Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Questions on Mueller’s Role in Fast and Furious Remain Unanswered




...That doesn’t mean Mueller was ever anything besides an establishment functionary. Case in point, he made his contempt for the Second Amendment and his oath to the Constitution clear in his condemnation of the Supreme Court’s Heller decision. Based on his own words, he is against anyone but law enforcement and the military having guns, including in the home. He was asked to stay on beyond his 10-year term by Barack Obama, curiously just as things were starting to heat up on the Operation Fast and Furious investigations by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “Gunwalking” and the Brian Terry murder took place on his watch, and Mueller’s FBI, with its confidential informants being tracked as suspects by ATF, was up to its neck in things.Outrageously, there is no reason to expect Congress to be any more successful at exposing the full truth than they have been so far at holding Eric Holder accountable for his Fast and Furious obstruction. Nor, as we see from the preponderance of agenda reporting, lies of omission and outright fake news can establishment media be relied on. As with the original Fast and Furious reporting, expect new revelations to come from independent efforts while those with the mass reach fall back on deliberate indifference and hoping not too many notice. One such independent effort to reveal new details about Fast and Furious is being resurrected by a filmmaker that my colleague, the late Mike Vanderboegh and I worked with over five years ago. Noting the timing is now right to continue with the project, documentarian Fleming Fuller has teamed up with Ron Colburn, former national Deputy Chief of the United States Border Patrol, and a founding member of BORTAC, the Border Patrol’s national tactical unit. They are continuing with production. “Under the Radar – Above the Law” promises to bring new “gunwalker” matters to light, including previously unreported information about FBI activities under Mueller’s leadership...more

Are Americans losing faith in the U.S. justice system?

By Printus LeBlanc

The U.S. Justice system is in trouble, not just the federal system, but the state and local systems as well. A disturbing trend of politically motivated prosecutions has emerged across the country. Congress has the role of oversight, but many Members, themselves former District Attorneys or U.S. Attorneys, seem hesitant to be critical of the Justice Department. It could be for fear of tarnishing their own legacy while they were a prosecutor, or they don’t want to believe a club they belonged to has gone rotten. Either way, Congress must wake up take a hard look at the U.S. justice system from the point of view of someone being falsely accused by a legal behemoth with unlimited resources.
...The misconduct is not limited to state and local district attorneys; the federal justice system is also rife with bad behavior. The late Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) was the target of such an unjust attack.
In 2008, 100 days before the elections, Department of Justice prosecutors indicted the Alaskan Senator on seven counts of making false statements related to gift giving. Stevens would ask for a speedy trial and be granted one. In October of 2008, Stevens was found guilty of seven counts of making false statements.
The story doesn’t end there. In February 2009 a whistleblower came forward with damning claims of prosecutorial misconduct. One of the FBI agents involved in the case had an inappropriate relationship with the prosecution’s star witness Bill Allen. To further complicate matters, the whistleblower alleged Allen also gave gifts to FBI agents and even helped a family member of an FBI agent get a job. The prosecutors withheld exculpatory material from the defense, including witness statements that refuted the prosecution’s case.
A few weeks after the whistleblower came forward, the judge in the case would hold the prosecutors in contempt calling the conduct outrageous. Six weeks later the Justice Department would submit a motion to set aside the verdict and dismiss the indictment with prejudice. At the same time the Department launched an investigation that lasted three years, concluding with a 525 page report stating, “The investigation and prosecution of U.S. Senator Ted Stevens were permeated by the systematic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence which would have independently corroborated Senator Stevens’s defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government’s key witness.”
Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor, authored the book Licensed to Lie in 2015, detailing prosecutorial misconduct in dozens of federal cases. A quick glance at the Robert Mueller-led Special Counsel investigation into the 2016 election, with the multiple conflicts of interest and stonewalling of Congress, scream for another chapter in the book. Congress and Attorney General Jeff Sessions must put their personal feelings aside, and identify rot in the system when they see it regardless if it’s coming from the federal, state, or local officials. People are losing faith in the Justice System and actions must be taken to restore it before it is too late.

Printus LeBlanc is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.

The Undeniable Value of Wolves, Bears, Lions And Coyotes In Battling Disease

by Todd Wilkinson

For over two decades, Douglas Smith and successive teams of researchers have watched wildlife predators hunting for prey in Yellowstone.

The national park’s senior wolf biologist says there is no mistaking the way that lobos identify and target elk. To the human eye, an individual wapiti might appear perfectly healthy yet there is something—almost a sixth sense— that catches the attention of discriminating pack members searching for their next meal.
...Does having predators on the landscape—wolves, bears, mountain lions and coyotes— provide a protective gauntlet that can help slow the spread and prevalence of deadly diseases? 

In particular, with ultra-lethal Chronic Wasting Disease now invading the most wildlife-rich ecosystem in America’s Lower 48 states and spreading coast to coast, are these often maligned meat-eaters, frequently dismissed as worthless vermin in western states, actually important natural allies in battling CWD?

While the data and the assessments of most scientists clearly suggests yes, there remains fierce resistance by some to acknowledge the beneficial roles predators play.  At the recent year-end meeting of the Montana Fish and Game Commission, anti-predator biases were on full display, especially toward wolves. They surfaced as the commission pondered its next move in confronting CWD which this autumn entered Montana via sick wild deer for the first time in state history.

Weeks earlier, Ken McDonald, wildlife bureau chief at the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Department, raised eyebrows when he claimed the advantages predators bring in weeding out sick prey is merely theoretical and unproved. Dismissing the notion of wolves as effective disease-fighters, he asserted that in order for lobos to truly make a difference in slowing CWD’s advance, they would need to exist in such high numbers that it would be socially unacceptable to humans, namely ranchers and hunters.

Federal Court Hears Oral Arguments in Climate Change Lawsuit From Young People

By

A bold climate change lawsuit faces a pivotal test this week as a federal court considers whether young people can sue the US government for failing to protect the environment. The lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, has attracted growing interest in the legal world for its unique and unprecedented approach to climate change. The plaintiffs — 21 young, US citizens aged 10 to 21 — are essentially suing the US federal government for depriving them of a secure future. The basis of the litigation is a novel legal theory. According to the plaintiffs, the US federal government is responsible for holding natural resources in trust for its citizens. The government is violating that public trust doctrine, in regard to environmental protection, according to the lawsuit. More specifically, the plaintiffs insist that the US government has failed to heed the scientific evidence on how to stop or reverse climate change — evidence that in many cases was provided by the government's own dedicated scientific agencies. For the case to actually move forward and go to trial, it must past muster with the Ninth Circuit court, which began hearing oral arguments today. Attorneys for the Trump administration are asking the court to dismiss the case on the grounds that a broad mandate from the courts to fundamentally change environmental policy would be impossible to implement. The plaintiffs' case is led by the group Our Children’s Trust, which has previously brought similar litigation at the state and federal level, with mixed success. In the case now before the Ninth Circuit, attorneys will argue that the US government is violating the plaintiffs' constitutional rights. “Their complaint asserts that, through the government's affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources,” the Our Children's Trust said in a statement. Lower courts have allowed the lawsuit to proceed. In fact, a trial date has already been scheduled for February. This week's proceedings will determine whether that date will be postponed or canceled...more

Below is their complaint: 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VIitxrWPX9O1VXzNVOnxlnEZozGRNlox/view?usp=sharing
 

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Ranch Radio's tune today is Cliffie Stone's 1947 recording of The Christmas Waltz.

https://youtu.be/RK5e5dUoPKU

Las Vegas judge hints at mistrial in Bunkerville standoff case

By David Ferrara

A federal judge in Las Vegas raised the prospect of a mistrial Monday for four main defendants, including lifelong rancher Cliven Bundy, in the Bunkerville standoff case. The indication from U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro came three weeks into testimony about the 2014 armed conflict, and after the judge read through a long list of documents, witness names and other information that she said government prosecutors did not provide to defendants in a timely fashion. That failure to disclose details that could benefit Bundy, sons Ammon and Ryan, and independent Montana militiaman Ryan Payne was “sufficient to undermine the confidence in the outcome of the trial,” Navarro said. She indicated that prosecutors failed to meet deadlines to turn over evidence at least seven times. Before making a decision, however, the judge dismissed jurors, who had returned for testimony after a weeklong break, and later indicated they would not be called back to court until at least Dec. 20. After releasing the jury, Navarro closed her courtroom to the public for a hearing with the defendants, their lawyers and prosecutors. “I hope to get the case dismissed before the jurors come back,” Cliven Bundy’s attorney, Bret Whipple, later said. Prosecutors have until Friday to respond to the judge’s concern that they missed evidence deadlines, along with questions she had about 14 other possible trial violations...more


 Let's not forget this is the prosecutor, Steven Myhre, who just a few months ago was being singled out for praise by AG Jeff Sessions:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions yesterday praised the lead attorney in the government's prosecution of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy but also said he would not be "taking sides" in the trials related to the 2014 armed standoff between ranchers and federal agents near Bunkerville, Nev. In an appearance in Nevada, Sessions briefly raised the Bunkerville trials to laud Nevada acting U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. The government has divided its prosecution into three cases, one of which began a retrial this week after a jury deadlocked on charges against four of six defendants in April. "I've got to tell you, it's impressive when you have a tough case, a controversial case, and you've got the top guy leading the battle, going to court, standing up and defending the office and the principles of the law," Sessions said. But he added: "I'm not taking sides or commenting on the case. Just want to say that leadership requires, a lot of times, our people to step up and be accountable."
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Monday, December 11, 2017

FDA: Antibiotic Sales Drop 10% for Livestock in 2016



Antibiotic sales for use in livestock has dropped according to a report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On Dec. 7, FDA released a summary report for 2016 on “Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food Producing Animals.” A key finding in the report was antibiotic sales and distribution in the U.S. dropped 10% from 2015 to 2016 for food producing animals. Since FDA began collecting sales data in 2009, this is the first time that year-over-year sales of antimicrobials have declined...more

The inferno that won't die: How the Thomas fire became a monster

So how did the Thomas fire become such a monster? Heavy winds are one factor. But another is the thick brush that has not burned in a century, providing fuel. “The fuels in there are thick and they're dead, so they're very receptive to fire,” said Steve Swindle, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department. The fuel can spread the fire even when winds die down. “Since it’s so dry out there, it doesn’t take much in the way of winds to create those critical fire weather conditions,” said Robbie Munroe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “We’ll see wind gusts in that ... area between 20 and 35 mph, maybe a few mountain sites might see up to about 40, but that’s the most we’re expecting right now.” When the fire shifted toward the coast Sunday morning, Monroe said winds were not necessarily the driver. “Wind was probably not the biggest factor last night to this morning — it’s probably more the complex terrain, very dry and possibly widespread fuels for the fire and the fact that it’s a pretty large and ongoing fire,” he said. “The light offshore winds are certainly a factor, but not as important as they’ve been, say, earlier in the week when we saw much stronger winds over the fire.” The last time some of the slopes and canyons burned in the mountains east of Santa Barbara was in the 1970s, when four firefighters operating bulldozers died in a rollover accident...more

Thomas Fire, 5th-Largest In Modern California History, Shows Few Signs Of Slowing

As Monday dawned in California's Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, firefighters found themselves still locked in a desperate struggle with what has become the fifth-largest wildfire in modern state history. The Thomas Fire, which for a time Sunday was ratcheted down just 10 percent contained, has ticked back upward to 15 percent containment — but authorities are warning that the dry, gusty winds in the area "will continue to promote significant fire growth." All told, the fire covers a span of more than 230,000 acres — tens of thousands of acres larger than all of New York City combined. Nearly 1,000 homes and other structures have been either damaged or destroyed. The cost of the fire has crested $38 million, according to fire officials, and with roughly 18,000 more structures threatened, that cost is likely to increase. The news surrounding the smaller fires currently raging elsewhere in Southern California offered a significantly more positive outlook. Authorities say the Skirball, Creek, Rye and Lilac fires all are more than 80 percent contained, and some — like the Creek — are inching closer to full containment. The Liberty Fire that has been burning in Riverside County has been fully contained. More than 4,000 firefighters are now engaged in battling the flames...more

DuBois column





A senator’s falsehood, a big win for the Goss family, a BLM move to Denver?

A ‘land grab’, really?

A recent news item appeared concerning the growing rift between New Mexico’s two Senators and the Secretary of the Interior. The primary focus of the column was how Udall and Heinrich disagree with much of what Zinke is doing, in spite of them both having voted for his confirmation.

There were two statements in the column that really grabbed me. The first was by Heinrich:

 “I’m prepared to do anything necessary to protect New Mexico’s national monuments from a Washington, D.C., land grab,” Heinrich said.

That is just hilarious. Sad, but hilarious. Before the monument, most of these lands were managed for multiple use. If necessary, roads could be built. Rights-of ways could be issued. Flood control dams could be constructed, range improvements could be built, geothermal energy could be harvested, sportsmen and recreationists had off-road access to these lands, and so on. Then along came Obama, with the full encouragement of Heinrich, and with the stroke of a pen either prohibited or restricted all of the above. If the monument designation were to be removed, all of those uses would be returned to the people. The review had the possibility of revoking a land grab, not initiating one. Heinrich's attempt to describe it otherwise is laughable.

The other statement in the article, which is not new, is the Senators' concern over accuracy:

Staffers for both senators told me last week that Udall and Heinrich also want Zinke to address errors of fact in the New Mexico sections of the monuments report.

This must be a newfound desire for accuracy, for we didn't hear a peep out of the Senators concerning the many inaccuracies in Obama's proclamation creating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Dr. Jerry Schickedanz, Dean Emeritus at NMSU and currently with the Linebery Policy Center, has identified many errors in the proclamation, including objects that aren't even within the boundaries of the monument, and other objects that are either wholly or partially on private or state land, and therefore not in the monument. These and other errors could have been addressed during the review process, but by opposing the review, the good Senators apparently do not want those inaccuracies corrected.

Because of the importance of these documents to the local community and to the health of the natural resource, both should corrected. This selective, narrow focus on errors falls short of good public policy and reeks of pure politics.

Of thistles, poppies & water rights

A pioneer New Mexico ranch family has won an important case for property rights.
The Goss family has been raising livestock in the Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico since 1885. Respect to that family for persevering through all these years with a successful ranching operation.

A hundred years later along comes the Forest Service to erect “enclosures” to keep livestock out of certain riparian areas, ostensibly to protect the Sacramento Mountains Thistle. Additional “enclosures” were later constructed on behalf of the Southwestern Prickly Poppy. In addition to having their livestock fenced off water, in 2000 their allotment was cut from 553 head to 428, with additional cuts in 2004. The Goss family had sought to pipe water into the allotment, but those requests were denied by the Forest Service.

In 2004 the Goss family filed a claim in the United States Court of Federal Claims alleging a Taking under the fifth amendment of their water rights, their grazing permit and their preference rights.  Over time, their claims on the grazing permit and preference rights were dismissed. Further, the New Mexico Supreme Court had ruled that a vested stock watering right did not lead to a right to forage, nor did a right-of-way create a compensable right to forage.

Through many twists and turns this all led up to a favorable 2017 decision on vested (pre-1907) stock watering rights, and rest assured the feds fought it each step of the way.

Among other things, the feds argued that even if there was a compensable property interest in the water rights, the statute of limitations applied in this instance. Wrong said the court, ruling the statute of limitations did not bar the court from adjudicating the Goss’ Taking claims.

The feds argued the Goss documents claiming the right to put the water to beneficial use were inadequate. Wrong said the court, ruling the Goss family had established a prima facie right to beneficial use of the water as required by New Mexico law.

The feds argued the acquisition of a water right under New Mexico law requires a diversion of the water and the consumption of water by livestock is not a diversion.  Wrong said the court, finding that “neither state statutes nor case law require a physical diversion to establish the right of beneficial use of stock water.”

Finally, the feds argued that even if the ranchers had a property right in the use of the water, they were only entitled to beneficial use, not a right of access to a particular location. The court ruled it was a well-established principle that a physical taking occurs if the government denies an owner all access to a property interest. The court further ruled the Forest Service had incrementally, and then finally, denied the Goss family beneficial use of stock water.

In conclusion, the court said before it determines the amount of compensation to be awarded, both parties should make a renewed effort to see if alternative sources of water could be made available.

This is good news for the Goss family and for ranchers with vested water rights, and once again should educate everyone on the importance of water in the West.

The wrong focus

There continue to be reports that Secretary Zinke plans a major reorganization of the Dept. of Interior, including moving the headquarters of BLM and other entities to a western city.

Some want to keep the current centralized system of resource management. Others propose transferring the majority of these lands to the states, or some other form of decentralized management. Zinke appears to be proposing a sort of halfway house, transferring the managers instead of the resource. My thought is that as long as the federal laws (ESA, FLPMA, NEPA, etc.) remain as currently written and interpreted, the same poor results will occur no matter where the federal managers are located. Further, much precious time will be taken up debating where the federal landlords are stationed, rather than focusing on the real problem and potential solutions. 

If your grazing permit is cancelled or your private lands are taken as a result of a critical habitat designation, will you really care whether the decision-maker is in Denver or DC?

I’m afraid this is more about the plain old politics of moving federal jobs and dollars, rather than being a sincere attempt to correct the many problems associated with federal ownership of our resources.

 Here's wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Frank DuBois was the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003, is the author of a blog: The Westerner (www.thewesterner.blogspot.com) and is the founder of The DuBois Rodeo Scholarship and The DuBois Western Heritage Foundation

 
 This column first appeared in the Decemberr editions of the NM Stockman and the Livestock Market Digest

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Its Swingin' Monday and time to kick off our Christmas Season tunes with the Original Texas Playboys and Let It Snow.

https://youtu.be/pjcx1-lE0Vg

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy (revisited)


Gift shopping for the rancher’s wife

By Julie Carter

The season started in the retail world right after the garden supplies were moved to the back room and school had not yet started. But that was just a warm up to what explodes cash register drawers the day after Thanksgiving---the Christmas shopping frenzy.

As is for most things, gift shopping at the ranch is a pretty laid back procedure. I’m not saying a lot of thought is not put into choosing the perfect gift, but “perfect” is subject to interpretation and you can almost always factor in functional and fundamental.

The gift that wins the tally of given most often from him to her is an axe. I know that will shock many of you that don’t live down dirt roads, but an axe is essential to the time of year the gift is given—Christmas and the middle of winter.

The axes have come single bit, double bit and often tied with a red bow the size of a pick up truck in an attempt to make it festively palatable. Some have come with a flashlight as an extra gift so wood or ice could be chopped in the dark. Often a note is attached saying, “I promise to keep this sharp for you.”

Another common feature for the ranch “him to her” gifts is the “who really wants or needs this?” Gloves that are too big for her and fit him perfectly are regular offerings under the Christmas tree as are new saddles when she rarely rides, horses she never will ride, and that absolutely stunning truck tool box that unfortunately won’t fit her SUV. A complete assortment of hand and powers tools also fit into this category.

Never to say the gifts aren’t truly appreciated one wife I know got a new cattle guard. It was to be placed where she had to open and close a gate 15 times a day coming and going. She would not have been happier if she had gotten big blue diamonds.

Always thinking of the little woman’s health and safety as well as her viability as the best if only help he has, he will gift her with things to keep her warm and useful. That list will include insulated coveralls, down filled everything including lingerie, and even a new rifle to carry on her 4-wheeler to shoot coyotes while she is checking heifers and new baby calves.

Buckets of all sorts rate right up at the top in frequency of gift types--feed buckets, milk buckets and buckets to bail drinking water from a well or cistern. One gal was so proud of her new international mop bucket with the “Caution” warning in both English and Spanish. It had wheels and every feature you could imagine except a back up alarm.

Other gifts have come with the possibility he is going to get shot if her sense of humor isn’t at its peak. An oversized personalized “fire flapper” was indeed given to a wife I know with the justification that “she’s a big girl so she may as well do some good when she is beating out a grass fire.”

Feed stores, hardware outlets, saddle and cowboy tack dealers as well as livestock sale barns across rural America are standing by to serve the rancher in this season of giving.

Julie can be reached for comment (when she isn’t out using her most treasured gift of a wood splitting maul).

Copyright Julie Carter 2005

4:55



It’s cold out there this morning!
4:55
Morning … Coffee
By Stephen L. Wilmeth


            In fact, it is 4:55 on this Saturday morning and I’m wide awake. I’ve been up long enough to make coffee and read the early morning headline chatter. I suspect The Westerner has been up most of the night. A light is also on by the corner chair in the great room at the headquarters on Mogollon Creek. Another has been burning since 3:30 at the J4 near Anton Chico. A few telephone calls have already been made. One of them was not to a 542 number at the end of Anderson Road or a 649 prefix south of the Union Pacific tracks because those lights won’t flicker to a steady glow for another half hour at least, but one thing is for sure.
            “It’s cold out there this morning!”
            4:55
            We dodged a bullet the past several days.
            This fall was increasing similar to the one of 1978 when temperatures in the Playas Valley plunged to record lows on the third night of a freak back door cold front that hit the extreme southwest corner of our state. It snowed heavier in that storm and, of course, it was much slower moving than the one we just experienced.
            The common theme was the warm temperatures in the runup to each. Night before last was the first general frost we have had. The same took place near or about December 12 of the 1978 phenomenon. Nothing was hardened off and when the bitter cold arrived it was absolutely devastating. Mesquites were killed to the ground, Arizona cypress were killed, and the apple orchards at Paradise were ultimately made into firewood.
            This one could have been the same, but the main thrust of moisture was south of the border and it was moving much faster.
            I called my dad the first morning of the ’78 storm and asked him how cold it was up in Silver City. It was always colder in Silver City. As I recollect, he reported it was 5°. When I told him it was -17° at Playas, his response was one of incredulity. “Oh, son, it can’t be that cold down there. Something must be wrong with your thermometer,” he deducted.
            I did not even bother to tell him the temperature the next morning when that accused thermometer plunged to -29°. Nobody believed it except those of us who lived through it and eventually cut those Arizona cypress out of our yards when they were match stick brittle the following spring.
            My worry this year was the fact we had a corral full of weaner calves. We had just finished working cattle on Tuesday and our headquarter corrals were full of bawling calves. If those corrals had been hit with ten inches of snow and extreme freezing temperatures, a full recipe of disaster would have been in play.
            As it was, numbers of those calves were stretched out sleeping by midmorning in bright sunlight on a day that was cold, but with no wind and warming temperatures.
            Thank you, Lord!
            Morning … Coffee
            On another morning of chaos across the front pages of diminishing credible newspapers across our nation, we have involuntarily worked our way into the matter of morning itself. Actually, this is one of the greatest contributions to civilized society that ranch life continues to exemplify. I am reminded of the fact that Tom Jackson picked his staff officers from characters that were early risers. In fact, he and General Lee often met at the witching hour of 3:00 AM to discuss final battle plans. Ranch kitchens and mornings are no different.
            When my paternal grandparents still lived out on the Mangus, my grandmother was the real alarm clock in the house. She would be up and the back, right burner on the butane stove would be lit promptly at 5:12 each morning. On it would go the old white porcelain baked percolator and coffee was started. When it had perked, two cups of coffee were poured and she and my Grandpa would sit down for a short discussion and one of the only quiet times they would share all day. If one of us was there, we would always be offered a cup, but, at that age,  most of the time we passed. I wish now we could share a cup of that strong coffee with them.
            On Bell Canyon at Cliff at my maternal grandparents’, the routine was not much different. In that case, my grandfather, Boppy, was always the first up. He was often up as early as 3:00 and he would sit there at the head of that old gray metal kitchen table and play solitaire until somebody else got up. Coffee was always brewed by the time I joined him, but I would normally pass. In fact, it wasn’t until I was an adult did I like the taste of coffee. Nana told me she was no different. She didn’t care for coffee until much later, but she liked it then. She drank it black and strong.
            I will always cherish the memories of the last times I was with them around that early morning table. They were always so important in my life, and I know for a fact they enjoyed those visits as much as I did.
            There were other morning ranch tables that always come to mind, too.
            Uncle Hap and Aunt Mary’s at the mouth of the Mangus bubbles into thought as does the table of Blue and Minnie Rice in the depths of Sacaton Creek. Invariably, the mix of those cheerful settings, coffee being brewed and shared in warm, cozy surroundings, was consistent. Outside with its biting cold could be waiting, but, for the moment, that remained isolated from our protected joy.
            My goodness, those are special and important times!

            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Early mornings, warm kitchens, hot coffee, and wonderful people … indeed!”

Wilmeth stopped by my place yesterday.

It was in the late afternoon, not early morning. And there was no coffee.

But what a grand conversation we had. Just two people listening to - and enjoying - what the other had to say.

I don't get out much, so most of my communication with folks is by digital device. Wilmeth's visit is a reminder that computers and smart phones are a poor substitute for a real, live, in person conversation.