Monday, October 23, 2017

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Its Swingin' Monday and we have Jimmy Bryant & Speedy West with their 1954 recording of Swingin' On The Strings.

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy (revisited)

Legislating cowboy hats—Aussie lawmakers say they are dangerous

By Julie Carter

Headlining agriculture news this week is a story about the felt hats worn by the Australian cowboys (stockmen) not meeting modern industrial safety standards.

With this hitting international news, will American cowboy hat legislation be far behind?

It all began in 2001 with the death of an Australian cowboy. Daniel Croker, 23, suffered massive head injuries after being trampled by the bulls he was gathering when he fell from his horse.

The New South Wales state government brought charges against the ranch owner and last month fined him $72,000 for breaches of safety, including failure to provide the horseman with an equestrian helmet.

Since then helmets have become compulsory for Aussie ranch cowboys while ranchers are calling for industrial laws to be changed to delineate between Outback and city factory work.

It is a given that the United States is notorious for its attempts to legislate intelligence or the lack of it, in the name of protecting us from ourselves. Making rules for what kind of “lid” the cowboy should wear to work seems not far away.

We in the west will give the same arguments they are currently presenting in Australia.

 A helmet in 100 plus degree temperatures is a recipe for a heat stroke. Additionally, here in the southwest we set records for skin cancer rates. Substituting helmets for broad brimmed hats would increase the hazards for that lethal disease.

Somewhere along the line the cowboy hat got passed off as something of a romantic Wild West icon with no real function except to identify a cowboy in a crowd.

While indeed an identity to the cowboy, the hat functions well as protection from the elements. The sun is shaded off the head and the face, ears and neck. The rain runs off the brim and down the back of your slicker instead of down your neck into the inside of your clothes.

Tipped against the wind it can protect your face from the blowing dust and wind in general. Head ducked to your chest, traveling into a snowstorm, the brim will protect against a slush plastered face.

Other uses include watering your horse, fanning a fire, signaling for help and sometimes most important, providing shade over the face at siesta time.

The son of a Philadelphia hat maker created the first cowboy hat in 1865. His name was John B. Stetson, now known as the inventor of the cowboy hat.

As the story goes, John B. Stetson and some buddies went west to seek the benefits of a drier climate. During a hunting trip, Stetson amused his friends by showing them how he could make cloth out of fur without weaving. Stetson used the fur from hides collected on the hunting trip.

Stetson made an unusually large hat out of this fur-felt. He then wore the hat for the remainder of his hunting trip, at first as a joke, but then grew fond of the hat for its protection from the weather. He and other cowboys of the west ended up liking the idea so well that Stetson soon manufactured and sold a hat true to his original idea.

Perhaps we need to get the cowboy hat designated with some sort of national historical significance like a landmark so legislatures have to leave it alone.

As a cowboy hat advocate in Australia is saying, “The stockman’s hat is an icon. You can’t replace it with an ice-cream container on the head.”

Fire & Hooves

All’s not well in Camelot
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            I’ve spent enough time in Napa, Sonoma, and Guerneville wineries to have a permanent, reserved spot in my heart for that area.
In that other life, the California chapters, we had contracts with five wineries there. Our annual treks to argue contracts or to taste the results of our fruit contribution were always highlights. We even had some edgy adventures on those trips. The first that comes to mind was the time we decided to fly the Hughes up. We hit big headwinds on the east side of Mt. Diablo and sucked fuel at a rate much faster than we had expected. Jim and I talked back and forth about it before we started across the Carquinez Strait thinking we could make Napa with no sweat.
Sweat we did, though, as the winds increased to near gale force and the bottom fell out of the fuel gauge. We even started thinking about real ditching decisions including the possibility of landing on one of the many mothballed ships anchored in the channel. On we went, heaving a big sigh of relief as we cleared the water and ran for Napa at 300’ hugging terra firma of the delta. When I saw Jim later after that day’s meeting, he wouldn’t tell me how much fuel it took to fill the 500.
“Any landing you walk away from is a good landing,” he shrugged.
In fact, we had been picked up by Glenn Proctor of Glen Ellen Winery and we had driven into the land of Camelot northwest of Napa to the winery. If I recollect, our actual meeting had been charged with controversy over the never ending criticism of our San Joaquin grown grapes as opposed to the wonders of the Napa and Sonoma appellations. We had concluded the discussion without heavy casualties and headed for a lunch. Of course, we ate outside in a restaurant off Jack London Road with all the nuances and charm that the area evokes. What a beautiful place that whole country was.
And, “was” is the operative word.
I think the first time I saw it was in the springtime. The green was so intense it hurt your eyes. For a New Mexican who grew up in springs that were dry, cold, and windy, the California springs were always breathtaking. We were simply astounded at the feel of the air and what winter and spring rains could do. Superlatives are the only adequate description.
This morning, though, too much of it lies in charred ruins. From Cloverdale to Geyserville, from Kellog and Calistoga to Fulton, from Santa Rosa and Kenwood to Carneros, and from Lake Berryessa to Napa and Green Valley vineyardists are describing the land as a battlefield. Some 40,000 people have been evacuated over the past weeks and thousands of homes and structures are gone. The death toll is conditionally 41 souls. It is a catastrophe of epic proportions.
The pale of the aftermath is not the only horror. Without any storms to produce lightning, the infernos are man caused. In fact, there is a growing suspicion that the blazes were set with the defined purpose of sending a message and possibly even eliminating competition. No, it isn’t a winegrape competition. It involves the other major cash crop of the area, marijuana. There are those who are saying the fires could not have been more strategically set to damage the soon to be legal dope growing industry.
There is even a name now associated with at least one of the fires, Jesus Fabian Gonzalez. Little Chuy has admitted he started a fire to warm himself and it got away. His fire, though, was not the only thing that got away in his past. He is another illegal who has been in jail, sent home to Mexico only to return repeatedly without consequences. There is a distinct possibility that California, its governor, Moonbeam, and his court of jesters have another sanctuary debacle on their hands and heaped upon the citizenry.
Let us hope that a genuine investigation yields answers to the people who have lost everything. If it is cartel related and Chuy is the fall guy, perhaps there will be truth revealed, but that … remains to be seen.
The truth is the whole Napa area would have been much better off, if from its mountain valleys of Camelot, the dust of grand cow herds was still being stirred. Especially at this time of year when western stockmen are weaning, working cows, and shipping calves, the echoes of now silent cowboy sounds should serve as a wakeup call.
Camelot simply cannot exist in a state of limbo bliss when fuel loads are continuously stacked year after year without reduction. The ruins that now lay smoldering are testimony to that consequence.
I saw four references to global warming this morning regarding the severity of these fires. Hogwash! Recent record thirty to 50” rains added to years of the absence of biomass removal set the stage for correction and the Napa area is being subjected to that correction. It is painful.
It is deadly!
Napa, with the extraordinary natural conditions that make it unique, must understand the value and benefit that hooves on the ground contribute and it isn’t just that area. The whole West is crying for complexity of grazing. Grazers, browsers, and opportunistic herbivores in numbers are all desperately needed.
This is a manmade disaster in full regalia.
Politics, biases, false science, elitism, illicit trade, sanctuary havens, and the absence of reality have all combined in a massive conflagration. No, it isn’t just Napa. Those folks just happen to be the current targets. We are all at risk.
 Grazing husbandry must be sanctioned again and embraced. It is the fundamental component of the management of our natural surroundings.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Cow dust, saddle leather, and Cabernet Sauvignon has always had an intriguing ring!”

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Baxter Black: Festus and the Coon

Doc had escaped his busy Omaha practice and met his friend Stevo west of Eustace for a little sport. "Ever hunted coon on one of these?" Doc asked as he jumped two mules outta the back of his pickup stockracks.

Billy and Festus were sensible mules who could handle most anything. The two hunters saddled up, sheathed their rifles and released the hound dogs.

It was good and dark by the time they set out across the open fields. The dogs were soon shiftin' and sniffin' through the creek bottom, checkin' the brush and cottonwood trees.

Pretty soon they set up a racket down through the draws and off they went with the mule riders in hot pursuit. It wasn't long 'til the howls turned into a baying chorus. They had the coon treed!

Dismounting, they tied up the dogs and mules. The hunters turned their attention to a big elm tree. "Willya shine the light up there, Stevo," asked Doc. The coon sat on a limb twenty feet up. Doc brought him down with one shot.

It was a good sized boar coon with a thick pelt. Doc put a slip knot around the coon's hind legs and dangled him from the saddle horn. 

They reorganized, released the dogs and were just fixin' to mount up when the coon came back to life! He bit Festus's flank!

Lee Pitts: The Trump Bump and Cattle

What's that foreign feeling in the air at your local livestock auction? It's a strange euphoric feeling we haven't felt since the good old days way back in 2014. Could it be, nah, it couldn't be optimism, could it?

Last autumn we'd all been a bit down in the dumps due to historic declines in the cattle market, but ever since Donald Trump got elected to be our 45th President cattle prices have been on a steady rise. This begs the question, was Trump responsible? Are market fundamentals now giving cattle prices a more firmer footing, or are prices just being driven by the paper players in futures markets who are playing momentum swings? Just how much, if any, of the renewed optimism that has cattle traders now putting money back on the table, due to a Trump bump?

On The Other Side

Ag economist David Kohl compared the rise and fall of cattle prices to climbing Mount Everest and says we are now safely on the other side. Cattle prices bottomed out in the fall of 2016, right before the election. Back then, 550 pound steers were fetching, on average,$1.34 per pound and 750 pound steers were selling for $1.22. But in the first week of May 2017 those same 550 pound steers were bringing $1.68 for a 25 percent rise since the election, and 750 pounders rose 20 percent to $1.46. Granted, those prices aren't the highs we saw back in the glory days of 2014 but they really aren't all that bad.
It doesn't seem that long ago when we were all wringing our hands and worrying as we pondered the almost guaranteed election of Hillary and a further deterioration in the cattle market. Farm economists were predicting even lower lows and the NCBA was urging Congresspersons that we simply had to have the passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership or we'd revisit the wreckage.

It's amazing what one election can do! Now we have President Trump dismantling the regulators and sending the TPPers packing. And lo and behold, instead of falling, the market rose dramatically. Each week finds packers caught short of their own inventory and having to pay sharply higher prices to fill orders. One week saw cattle rise $10! IN ONE WEEK! The Sterling Profit Tracker showed for the week ending May 12th that feedyards saw $536 per head gains. To take advantage of the profit margins packers were sending ever-greener cattle to town.

So many green fat cattle are being sold that the spread between Choice and Select grew to $20 and carcass weights are down 3.8 percent With so much less beef being produced, and retail ground beef prices at their lowest point in five years, the beef market is sizzling. USDA's cold storage report indicated that red meat supplies in freezers were down 4% from last year and the market for beef seems to be creating its own tailwind.

Compare this to post-Trumpian times when feedyards were holding cattle long after their due-date for lack of bids, hoping and praying for higher prices. Carcass weights grew to an all-time high. Now we have even grumpy cattle traders calling the Trump rally "spectacular" and there have even been sightings of that most endangered species of all: the wrinkle horned flush green smiling cattle feeder.

Sizzling Like A Good Steak

Cooler heads aren't giving Trump all the credit. They contend the current market is being driven by packers having to do something totally out of character: they are actually bidding competitively to keep up with domestic beef demand and export sales. It seems the American consumer has reclaimed her joy of eating quality beef at an affordable price.

In 2014, when beef prices at every level were sky high, meat consumption fell to 202 pounds per person. That was down 9 percent from a record 222 pounds produced in 2007. Now in 2017 per capita red meat and poultry consumption is on pace to reach 218 pounds and economists are predicting American consumers will eat 223 pounds of meat per person in 2018, a new record.

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Our gospel tune today is Lay Your Hands On Me by the old syrup sopper, Red Sovine.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Missing hikers found dead, locked in an embrace, at Joshua Tree National Park

California couple Rachel Nguyen and Joseph Orbeso went missing three months ago in Joshua Tree National Park. Searchers found them shot dead this week, locked in an embrace, officials say. "Based on evidence located at the scene, detectives believe Orbeso shot Nguyen, then shot himself," the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said in a statement. A gun found near the bodies was registered to Orbeso, officials said. The owner of a bed-and-breakfast near the park reported the couple missing July 28 after they failed to check out of their room, according to authorities. He told deputies that his guests possibly went hiking at Joshua Tree National Park. Nguyen, 20, and Orbeso, 22, of Orange County were found dead this week in a rugged canyon with boulders in a remote area of the park. Police identified them Thursday...more