him in a flour sack. He was coming for a Sunday afternoon house party, Mr. Thibodeaux recalled, and for three hours he sat in a corner and played, making up songs on the spot. “Amédé,” Mr. Thibodeaux said, “he could put the words in a way, the girl knew he was talking about her, the man knew he was talking about him, but he wouldn’t name anybody’s name.” As Michael Tisserand recounts in his book “The Kingdom of Zydeco,” Amédé recorded 22 songs in New Orleans and San Antonio with McGee, some of which would become standards, and in 1934 he made a solo trip to New York and recorded a dozen more. At home he had become a sensation: Women wept, men danced, rivals became jealous, whites grew angry. But he toured far and wide, seemingly indifferent to his jeopardy. The widely accepted account of his death begins on a night when Amédé was playing at a white dance hall...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1438

Our gospel tune today is the 1959 recording of There's A Higher Power by the Louvin Brothers, Charlie & Ira.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Winged Victory

She’s been referred to as the Goddess of Victory, Statue of Justice, and Madame de Vaunte but Arizonans prefer to call her Winged Victory because of her resemblance to the Greek statue that bears the same name. The Territory of Arizona purchased this 600 lb. seventeen-foot-tall beauty in 1898 for $150 and when the capitol building was completed in 1901 she was placed atop the copper dome as a weather vane. During the early 1900s, cowboys, following a raucous night in the local saloons along Washington Street amused themselves “giving the lady a whirl” by firing their six-shooters at her wings. The prevailing winds that blew during the months when the state legislature was in session often caused Winged Victory to turn her back on the front entrance. This gave rise to political jokes about the white lady showing her disdain for politicians in general. One thin-skinned politico took exception in 1957 and had her welded in place….respectfully facing the front. This indignity was corrected in 1975 during another restoration effort when the lady in white was again set free to turn her back on Arizona’s politicos.  Marshall Trimble

Pictures: Mummies found frozen in glacier could be climbers who went missing 55 years ago

The eerie remains emerged when a mummified skull was found about 1,000 metres from the summit if Pico de Orizaba. A second body was then found nearby. Initially, only a head and a hand could be seen sticking out of the snow and ice. But on Thursday, they excavated further and discovered the hand actually belonged to another body that appeared to be embracing the first corpse. The frozen bodies, one with clenched fists and a horrified expression, could be two of three Mexicans who disappeared after an avalanche struck 55 years ago, according to local officials. But the grim discovery has prompted families in Spain and Germany, whose loved ones were also lost on the mouton to contact mountain rangers in the hope they have finally found their relatives' remains. The skull and hand were seen poking out of a glacier 5,270 metres up the volcano by climbers, then 12 local civil protection mountaineers who carried out a search discovered the second body...more


Friday, May 29, 2015

Livestock losses to wolves rising in B.C.

MERRITT, B.C. — Wolves are taking a bite out of British Columbia livestock. 
 The B.C. Cattlemen’s Association’s 2014 cattle loss survey reported 553 confirmed kills by wolves and another 249 losses by other predators. 
 “B.C. is home to a great abundance and diversity of wildlife. Too much of a good thing can be a problem sometimes,” said Tom Eithier, the province’s assistant deputy minister for forest, lands and natural resources operations. 
 The problem is spreading across the province as wolves, bears and cougars attack domestic animals and elk and deer raid haystacks and crops. 
 Livestock groups such as the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association want action now, and the government is looking for more proactive approaches to wildlife control, said Eithier. 
 Past government policy called for a light regulatory touch because the public wanted wolves protected and livestock owners wanted them gone.
 B.C. agriculture minister Norm Letnick has announced the continuation of an agriculture-wildlife management committee to advise and make recommendations on wildlife management issues because the government has finally agreed something needs to be done. 
 As well, he told the BCCA’s annual meeting in Merritt that representatives from agriculture and the ministries of environment, forestry and agriculture will meet regularly to discuss wildlife problems and consider controls.
 The province paid out $114,000 in compensation for verified losses in 2014-15, but ranchers and officials know many incidents are not reported. About 600 ranchers have taken courses on how to verify kills. 
 Compensation is only a partial solution, said Eithier. 
 “The crown certainly has responsibility, resource users and resources owners also have responsibility,” he said. “The question comes down to who pays. There are different schemes all the time that are brought forward.” 
 Rancher David Haywood-Farmer of Savona thinks wildlife is moving out of areas hard hit by the mountain pine beetle. The wood was removed and the habitat changed. Roads opened and the wolves travelled down them to enter new regions. 
 “It seems like the whole trend is from the mountain pine beetle epidemic.”

Defense Bill Passes with ESA Provisions on Sage Grouse and Prairie Chicken

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

Language to block the listing of the greater sage grouse passed the House as part of the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. The Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association applaud the House for working to prevent an arbitrary listing that would have significant negative impacts on the West.

“Livestock grazing and wildlife habitat conservation go hand-in-hand, and ranchers have historically proven themselves to be the best stewards of the land,” said Brenda Richards, PLC president and NCBA member. “If sage grouse are designated for protection under the ESA, many ranchers may no longer be permitted to allow livestock to graze on or near sage grouse habitat, habitat which spans across 11 western states and encompasses 186 million acres of both federal and private land. This decision would not only destroy the ranching industry in the west, which is the backbone of many rural communities, it would also halt the conservation efforts currently underway by ranchers.”

With many states already effectively managing and conserving the sage grouse populations, the provision written by Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, Rob Bishop (R-Utah) also prohibits the federal government from instituting their own management plans on federal lands which go beyond those state plans already in place.

“The state plans that are already in place focus on improving sage grouse habitat, through decisions based on-the-ground where impacts to the bird can be best dealt,” explained Richards, who ranches in Idaho. “Ranchers in particular have consistently lived and operated in harmony with the sage grouse for many decades, and in fact, the core habitat areas are thriving largely due to a long history of well-managed grazing. It is a known fact that livestock grazing is the most cost effective and efficient method of removing fine fuel loads, such as grass, from the range thus preventing wildfire, which is one of the primary threats to the sage grouse. We must allow time for these state plans, orchestrated by folks closest to the land and to the issue at hand, to be fully implemented and to accomplish their goal of protecting this bird.”

An amendment offered by Congressman Lucas (R-Okla.) addressing the Lesser Prairie Chicken was also included in the bill. The Lesser Prairie Chicken, which habitat spans across Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado was listed as threatened last year by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The language included in the bill would reverse and prohibit the listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken as threatened and endangered until 2021. After 2021, the Lesser Prairie Chicken could not be listed unless the Secretary of Interior determines that the goals in the range-wide management plan are not being met.

“The Endangered Species Act has become one of the most economically damaging laws facing our nation’s livestock producers,” said Richards. “It is an outdated law that hasn’t been reauthorized or updated since 1988. When species are listed as “threatened” or “endangered” under the ESA, the resulting use-restrictions placed on land and water, the two resources upon which ranchers depend for their livelihoods, are crippling. We appreciate the effort to stop and reverse these listings, and before any more listing decisions are made, a hard look at and modernization of the ESA is needed."

  See more at:

600 head of cattle surrounded by water, can't escape

LIBERTY COUNTY, Texas - Along the Trinity River near Liberty County, cattle ranchers are trying to figure out a way to save about 600 head of cattle that are trapped. The cattle were on dry land Thursday but they're surrounded by water and can't escape. “They’re on a small area about 50 acres right now,” said Montgomery County Justice of the Peace James Metts. “Right now the only option of salvaging this cattle is either flying them out in helicopters and trailers…if it comes up much more, they’re doomed.”  Source

Advocates laud new Clean Water Rule; critics fear high costs for NM

A new interpretation of the Clean Water Act exponentially increases the amount of surface water in New Mexico subject to federal protections, and while environmental advocates herald the change, water and land managers, and some of the state’s biggest industries, are bracing for additional bureaucratic burdens. Bruce Thomson, a professor emeritus of civil engineering at The University of New Mexico who also sits on the board of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority, said that while the EPA’s ruling requires sweeping changes nationwide, New Mexico and other arid states are especially impacted. A 2014 New Mexico Environment Department review of national hydrology data found that 93.6 percent of the state’s surface waters are intermittent or ephemeral. Explained Thomson, “They flow only when we have a rainstorm and may only flow for a few hours once or twice a year. Are those waters of the U.S.? The ruling released yesterday says that if it has an identifiable stream channel and a high water mark, it is.” The ruling’s intentions are good, Thomson said, but he also predicts its implementation across the state will pose serious — and costly — challenges. He points to the work of Albuquerque’s flood control authority: Under the rule change, the agency may have to set up pollution monitoring systems in dry tributaries that only have water flowing through them for several hours a few times a year. Or if an arroyo clogged with sediment needs a work crew to muck it out, it’ll now also require a permit from the Corps of Engineers. “We’re concerned that we’re going to be swamped with regulatory constraints,” Thomson said. “It’s a classic unfunded mandate.” The state Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte could not be reached for comment Thursday, but he testified before a House subcommittee in March that “the impacts of the rule are so potentially harmful, it should be withdrawn.” He said farmers who use water that falls under the new rule could face delays in crop production if they have to learn how to navigate new federal permitting processes. Ranchers also could be affected, Witte said, and landscape restoration projects could be jeopardized by the increasing time and money required for permitting...more

PNM official discusses San Juan plan with Silver City Council

A senior vice president of PNM gave the Silver City Town Council a presentation on the controversial proposal to keep open two coal-burning units at the San Juan Generating Station on Tuesday. Ron Darnell, senior vice president for Public Policy for PNM Resources, gave a presentation to the councilors, but not before a half dozen residents opposed to the utility's plans for San Juan got their chance to speak. "PNM's senior executives' primary concern seems to be to maximize profits for their shareholders," said resident Tom Manning. "They have shown that they are willing to do this with disregard for the economic and environmental concerns of the taxpayers." PNM is in the process of seeking approval from the state Public Regulation Commission to shut down two of four coal-burning units at the San Juan Generating Station in Farmington. The utility company plans on replacing some of that lost production capacity with energy imported from an Arizona nuclear power plant. Environmentalists want the PRC to force the shutdown of all four units...more

Sage grouse rules would affect 10 states

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell revealed plans Thursday to preserve habitat in 10 Western states for an imperiled ground-dwelling bird, the federal government’s biggest land-planning effort to date for conservation of a single species. The proposal would affect energy development. The regulations would require oil and gas wells to be clustered in groups of a half-dozen or more to avoid scattering them across habitat of the greater sage grouse. Drilling near breeding areas would be prohibited during mating season, and power lines would be moved away from prime habitat to avoid serving as perches for raptors that eat sage grouse. “There is no future for our economy if we don’t take care of the sage grouse,” said Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, a Republican who took part in the announcement. “That’s a fact. Some like it, some don’t.” The U.S. Bureau of Land Management expects to adopt the new measures by late summer. They would apply to federal lands in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming...more

In what some environmentalists view as an accommodation to industry, the rules would not seek to block development across sage grouse habitat. The government still intends to honor valid and existing rights to develop resources on that land, the Interior Department said.

No, that is an accommodation to their budget.  Any valid existing right is recognized as property and the owner would have to be compensated.  It's also a concession to the court-ordered deadline.  If they chose to not list they will need these reg's finalized to justify or support their decision.

Coal miners will rally Saturday in Farmington in support of PNM plan

Area coal mine workers will gather on Saturday at a local car dealership to raise awareness about their work and livelihoods. The rally has been organized by economic development officials and members of Operating Engineers Local 953, an international trade union of laborers, engineers and construction workers that represents miners at San Juan and Navajo mines. The event is spurred by an ongoing case before the state Public Regulation Commission over a plan by Public Service Company of New Mexico to shut down two units at San Juan Generating Station and retrofit the plant's other two stacks. On Wednesday, the PRC, the regulatory body tasked with approving or denying the plan, gave the utility until July 1 to complete and supply an ownership restructuring agreement and coal supply contract so the PRC can complete its evaluation of the company. The commission's decision, which is expected later this year, will ultimately decide the fate of the workers at the Waterflow power plant and the coal mine that fuels it...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1437

We'll have some Roots Music today:  Akins Birmingham Boys - I Walked And Walked.  The tune was recorded in Atlanta on Oct. 17, 1928 and is available on a Document Records CD titled Alabama String Bands (1924-1937).  Bobby Jones will like those guitar runs.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A strong winter el niño and what it would mean

The L.A. Times reports:

In Texas, Oklahoma and Mexico, destructive storms flooded communities and unleashed a tornado, leaving more than two dozen dead. Across Southern California, this month has been decidedly cooler and wetter. San Diego had its wettest May in 94 years, and Los Angeles saw nearly four times its average rainfall. This month, the San Diego Padres were forced to call a rain delay — only the fifth time that has happened in Petco Park's 11-year history. Even the Mojave Desert is running as much as 5 degrees cooler than normal. To some scientists, these are signs that the elusive, unpredictable El Niño weather phenomenon is gaining strength — and offering a glimmer of hope after more than three years of extreme drought...El Niño is the warming of Pacific Ocean waters along the equator, from Peru to the International Date Line, that causes changes to the atmosphere and can influence weather globally. Last year, scientists thought El Niño was forming in the Pacific, only to watch it fade out. There's reason to believe this coming winter could be different, as El Niño appears to enforce its will elsewhere in the country...

And this from the University of Arizona:

Democrats buck Obama on water rule

Dozens of congressional Democrats are joining Republicans to back legislation blocking the Obama administration’s new rule to redefine its jurisdiction over the nation’s waterways.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers made the regulation final Wednesday in an attempt to clarify that small streams, wetlands, headwaters and tributaries are covered by the Clean Water Act and the rules that go along with it. Opponents labeled the rule as a massive “power grab” by the Obama administration that could give federal officials authority over every creek and puddle.Three moderate Democrats in the Senate and 24 in the House have joined the GOP in opposition, but leave them far from the two-thirds majorities they would need for a veto-proof vote to overturn the rule.
But their support offers a bipartisan vote against the water regulation if they decided to use the Congressional Review Act or another legislative strategy to show opposition to Obama’s action.
Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) signed on this month with Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and 26 other Republicans as co-sponsors of the Federal Water Quality Protection Act. Heitkamp, Manchin and Donnelly are often skeptics of the Obama administration’s environmental agenda...more

New federal rules on stream protection hailed, criticized

New federal rules designed to better protect small streams, tributaries and wetlands — and the drinking water of 117 million Americans — are being criticized by Republicans and farm groups as going too far. The White House says the rules, issued Wednesday, will provide much-needed clarity for landowners about which waterways must be protected against pollution and development. But House Speaker John Boehner declared they will send “landowners, small businesses, farmers, and manufacturers on the road to a regulatory and economic hell.” The rules, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, aim to clarify which smaller waterways fall under federal protection after two Supreme Court rulings left the reach of the Clean Water Act uncertain. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the waters affected would be only those with a “direct and significant” connection to larger bodies of water downstream that are already protected. The Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 left 60 percent of the nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands without clear federal protection, according to EPA, causing confusion for landowners and government officials. There is deep opposition from the Republican-led Congress and from farmers and other landowners concerned that every stream, ditch and puddle on their private land could now be subject to federal oversight. The House voted to block the regulations earlier this month, and a Senate panel is planning to consider a similar bill this summer. House Speaker Boehner called the rules “a raw and tyrannical power grab.”...more

May rains break grip of drought

What a difference a rain-drenched May makes. Last year at this time, about 88 percent of New Mexico was in a severe drought or worse. Now – due primarily to a sopping May in which much of the state got rain – just 13 percent of the state is in that category. Reservoir levels are up, and no part of the state is in extreme drought. Thirty-seven percent of New Mexico is listed as being in moderate to severe drought, the first time those numbers have been that good since Dec. 10, 2010. Rainfall totals in May range from 1 to 1.5 inches in a significant portion of the state to more than 10 inches in the Clovis area. Albuquerque has received 1.86 inches of rain this month, more than four times the average rate up to this time in May. Pleasant Hill, a town 15 miles northeast of Clovis, had 3.25 inches of rain during a 25-hour period from noon Friday through 1 p.m. Saturday. Although most of the area in severe drought is in the northwestern part of the state, southwestern New Mexico has been hurting the most for rain. However, the outlook for the coming month is for above-average precipitation for all but a sliver of southwestern New Mexico...more

More moisture in New Mexico a boon for farmers, fish

It has been nearly five years since conditions in New Mexico have been this favorable, with extreme drought now gone and nearly one-third of the state drought-free. A combination of back-to-back spring showers, less wind and late-season snowfall have helped to ease drought conditions in most parts of the state, forecasters with the National Weather Service said Tuesday. The welcomed moisture has helped to fill streams and reservoirs, which is good news for farmers and fish. Along the Rio Grande, federal water managers have decided to take advantage of the natural spike in river flows to move some water from El Vado Reservoir downstream to boost spawning of the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow. “From a drought standpoint, this has been pretty serious,” said Dave Campbell, a river recovery and restoration official with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The spring rains are a real bonus for everybody.” Despite releasing thousands of hatchery-raised minnows into the river each fall, the population is at its lowest level since monitoring began more than 20 years ago. The agency is working with the federal Bureau of Reclamation and others to “do whatever can be done to preclude jeopardy of the species,” Campbell said. For the past week, crews have been collecting eggs from the spawning and delivering them to hatcheries to be reared. If the rains continue through the fall as predicted by forecasters, those eggs that are left in the river stand a chance of surviving into next year, Campbell said...more

New solar power plant dedicated in northern NM

A new seven-acre, 1.3 megawatt solar-power generation facility capable of powering 400 homes is now online in New Mexico. The solar array, in the northeast New Mexico town of Springer and operated by Springer Electric Cooperative, was dedicated Tuesday by USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, who were on hand to celebrate the completion of construction of a new solar-power generation facility. A $14.1 million loan provided by USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utility Service helped pay for the photovoltaic project, which also includes 74 miles of new electric line and updated smart-grid technology. Springer Electric Cooperative serves the New Mexico counties of Colfax, Harding, Mora, San Miguel and Union, including the communities of Cimarron, Maxwell, Roy, Wagon Mound, Mosquero and Folsom...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1436

Here's Gene Autry's side-kick, Smiley Burnette, with his 1949 recording of Swamp Woman Blues.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Feds on brink of make-or-break sage grouse decision

In September, the Obama administration will make what is arguably the biggest Endangered Species Act decision in history. At stake is the survival of an iconic bird whose numbers tumbled in the 20th century after settlers mowed down sagebrush with cows, plows and drill pads. But listing the greater sage grouse could tie up access to 165 million acres of the West, causing hardship for ranchers, farmers and energy producers...The Fish and Wildlife Service's decision will be the most scrutinized ESA verdict since 1990, when it listed the owl as threatened in the Pacific Northwest, decimating the region's timber industry. The conservation effort began in earnest in 2011, when FWS Director Dan Ashe ushered Western state wildlife officials to the Washington, D.C., office of then-Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey, whose agency manages about 60 percent of the grouse's remaining habitat and will be key to the species' survival. "We are going to have to mount a planning effort like BLM has never done before," Ashe remembers telling Abbey. Spanning about 50 million acres, BLM's final conservation plans will be rolled out to the public within a few weeks and will be signed by BLM Director Neil Kornze in August. BLM's efforts are being matched by an estimated $750 million in federal, state and private investments to preserve ranchlands that provide key habitat for grouse chicks. "It's the biggest conservation effort I have been involved in in my entire career," Ashe said in an interview. "It's rather magnificent in its complexity and its significance for conserving the Western way of life and landscape."...more

Sage Grouse Plan Said to Bar Drilling on Some U.S. Land

A flamboyant bird will get new protections Thursday when federal regulators announce a plan to limit oil and gas drilling on its sprawling western U.S. habitat, which may stave off declaring the greater sage-grouse as endangered. With a deadline of September to decide if the chicken-sized bird is endangered, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will unveil ways the Bureau of Land Management will conserve the bird’s habitat, according to two people familiar with the decision. More than half of the grouse’s range is on federal land spread across 11 states. “In a sense, BLM has been actively working to deflect a listing for some time,” said Kevin Book, an analyst at ClearView Energy in Washington, who hasn’t seen details of the announcement. “Even without the final plan, BLM has already taken at-risk areas out of play for leasing and development.” Long a totem of the American West, the greater sage-grouse has been at the center of one of the nation’s biggest conservation disputes, pitting energy and development interests against naturalists in lawsuits and lobbying campaigns. A decision on its status would be among the most far-reaching since the U.S. protected the northern spotted owl, disrupting logging communities in Oregon in the 1990s. “We’ve seen this story before with what the federal government did in Oregon with the spotted owl,” said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of the Western Energy Alliance, which represents oil and gas producers. “We believe the science doesn’t justify these restrictions.”...more

Sen. Bennet leads charge for sage-grouse conservation funding

In a bid to avoid an endangered species listing for greater sage-grouse, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett led a group of fellow Democrats urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to fully fund an array of conservation measures by multiple federal land management agencies. The Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies have all requested funding to continue efforts to protect sage-grouse habitat, and few weeks ago, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced a $4 million initiative to restore sagebrush ecosystems across the interior West. “These funding pools are essential to ensuring that efforts to improve habitat through restoration, enhancement, and conservation easements continue and are effective. These collective efforts represent our best strategy to maintain and conserve grouse populations, and hopefully will help to prevent the need for sage grouse species to be managed under the Endangered Species Act,” Bennet and his colleagues wrote. The letter to Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran and Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski was signed by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)...more

You see how they set these up:  use the courts to threaten a listing, then use the threat to coerce more money out of local, state and federal budgets.  More $$$ makes the enviros & bureaucrats happy, leaves the landowners scared to death and the taxpayers screwed.  

If the R's don't fully fund, the D's will blame every bad thing that happens on the R's failure to fund instead of the ESA.

Solution:  The courts set an arbitrary date on listing, but Congress has the authority to change that date.  So change it and allow time for a reasonable and efficient outcome.

The R's can cave and show they too just want to spend more.  Or, they can change the date.

Let's watch and see which option the Republican majority picks.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1435

By request, here's  Andy Hokum & His Pals Of The West performing Rickets Hornpipe.  This is from an old 78.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Liberal Critics Trash Texas Series - 'History as Imagined By the Tea Party'

Liberal newspapers to the History Channel: Don't make Texas look heroic. The New York Times, the Washington Post, Britain's Guardian newspaper and others are all trashing a new miniseries on the Lone Star State. The Post lamented the fact that the five episodes fail to portray the "Alamo and the Texas Revolution [as] a land grab by white slaveowners." The Guardian complained that Texas Rising is "American history as reimagined by the Tea Party." Writer Brian Moylan huffed that the program is "almost sure to be a hit as it falls right within History Channel’s red-state wheelhouse." He suggested that the show will appeal "directly to the libertarian and conservative sensibilities of the macho-man demographic that tunes into the channel."...more 

Looks like I better make time to watch this...

Texas schools to target adults with Michelle O’s food program

First lady Michelle Obama’s effort to whip Americans into shape, through federal food restrictions and her Let’s Move! initiative, is now turning its focus to adults. The McAllen Independent School District in Texas has jumped all-in with the first lady...But now McAllen officials plan to turn their sights on parents, and plan to host a series of speakers in an attempt to convince then they should do more to trim down and get active. “It’s one method to expand what we’re trying to do as far as working on obesity down here,” the district’s physical education coordinator Mario Reyna told the news site. “We know it’s all about the adults because they’re the role models.” “We’re doing as much as we can at the schools,” he said. “We’ve got to focus on a lot of our adult populations in the community.”...more

All you adult role models better get ready for Michelle's Menu & Move routine.  Its going from the kids to YOU!

Health officials call for less meat, more plants in dietary guidelines

More than 700 doctors, nutritionists, nurses and public health professionals are calling on the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to follow the recommendations of a federally appointed panel and tell Americans to eat less meat because it’s healthier for them — and the environment.  In a letter to the secretaries of the USDA and HHS, Harvard’s Department of Nutrition Chair Walter Willet and 700 other health professionals endorsed the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s contentious recommendation to reduce consumption of animal-based foods and shift toward a more plant-based diet. “Three of the four leading causes of preventable death, heart disease, cancer, and stroke — are diet related,” they said in the letter.  “Heavy meat consumption, especially red and processed meat, is associated with increased risks of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, while plant-based diets are associated with decreased risks of all three.” The USDA and HHS will use the committee’s report and recommendations, along with public comments, to update dietary guidelines for Americans due out later this year. The panel's decision, however, to incorporate environmental factors into the guidelines for the first time has created a public dispute between environmental groups and the meat industry, which contends the committee is neither required nor equipped to recommend people eat less meat because it’s better for the planet...more

Border Bank Branches Closing Over Dirty Money Concerns

Concerns over human and drug trafficking have lead some big banks to make an extreme move in an attempt to avoid illegal money that is flowing over the border (or, more accurately, crawling under the border in dozens of long underground tunnels) and ending up at small bank branches disguised at legitimate funds from legal business. Those illegal deposits have added up to billions in fines for big banks in recent years as the status of everything from mortgage securities to foreign-exchange trading has fallen into question. Updated regulation in November from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council has put even greater pressure on banks to level up their anti-money laundering efforts and invest most heavily in compliance systems aimed at heading potential illegal activity off at the pass. However, residents in border communities like Nogales, Arizona have noted that the crackdown is leading banks to simply close branches rather than risk illegal funds entering them – which in turn is hampering the local economy...more

Ringling Bros. Circus retiring its elephants after local law crackdown

Elephants are about to put on their last act as the iconic image of the Ringling Bros. Circus. Coming after more than 100 U.S. cities have passed ordinances restricting the use of elephants -- and decades of criticism by animal-rights groups -- the circus operators plan to phase out elephants in their act over the next three years. In retiring them to a 200-acre plot in central Florida, the circus will bring to an end a performance and tradition that began with the purchase of Jumbo by PT Barnum in 1882. Animal-rights activists are celebrating. "We're very happy that we're going to see the day when Ringling stops using elephants in circuses and that we're starting to see others go in that direction as well," PETA spokeswoman Delcianna Winders said. "We would just like to see that day come sooner because for those animals on the road, every single day is a day of suffering." The 43 Asian elephants form the largest herd in North America -- from Mysore at age 69, to the youngest, Mike, born at the Conservation Center two years ago. The handlers have been familiar with many of the elephants since birth...more

Feds seek to tweak Endangered Species Act

Federal biologists say they want to freshen up the Endangered Species Act to “reflect advances in conservation biology and genetics, as well as recent court decisions interpreting the Act’s provisions.”
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, many of the country’s endangered species regulations date back to the 1980s, and need an overhaul. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe, the changes will address states’ concerns and boost voluntary conservation efforts, and add transparency to the listing process. The proposal to revamp parts of the law comes against a backdrop of blistering attacks by anti-environmental Republicans in Congress who see endangered species regulations as hurdles to the exploitation of natural resources and have tried to undercut the bedrock law by preventing funding for environmental protection, and even going as far as trying to prevent federal agencies from making science-based listing decisions. “The proposed policies would result in a more nimble, transparent and ultimately more effective Endangered Species Act,” Ashe said. “By improving and streamlining our processes, we are ensuring the limited resources of state and federal agencies are best spent actually protecting and restoring imperiled species.”  For more information on the proposed ESA petition regulations, go to Public comments on the proposed rule will be accepted on or before 60 days following its publication in the Federal Register...more

A threat to nation’s parks looming?

A government fund that has helped preserve some of the nation’s most iconic parks — from Gettysburg’s battlefields to the Everglades and the Appalachian Trail — could disappear as early as fall because of a congressional dispute over how the program’s revenues should be spent, U.S. officials warn. The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund has been used for 50 years to acquire land deemed to have special historical or environmental significance. Although the fund is popular with lawmakers from both political parties, legislation needed to keep the program alive appears to have stalled. The law that created the program is set to expire in September, putting at risk a primary source of revenue for the nation’s largest preserves as well as state parks and community playgrounds and ballfields. The money — capped at $900 million annually but substantially smaller in most years — comes not from tax revenue but from royalties paid by oil and gas companies for drilling rights in federal waters offshore. “Absolutely, there’s a risk that this could go away,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in an interview. Jewell said that although the program has traditionally drawn heavy bipartisan support — the law that created the fund in 1964 had only one dissenting vote — a bill that would reauthorize the fund faces significant opposition from lawmakers who either are ideologically opposed to federal land acquisition or have other ideas for using the money. “Anything that looks like a chunk of money that you can use for your other projects, some will want to go for it,” she said. A failure to renew the fund could jeopardize improvement projects at hundreds of sites across the country at a time when many of the nation’s most popular parks face budget shortfalls and deferred maintenance. While Congress has frequently sparred over the fund’s size, the current impasse is regarded as the most serious threat to the program’s survival since its inception during the Johnson administration...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1434

Lonzo & Oscar (Lloyd George and Rollin Sullivan) perform Tickle The Tom Cat's Tail.  The tune was recorded in Nashville on August 11, 1949.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mexico gunfight kills at least 43 as Government retaliates hitting Jalisco Cartel suspects

Government security forces killed 42 suspected drug cartel henchmen and suffered one fatality in a firefight in western Mexico on Friday, an official said, one of the bloodiest shootouts in a decade of gang violence wracking the country. National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said one federal policeman died and another was injured in the three hour battle on a ranch just inside the Michoacan state border with Jalisco, home of Guadalajara, Mexico's second-biggest city. The death toll was one of the heaviest to hit Mexico since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in December 2012 pledging to put an end to years of gangland violence that have claimed more than 100,000 lives since 2007 alone. Government officials said the 42 killed by security forces near the town of Tanhuato were suspected members of the Jalisco New Generation (JNG) cartel, a gang based in the neighboring state that has seriously undermined Pena Nieto's pledge...more

Turner foresees profit on ranches, where wildlife preservation meets luxury lodging

Saving wildlife costs a pretty penny, especially when the efforts are spread across 2 million acres that constitute the largest private property holdings in New Mexico. Hundreds of animal species, including several dwindling ones, find protection and free range on billionaire Ted Turner’s vast Northern New Mexico Vermejo Park Ranch, as well as his Ladder and Armendaris ranches hundreds of miles to the south. Desert bighorn sheep, which not long ago teetered toward extinction, have grown in number from 30 to more than 250 on the high desert grasslands of Turner’s southern properties. Tens of thousands of bison roam, along with pronghorn and elk, mountain lions and oryx. To the consternation of many neighboring cattle ranchers, a small population of endangered Mexican gray wolves are maintained on Ladder Ranch land for eventual restoration to the wild, though earlier this month the state Department of Game and Fish denied the operation’s permit to provide pen space for the animals. Described on the book jacket of his biography Last Stand as a pioneering eco-capitalist, Turner now plans to keep his working ranches and animal preserves operating at a profit through the establishment of a fullscale (and upscale) ecotourism business. The profitability of Turner’s working ranches directly benefits their ecological work, said Mike Phillips, an ecologist who directs the Turner Endangered Species Fund and its Turner Biodiversity Divisions. The new Turner Expeditions model may also be a nod to the fact that New Mexico’s tourism industry has seen steady upward growth and contributes a significant share to the overall state economy...more
They’ll be leading theme-based tours from a kind of menu that can be customized depending on the interests of the clientele, who are more than likely to be culled from an elite class that can afford the luxurious, resort-style accommodations and amenities at the ranches.

Just like Little Tommy YouDull and Marty Heiny are doing with our federal lands:  the elite setting aside lands for the elite.

Looks like Teddy boy, though, may have to wait awhile for his wolf tours

42 Years With Sharon


Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The pocket knife

by Julie Carter

Long ago the “look” of the cowboy was warped and morphed by images on the silver screen along with western wear catalogs and the new age of “country” music singers.

No Virginia, cowboys don’t dress like Buffalo Bill.

In lives dictated by work, wind and other forms of inclement weather, function trumps fashion every time. Cowboys and their female counterparts dress to get the work done including wearing as many of the necessary tools of the trade as possible.

One of those necessary tools is a knife. There is even a statement among cowboys that claims you can’t be a cowboy unless you carry a pocket knife. These are used daily to cut hay strings, change the minds and attitudes of bulls, cut the rattles off a dead snake, perform tack repairs and traditionally, give the fingernails a trim.

For decades, the pocket knife, sleek and in folding form, was transported by simply slipping it into a front jean pocket for safekeeping.  As it became more of tool than just a blade for cutting, knives were worn in a scabbard or sheath in a surprising variety of places: attached to the belt, vertical above their back pocket, horizontally on the belt, in a cross draw position in the front or simply in the pocket of their leggings.

Scabbards can be a personal fashion statement. Often adept at leather work, rawhide stitching, knot tying and tooling, cowboys’ workday knives are usually cased in sturdy proof of their skill. Their Sunday-go-to--meeting knife scabbards may even have tooling to match their saddles and gear.

Knives come in a variety of personal choice brands. We’re not talking Swiss Army here -- these knives are as practical as the cowboys who wear them. You see everything from working knives to seasonal hunting knives to the finest Damascus steel, fancy inlaid-handled knife for church.

Special folding knives made popular by the ropers come with a clip to hold them in a back pocket for quick access in the case of a tangled endangerment. Sometimes it is necessary to cut a perfectly good rope to save the life of a roper or the leg of a horse.

Panhandle punchers who receive load after load of 400-weight steers and bulls swear that in Louisiana knives are used exclusively for peeling pecans because 99 percent of the cattle that come from that area are still bulls. “Steer” is apparently not a Cajun word.

Ranch cowboys are forever using their knives at cattle working time and a measure of pride is taken in just how sharp their knife is, frequently drawing blood just to prove the point as they lightly graze it across their forearm shaving a few hairs as it goes.

However, clean and sanitary is optional. It’s not unusual for cowboys to castrate calves all morning and use the same knife to cut their meat at the meal afterward. Cautious ranch wives make sure there is a clean knife strategically placed by the cake plate.

Not often thought of but definitely one historical use of a knife is in horse trading. Those traders will sometimes whittle during the ensuing lengthy discussions involved in the bartering.

I’m told that if the trade is going the trader’s way, his knife will pull the whittle toward him. If the trade is going the other way, slivers are driven off the piece of wood toward the buyer.

That’s a good point to know. Probably Buffalo Bill first established this principle.

Julie can be reached for whittle wisdom or comment at

The Little Cowboy

Loss of Dreams

The Little Cowboy

Unabated Regulation

By Stephen L. Wilmeth

                When I headed out, it was just me and the little cowboy.
                He has never been much of a communicator giving himself to work on an as needed basis. Wind or rain, he has been a trooper. It was no different this time.
            We are continuing to rebuild part of a corral making it reasonable for both us and the cattle. It has been slow go, but water and other factors take priority in May and June New Mexico. Digging fence post holes, setting posts, and reconfiguring alleys have taken a secondary emphasis, but progress must be made.
On this morning it was just Chris, me, and the little cowboy.
            We gathered on the north end of the pens and prepped the little fellow. Making sure his joints were lubricated and free is always important. Like me, if his breathing passages aren’t clean, his endurance is lessened. We worked around him as if he was center stage.
            Finally, we began removing a section of corral fence. Short work and no complaints was the early byline.
            Like so much country in our neck of the woods, caliche is abundant, and, when we started digging post holes, only the first two were without problems. It was on the third hole that Murphy made his first appearance. The little cowboy suffered an injury and it required a quick trip to Hatch to get the proper first aid supplies.
            Back on the job an hour later, the digging continued. We set the posts in the first radius, retrieved and cut some drill stem for the next gate post and brace points, and broke for a drink of water.
            The little cowboy waited patiently.
            As often happens, we talked ourselves into modifying our approach, and decided to use another gate in what will become our loading tub. So, we pulled the 12’ post we had set nearly three feet into the ground and made the move. The little cowboy dug another hole without complaint. He didn’t even question our mark on the ground. He assumed we knew what we were doing.
That job was accomplished and it was time to conclude the corral work for the day. Cattle and water concerns demanded at least cursory runs to key locations. The decision was made to leave the little cowboy where he sat for the night.
The little orange 24 horsepower Kubota backhoe didn’t complain or even suggest he was afraid of the dark, but, as mentioned … he has never been much of a communicator giving himself to work on an as needed basis.
            Unabated regulation
            The unabated march toward regulatory straight jacket status continues.
            The 27 updates coming out of this administration’s federal agency Star Chamber rulings are hitting the heartland with a vengeance. For the uninformed, these are laws being written and promulgated by nonelected agency administrators and applied to the citizenry on the basis of interpreting legislation created by Congress. These are being added to the other 157 similar mandates created and enforced by these same proxy councils. Collectively, the new demands will cost the nation another $80 billion annually to comply. These are taxes in every sense of the word.  
            It is also a national debacle and a continuing threat on our existence.
            The details are tyrannical. A total of $33.1 million of the new burdens will come from added requirements to put labels on vending machines. The idiots who must be spoon fed calorie counts or nutritional data will be offered yet more dosage of detail to go along with the reams of detail they already ignore or can’t read.
            Another $18.7 million (which some sources suggest that the actual decimal point is off to the tune of 1000) will be spent on new insurance requirements for the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. The acceleration of spending in that national disaster continues to demonstrate it will have no bounds.
            Mandates are always popular with the agencies. A total of at least $141.5 million will be required in added emphasis of energy efficiency mandates. This will be added to another $44.3 million in energy efficiency hardware such as public lighting and light bulbs.
            The refrigeration industries are going to be hammered. That assault starts out with $246.4 million on safeguards to existing technologies. That will be added to some $486.6 million that will be required to be spent in walk-in freezers and coolers. Safety matters in freezers are important, but so is reasonableness.
            The automobile industry will be expected to fess up to its normal annual expansion of extortion spending in the amount of b’s as in $billions. A total of $1.42 billion will come from more stringent emission controls. To that total, some $583.6 million will be spent on updated regulatory demands for rear visibility in vehicles.
            And, the beat goes on according to the allegiance to social priorities and progressive environmental demands set forth in counsel with the agency partnerships.
            The federal rule by unelected officials, though, is not the only regulatory game across the fruited plain. From the left coast, California must have its day in the suffocating environmental web. The most recent indication is the quiet departure of the family tree of my little cowboy.
            Kubota with its Credit Corps segment has quietly announced it will leave California to the more friendly environs of Texas. In a statement by Kubota America CEO, Masato Yoshikawa, the stage has been set to differentiate between the current California interest in economic viability and that of the real world.
“This restructuring and location to Texas aligns with our strategical business objectives to strengthen Kubota’s brand in the U.S. marketplace, enter new industry segments, and to position our company for long term sustainable growth in North America.”
California loses another major corporation, and, with that loss … demonstrates another stride toward the model of terminal exclusion in the matter of real sustainability.
            Dream loss
            Meanwhile, the little cowboy sits ready.
            He also represents the outgrowth of social engineering factors that forces any industry segment toward automation. We have said he is worth 3-4 actual cowboys. No, he doesn’t ride or work cattle, but none of us should be so shortsighted to discount the ability of his family hierarchy to fix that problem as well.
            This whole matter of drones has my attention.
I have heard comments from my friends and colleagues about it. Most of them are negative and have suggested they wouldn’t be caught dead with one of those things, but I am not so sure. As these canyons get deeper, mountains higher, and flats broader, I sort of like the idea of sitting at my laptop and fly around to check things or to bring a pair of two off the highest points.
            The problem is, though, if we don’t fix the debilitating expansion of sycophantical, unelected, and tyrannical forces regulating productive citizenry to the minutest details, all of this is nothing more than waiting for the final collapse of the dreams of an America that actually believes in freedom and independence.

            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “As I write, the little cowboy awaits …”