Sunday, October 23, 2016

Bud and the Masters

Looking Forward
Bud and the Masters
Skiving, stitching, and carving
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            NFL football has become tedious.
            With recent ratings, it isn’t just me who has that opinion. The games last week exhibited the strength of the disgust. That Sunday night game was down 15%, Monday night was down 26%, and Thursday followed by a rousing 20% decline. The owners have responded by saying they were “unconcerned about the long term issue”.
I’m not convinced.
In fact, the League’s suggestion the decline is related to technology and viewer habits is news to me. My heart burn has nothing to do with that stuff. I don’t tweet, I don’t face-book, and I don’t even know how to live stream. What is increasingly unappealing is the benefit ratio of this commissioner’s leadership, the responsibility assigned to a player and his apparent role as monarch of ball pressures in the stadium (was he also responsible for the footballs at Detroit, Phoenix, and Tampa Bay?), common disrespect by side line hoodlums (“We miss you in gold and red, Joe!”), the child star absences in Dallas, and the politically correct coaching changes.
I’d love to see a return to simple football with half the rules trashed for the opportunity to promote creativity and innovation. To give credit where it is deserved, I’ll tune in to watch those four brilliant young quarterbacks who give me hope for the game’s future especially if the one is playing who replaces the goofy child star (the one grinning on the sideline with his hat turned backwards).
My point is … flakery has consequences.
Looking forward
I got an email from Bud at 5:30.
He has decided the best course of action in his life is to simply deal with matters he can touch and control. That includes gathering his cows and weaning his calves this weekend. That also means looking forward to next spring’s work and riding his new filly. He already divulged that he has pushed aside all politics other than support for two candidates, and he will offer prayers for the outcome. In sum, he is going back to basics and the things that offer positive expectations. That has a lot of merit, and I think we could all do worse than to follow a similar script.
 My spring work plan has me intrigued as well. I want to finish all the enclosures around our solar units in the Goodsight Pasture. I want to split the dry lot and install another trough at our Homestead pens. It seems like it is past time to rebuild the loading chute at the headquarter pens and install a solid run up and tub to load cattle. If cattle sales allow, I’d like to move our scales and install them in parallel to that work.
I want to continue installing additional troughs at all water sources, and I want to spend more time in the saddle. I don’t have a filly but I do have a mare that needs miles and lots of help. She looks like the horse in the Tim Cox oil, Storm Clouds Building. When Nana was alive she always told me the character in the painting reminded her of somebody. I told her then we didn’t have a gray horse, but that was then.
I understand what Bud implied when he wants to ride his filly in the spring. I understand completely.
Skiving, stitching, and carving
I’m going to finish building another saddle in 2017, too.
I have the tree and the swells are now covered. Everybody has wanted Wades so it is time to go against trend and build a swell fork. I got the one that is started from our local Canutillo tree maker and I like it. He took it to Cheyenne and the trade show and it didn’t sell so I got a deal on it. It also fits the gray.
It is a bit radical. It is what the maker is calling his Chihuahua, and it looks a lot like an aggressive Little Wonder we have that was made by Seitzler in the ‘30s. The swells are eye poppers at 17”. It’ll create some snickering.
A couple of years ago I went looking for some ¾”stainless steel oxbows and finally found some in white brass from Herb Bork. I wound up buying his entire remaining stock of white brass rigging plates, Ds, and rings along with that single set of stirrups because he is no longer going to make anything in that metal combination. It no longer sells. Most of the rigging used today is stainless steel and it comes from China. Price is the motivator and commercial saddle shops must be competitive.
“Nobody likes them except you and me,” Herb said.
But like them I do. They are beautiful. They were made by a master and from that extended assortment of Bork white brass will also come the rigging for this saddle.
I once saw advertisements of a Marrs saddle that had the rigging built into the extended seat and the fender straps were run out through the side jockeys. I have been intrigued with that design and finally saw one in person earlier this year. The freedom of motion it allows and the weight reduction from not having to duplicate leather into the rigging are both appealing.
It will have old time square skirts and back jockeys. It’ll be double rigged because I already have a favored single rigged saddle and one is enough for the moment. I am going to look for a specialty two way cinch that will be buckled front and back into the latigos and the flank cinch straps. I like long strings and will cut light weight latigo into the six longest strings I can make. I’ll use bright conchos over leather counterparts because I think expensive, but soon tarnished, silver conchos are highly overrated. I may also install some demonstrative swell strings and build a long rope hobble for balance.
I will tool half the saddle with the swell and the cantle in the coverage, but what else is not resolved. I have long winced at “half breed” tooling that covers the back jockeys, swells and cantle only see the carving get packed with stain and grime. On a punchy Crosby I made, I reversed the tooling. I like how the seat and fenders remain clean and stand out while the rest of the saddle is roughout and never changes its look.
I may also follow Cary Schwartz practices of burnishing with hot bees wax, installing a streamlined Cheyenne roll, and dying a tooled rose here and there in pink or red. Yep, if it is good enough for the great Schwartz, it is good enough for me. With 17” swells and pink roses, I might also tuck my Wranglers in some Jose Luis Sanchez boots with 18” tops and polish the little gray mare before we ride. We will go forth and engage only those things within our grasp and ride once more in the eternal spring.
Tell me … just tell me that’s not worth contemplating!

            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Vaya con Dios, Bud.”

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