Tales of the O-No Ranch
by Mad Jack Hanks
I Know What I Don’t Know
Gentle readers, we know what we don’t know! Know what I mean? Ya know? It’s kinda’ like this the way I have it figgured. I think we all know that we don’t know what we would have known if circumstances had been different. For example: I often wonder way back on that cold December morning in 1982 if I had decided to just go over to my ranch office and do paper work instead of deciding to help the cowboy crew get caught up on doctoring some sick steers we had just received. After all it was cold wet and very muddy and ole’ Jiggs was one big ole’ pony if he were to have a wreck in all that mud. The night before I read that story about that ole’ “waddie” that broke his leg in a hoss wreck and had the presence of mind to cut his boot off before his leg swelled up. I saddled my pony, went to work in some traps close to the house and in fifteen or so minutes I had that 1450 pound hoss down on top of me and yes, I had a broken leg and a seperated foot. Today I suffer from traumatic artritis in that limb and will from now on. What if I hadn’t made that decision to move my family to Colorado some twenty eight years ago? Would my little darlin’ wife still be alive? Would I be writing a weekly column, drawing cartoons and riding a Harley? See… I know what I don’t know. Most likely I would not be drawing cartoons for public consumption or writing a weekly column and most certainly I wouldn’t be riding a Harley. What if I hadn’t gotten so disgusted with my corporate job all those years ago and made the decision to change directions and hang the suit and tie in the closet and go to punchin’ cows for a living? I know that I would not be the man that I am today if I had to trade all the experiences I have had, good and bad, for staying a “townie” and acting more civilized like town folks do. What about you Buckwheat? Have you ever sat back and reflected on the “what ifs” in your life and your “comings and goings” for all of your adult years? Of course you have and you are just like me….you know what you don’t know! I reckon that’s the way it is supposed to be. Will Rogers once was quoted as saying, “it ain’t no more difficult for a man to be in two different places at the same time than it is for him to come back from some place he ain’t never been”! Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and remember to stand tall for all of the right things and I’ll c’yall, all y’all.
John Wayne’s Bull
Kenneth was a neighbor of mine. He and his wife owned and operated the local furniture store and had done quite well thank you. As many successful businessmen do, Kenneth got in the cattle business. Not only did he get in the cattle business he went out to Arizona to one of John Wayne’s bull sales and bought a few bulls off of the “Duke”. Ol’ Kenneth is a wonderful, honest and decent man but he had only one flaw that I can recall. He couldn’t stand the sight of blood. Kenneth calls one day, “Jack, could you come up here and give one of my bulls a shot. He’s down out in the pasture and I am afraid that if I give him the shot and he bleeds I might pass out. You know how me and blood get along?” “Sure, I’ll be right up,” I assured my good neighbor. When I arrived Kenneth had a disposable syringe all loaded and ready to go so we jumped in his pickup and drove down to where this long yearling Hereford bull that used to belong to John Wayne lay. He was propped up on his front legs but looked somewhat out of sorts. “Kenneth, If I can get him up should we try and take him to the squeeze chute and doctor him up good?” I offered. “I don’t think he can get up Jack, that’s why I had you come up here to doctor him for me.” I squatted down beside this ol’ bull, rubbed his hip a little and jabbed him with the syringe. Well, gentle readers, that’s when he decided he would just get up and escape syringe and all. I didn’t even have time to administer the meds, I just jumped up and try to bull dog him before he got completely on his feet. In an effort to toss me aside, one of his large but tipped horns scraped my chest, ripped my shirt and peeled enough hide off my collar bone to make a holster for a large pistol. I might have embellished that just a tad. However, he did open me up enough that the blood began to run down my chest area. Well, ya know what happened next…..Kenneth in the process of trying to hold the syringe in the bull saw my bloody shirt and passed out faster than a pilot light in a hot water heater sitting outside in Chug Water, Wyoming in a windstorm. The bull tosses me aside, gains his feet and heads to the barn. Before Kenneth comes back into my world, I wiped as much blood off of me with my shirt and if I remember correctly, I tossed the shirt in the back of his truck. Kenneth does come around rather quickly and we were able to pen the bull that John Wayne used to own and doctor him without much effort. He wasn’t quite as sick as Kenneth suspected. In fact, if that ole bull was as tough as the “Duke”, you could have shot him three or four times and he’d be ready to service the cows the next day. Well, maybe not. Kenneth is still on his ranch and still in the cattle business, but I believe the last time we visited he was running Holsteins steers. I’m not sure the “Duke” would aspprove of that, but then again….quien sabe? Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all. Remember to stand tall!
Gentle readers, it’s always just about this time of the year that cabin fever sets in. Even though we have had pretty much an open winter without much snow, it’s still been very cold at times and wind? You wouldn’t believe unless of course you are my neighbors up the road in Wyoming. I did catch a nice morning a couple of weeks back and after breakfast I stuck the “wood” (that’s saddle for new comers) on ol’ paint and we rode the perimeter of my place checking on the condition of the fences and also on how many prairie dogs had been added since I last took a tally. The morning was beautiful being fairly warm and no WIND. When I got back to the house I decided that maybe I should get the oil changed in the Harley. I called the shop and was told to bring it in at 1 o’clock. It’s about 30 miles to their shop. I went out to the garage and 12:30 and cranked up the bike and the wind started blowing. Man did it blow. It was way worse on the way home. On days like this I usually try and catch up on my cartooning, house work etc. I have a “cabin fever” story for you. Pete and his three friends always took a camping trip in the spring just to get away. Pete’s wife told him in no uncertain terms was he to go camping this year!! His buddies went on with their trip as planned and when they got to the camping site they always used, there sat ol’ Pete with a fire going and his tent set up and a cold beer in his hands. “Pete, what in the world are you doin’ here?” one of his buddies ask. “Well, it’s like this: after you guys left my wife came up behind me and put her hands over my eyes. To my surprise and shock, when I turned around she was naked as a Jay bird, took me by the hand and led me into the bedroom. She gave me a pair of handcuffs and told me to handcuff her to the bed and “do whatever” I wanted, so here I am. Well, I reckon ol’ Pete caught heck when he got back home but at least he was able to ditch that ole “cabin fever” for the time being. I wouldn’t suggest you fellers try anything like that unless you intend to be homeless the rest of your life. Spring is only a few weeks away and we really could use lots more snow. We’ll see. Stay tuned, check your cinch on occasion, stand tall, and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
What Some Words Mean
Gentle readers I have touched on this subject a time or two about what words mean. If you will be so kind to bear with me I will retravel down a somewhat familiar road to some of you with a twist at the end. Ah ha! Let me get started here. Some of you will remember a good many years ago in this column I wrote about the meaning of words. What do they really mean? “Does mean mean that you are mean or you mean well. Now you have most likely latched onto my drift with that play on words. I went on in that particular column with some examples of how our language is structured and how confusing it might be to someone who was not familiar with it. A few weeks after the column was published I received a call from a drug enforcement agent out in Virginia who ask my permission to use my column. As it turned out he was an instructor for not only DEA agents but FBI agents as well. One of the classes he taught was on interrogating suspects and what to look for in the way they answered. In other words, there are a number of ways that give clues according to how some folks place their words. At least that’s the way I understood his explanation. Anyhoo, of course, I gave him my permission and as a matter of fact I was pleasured to meet him and his sister who was also in law inforcement at the T Bar Inn for breakfast some years later. Now to get up to date. The Sunday before Valentine’s Day I had finished my shift at the hospital and stopped at Wally World to buy flowers. It would have been Little Miss Martha’s 69th birthday had she lived and I wanted to place flowers on her grave. As I mulled over the vast varity of selections I noticed a feller next to me that seemed to also be having a problem on making a decision. I left for a little while and purched some groceries and returned to find this same feller there. He put me in mind of a cross between Jr. Sample (Hee Haw) and Larry the Cable Guy. A mouth breather he was. l spoke, “looks like you and I can’t seem to make up our mind when it comes to buying flowers.” He shot back, “oh these #$%#$% women, ya have to buy’um candy or flowers or jewelery seems like all the time. They are always expecting something!” I should have left it alone but I just had to reply, “I’M ON MY WAY TO THE CEMETERY WITH MINE, which way you headed?” He seemed to have turned stone cold and looked down and away as if to make his final selection. I turned and walked away knowing full well that words have meaning and I was wondering if when he went home if he might have found some more cheerful words for his mate. I bet maybe he did. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
Gentle readers, if you watched any of the recent Super Bowl advertizements you may have seen an ad by Dodge trucks called “The Farmer”. It was narrated by the late Paul Harvey. I understand that he originally did this at an FFA convention some years ago. It was a very stirring reflection of what it means to be a farmer or a rancher. It presented the challenges, hardships and rewards that come from working the soil, raising livestock and being the provider of our nation’s food supply. I had begun to think in the past few months that the common man, the salt of the earth kind of folks have been shoved aside for the more appropriate polictically correct left of center way of thinking and doing. I don’t think that any more and I’ll tell you why. While listening to talk radio and veiwing various programs on the “telly”, I found no one, absolutely no one that didn’t like the Dodge ad. Nada, not one. That covered both sides of the aisle: donkeys and elephants and everyone in between. There was just something about that ad that brought what America represents to the front and center and it could not be ignored. It just couldn’t! Yes, I am sure there are those out there that could have cared less. “Just a bunch of hick farmers and cowboys, trying to play on our heartstrings. I don’t need that crap I can go to the store and get what ever I need whenever I need it. I don’t need to be fed propaganda like that!” Yep, I would almost bet that there were a few way off to the left that might have felt that way. I believe that the majority of folks that watched that ad all of a sudden were proud at least for a moment, that they lived in a country where common folks played by the rules, worked hard, paid their taxes, prayed to their God and took a moment to mess up their grandson’s hair and scratch their dog’s ears. Yes, I know other folks do the same and work just as hard as a man of the soil or a cattle producer and love America like most of us do. Folks, this is America, land of the free, home of the brave and we need to be prepared to stand our ground and let anyone and everyone know that thinks they can change it to some other way of being, thinking or doing that rubbs up against personal freedom and our constitution…..it ain’t gonna’ happen!! I do miss Paul Harvey and there are others that are trying to follow in his footsteps and I say “God bless’um”! As far as this sudden panic over guns: the news media does not miss the opportunity to report every gun incident that happens on a daily basis. There is a method to their madness. Recently there was a young mother who shot all three of her children and then herself because her husband had left her. All died but the youngest child. Let me ask you a troubling question. Suppose you are that dad that left. Would you rather your children were forcefully drowned in the bathtub, had the life choked out of them with a rope, or stabbed repeatedly with the same knife mom used to cut their birthday cake. If I were in that situation I, as hard as it would be to imagine, would rather that got a bullet to the head and have it over almost before it began. How about you?
Gentle readers, last night I watched an old movie called Monte Walsh and it was starring one of my favorite actors, Lee Marvin. The movie was based on a couple of cowboys who were buddies and where one went so went the other. They knew how to do one thing well and that was “cowboyin’”. The time period was the turn of the century or the late 1880s. Many of the bigger ranches were being bought by folks from back east with deep pockets and knew next to nothing about cattle ranching in the west. Back then cowboys were necessary and the more skills they brought with them to the ranch the more secure were their jobs. Cowboys were not married men as a general rule and they all lived together in the bunkhouse. I never was a bunkhouse cowboy as I was married when we lived and worked on the bigger ranches. I am inclined to think that bunkhouse living would be a lot like my living in the barracks when I was in basic training. Early to bed, early to rise, eat what the cook comes up with for that particular day and your shirt tail is not likely to hit your back during a normal day of ranch activity. There are still some of the larger ranches that have bunkhouse accommodations for the single cowboys that work there. It may be for seasonal work or full time work. I adjusted to the barracks living because I was a young man and had no other choice unless I wanted to go to the stockade for some time. You do what ya gotta’ do. Back to the movie. These two cowboys seemed well adjusted to their situation. They had a roof over their head, two, maybe three meals a day and a place to roll out their bed and have a small space of their own. As they got older they began to realize that “cowboyin’” was a young man’s game and unless they wanted to be relegated to cooking for the cowboy crew at some point and time they just might have to find another occupation. Lee’s buddy decided to marry a widow in town who owned a hardware store and give up the bunkhouse style living. That left our hero to just do the only thing he knew how to do and that was to be a cowboy for as long as his body could endure the aches and pains of everyday ranch living. It has been said that there is not a piece of machinery that will take the abuse that a cowboy will. I find some truth in that. To all of you young cowboys out there that throw a saddle on a pony most every morning. You have my admiration but I will tell you that there will come a point and time where those little incidences of getting run over by some irritated cow, or getting bucked off to many times and wrestling calves at the branding fire will pay you a return visit. I have to say that I would not take one day of city living for one day a’horseback tending cows….unless it was that cold winter day in the Texas panhandle that I got severe diarrhea some five miles from the house on that ol’ rough trotting grey….yeah, I might consider makin’ a trade there. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
Gentle readers, not to long after my Dad passed away my Mom had a stroke and it limited her speech to two words. As strange as it may seem to you as it did me at the time, she could only utter these two words, “main thing”. Now let me tell ya children, it’s really hard to carry on a conversation with someone in that situation. For example, Mom would call me on the phone from the nursing home down in Texas and when I would say “hello”, I would hear those two words, “main thing”. Now it depended on how she phrased those two words or the emphasis that she placed on them which forced me to decide if she was having a good day or one not so good. “How are you doin’?”, I always ask. If it was a “MAIN THING”! I could maybe expect that she was in a good mood and felt pretty good. If I got a “main….thing.”..then I expected she might not be havin’ a really good day or maybe someone was ill that I needed to know about. “How is uncle Joe doin’ these days?” I might ask. Uncle Joe was one of her younger brothers that had been having some serious health problems. If he was okay she might reply with a moderate “main thing” which meant things were still about the same. If I got a big “MAIN THING”! it could mean that he was doing better than expected or that he was doing really really poorly. I just had to decide which one it was or ask her if he was doing better and see what her reply was and the same visa versa. Mom had always been a big talker. In fact when she could talk, many times if I needed to lay the phone down and go set something off the stove or whatever, I would just go and do it and when I returned she would still be blabbin’ away about something that was most likely important to her and her alone. Her opinion seemed to be the only one that mattered. She could literly drive you crazy at times as you wanted to have a conversation with her and if you started talking she would just talk over you until you shut up. It was rude to say the least but that was a big issue with her for whatever reason. Now talk about karma!! I stand amazed many times how “what goes around comes around” works in this world we live in. As I was going in the post office yesterday a feller stopped long enough to hold the door open for me and I was a few steps away. I offered, “thank you sir, you are a good man.” To which he replied, “what goes around comes around.” I agreed. Bless my mom’s heart. Here she was so used to controlling every conversation and not letting anyone share with her what was happening in your life, and now she was forced to be the one that had to listen. She lived that way for a couple of years before she passed. I went down to see her in the nursing home a few months before she had another stroke that took her and we comunicated a lot with our eyes. You can say a lot that way. She has been gone since 1996 but on occasion I wish whenever the phone rings I could pick it up and hear, “MAIN THING”! Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all!
My Friend Jan
Barry called me the other day and told me my best friend had passed away. It wasn’t unexpected. He was a chain smoker like three to four pack of Winstons a day. Most of us smoked way back then and not only did I , but his darling wife and daughters always encouraged him to use some common sense about the amount he smoked. Years ago he had open heart surgery and one would have thought that would curb the smoking. It didn’t. He died on Christmas day and I talked with him last a few weeks prior. It got to where he didn’t have the strength to visit. His mother named him Jan Lajuan Brooks. I reckon she wanted a girl. That was almost like being named Sue. He was all man, always busy, always into some project or other. I met him in 1963 when I worked for Sears in Odessa, Texas. I sold T.V.’s and he managed the mail order catalog business. We had many, many adventures together besides our families sharing much of our lives. I think the thing that sticks most in my mind was our trip, just Jan and I made down to Big Bend National Park along the Mexican border. We took a couple of rubber rafts, a supply of food, our pistols and some fishing gear and had a buddy drop us by the ranger station. Now, gentle readers, this was before the movie Deliverance. The rangers ask us where we planned on putting into the river, did we have adequate medical supplies and food and were we armed? “Yes, we have all that taken care of,” we offered back. The ranger warned us this was dangerous territory as we were going to float roughly 60 to 75 miles down the Rio Grande. “There are bandits, mountain lions and rapids in the river. We will fly over you every day in our plane and be sure and look for us. If there is a problem wave a white flag at us when we fly over. Check back in with us when your trip is complete.” We assured him we would. Our buddy took us as close to the river as he could get and we packed our gear down and off we went. There are some deep, deep canyons and some really rough country. We were excited. The third day out we were not sure if we were in tune with where our maps indicated we sould be. Some time later we spotted a Mexican man and four young men we assumed where his sons. They were peasants. Very poor dressed if dressed at all. I told Jan I was going to row over to their side and see if I could get some sense of exactly where we were. I spoke very little border Spanish and understood less. Jan warned me about getting out of the raft and approaching them as they might decide tojump me, take my pistol and shoot both of us and take our bounty. They all smiled as I waded to shore. “Buenas tardes, I spoke and received the same reply. “How far to Boqouillas canyon,” I asked politely in English. “Si,’ he said and pointed in the direction we were headed. He didn’t understand me and I had no way to get him to as I tried drawing a map in the sand, but didn’t know enough to get the “how far” understood. He had been eyeing my large knife on my gun belt as well as my pistol. He said in English, “knife” and stuck out his hand to receive it. “Don’t you give him that knife Jack, he’ll cut your throat and I don’t want to have to shoot anybody,” Jan barked. I took out the knife and handed it to him and stepped back a step or two. He admired it and passed it around to all the boys in age from maybe 14 to 25. They all agreed it was a good knife and the old man handed it back to me. “Pistola,” he offered as he held out his hand. Oh, so now he wants my pistol does he? “Don’t give’em that gun Jack he’ll kill both of us,” Jan barked again as his eyes blinked rapidly through his thick glasses. We called him “Blinky” at times because of his nervous habit of constant blinking. I pulled out that big ol’ chrome plated 45 and cocked it and pointed it at the old man’s head and replied, “see”! “Si, he said, bueno,” and they all retreated from me and we thanked them and tossed them a can of tomatoes and corn the best I remember. That was quite a trip my friends before it was all over. to much to cover but I will miss my buddy. We talked every week, sometimes twice a week on the phone. I did tell him I loved him in our last conversation and as hard as it was to repeat it for him, he said, “I love you too buddy.” Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all all y’all.
Way Back Then
Gentle readers, as we prepare for a new year, my thoughts have taken me back to the middle 1940′s. The big war had just ended and I was five years old. Way back then there were a lot of things that were rationed. Gasoline and tires were rationed and the best of my memory we had certain coupons that entitled us to this or that and how much of either I don’t know. I remember that photo of my mother leaning against our old Ford sedan and she is wearing her overalls, a bandana tied around her hair and a paint brush in her hand. She was in the process of painting our family car, which we were lucky to have, with a can of paint and a brush. My oldest sister, may God rest her precious soul, worked at the bank and at the end of each work week, as I recall, she would bring home ONE piece of bubble gum for my older brother and I to share. It cost her a nickle and a nickle was a lot of coin in 1945. My brother and I got a half of piece of gum and at night we would, yes, put it on the bed post so we could continue to chew it the next day. It had to last all week. Simple little pleasures way back then. I recall one cold snowy day as my brother, my mother and I had been to Amarillo from where we lived at Pampa, Texas, some 70 miles distance. We were about one third of the way home when mom stopped to pick up a soldier standing along the highway braced against the wind. We gladly took him down the road to White Deer, Texas where he would be home for Christmas. We never gave it a second thought, we owed him and owed him a lot for our freedom. I remember as a wee lad standing on an old Coke container (wooden) and an empty coke bottle in my hand as I listened to the Grand Ole Opera on that littlel wooden radio. I was pretending that I was on stage with the stars and singing right along with them. I knew a few of the songs as I remember. I also remember the old black man that came by each spring to plow up my mother’s garden with his mule. He let me sit on that mule one time because I told him I was a cowboy. We were happy the best I recall. Sure mom and dad had quarrells as did my two sisters and my brother and I. Life was good. I went to school not being afraid of anything except there were two girls that like to chase me at recess. I remember that night my dad, my brother and I laid out on a blanket and just observed that beautiful summer night with all those stars in the sky. That was where heaven was, We would all go there some day. Life was good way back then. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and may God continue to bless, and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
I wonder if some of the folks out there, maybe even you, have considered where we might be without big oil? I’ve began to give it some considerable thought as we slip into another year with lots of problems to solve. Or should I say, “that need solving”! Gentle readers consider this: with Christmas right on top of us, where would be be without oil production? It most likely would depend on a steam engine pulling freight cars to deliver the “goodies”. Ya see, there would be no trucks to deliver the freight and you would need to get a’horseback or hook up your wagon or buggie to go to the mercantile store and buy those Christmas presents. Most likely your house would be heated with wood ( no bad deal there) but there would be no oil unless it was of some animal to light your lanterns. You couldn’t ride a bicycle unless you rode on the rims as there would be no tires. I think you may have begun to see where I am going with this. Is “big oil” a bad deal for us in this country? It’s not a bad deal in Russia, China Yeman, Saudia Arabia and all those middle eastern countries. I think the P.C. crowd is trying to make us “rethink” our options about trying to become not so dependent on foreign oil. I am going to guess that the present administration is not going to allow much if any drilling offshore or on federal lands at all. In fact, I hear the other day that the “prairie chicken” is about to be labeled an endangered species! Wow! I didn’t know the prairie chicken was endangered or was that important to our livlihood or our enviornment. Okay, let’s exanime that for a moment children. See, private land owners (like myself) can let oil companies (big oil as some would have it) drill on my little place here without the consent of the feds. Well, I could unless I happen to have endangered prairie chickens in or around the O-NO Ranch. Then of course, we wouldn’t be able to upset the balance of nature and to heck with being able to be self sufficient in this good ole U.S. of A. No, no, no, we have to protect every feather, every scale of a fish and every hair on a rodent’s back because we are wise, gentle and understanding of nature and of course, we are politically correct! All across the plains of the Dakotas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, eastern Colorado and all the plains states that happen to have petroleum, or gas and “endangered species” anywhere close, there could be no drilling at all. How does that help our economy? Of course it doesn’t. Fracking is now the “F” word in our present vocabulary. They have been fracking wells since the 1950′s. I know, I was there, I lived it, I participated in the process as a young lad on his first job out of high school. I know of NO UNDERGROUND WATER BEING RUINED OR EARTHQUAKES FROM fracking a well…period! I heard of one in Wyoming and a couple of instances where gas got into a water system here in Colorado in the last few years. I think those issues were resolved, if not I’m sure a reader will inform me of my statement. Bottom lline, common sense is just not that common any more. God bless you and me and the good ole U.S. of A. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
Gentle readers, do you or have you ever felt as if you were a lot like Charlie Brown? No? Well I have and still do at times. For example, that little filly that I had a terrible crush on back in high school…it turns out she liked my best friend better. Yep, that was Lucy yankin’ that football away from me just as I put forth my best effort. Little Charlie Brown has such a good heart and willing attitude most of the time only to have some unexpected occurance jepordize his best laid plans. Take the time I had just started my cowboy career and it appeared that when I was in the pasture doctoring cattle all by myself, I could not, I repeat, I could not throw a bad loop. All I had to do was wind up my arm and toss my twine and my prey was caught. That worked pretty well until I had my best friend from down the country come and stay a few days with me and help me on the ranch. Of course I had bragged about all the ropin’ I would be doing and how good I seemed to be at catchin’ what I went after. I’ve told this little tale before but it bears repeating. We rode out in the pasture and prowled for at least an hour before I spotted a steer with a bad case of pinkeye. I was mounted. I was riding an extremely good ranch horse. Some 13 loops later I had this poor ol’ steer down and out, totally exhaused as I was, but I finallly got a loop on him. He almost just fell over when I got off to tie him down and doctor him. There was this other time when I took my ten year old son back to my high school that just happened to be open that particular summer. I had told him of my daring escapades on the football field. I told him how I had been selected to be on the all district team both my junior and senior years on offense as well as defense. We stopped at the trophy case where in my senior year we lost one game that would have put us in the state playoffs. All the player’s names were on the trophy. All of them except mine. I was astounded! I couldn’t believe that they left my name “Charlie Brown” off the trophy and I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t noticed it when it was presented. Oh well, sometimes me and ol’ Charlie just need to shuffle along and do the best we can with what we’ve been given. Ol’ Linus just seems to hang onto that blanket and be a survivor. I know guys like that. As a sidebar, Charles Shultz, the creator of “Peanuts’-Charlie Brown has a daughter who is an mule and donkey expert and she has a ranch just west of Loveland, Colorado. I call her a friend and she is a wonderful, boni-fied, country girl. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. Y’all, all y’all.
I’m Getting Shorter
It doesn’t seem that long ago, gentle readers, that I preferred a horse that stood sixteen hands or over and weighed in that 1300 to 1400# range. Ole paint, Howdy is about 15.3 and weighs about 4 million pounds and I have to do deep knee bends before I ever attempt to get on him. I know that as we get older we do start to shrink a little. My kids and grandkids were all here for part of the Thanksgiving holidays and Gavin, my first born grandson is almost taller than me. I thought I was 6′ 3″ and at one time I might have been. Then again, I always wore those high heeled boots. Gavin is as tall as I am (almost) and he says he is six feet tall…hummmm. I may be shrinking. I have noticed that when I buy my usual 38″ lenght in Wranglers that they do seem to wad up more at the bottom. That must be it, I am gettin’ shorter. I could be down to 5′ 8″ by the time I’m 106 years old. Man, Charlie Brown, that really discourages me! Most of the women that I would be dancin’ with would all be lookin’ down at me. Oh well, I reckon there are just some things that are meant to be. I can’t wear the high heeled cowboy boots anymore as I have to have a fairly flat heel to get around these days. I had a bad hoss wreck when I was 42 years of age and it did a number on my right ankle and foot. The ole’ bone doc. says that I have traumatic arthritis in my ankle joint and there is just not a lot they could do to give me much relief if any at all. I keep the ankle in a brace or a wrap most of the time and seem to get by fairly well. Now I also have bone spurs on each heel and not the kind you poke a horse with and they can be a little agrivating at times. Working in the E R at the hospital on marble floors doesn’t help my situation as I am on my feet all the time, but it is something I feel compelled to do and I like it. So I reckon the next time I buy a pair of Wranglers I’ll wind up buying shorter britches as I must be gettin’ shorter! I don’t know if I’ll be buying any more horses before I retire from riding but if I do it may be have to be a Shetland! I do hope your Thanksgiving went well as ours sure did. I just got back from the cement pond working off some of that ham and turkey and I noticed when I took a shower I had to lower the shower head just a little….hummmmm, I must be gettin’ shorter! Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
Jack, Glenn and the Bobcat
Gentle readers, I was watching a program called Yukon Men the other night on the “telly” and it took me back to a place in time when I was just plain “Jack”. This feller was out checking cows there in Alaska when he spotted a wolf runnin’ in his herd. He shot the wolf and decided to haul it back home on his pony. That created some problems as that ole pony didn’t want that wolf on his back. In 1972 I was lookin’ after some grass steers in a four section pasture that joined my place there north of Amarillo, Texas, My friend , Glenn was riding with me that day and he was packin’ a sidearm. I wasn’t armed. Now Glenn was one of those “herky jerky” kind of fellers. By that I mean he was sort of a Barney Fife on steroids at times. If Glenn was anywhere around you could look for something to go wrong and usually that meant your life might be in peril of some sort. As a sidebar I flew with Glenn once after he had gotten his pilot license and only because I knew that if I didn’t he would be crushed as he would think I didn’t trust his ability to fly. I didn’t, but there I was in the plane with him sweating like a pig at a pig roast. We landed safely but a few years later he and one of his buddies didn’t. They both died in Glenn’s plane. Meanwhile, back at the ranch….Glenn and I had checked all the windmills and all the pastures and had headed back to my house when he blurts out, “hold up Jack…there’s a bobcat under that mesquite there!” I pulled up, took a close look and thought it to be a large feral cat. It wasn’t. It was indeed a young bobcat. Glenn wanted to dispatch it so I took the horse off some distance away as he shot the cat once and it was dead as a politician’s promise. Now that was one pretty cat and I wanted to take it back to the house to show my two year old son. Problem was, I was riding a green broke horse so I was a little concerned he might get somewhat excited if I loaded that bobcat on behind the saddle. I let him smell the cat and then I placed that ole cat behind the cantle of my saddle and tied his legs down on each side with the saddle strings. I walked the horse around for a minute or two and then mounted up. The ol’ bobcat slipped off to one side and the blood started to run. That wasn’t the only thing that ran, so did that pony. Let me tell ya children, he took off like a tree hugger in a forest fire. It was about two miles to the house through a mesquite covered and cactus laden pasture. I most likely could have placed in the Belmont Stakes on that given day. We did arrive back at the house in record time and without any major injuries. I had “Little Miss Martha” bring out the boy as I tied the cat legs over the hitching rail so I could skin him. “Whatcha’ doin’ Daddy? Whatcha’ doing to that kitty cat Daddy?” my son probed. “Son, this here is a wild cat, it’s called a Bobcat and I’m gonna’ skin him. I’m gonna’ take his coat off!” With big eyes and lots of anticipation my son’s voice got a little lower, “won’t he get cold Daddy, won’t he get cold?” That little incident could have been the root cause for the name, “Mad Jack.” Stay tuned, chech yer cinch on occasion, and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
Howdy, gentle readers and if you were here at the O-NO this morning you would be enjoying a not only delightful, but beautiful morning. This is something new as the last few days have brought dreadful winds. However, change is always good as I think we get a little stagnant when it’s the “same ol’ , same ol” thing. If things stayed the same without change, I think we would not only be bored out of our minds but be looking desperately for something to change for us. If it was 80* every day with no snow or cold weather I think most of us would be headed somewhere at Christmas looking for cooler weather with some snow. No? I would. It’s my humble opinion that most of us would like to do some things differently as we go along through life to have a change of pace if possible. I recently decided to go down to one of the large hospitals in our area and volunteer my services whatever that might be. I will start some training this coming Sunday as I will be placed in the ER (emergency room). There is a great deal of responsibility there and I have been faithfully reading all the info that has been furnished to me. So…now it’s going to be hand’s on training with an experienced volunteer. Like I have said in the past, I think sometimes we need to pay some things forward. I think we need to, if we are able, to step out and do something that is beneficial to others and not expect a reward of some kind. You see youngsters stepping out all the time to help others in time of need. The recent murder of a little girl in the Denver area and the way it was done sent chills down my spine. There were hundreds and hundreds of volunteers out looking for anything that would help find this monster that killed this sweet innocent little girl. It’s going to be Holloween in a few days after you get this. We don’t have to pretend that there are monsters out there because they are there. Please don’t send your children out alone to trick or treat. Be sure that you are close by or that there is an adult that you trust going with them. If you can find the time in your schedule to shovel the snow off of a sidewalk for the elderly or just go by and check on your neighbors once in a while if you feel they could be in need. You know….something new for you to do when time allows. Not only will you suddenly find a new spring in your step, but the kind deed will certainly not go unnoticed and if it does, does it matter? Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and i’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
Gentle readers, have you ever pre judged someone or something only to discover you were way off base? I bet you have. I guarantee ya I have many, many, to many times in my life. Let me take you back to my junior year in high school. I went out for the varsity football team. As you know “Friday night lights” are everything in every small west Texas community. Football is king and it was my perception that if I didn’t play I would be considered what we would call a “nerd” by today’s standards. Plus all of that I played football in Junior high and loved it. It was my sport. I was tall and skinny and of course didn’t shave my peach fuzz as of yet. John Gerald Thomas was a senior, was very muscular and had a beard like an Oregon lumberjack. He and I were competeing for the same spot. I knew I didn’t have a chance. Heck, my face had never even felt a razor and my legs had been sued by my body for non support. They were very skinny. I was surprised when I made the starting line up and went on to be an all district player on offense as well as defense. I had a misconception about J.G. Thomas. He just wasn’t very good at football. We rode out into that mesquite covered pasture north of Amarillo, Texas that crisp fall morning to meet some other cowboys at a windmill and then proceed to gather and ship some yearlings. I was just a button or “gunzel” when it came to “cowboyin” as I was as green as fresh guacamole but I had a vision of what a panhandle cowboy was supposed to look like. Now, I had all the trappings. I had a fairly good ranch horse, could rope a little. I could hold my own when it came to navigating the brush when a’horseback but lacked the necessary skills of being able to read a cow correctly at that time. We rode up to the windmill and I was somewhat offended when I see this ol’ farmer lookin’ guy wearin’ kakias, lace up shoes and a baseball cap. He was in his sixties and sitting a purty good lookin’ bay gelding. His saddle looked as if it had seen duty for many years. Everyone knew him but me and they all liked him. I figured I would like him also and give him a little smypathy. Children, this feller was a hand and he certainly didn’t need any of my sympathy as he quicky made me look like the “gunzel” ( a person pretending to be a cowboy and not having all the necessary skills) I was in short time when he broke off into the brush after some bunch quittin’ high tailed heifers and brought them back in what seemed to be an effortless attempt. I had had a misconception about that ol’ farmer lookin’ feller. And to think that he WASN’T EVEN WEARIN’ CHAPS IN ALL THAT BRUSH! Well, I reckon these are some of life’s little lessons that we learn as we stumble along. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we don’t until we get another opportunity. Judge not lest ye be judged! I’m still workin’ on that one. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
There are no manuals that instruct one on how to be a grandparent. I think it just one of those deals where you learn by trial and error and by watching and listening to others. It’s different when you are the grandpa (in my case) than when Little Miss Martha and I raised our two kiddos. As I have stated in this column before I adore little kids, especially babies. I was watching a little toe headed kid in the post office with his mom just the other day and it made me somewhat joyful just to watch him tag along and pretend he knew all that was going on around him. He was maybe two or three and walked with an abundance of authority and confidence. I wanted to be his grandpa just for a few moments and just pick him up and give him a good ol’ grandpa hug. I didn’t really get the grandparent experience when I was small. My dad’s folks had already passed before I was born. My mom’s folks were seemingly really old and lived in an old house on the outskirts of Lubbock, Texas. I never saw that grandpa out of bed as he was always sickly. I just remember him laying there with watery eyes and trembling hands and not being able to speak above a whisper. He had been sick for a nlumber of years as a result of a bout with whatever, I don’t remember plus he had been bitten by a rattlesnake on their ranch years before and mostly treated it himself with the help of family members. No anti venom was availabe back then. My grandma was a sweet little woman who always had sugar cookies baked when we came by. Always in an apron with her hair in a bun like you would expect a farm wife to be in the fifties. I have worked on being a good grandpa ever since the first one was born 16 years ago. I have six and the youngest are twins and they are 11. The others with the exception of my sweet little granddaughter who is handicapped are starting to date on a limited basis. Wow! That just means that the last 16 years have passed by seemingly so fast I’m still feeling the breeze from it all. What a bunch of great kids all of them. I am one proud grandpa and I miss grandma not being here to share in this joy that they bring to me. It used to be that they always wanted to go out to grandpa’s and spend the night. Not any more and I knew this day would arrive and I’m good with it. It just means that I get to look foreward to being a great grandpa one of these days. I can’t hardly wait! Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
Losing My Way
No way I’m losing my way. No way! I get amused at times because some of you guys are getting concerned that I may be losing my way. No way. Yep, ever sinch I started to ride a motorcycle it threw some of you gentle readers off my trail. I have to confess that when I have my biker costume on and I am at the post office or grocery market and run into you I get this sad puppy dog look. I have been asked twice this week, “DO YOU EVEN HAVE ANY HORSES ANY MORE?” Yes, of course I have horses but I don’t ride them 12 miles into town to pick up the mail or buy a few groceries. I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt them any but it would sure hurt me. I wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week. It’s sort of like this: Cowboyin’ is a young man’s game. Heck, everybody knows that or at least they should. Now some of you old timers out there that still get a’horseback every week in the good months and take care of your livestock I apoligize. You guys never get old. Now if I had a bigger place, a woman companion (married or hangin’ onto my shirt tail) I might consider gettin’ back in the game for a little while longer. I’m satisfied with runnin’ a few steers in the summer and checkin’ on them from the back of a horse. I get that good ole time cowboy feeling each and every time I am a’horseback checkin’ livestock. I don’t team rope, sort or pen as entertainment which it is for a lot of folks. God bless’um! Thirty years or so of that on a fairly consistant basis on the ranch will take a little starch out of your britches plus it can get expensive. I bet if I would just go and do a little of it I would get hooked. Right now I would rather go dancin’! I was in the post office today getting my mail and I heard somebody come clompin’ in behind me and I thought it must have been a yeild grade four female in high heels. Wrong! As I stepped over to one of the tables ( in my biker costume) this loud clompin stomped right up beside me. As I glanced over I realized it was a young “buckaroo” or at best a “wanna be” puncher standing beside me with his chaps on, a huge pair of spurs, long sleeve shirt, vest and big hat. He was lettin’ this ole biker know that a “real cowboy” had arrived. He kept glancin’ over in my direction to see if I had noticed his presence. He stayed as long as I was there and I was there for a while going through my mail. I chuckled as I thought I most likely had thrown a leg over more “snotty broncs” than he had ever been on gentle ponies. Of course I don’t know, he might have been the best “buckaroo” this side of Elko. I also thought that could have been me forty years ago. Nope, I haven’t lost my way. I am still me and by golly, I’m having more fun than any old guy ought to have. The Lord’s been good to me. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all. As a sidebar I do appreciate your concern!
….Ol Clancy and Me
Yep, ol’ Clancy and me are buds. You remember Clancy. He is my big ol’ German Sheppard that I rescued from the shelter some almost 6 years ago. What a dog. We have watched each other age as the years have passed and we both are a little grumpier as we get older. When Clancy goes I won’t be getting another dog as there would really be no need. He is just not replaceable and it’s as simple as that. The first day I brought this big (100# plus) excited entergetic dog home I thought I had made a mistake. At first I had the thought that he would be unmageable but that was resolved in a matter of half an hour. We were playing in the back yard getting aquainted and I tossed a rock for him to retrieve. He did and he lay down with it between his front paws and looked at me with an interesting look. It was a cold stare. I got down on all fours and creeped up to him and reached for the rock. He uttered a low but menacing growl. I have to tell you gentle readers that I was more than a little alarmed. I found my courage, slapped him on top of the head and took the rock away. I was now the alfa male. Never again did he ever offer to be disagreeable with me. He doesn’t follow me around, he takes the lead a few steps in front and is always looking back to be sure I am still there and everything is okay. Any time we are outside regardless of what my chores or lack of are, he watches me constantly and ever so often he makes a trip around the house to be sure there are no probems or danger lurking. What a dog! He would prefer that I always am available to watch him eat. He doesn’t like to eat alone. I try to accomodate him most of the time except during the harsh winter months. Clancy is an outside dog and loves cold weather and of course I am at the point where I don’t look forward to working outside when it is frigid and blowing snow. Even as an old dog Clancy jumps around in the snow slinging his head from side to side as if to say, “come on man, let’s do something!” He seldom barks at folks pulling up in the yard. He just approaches their vehicle and waits for them to exit. Sometimes they don’t unless I am there to give them comfort as Clancy has a black face and looks like a timber wolf. He will walk right beside our guest sniffing their leg and on occasion will glance at me as ilf to say, “do we know this guy and is he okay?” I’ll call him off and he always responds to every command given to him. He groans when he lays down and groans when he gits up. So do I. I do not look forward to the day that i have to bury him and live on memories from that time on. I have been so blessed to have such a wonderful faithful, protective, loving dog. I reckon every man needs one good woman, one good horse and one good dog in his life and friends I have had all three. What a deal! Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all all y’all.
Once in a great while, gentle readers, I will meet someone who really impresses me and it can be for any number of reasons. Recently I bumped into a couple of fellers from Alabama at our local McBurger joint. They were riding motorcycles and when I ask them if they had been to Sturgis, South Dakota, the biggest bike rally of them all? Yes they had.
However, they left Alabama, rode to Wisconsin to see the motorcycle museum there and then to Sturgis, then to Yellowstone and now were on their way back to Alabama. Man, that’s a lot of riding on a motorcycle but alas, they were but mere children compared to me. I was impressed to say the least. I have watched a local feller for a number of years as he trudges up and down the main street of Wellington in a very determined manner for a man with some years behind him. I have to tell ya that he is no bigger than a “whisper” but he is out rain, snow or shine walking to all the businesses in town looking in their trash receptacles for anything of any value. It’s always one foot in front of the other as he seems suspended in a forward lean but uses no walking aids. I pulled up to the post office on my Harley the other day and was surprised to see this old guy rolling up on a scooter.
“Hey, looks like ya got yerself a new motorcycle,” I popped off. In a weak but positive voice he replied, “well, I fell the other day and I need a little help now cause I hurt myself a little.” We exchanged greetings and just the usual stuff and finally I ask how old he was. “I’m 96 years old, well, I will be in ten more days,” he offered. “WOW, NINETY SIX, I exclaimed, you really get around for your age and in all kind of weather,” I praised him. “How old are you?” he ask. “I’m 72″, I said. “Seventy two, heck, I was married longer than that!” he said with a hearty chuckle. “What’s yer name?” I queried. “It’s Paul, what’s yours?” he shot back. “My name is Jack, good to meet you Paul.” He studied me for a second or two and then ask, “are you that feller that writes in that paper that I read every week?” I told him that I was. How he would recognize me in my biker costume I’ll
never know, but he did. “He gave me a hardy handshake and said, ” well I’m pleased to meet ya. I wondered when I might ever run into ya, I read your column every week,” he said proudly. I was feeling ten feet tall by now and talk about giving a guy a lift, ol’ Paul gave me a really big lift that for a moment I wondered if I too could live to be 96 and be getting around as well as I have seen him all these years. Yep, Paul, you are quite a feller and I’m glad I got to meet you and I hope your birthday is the best on ever!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all. As a side bar if you, gentle reader, are having a birthday this week, Happy Birthday to you also.
Double Your Trouble
Double your trouble, double your fun. In this incident , gentle readers, I wasn’t able to double my fun. Double my trouble, yes! It happened this way. Long ago and far away when I was learning the cowboy trade mostly by trial and error I had my hands full with two high headed, goofy heifers that really tested my skills as a cowboy and why I even wanted to be one. After all, I had just quit my job with Proctor and Gamble and gave up that nice salary, company car and other benefits that I didn’t now have working for myself as a contracted cowboy. I was looking after 68 heifers on a four section pasture just north of our place at Amarillo, Texas. The pasture was rough with deep ravines, steep rocky hills and lots and lots of mesquite trees. We gathered these heifers on a real foggy morning and in the process missed two in the gather. For three days I had ridden this pasture looking for the missed heifers and on the fourth day I found them with the neighbor’s cows about a mile from the shipping pens. Of course, I figured it might be a little difficult to cut the two of them away from the mother cows, get them through a gate in the middle of the fence not at the end and then pen them so I could load them in my trailer. Much to my surprise I was able to cut both heifers out of the herd and even get them throughthe gate without a lot of difficulty. I’m thinking now that I am a purty fair hand at this cowboy game. However, once the heifers went through the gate they took off in a dead run and I had to get the gate closed, remount and give chase in a timely manner. When I got within shouting distance to them they, of all things, split up and went in different directions and I knew I had bigproblems then. I had left my truck halfway between where I found the heifers and the pens. I tried to drive one of the heifers to the pens and when I realized it just wasn’t to be I roped her on the first loop which was a miracle at best. I choked her down and yoked her to a big mesquite tree. I didn’t want her on her side on the ground as it was getting’ really hot and I thought she might die before I was able to come back and load her up. The other heifer had circled around and came back fairly close looking for her “roomie”. Believe it or not I had her roped after a half mile chase through the thick mesquite. I was able to move her to my trailer and load her up without incident. Trust me she was ready to load. I put her up front, loaded my worn out pony and drove back to where I left the first heifer. Then I unloaded my horse, backed the trailer up as close to the beast as I could, but I got to close and hit that old mesquite and broke it loose where upon the heifer took off with it as best she could. Now I had to mount my horse, give chase and try to drive her back to the trailer. Now my steed was a little wary that that big bush bouncin’ along with that heifer, but I did manage to get her close to the trailer and roped her again and this time tied her down. I got the mesquite unyoked from her and she also was ready to be loaded without being too much of a problem. What an ordeal all of that was. I will tell you this, that was an education in itself and I learned that I was more capable than I had first thought. I strutted for a few days until I had to rope something the next time and it took about six or seven loops! Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
Where Are The Adults?
Sometimes I wonder, gentle readers, how big a void we have in this country or in this world of adults. Folks that we put our trust in or admire for some reason or other wind up doing something totally unexpected and we are again disappointed in the human race. Randy Travis, country and western singer and one of my all time favorites arrested nude and drunk in his vehicle. But Randy I thought you had found your peace in religion and that’s where you were taking us all in your music recently. I thought that was a really neat thing for you to be doing. Not only was Randy nude and drunk he also fought with the arresting officers. This, by the way, was his second arrest for drunk and disorderly in recent months. Randy, son, I am so disappointed in you! Have you been tuned in to the political ads of late for the next President of our great country? Of course you have there is no way around it. Here we have two supposed to be adults, grown men, which one or the other is going to be the leader OF THE COMPLETE FREE WORLD! The ads are so disparaging, so sad, such a lack of any human decency it makes me want to throw up. Where are the adults in this country? Has it always been this way? I’m thinking that it has. I remember when Jerry Lee Lewis that country
rocker married his 13 YEAR OLD COUSIN! What’s that all about? Almost every time you turn on the “telly” we find another teacher or adult in some position of authority has been arrested for molesting a minor child. It’s crazy. Remember Michael Jackson? How can you make any part of that okay? I don’t care how talented he was or what impact he had on the music world, he was disgusting from my point of view. You may be wondering if I, Mad Jack, do childish things from time to time? Hummmmm, let’s see. How about the time that I….no that wasn’t childish, that was being stupid. We need leaders in this country and we need good leaders with some moral fiber and folks that are not afraid to stand against the tide.
I see more women at times with more guts than some of their counterparts stand firm in what they believe and girls you make me proud! We have gotten so soft, so weak kneed, so milk toast and so terribly afraid that someone is going to consider us not politically correct we lose our bearing. I can’t help but think of all those men and women who literally gave their all in time of war and conflict or here at home protecting and serving in a civil way. Was it all for naught? We can do better. We can be silly at times, act like little kids at times, and have our fun and nobody is the worse for wear. When it comes to the serious stuff, we need more folks that will stand up and be the role models that all of us need. Like the little kids that go out and raise money selling lemonade to give to the recent fire victims. They learned that from some adult somewhere. We need more of you. As far as the political
ads, brace yourself, it’s going to get uglier and more childish. What a reflection on our society! Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
Handy Hints From The O-NO
General readers, over the years I have figured out how to help myself along when it comes to functioning on a daily basis with the general chores around livestock.
Well, as far as that goes with the inside chores of keeping a house and making it a home. My place is small and will only run ten to fifteen yearlings plus two or three horses during the course of a decent summer. Flies are always bad and fly tags in the ears don’t always do the job so here is a handy hint if you are running only limited livestock like me. I took one of the Miracle Grow jars that you screw onto a garden hose and put the correct amount of stable spray in it to mix with the water when you turn the water hose on. I put the steers in a small pen in the corral and spray them and it works out great. They get covered good and it also knocks down a lot of the flies around the corral. When I am out a’horseback and come in contact with a rattlesnake I will kill it if at all possible. In order to do that safely I carry three large chain lengths tied on the back of my saddle with a saddle string. If I have to do combat, I take my piggin’ string (small length of tie down rope) and tie it to
the chain length and whup me a rattlesnake. That’s about as safe a way to dispatch one that I know of unless you carry hand grenades and my guess is you are gonna be walkin’ home if that’s your weapon. Speaking of rattlesnakes, I have mentioned that I had a horse bitten last year and bitten badly. If you find you have a cow, horse or whatever snake bit and they are having trouble breathing from being bitten on the nose, here’s what will help. If you have one of those disposable syringe holders you can cut to bottom end off, remove the cap and of course the syringe and shove a holder up one or both nostrils, bottom end first. They may stay in long enough for you to get some help from your vet. I have heard of using a length of garden hose instead of the syringe holder. I won’t get into what little things I do around the house to make life easier as I feel I would be preaching to the choir. You gals I bet know every trick that there is when it comes to taking little short cuts and still get the desired results. As a sidebar I got a call from the advertizing company that has done my calendars for the last twenty years and they
want to send me a new contract to continue on for ? I thought they might have had enough of me after twenty years, but I reckon not. I will have the 2013 Hoots cowboy calendars available the first of September for $10.00 and that will also include postage. I’ll send ya two of’um for $15.00 and of course they will be signed.
My best, stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c.y’all, all y’all.
What exactly is country living one might ask? “I reckon that depends on who is going to give their personal opinion or definition. Of course in this column you will get mine. I think there are a lot of different avenues to country living. It has changed a lot since the 40′s and 50′s and 60′s. Back in 1950 if you lived right on the edge of Otis, Colorado or Hale Center, Texas you would have considered yourself as living in “town”. Apply that same principle today and you just might be of the opinion that you are “country living”. The reason I say that gentle readers is because in some of these really small towns there will be as many pickup trucks and farm equipment in town as there is any other type of vehicle. That’s sort of like country living isn’t it?. Today in the hectic, fast paced surround sound world that we live in it appears that more folks are just wanting to get OUT! They just want to find that little place where it’s impossible to hand a cup of sugar over to your neighbor’s house out of the kitchen window. They need a little space. More space for the kids to play and maybe even have some animals like a goat, chickens, rabbits or even a horse or two. It may be on two acres or five acres but at least it’s out of town and away from the screaming sirens and constant vehicle emissions and traffic noise. I like having neighbors living around me but not right next to me. I enjoy sitting on the front deck sometimes
in the morning or evening and watching my neighbors either going off to work or coming home or just goin’ somewhere. As I told a woman who stopped to visit with me at Jax Farm and Ranch store last Saturday on “Day of the American Cowboy”, that we live in awkward times, We do. We live in a fast changing world where it seems so many different groups of folks want us to take up their banner and follow them instead of all of us being under the same banner. It’s confusing to young folks, I believe. I think that a good many of them are running around in circles trying to decide which group they should assign to themselves. It’s crazy, it’s just plain crazy. Where are we headed and why? I think a good many more folks are headed to the country where they believe that they just might find some peace and quiet and have another opportunity to check and see if their collective heads are indeed screwed on the right way. That’s certainly not to say that folks that live in town and have always lived in town don’t have the same values that what most country folks have. Many do and they are comfortable living where they do and all of the noise and whatever goes with living in a congested area is okay with them . God bless’um. If everyone lived in the country, they’re wouldn’t be much country left, now would there? I love the country. I have lived in the country most of my life take away a few short years in town. As I get older I don’t much relish the thoughts of a harsh winter and having to get out in it and tend to livestock or get on an open top tractor and
move big snow drifts when it’s 20 below and the wind is howling. Stack that up against living in town and I’ll take country every time. How about you?
Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
Gentle readers, I just came in from the front deck this Saturday morn. It is really really hot and not a whisper of a breeze. I have had my breakfast, visited with my bro down in Texas, fed the ponies and have been admiring this beautiful country in which I live. The grass is green and there is still a patch or two of snow up in the high mountain valleys. What a beautiful morning. The coffee was for some reason just a little better than usual. As I sat gazing at the scenery my mind for some reason wandered off into my going dancing last night and all of the characters that I have tagged with my own special names. That’s part of my job, as I see it, as a cartoonist
is to pick out folks that stand out among the crowd for some reason or another. I’ll give you some examples: first there is Animal, you will see him on occasion in my cartoons. Animal is a local guy here and he is a big big man. Full beard and light on his feet on the dance floor like you wouldn’t expect. Now, I didn’t give Animal his nick name. He had already been tagged before I met him. You might confuse him with a grizzly if you bumped into him in the deep forest after dark. Then we have the“professor”. The professor is a little short bald man who lays out on paper what type of dance steps he wants to do with his wife. Many, to many times, you will see him on the dance floor dancin’ by himself with an imaginary woman. I thought he looked like a nutty professor so I tagged him the “professor”. Of course we have“catfish” and he is carrying that tag because he reminds me of a big Texas mud cat. Mighty Mouse is one of the most noticed of all these characters. He is noticed
because he seems to really need the attention. I understand that he is elderly and has deep pockets. He is a little bitty guy with more energy that guys twenty years his junior and he loves to dance with the young girls and many of them come seek him out as they like to dance with him as well. The only problem we have with Mighty Mouse is he doesn’t follow the usual dance patterns for country and western dancing or any other dancing as far as that goes. He has an unusual style of running all over the place and I have accidently knocked him down on two different occasions as I did not see him coming up behind me. Grasshopper, we are starting to get a little concerned about. We haven’t seen him in a while. He is a retired rancher from New Mexico and in the winter he goes, or so he has told me, down to South America and lives in some little village where it is warm and beats the Colorado winters. He is fluent in Spanish and goes to different countries down there at different times. He is long, tall, wears glasses, always has a huge smile on his face and hops around the dance floor so thus the name “Grasshopper.”
I have had women come up to me and say, “so I hear you have names for everyone here….WHAT IS MY NAME?” I’m not a dummy, I reply, “we call you “the beautiful one!” That seems to work most of the time. I have no idea what they call me but I suspicion it may not be to my liking and again, “quien sabe” (who knows)?
I am known to many of them as just Jack or Mad Jack. Just the same it is fun to have fun with life and get a little silly on occasion. Why not? Normal looking and normal acting folks just don’t get a nick name because they just don’t qualify. Do you have a nick name? Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all,
Day Of The Cowboy
Gentle readers, this coming July 28 will be the eight annual National Day of the American Cowboy! Yep, that would be right. In 2004 our government did
something right. They decided that maybe it was time to honor individuals that represent what the U.S. of A. considers it’s core values such as honor,
honesty, moral values, hard work and “ridin’ for the brand”. Of course I know that not every one out there that considers himself or herself a cowboy or
cowgirl reflects the image we conger up when we think about the American cowboy (cowgirl). There are misfits in every occupation, however, I think that
the American cowboy and cowgirl that are in the business of taking care of livestock on a daily basis would fill out the bill pretty good when it comes to
those time honored traditions we attach to cowboys. When we honor the American cowboy that would include rodeo cowboys, feedlot cowboys, and
anyone who is a cowboy at heart regardless of their regular occupation. The American cowboy is respected all over the world and countries like France,
Germany and many other European countries are big into the “cowboy culture” because it offers a lifestyle that most folks would like to think they could be a part of. I have worked with a good many cowboys and some cowgirls over the thirty year span of “punchin” cows and have found the majority to absolutely love what they do and want to do it for as long as possible. “Cowboyin”, like a lot of other jobs, is considered a young man’s job. Yep, there are those old guys up in their eighties and nineties that still participate in one way or another. There are more eighty year old cowboys out there than you might imagine. Why? That’s been their whole life and to them there is no reason to do anything else, especially retire and sit on their collective butts.
I was in Wally World the other day looking at shirts when a young woman and her two little girls about six and seven approached me to look at some of
the shirts I was considering. I had passed them just a few moments before and the woman gave me an unexpected smile and a big “HI”. I responded
by telling her how cute her girls were. Now here they were again and the woman, who was extremely pretty, began a conversation about shirts and just small talk in general when one of the little girls who had been watchin’ me closely blurted out, “WE LIKE COWBOYS!” The woman, a little embarrassed, blushed and decided it was time for them to go get their groceries. I got tickled at the little one who had figured out by now she should have not been so vocal as she shot a glance at her mom and then ducked her head. I had groceries to buy as well and we would all meet again from time to time as we turned blind corners and almost bumped into one another. Big grins all the way. Cowboys are a proud bunch and have every right to be so pat yourself of the back if you enjoy that life style. As a side bar, I will be at Jax Farm and Ranch store in La Porte, Colorado on the 28 of this month
to meet and greet you gentle readers should you decide to stop by. They are having a big “Day of the Cowboy” celebration. We’d love to see ya.
It’s my understanding that I will be there from 10 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon and I will have a little artwork for sale should you be interested.
Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
A New Song
Gentle readers, I do feel like singing a new song or any song for that matter on this Saturday morn. The O-NO got another inch of good ole slow rain that
had prayed for a couple of weeks back. I had gotten almost an inch just about ten days ago. I have to tell ya these short grass prairies can rebound and green up faster than Joe Biden can cover his mouth after a miscue. I was sitting on the front deck with a cup of cowboy coffee just watching an antelope lope across the fast turning pasture. Now I wonder if the antelope got part of his name from his loping skills? Hummmm? Back to a new song. It was just the other day I was in me Lazy Boy with a brain that was null and void or so it seemed. All of a sudden out of nowhere came a few words that rhymed and there seemed to be a jingle runnin’ right along side of it. Strange isn’t it how that happens? Actually, I think it only happens to strange people such as myself. I rose from the Lazy Boy, retrieved my guitar and started to put a little song together. I call it Red’s Cabaret. Here goes:
I went to Nashville to pick and to sing.
I knew music city held captive my dreams.
I played for the big boys and gave it a shot.
After a short discussion they said to me, “I reckon not”!
Ya need to play and be able to sing,
to tell ya the truth, we ain’t heard a thing!
Ya need a rip in yer jeans and hair like the king.
This here is Nashville and it’s all about BLING.
If you want a place to sing and to play
ya need to go to Tucson to Red’s Cabaret.
Red’s is a place where anything goes,
Willie got started there a’singin’ through his nose.
Red’s got back up music and a live microphone.
If the crowd don’t clap, they’re most likely stoned.
That’s our advice, all we can say,
just pack yer guitar and head to Red’s Cabaret.
So I packed my guitar and by thumb I did go
plumb across Texas and New Mexico.
I landed in Tucson at two in the morn.
I said to myself, “Self, a star is born.!”
I followed the bright lights, stepped into Red’s.
The dance floor was empty and the place it was dead.
Took out my guitar, started singin’ my song.
A man soon appeared and it didn’t take long.
Red, he comes over and gave me a glance,
said, “son, ya need hair like Elvis and a rip in yer pants,
to tell ya the truth, I ain’t heard a thing,
I need a man that can play and one that can sing!”
Red finally hired me after hearing my plea,
fed me a taco and told me to roll up my sleeves.
Instead of a mic, I’m holdin’ a mop and a broom
a’singin’ my heart out cleanin’ the men’s restin’ room.
I’m singin’ at Red’s six nights a week,
He’s feedin’ me tacos and boardin’ my keep.
My pickin’ and singin’ gets better it seems,
so I’m headed to Nashville to capture my dreams!
Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c.y’all, all y’all.
How Hot Is It?
You want to know how hot it is, gentle readers? IT’S HOT ENOUGH! Doesn’t that about say it all? Is it due to global warming? I would say yes, butthen we have to explain exactly what global warming is. My uneducated guess is that our planet heats and cools every so many years and it happens to be the time the planet is heating up for a period of time. I have written before that when you see the weather girl give the records being set it has always been colder and it has always been hotter at different times and sometimes decades ago. So, there you are Charlie Brown. It has been hot here in Colorado as it has and is all over the country. It’s nothing now to hear that yes, it went over 100 again today. Then you throw in all these dreadful fires that seem to pop up out of nowhere. Combine that with all this heat and this terrible drought in progress and it is really HOT! As I write the worst of the fires, at least in Colorado have been brought sort of under control. The big fire that burned up so much country just west of me is now contained, or so they say. God bless you fire fighters and all that put yourself in harm’s way to do such a good job under terrible circumstances. What have we learned you “tree huggers”? Have we learned by now that IT IS GOOD BUSINESS to clear out dead timber and use those logging roads to benefit fire fighters in the future. Is it GOOD BUSINESS to allow livestock along with the deer, elk, moose and antelope to graze those heavily forested and other areas to reduce having overgrown areas that turn into tinder boxes at times like these? I would bet that if it was indeed your house that fell victim to these raging fires, you most likely would say, “yes”. This is such a heart breaking situation for so many who have lost so much. Those of us that don’t have to regroup like you, we think of you often and of course our prayers are for your future and hopefully the good things it may bring. We really do need to use some common sense when it comes to managing our public lands and not fall victim to the cries of the environmentalist that feel a need to save every tree, every blade of grass and in effect they let it all, “burn baby burn”. I was watching the huge plumes of smoke that covered the horizon and much of the heavens and I’m thinkin’, “how many 18 wheelers would it take on the interstate to create that much pollution? Friend, it would take a bunch, a whole bunch bumper to bumper for miles to do that much damage. Insurance will be harder to get for folks living in those fire danger zones and many companies just may not offer fire insurance at all in certain areas. It all comes down to being of a practical mind, using common sense and not folding to each and every bug , frog, lizard and owl saving radical. That’s all. Betcha’ things just stay the same, whatta’ ya bet? Our forest are like gardens. They need to be thinned at times for the good of the whole. Mother Nature when she get’s her belly full begins to vomit and we have seen the results of beetle killed timber left to stand and forest floors full of dead pine needles and dead grasses and brush that could have been used for grazing at some time or other. Just my humble opinion and mine only. There will be some of you that agree with me and some that don’t. Regardless we have witnessed some of the worst fires our beautiful state has ever seen and may ever see. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
“That’s Funny Stuff”
Joe is one of those guys that is not always funny when he tells a story. The other day was a little different. First, a little background on this feller Joe. Before he retired he was responsible for the draft horse program at the Budwiser plant in Fort Collin’s Colorado. Joe’s humor is usually from left field and a little dry. “Did ya see that bumper sticker that said, “honk if you love Jesus, text if you want to meet Him,?” ask Joe. “No I didn’t Joe, but that’s funny, that’s funny stuff,” I shot back “Did I tell ya my pirate joke?” ask Joe. “I’m not sure, I responded, try me again.” “This pirate goes into a tavern. He has a peg leg, a hook for his right arm and a patch over his eye. Joe goes on, the bar keep says, “I’ve seen a lot of pirates, friend but you are the best lookin’ pirate I’ve ever seen. Do you mind if I ask you how you lost yer leg?” he mumbled. “No, not at all, says the pirate. I was on me pirate ship and had drunk a wee too much rye and me fell overboard and a shark came up and snatched me leg and away he went. The boys helped me back on board.” “Wow! That’s some story, tell me how did you lose that arm?” wondered the bar keep. “Well mate, I was on me pirate ship and was tussling with one of me ship mates. I had had a little to much rye and he got the best of me and off the ship I went. A big shark swam by and snatched me right arm and off he went.” “Man, you have had some really rough luck, how did you lose that eye?” “Well sir, I was on me pirate ship and looking up at the mast to be sure the sails were in order when a sea gull flew over and he dumped right in me eye.
IT WAS ME FIRST DAY WITH ME HOOK!” “Now that’s funny Joe, that’s really funny,” I praised my friend Joe. You see, gentle readers that is a good example of what goes on down at the T Bar Inn over coffee a good part of the time. I ask you, “is that not a fun way to start the morning?” I told Joe that I was going to use his “stuff” in my column. His only request was that I spell his name correctly. “It’s JOE, Jack, JOE, be sure you get it right.” Well, I may have taken some liberties with the way he gave his request, but really, who cares? On my way to the bank on me Harley this morning after coffee I stopped at our only stop light in town. A comical lookin’ feller pulled up beside me on an old Harley. He was really skinny, had a full beard and was wearing one of those “Snoopy” aviator leather hats tied under his chin. We glanced at one another I had my juke box playing some Waylon on the speakers when he nodded and ask, “you headed to the interstate?” “No sir, I’m headed up the street to the bank, or I’d run with ya.” I just assumed that he wanted me to run with him for a while. I was flattered because he was the real deal. He had his bed roll and all he could get on that ole Harley and a “free spirit” he was. I was just a “poser” on a Harley and that’s all I’ll ever be. Just an old cowboy playin’ “biker”. Just the same I felt validated. I went south, he headed to
the interstate. Just one of those little moments like hearing some “funny stuff,” that sort of makes your day start off on the right foot. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all. By the way, please support you local rodeo and have a ‘SAFE 4th of July. DON’T START ANY FIRES BY BEING STUPID!
Kids Say The Darndest Things
Gentle readers, one of my favorite people of all times was Art Linkletter and if you are over fifty you have at least heard of him. He was a television personality long ago and far away. He loved to interview little kids because as we all know, “kids say the darndest things”. In one segment he was observing a little girl about three or four years of age as she was drawing a picture. “”What are you drawing there honey?” ask Art. “I’m drawing a picture of God!” she quietly responded. “That’s nice, but did you know that no one has ever seen God so we don’t know what he looks like?” he prodded. “She never looked up from her masterpiece and responded with,” well, they do now!”
Is that not the best or what? I have friends that live up in the Red Feather Lakes area of Colorado just west of the O-NO and they are subject to this huge fire that is burning up so much of our forest and family homes. They brought their motor home and cargo trailer loaded with personal items down here to a safer place. We were talking about our grandkids yesterday and Rosemary told me about the time she was driving through the Nebraska country side with one of her little grandsons. “Hey Grandma, look at all those new cows out in the field.” “They are pretty, but what makes you think that they are new cows?” she asked. “THEY STILL GOT THEIR PRICE TAGS IN THEIR EARS!” he blurted out. Funny stuff, I have to tell ya Charlie Brown, little kids are so precious in their little uncluttered minds. Years ago at the Denver Stock Show a grandma was telling me that she and her husband were showing cattle there and she needed to run an errand in a poor part of Denver. She had her little grandson with her and they stopped at a red light in front of a rescue mission. On the corner was an old dirty guy holding up a sign that read, “JESUS HEALS”. After they had driven a block or two in silence the lad pops up with, “Grandma, what did that sign say that old man was holding up?” “Well, sweetheart, it said Jesus heals.” “Grandma, if Jesus is a heeler, who heads for Him?” The boy’s dad and Grandpa must have been team ropers? When son Andy was a mere lad of three I took him into Amarillo with me to the feed store. On the way we passed a ravine off to the side of the road that had a big cottonwood tree in it. Underneath the tree a couple was makin’ love in broad day light! I ain’t makin’ this up.
Andy was standing up beside me in the seat (before seatbelt laws) and offered, “Daddy, why is that man fightin’ with that lady? why Daddy? Will she be okay?” “I think she will be fine,” I mumbled as I pushed the pedal to the metal in order to escape as fast as possible. They grow up way to fast and I relish those memories of the past with my kids and grandkids and to often wish I could have “do-overs’ so I could relive those special times. They have to grow up and have kids of their own so they too can enjoy what you and I have enjoyed, right? You betcha! If you are a person of prayer, remember our firefighters and all that are involved in these terrible days and of course
all those families that have lost all. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and keep your ears open for cute comments from the little ones and I’ll c.y’all, all y’all.
Fire and All
Gentle readers, I was in our local BK this morning having a two dollar breakfast. Occasionally I would glance out the window and observe all the smoke that was drifting off the mountain down into our little burg. Yep, another huge forest fire was ripping away just west of our community. I was thinking about all the property being lost and as far as I knew maybe some lives. There was a couple in their late forties (I’m guessing) sitting not to far away and when they finished their meal they got up and the guy turned and looked at me as if I was “answer man”. “How long has that far (fire) been burnin’?” he asked. “Well, it started day before yesterday from what I understand,” I replied. “Boy it looks like a bad’un.” he offered.” “Yes sir, it’s going to do a lot of damage before it’s all said and done.” I shot back. “I hear they’re doin’ some drilling up here in this country?” “Yep, they are, in fact they drilled a well right near my house this past year,” I mumbled. “Gas or all (oil)?” he asked. “It’s all” (oil) I answered. “That’s even better cause gas is really cheap now,” he offered. “Where are you guys from?” (as if I had to ask) “We’re from Texas, Buffalo, Texas.” “No kiddin’, I shot back. “I’m an old Texas boy myself. I know a little about where you live. That’s just south of Abilene, right,” I asked. “No sir, it’s south of Corsicana ’bout forty miles.” “Hummm, well I guess I don’t know as much about Texas as I thought.” “Yer thinkin’ ’bout Buffalo Gap. Now that’s just south of Abilene.” “You’re right, I said, I got the two mixed up.” “Where are you headed?” I asked. “We’re goin’ to Montana up to that Glacier Park. We come up here every year and go to Montana or some place here in Colorado or Wyoming.” We said our good byes and out the door they went. I got to thinking it was kinda’ nice to hear and speak a little “Texan” this morning over breakfast. I used to talk just
like that. You know that “far and all”. Over the years I have begun to speak a little crisper and not drag out my words into the next county. Folks are folks anywhere and everywhere they come from and I was refreshed to hear soft spoken friendly Texans express themselves the way they had been taught since childhood. Years ago I pondered the street language spoken from the ghettos in our large cities around America. I just could not believe that people couldn’t speak any better than that. It dawned on me that I was just as handicapped when I was speakin’ “Texan” to people that were not used to that long drawn out delivery. We speak in our native tongue and it doesn’t matter if it’s a New Jersey dialect or it’s from Georgia. We just speak what we have been influenced by our environment to speak. Just the same I relished
my little “far and all” experience this morning. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and be darn sure you don’t toss that cigarette butt out the window and that your campfire is completely out! I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
A Cowboy’s Rain
I have had “rain on the brain” for the last few weeks. I reckon that’s because I just can’t seem to bargain one to arrive here at the O-NO Ranch. My neighbors off to the east and south of me have had better luck. I got to thinking about some of the rains that I have enjoyed and been somewhat dismayed by in past. To a cowboy I think, or it’s just my opinion, that “rain” can mean different things at certain times. By that I mean some of those rains are so special and such a “God Sent” they are never forgotten. Other times I remember rains that caused so much destruction that one could only hope it wouldn’t rain another drop for a long time to come. I remember moving to that little ranch at McLean, Texas. Just a little eight section ranch full of sagebrush, sand and some good solid short grasses.
The day we got mostly moved in and it came a really hard shower. The sun seem to explode in the west just before it went down. I walked down to the corral just to see the horses. None of which were mine but I judged them to be good ranch horses as my boss was in the business of raising Quarter horses. He lived some forty miles away and I was hired to operate this little cow ranch. When I stepped outside the air was cool and the smell of rain coming off the sagebrush was more than refreshing. It was a good smell. I was in new territory. A new place with pastures I had yet to ride and country I had yet to see. I was thirty four years old and “I was a cowboy”. It was just a few short years after that I was managing a large steer, cow/calf operation in a totally new and foreign country. It was foreign because I had never been in the lush clover and rye grass and coastal Bermuda pastures of north central Texas. Great Scott, you can run a cow on three or four acres. A new and terrifying experience for me to be handed all the experience of raising hay, running a different type of cattle and trying to manage a crew of men I knew
nothing about. One night in rained and it rained and it rained some more. It rained twelve inches, children that’s a foot of water in one night. The country was flooded.
I didn’t know what to expect when I went over to my office that morning and put on a pot of coffee for the crew coming in. I had the radio on the local news and it was reported that the whole community was surrounded by a lake of water. We lost long stretches of fences. I had over forty cows with calves washed away down the flooded creek. Not all were washed away as we found some impaled by branches in the Mulberry trees in the creek. I almost got drowned in one of the flooded creeks when I discovered my pony never learned how to swim. It was a terrible experience. One of those you just don’t ever forget and you don’t want to see another raindrop for a long long time. There were those winter days out in the wheat fields riding through hundreds of steers looking for anything that showed any sign of sickness. It would be drizzling rain and you would be so cold you absolutely could not stop shaking. The fear was you were going to be the one that needed to go
to the sick pen, not any of your charges. “Lord, I do need a rain. A gentle, soft day long rain to soften up the ground and quench the thirsty roots of these old grasses.” I know, I know gentle readers, it will rain just before it’s to late. I get a little impatient at times, it’s just one of the chinks in my armor. Stay tuned, check your cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
Going Up In Smoke
Everybody, well almost every one smoked when I was a kid growing up. My dad, my uncles and some of my aunts also smoked. It was a pleasurable thing to do. My bro and I would sneak a cigarette every now and then from one of the above and slip off to become real men. At sixteen I began to smoke full time as a lot of the kids did. I did hide it from the coaches at school and some of the teachers. They knew, of course they did. In the sixties the surgeon general came out with a report that flatly stated that smoking was hazardous to one’s health. My brother in laws, my brother and my dad had already quit for the most part. At thirty when son Andy was born I did not smoke in the house. I never was a heavy smoker. I loved those cigarettes. A cup of coffee in the morning without a smoke was sinful. When I decided to change my lifestyle from sales person to cowboy, of course I had to smoke. You saw those Marlboro ads just like I did. Cowboys smoked no two ways about it. I even got so confident that I would “roll my own” on occasion. That’s what real cowboys do. They got that Bull Durham tag hangin’ out of their shirt pocket. I heard about that Marlboro cowboy dying from lung cancer. I began to hear of and see folks that I knew die and die hard from smoking and it began to scare me. I cut back to just four or five smokes a day. Some twenty one years ago I was over at the Flying M Ranch outside of Gunnison, Colorado for a couple of days to help friend Wade work some of his cows. After dinner one night I left the main house and started back up the hill to the bunk house and stopped to light a smoke. It was a cold night and the stars were out as bright as could be. My God what a beautiful sight! I took a couple of drags off the smoke and started up the hill. All of a sudden I couldn’t get my breath in that thin cold night air.
It was the smokes. I knew exactly what my problem was. I was a fifty year old man who had smoked off and on for over thirty four years. I threw my smokes away and to this day I have not had a smoke of any kind between my lips. Was it hard? Whoa! children it was hard but sometimes we have to do things that are hard on us. My friend, dear friend, J.L. down in Texas sits in his wheel chair with the hoses shoved up his nose to get oxygen so he can continue to live. I and the rest of his family begged him all through the years to give up his smokes. Two, sometimes three packs a day or more stained his fingers and filled his lungs with crud. I visited with him this morning and it’s difficult to listen to him in that condition. His brother who quit smoking years ago died from lung cancer in his forties. My friend Jerry, who would come out to the Texas ranch on occasion and help me rope and doctor wheat pasture cattle died a couple of years ago. His dad died in his sixties from lung cancer. “I really need to quit these Jack,” said Jerry all those years ago. He didn’t. I’m tellin’ ya guys and girls, if you are a smoker heed my warning. “If smoking don’t kill ya, at some point and time you will feel so bad, you might wish you were dead”! I know, I know, I had that uncle that died at 93 and he smoked from the age of 14 until he died. If I were a betting man I would bet that you can’t do what my uncle did. It’s hard to quit but with every drag of your smoke part of your life goes up in the air with that drifting little cloud of crud. Take care of yourself, set a good example, stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c y’all, all y’all.
Tell me , gentle readers, who doesn’t like summertime? As we get older most likely it doesn’t mean as much to us as when we were in school and thinking about all the fun things we would get to enjoy in those three special months we had away from our studies. Summertime for me when I was a mere lad of nine or ten meant I would ride the old skinny paint horse out to that windmill in the pasture and try to catch a yellow catfish. Maybe, just maybe I would take my 22 single shot rifle and shoot a rabbit, skin it and cook it over a little mesquite fire and force myself to eat some of it regardless of how it taste or looked. A mountain man would surly do that wouldn’t he? Always on the lookout for rattlesnakes as the pasture had it’s share of those pesky and dangerous critters.
Then there was the new swimming pool there at Sundown, Texas which was home to me and another 1492 hopeful souls. The swimming pool came after a few short years and I was 13 or 14 years of age. At 14, my brother and I had those summertime jobs in the oil patch doing construction work or whatever the “gang” might be doing on any particular day. Of course we did not get involved in anything that was very dangerous where we could get injured or worse. Like any kid that age I resisted getting up so early and doing manual labor for eight hours but there was that old car my brother and I desperately wanted to buy so we could have more freedom. You could get your driver’s license at the age of 14 back in the “old days”. Only on rare occasion did we ever date unless it was a church sponsored event. Most likely we would drive around at night and spotlight rabbits to shoot. There was an outbreak of some sort of “rabbit fever” or worm infestation in those rabbits where they were being consumed by grub like worms and just flat eaten alive. If we had a family vacation planned that year it was always exciting to know we would go somewhere other than the drab landscape around Sundown, Texas. Hopefully it would be the beautiful Colorado
Rockies. I miss being a kid. I mean a real kid. I’m still a kid at heart and when I’m on ole Howdy, my fat paint hoss or on the Harley screaming down the interstate, I’m just a big ole kid havin’ some summertime fun. I wish sometimes I was a kid again, and could do some of the things I did back then when I was nine or ten. It would be so much fun to be ten again. I’d be brown as a berry from riding the prairie and playing mountain man. I wish I was a kid again so I could do some of the things I did back when I was nine or ten. Well, I’m not nine or ten gentle readers, but I do look forward to having my share of fun this summer and I wish the same for you. I do want to remind you for your children’s sake, that sometimes the most gentle of horses can and will hurt you really bad if you lose your focus. Be cool and have fun and I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all
The Joy of Living
It dawned on me once again today, gentle readers, how much I enjoy living. Living is to be filled, I believe, with all the joy we can cram into it. By the time you read this I will have turned 72 and one of my sisters will have her 81st birthday on the same day. There are certain times when KAPOW! I am sucker punched by the joy I receive from living. I was out on the Harley today after my morning swim in the cement pond and stopped off at our local Burger King for a cup of senior coffee. That fifty two cents that I pay for coffee is just one of the small joys in life. There was a grandpa with two of his little grandkids in there also. I observed how much this feller was enjoying those two little ones. Man were they a cute pair.There was one little girl of two and a boy about five. I thought about my own grandkids and how much I enjoyed them when they were just tykes like these two. Of course I still enjoy them. I go to their track meets and watch them compete with kids their own age and older. I gotta’ tell ya, I got some fast grandkids but it just makes me realize how fast they have grown up and how fast time is passing for me.
When I’m on my ol’ fat paint hoss, Howdy, and riding back up to the house from the back side of the place and realize I’m looking at these beautiful Rocky Mountains some twenty miles to the West. Snow capped peaks under an awesome blue sky. I dreamed about such a time when I was a little boy in the flat land of West Texas.
I wanted to see mountains when I looked off to the West but there was nothing but low hanging clouds at times and I made them into my mountains. I would be out riding my skinny paint hoss through the mesquite on a hot summer’s day and my mind would wander back to some time or other when we had gone to the mountains for our summer vacation. I wanted to be a cowboy up in the mountains. It happened! When I was a mere lad I was always drawing horses, cowboys,whatever slipped out of my brain into that crayon or #2 pencil. Could I ever draw something that someone might want to buy? I could and I have. I was drawing cartoons this week for The Fence Post and several other papers that I’m committed to and I was happy with the results. It brought me joy to realize I was capable of doing something that I have always enjoyed all of my life. I have discovered over the years that I can put my thoughts into words and place them in such a way that you the reader (you have told me) that you look forward to reading. That brings me great joy to know you like some of what I do.
Of course there is a great deal of sadness that will occur in our lives,some more dreadful than what someone else might have to endure. I have lost my wife, one sister and many, many good friends that I miss dearly. Some suffered greatly but I also know that all of the above had great and consuming joy in their lives at one time or another. I have been blessed for sure. In spite of the hurt I have endured at times, God has surly blessed me in so many ways, More ways I bet than I could count. Gentle readers, through your trials and tribulations, look for that joy that will at some time come your way. Grab onto it and try your best not to let it get away. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
I love to dance, gentle readers, I really do. It’s one of my most favorite things to do. I have been told that I am a pretty fair country and western dancer. I know, I know, I sound a little pretentious and maybe a wee bit smug. Dizzy Dean, that famous baseball picture, always said , ” if ya done, it ain’t braggin’ “. I got an email today from a dancing partner from the past that is dating someone else and after dancing with her once last night she requested that I always save her a waltz. Just one, could I just set aside one waltz during the course of the evening. She assured me her boyfriend wouldn’t mind. I told her I would. The waltz is my favorite dance as it is sort of a sweeping eloquent dance. I am not a ballroom dancer I am just an old country boy that has always been an admirer of folks that really were smooth with the waltz. My “little Miss Martha,” bless her heart, was not a dancer. She had very little rhythm and was very uncomfortable on the dance floor. We never went dancing and I really missed it all those years. After she passed away I began to go out some months later and tune up my dancing skills. As a result I have a good many dancing partners and I really enjoy taking some young cutie that wants to get on the dance floor and learn how to two step, waltz, polka, cha cha or whatever and get her started. I know, I know that sounds a wee bit pretentious, but Dizzy Dean said, “…………………………..
I was raised in a Southern Fried Baptist family and dancing was not encouraged. My dad on occasion would come to my brother’s and my room when our rock and roll music was playing and do a little dance step in the door way and he had the biggest grin on his face. I had been told by my uncles that my mom at one occasion played the piano in the local dance hall and my dad was the bouncer. I could tell my dad missed dancing, I just some how knew it. When I was 14 and my brother 15 years of age our mom decided that being the “red necks” that we were, we should be exposed to a little more culture. I had no idea what she was talking about. On our summer vacation we went to ‘Orleans (New Orleans) and mom and dad has reservations in the Blue Room at the Roosevelt Hotel. That was a big deal back in the fifties. My bro and I had to wear our little white dinner jackets and black pants and dad was in a suite and mom in an evening dress. When we were seated to eat, dad ordered two glasses of wine. I was shocked, but tickled to think that maybe my parents were normal. They, of course didn’t drink it, they were Southern Fried Baptist and their two boys were there. The band struck up a waltz tune and our folks grinned at each other and got up and excused them selves and I never in my life witnessed such gracefulness and “culture” as they glided around the dance floor. I was never to forget that sight. They hadn’t ever danced before that I ever knew of. When I was in college I took a dance class and learned how to waltz. It’s my favorite dance you know. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
Gentle readers, I soundly believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day especially for farm and ranch families. Agreed? You just gotta’ have that ole tummy full and ready to face a long day sometimes of uncertainty. As a widower sometimes it’s a little hard to want to put together a big breakfast because you have to fix it and then clean up afterwards. This morning I had biscuits, gravy, sausage and coffee. Believe it or not it was easy to prepare! No longer do I use the bacon grease and flower and milk to make my gravy. Nope, sure don’t. Listen up girls. I know you already know this, but you may not.
They now have powdered mixes for gravy. That’s right, just add water or milk or both and heat and stir. Get this:: I found CANNED gravy last week. I ain’t makin’ this up. Swanson makes a sausage and gravy already to pour out and heat. Now it has an acquired taste. At first I thought it tasted like dog food!
However with the recent political discussions about traveling dogs and eating dogs, my assumption is not out of line. Breakfast was easy this morning. Put the prepared biscuits in the oven, heat up the canned gravy, and put a couple of already cooked Jimmy Dean sausages in the microwave and Ka Pow! breakfast and a pretty darn good one at that. Now there was that one time when I had the breakfast that wasn’t. Yep, it happened this way: I was working for the historic LX Ranch north of Amarillo, Texas back when I was starting my cowboy career. We were going to go neighbor with the Coldwater Cattle Company as they were adjoining neighbors and need some help gathering, sorting cows and branding calves. Both these ranches were big outfits and covered lots of country. The cow boss had told us not to eat as we would have breakfast with the Coldwater crew when we got there. I got up at three a.m.,fed my hoss, drank a quick cup of coffee, loaded my pony and headed for the headquarters where I would meet up with the rest of our ranch crew and we would head to the Coldwater Cattle Company. We needed to be there by 4 a.m. so we would have time for breakfast and get to the gathering pasture by the time the sun was coming up. We were traveling across that ole sandy ranch road when we had a blow out on the trailer. We unloaded four horses and changed the tire and got to the Coldwaters’ just as they were finishing breakfast. Frank was our cow boss and he didn’t want to keep their crew from heading to the pasture on time so he declined their offer to wait while we gulped down a quick breakfast. My heart sank as I looked at the biscuits, gravy, scrambled eggs with sausage and bacon and what appeared to be homemade jams. I was so hungry I could have eaten the tablecloth with what crumbs were on it. I felt even worse when the Coldwater cow boss said, “you guys better eat something cause’ we may not get to eat lunch until afternoon! “No, No, we’re fine, said Frank, lets go get them cows gathered.” “Way to go Frank,” I muttered to myself as I reached and grabbed a biscuit to put in my pocket as we headed for the door. It’s funny how you never ever forget those little things that have happened to you when you are desperate. Well, I’m desperate for this wind to quit blowing and I really could use some rain, really! Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c.y’all, all y’all.
Gentle readers, while listening to the radio this morning I picked up on a little known fact. That little know fact is that in Colorado children can be administered corporal punishment. In other words, they can be spanked with a wooden paddle. You never hear of a child being sent to the principal’s office for a spanking. At least, that is my impression. I know that if a parent spanks his child at home and said child goes to school and says, “my daddy beat me, or my mommy whipped me,” that parent is most likely to receive a visit from the long arm of the law! I’ve also heard it reported that a study was done on this very subject and the conclusion was that kids that get
spanked turn out to be more difficult that those that were not spanked. Hummmm, I have a little problem with that but I don’t think that my brother and I turned out to badly: he was a church pastor for over thirty years and I am a gentle, sweet, funny, quiet retired gentleman. Yes, in the past I have had a few bar room fights, I ride a Harley, and love to hang out with fun loving folks. I don’t drink, try not to swear in public and I love to pester little children. I have six grandkids and I think they all love me and respect
me as well as my own two kids and yes they were spanked when we felt it was necessary. One of my little granddaughters was riding behind her dad one day up in the mountains. He was wearing a pistol. When she went to slide off the horse she bumped her little head on the butt of the gun and it made a slight bruise. The next day at school her teacher noticed the little bruise on the side of her temple and ask what happened. “Oh, well, my daddy hit me in the head with his pistol,” she offered. The teacher was not alarmed as she was familiar with both my son and his wife. However, the next time my son showed up at school, the teacher made some comment
like, “now let’s not be hitting our children with our pistols anymore.” They both “laffed” after he explained what actually happened.
I’m curious, I wonder if country kids get more spankings than their counter parts in the city? I think that they might just because there are more ways to get into trouble on the ranch or the farm than I believe there is in a neighborhood environment. Many times in the neighborhood there are to many witnesses like moms, other kids, etc. so it has to be tougher to get into to much trouble until the teenage years. I have mentioned before that I got a “whuppin” my first day in high school and another “whuppin” just before I graduated. I did not resent the paddling as I knew I brought them on myself. I surely don’t believe in beating your child in any form or fashion, but I am not opposed to a child getting a swat on the buttock when it’s necessary to prevent them from harming themselves or refusing to behave.
Again, I strongly believe that kiddos raised in a country environment are blessed to have responsibilities for chores and what ever that keep them occupied and helps them to think for themselves and it also gives them opportunities to solve little problems on their own. I’m gonna’ have to give myself a spankin’ if I don’t get outside and get some work done. Have a great week, love your little ones, stay tuned, and check yer cinch on occasion. I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
The Art of Aging
I do believe, gentle readers, that most of us, if not all of us want to age well. By that I mean we would like to look as good as possible for as long as we can until we reach the point of just not giving a hoot one way or the other. In a few short days I will have number 72! I don’t feel like I am supposed to be 72 but that’s what my birth certificate and the calendar indicate. I doubt if there is going to be anyone that mistakes me for being 52. I’m just grateful to have lived as long as I have without a lot of serious illness.
When “little Miss Martha” was alive we both enjoyed hangin’ with folks that were younger than ourselves. We always had a youthful spirit and believe me she could hang with folks ten years her junior and no one would no the difference. She always looked young and beautiful until the cancer took over. She was still beautiful to me at the most dreadful of times. I will have to be honest here and tell you that if she hadn’t passed away I most likely would not be in the good shape that I am in now. I would not be going
swimming every week or dancing twice a week nor would I be as careful about what I eat and how much I eat. I have always felt more comfortable around people that were a few years younger than myself and still do. My girlfriend is addicted to exercise and her dedication has worked well for her. I saw on the news the other night where an award was given to this lady in Denver that had been and still was teaching an exercise class I believe for over forty years. She is NINETY FIVE years old and wears out most of her
younger students during their classes. I couldn’t believe all of the different exercises she was demonstrating for the television camera. Whoa! what a gal.
Speaking of television, you wont see an anchor man that doesn’t have hair like an evangelist and a square jaw like that California Gov….what was his name? Swatzanarger?
The female anchors have to be pretty, well dressed and well spoken and mostly not showing to many wrinkles. Smart and beautiful, that’s what it’s come down to in this country. Well, I take that back you can be smart and not so beautiful and I offer up Bill Gates and James Carval as examples. Just kidding of course. We had a news weather reporter once in Amarillo by the name of Bill ———-. Bill could pass for Howdy Doodie as a look a like. He was alerting the Amarillo area of a severe weather system that was fast approaching. “Expect extreme lightning and heavy PEA and rain sized hail!’ said Bill. Bill was always smiling regardless of what disaster might be behind the curtains. Bill was let go not to long after that. No, he wasn’t pretty and he wasn’t always well spoken, but by golly, Bill was always smiling.
I think if you care about your looks as you get older you can get a LIFESTYLE LIFT that pulls most of the wrinkles out of your face. However if your body has fallen apart I wouldn’t worry so much about getting’ that done. Exercise, exercise and more exercise will help you to look younger and feel younger and it won’t hurt to eat an orange every day and a salad a couple of times a week. There again if you are comfortable being overweight and out of shape and listless and just don’t give a darn…I’d say expect your spouse to upgrade your life insurance policies and don’t be offended when they do. Old age is what ya make of it gentle readers, and I’m gonna’ make mine last as long as I’m comfortable on this old earth. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
CLANCY THE WONDER DOG
I have written in past columns about this wonderful dog I call Clancy. I call him Clancy because that was his name when I got him out of jail. Actually, I rescued him from the local animal shelter. That has been almost four years to the day. He hadn’t been on puppy chow in a long long time. He was five years old then and now he’s nine. I had some reservations about ol’ Clancy right after I got him home. He is a German Sheppard and a rather large one at that. I decided we would play catch with a rock. I picked it up, his ears went up and when I threw it he ran and got it post haste. He then lay down with the rock between his front paws and dared me to come get it. I crawled on all fours up to him and we are now eye to eye. When I reached for the rock he growled low and meaningful. I slapped him across the top of his head with the palm of my hand and our pecking order was established right then and there. I have to tell you gentle readers that this dog of mine is the most trustful, honest, watchful and obedient dog I have ever owned. He also is my buddy and he watches me closely when we are together. He usually walks about three feet in front of me always looking back to be sure that he is on course and I’m okay. When I am outside he will circle the house about every fifteen to twenty minutes to be sure all is well. What
a great dog. He is mindful of my guest and approaches them slowly and sniffs them out. No one and I mean no one has reached down to pet him until they are sure he is sure they are acceptable. If you were to get out and grab me to hug me (most likely you wouldn’t) and he didn’t know you, we might have a serious problem.
I was sitting on the back deck yesterday eating my daily orange. He came over and sat down in front of me and with ears erect and that personal stare that German Sheppard’s have, he ask for a bite of my orange. Knowing that dogs don’t eat oranges, I told him that he wouldn’t like it. He assured me that he would like to taste it simple because I was eating it. I gave in and broke off a small piece and extended my hand and he took it gently from me. He looked at me as if I had in mind to punish him and he spit it out. He gazed at it momentarily then picked it back up and chewed slightly and then spit it out again. Again he picked it up chewed it and down it went into his tummy. He politely ask for another piece of my orange. I gave him another and another and another until he had devoured almost half of what I came out on the deck to eat for myself. I just came in from the back deck where ol’ Clancy and I shared another orange. Some dog this dog of mine. Like me he is getting a little long in the tooth and time is not on his side at least for being as full of energy as he once was. There go I. He groans when he lays down, but so do I. We have
a lot in common, that Clancy and me. He is not a house dog, he doesn’t like it in the house nor do I want him in here with his hair and dog odors. He wouldn’t want me in his dog house either, I betcha’. I know most of you have pets. Could be your pet is a jackass, a rabbit, a snake, a horse, a dog, a cat or a mongoose. Whatever they might be I trust they bring you pleasure and visa versa. That’s why we have them I reckon. I know that it’s popular now to take dogs into nursing homes, into prisons and anywhere they are needed to help folks regardless of their condition or conviction, if it will help to rehabilitate or make strong their resolve. There are dogs on the police force, in the armed services and on search and rescue teams. No cats, nope you won’t find a cat on the police force, they are more cut out to be burglars, you know, cat burglars. Well, this column has gone on to long. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, pet your pet, and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
Gentle readers, you know exactly how far it is to the next windmill if you are a cowboy prowlin’ the pastures on a large ranch in the panhandle of Texas. We are talkin’ summertime now and not the dead of winter. It gets hot down in Texas and that windmill may be the only available source for drinking water. There seems to always be a breeze in that part of the country and you can expect that windmill fan to be at least slowly turning and making that familiar creaking sound. There is always that tin cup made from a can of beans or whatever with a bailing wire handle twisted around it for comfort and to give it a place to be hung from the tower usually on a cedar post that is bracing one leg of the windmill. When it’s really really hot and youarrive at that sweet oasis the first thing you do is allow your ol’ pony to drop his head in the large metal tank that the water first drains into before running out the discharge pipe into an
earthen tank or pond as some would call it. That ol’ tin cup may be “rattlin” just a little in the breeze….just makes it all the better. Most windmills in that country have good sweet water.
However, some have water that has so much gyp and alkali that it’s hardly worth the trip. Water is water and if you are dried out enough and thirsty enough that ol’ alkali water is good enough for the moment. In the summer you have to check all the windmills because that’s where the cattle usually are shaded up under the mesquites chewin’ their cuds and slappin’ at flies with their tails at certain times of the day. That’s most likely where any sick cattle are going to be, close to water. Little Miss Martha always had a “thing” for windmills as she
loved to hear that “creaking” sound late on a summer’s eve just before the sun went down. There are paintings of windmills in my house as I write. As a lad of ten or twelve I remember one distinct Sunday morning in the little First Baptist Church in Sundown, Texas on a hot summer morning. The pastor ask one of the local cowboys to give the closing prayer. I was into anything that had to do with horses or cowboys as we lived on the historic Mallett Ranch just west of town. I paid close attention to what this ol’ cowboy had to say. I didn’t close
my eyes and watched him closely. I remember him in Levis and a khaki shirt. Boy did he ever have a red neck? His words were simple as you might expect and this is the way I remember most of the prayer,” Dear Lord, thank you for the blessings of this day and all it has brought forth. Make us mindful of your presence daily. If it’s in yer will, we could sure use a little rain, it would be as welcome as (this is the part that I remember well) as a cool drink of windmill water from a tin cup.” And with that he closed his prayer. I never forgot
the part about the windmill water. There is just something about the way a cowboy lets simple words of wisdom slip eloquently from his lips. Stay tuned my friends, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c.y’all, all y’all.
Gentle readers, most all of you, if not all, have heard the term “survivor’s guilt”. It’s a real thing. You hear horror stories from soldiers that have come back from the war zone and if they survived an terrible incident where most of their comrades were killed, they always with remorse talk about how guilty they feel for being alive when their best friends were taken. I felt that way when Little Miss Martha passed away. I had cancer too, why did I get well and she didn’t? I ask myself that a million times.
Now that I have put a tag on this column I am going to switch horses and talk about a softer survivor’s guilt. Today the wind is blowing as is the norm for March. The weather girl said last night that this month of March was going into the record books as the driest March in the recorded weather history in Colorado. It’s dry. It’s very very dry and the wind has blown it seems like forever. I do live in windy country up here close to the Wyoming border so I expect more wind than my neighbors to the south of me. My neighbors to the south have had just about as much wind as I have had this winter and spring. The winter was milder than normal and certainly drier than normal.
Last year during the summer when I would visit with my family and friends down in the old country of Texas, they would bemoan how wretched dry and hot it was. They prayed until many times they felt they had prayed themselves out. It didn’t rain. It still hasn’t rained in a large portion of West Texas and some other regions as well. Each and every time I would visit with them I could tell without asking they they were struggling to find an escape from the daily grind of hot and dry and tomorrow will be hotter and drier.
I would feel survivor’s guilt because I was having a nice summer with abundant grass for the livestock and no ration on my water usage. I finally reached the point of trying to make an end run around the weather issue because I would feel so badly for them after our conversations were over.
They felt bad and I felt bad for feeling good about our weather situation. Survivor’s guilt. I told my brother down at Andrews, Texas, “bro, you guys will get beyond this and I would almost bet ya that come next spring we here in Colorado will be entering into a drought and you guys will be getting much needed rain.” Me thinks that I may have made a probable prediction.
We had a grass fire a couple of weeks ago just west of my place that burned up close to 700 acres of grass. Thank goodness no buildings or houses were lost. It did burn right up to and around a number of homes and some folks were instructed to get out. It really doesn’t look good for our future weather. We have no systems moving in that have the capacity to produce any moisture. Some parts of West Texas have had some rain and central Texas has received a good amount of rain up to the north.
I am glad that I did suffer some survivor’s guilt over the Texas drought last summer and now I can really whine and moan if we should suffer the same fate here in Colorado this summer. I don’t think anyone wants to hear me whine, right? All it will take is a couple of really good rains. It is what it is, take it or leave it. We can talk about the weather and we usually do every day, we just can’t do anything about it. It’s as simple as that.
Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
After reading Gwen Petersen’s recent column in The Fence Post about the Department of Labor trying to put the big WHOA on what chores farm and ranch kids may or may not do around the farm and ranch I paused to reflect and luminate on the matter. I think it’s sad enough that our young boys are, in my opinion, being turned into sissies so much of the time due to political correctness that we need to say something about it. I also find it interesting that young girls in some places are joining fight clubs and try to pull each other’s hair out and maybe some teeth to go along with it to prove how tough they are. Girls and women have always been tough competitors when the need has arisen. I believe we need to teach our kids to be prepared to take care of themselves. I do not like the idea of fight clubs for girls or boys. I do like the idea of self defense classes for young and old.
One of my artist buddies from Texas sent me an old copy of a cartoon book called Out Our Way. It is full of cowboy cartoons and stories from the 1920′s and illustrated by one J. R. Williams. J. R. was the cowboy cartoonist of his day back in the early part of the last century. In one cartoon he draws a lad of about eight years of age on his pony in a pen full of half wild cows with big horns. The boy has his rope tied to his saddle horn and is swinging his loop. Dad is in the corral sorting cows and mom is on the fence and she screams at her husband, “WHAT IF HE CATCHES ONE WITH THAT ROPE TIED TO HIS SADDLE?” Dad calmly replies, “Well, he’s got to learn to take care of himself sometime!” That most likely was the way most ranch kids were raised back then.
I’m sure that is still the norm for a lot of farm and ranch kids today. It’s obviously not the first time this lad has been on a horse around a bunch of cows or his first time to swing a rope. He has some idea even at his age what he might be in for. My mind wanders back to our ranching days in Texas running several thousand head of yearlings on wheat pasture. Our kids grew up in the saddle and they cherished every moment as best I can tell. I would not have made them ride horses and work cattle if I knew that they weren’t having a great time and getting a foundation under them that would serve them well for the remainder of their lives. There were many times when we would be trying to gather four or five hundred head of unruly eight hundred pound steers that felt
the need to pull a run a way and scatter from heck to breakfast before we got them penned. My kids were around seven and nine years of age and I, for the most part, just had to leave them to their own devises and hope their horse didn’t stumble as the cowboy crew, myself and the kids were splitting a purty fair sized hole in the wind. We were running wide open. I could glance around
to see my little ones holding their own. They knew where and where not to be and I have to tell you gentle readers, a dad could not be more proud. When a cowboy sees his child rope and drag their first calf to the branding fire he or she just about bust open with pride. Farm and ranch kids have always been given many opportunities to get injured around the farm or ranch. Many have.
Some have been maimed and even killed. I had a neighbor share with me when he and his wife came home to find their eleven year old son lying in the corral dead. He apparently tried to jump off the corral fence on to the back of one of the ranch horses and been kicked or stomped. Kids have been killed in the city while riding their bikes down the street. They have been killed while playing an innocent game like baseball. Yes, even some killed by an irate parent for little or no reason at all. Life is tough. I been there and done that and many of you have also in a more abundant way than myself. We need to raise decent kids that can think for themselves. We need our kids to have confidence not cocaine or meth. We need them to learn respect if they desire to be respected. I don’t know of a better way to do that than on a farm or a ranch. Do you? Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c.y’ll, all y’all!
Yep, gentle readers, in a few more weeks it will be time for us here in the country to be watchful for those pesky rattlers. They will be coming out of their winter hibernation and wanting to warm up and find a good meal. As most of you know I am not a fan of rattle snakes. I kill them where ever I find them.
I had a horse bitten last year and that can be a costly recovery if things don’t go well. He was bitten on the nose and suffered greatly. I have had rattlers in the garage, flower bed, my yard and any and every where. I almost stepped on one in the back yard and again out at my mailbox. I was watching The Discovery channel last night and it was about folks that try to entertain crowds by playing with dangerous vipers. In this case, rattlesnakes.
We have to go to Texas for this little story. Oh boy, Texas again. Well, it appears this old redneck who considered himself an up and coming snake charmer was going to set a new record for climbing in a sleeping bag full of diamondback rattlers. He would need to have at least twenty one snakes in the bag with him before he could set a new record.
Come on now Charlie Brown, how stupid can you be? Is it bravado, lack of common sense or just being one of those, “hey y’all, watch this” kind of guys? The day before his stunt he convinced a young woman to participate by crawling in there with him.
Boy would that ever be something to be talked about for years to come. In their practice run with both of them in the sleeping bag head to toe with seventeen rattlers, one snake gets angry and bites him on the back of the head. He remains calm if you can call it that but the girl is wanting to get the H……..out of Dodge! They remove all the snakes, the girl gets out and the old feller is examined and it is discovered that the bite apparently did not break the skin.
Now, folks, I’m going to take a wild guess here and suppose that maybe, just maybe these guys are smart enough to milk the venom out of these snakes before they do these stunts. Wouldn’t you?
Anyhooo, the next day when it’s show time and the crowd has gathered, the girl has flat out refused to participate. So our old snake charmer gets in the bag, they put twenty three diamond back rattlers in there with him. Then they zip the bag up with just him and the snakes.
Man that is one smart feller in there with them snakes don’t you guys think? Not! I digress, They unzip the bottom of the bag where his feet are and grab him by his ankles and just drag him out. Right about now he is feeling like King Kong. He is the man of the hour. After all, he just spent about ten minutes in a sleeping bag with a bunch of rattlesnakes.
Just looking at the crowd around him I saw this look on their faces, “man is that the dumbest thing you ever seen in your life?” That’s exactly the way I felt. Oh well, to each his own. Please don’t try this at home. It is only done by brain dead, lonely people that need lots of attention. To bad it had to be in the old country, Texas. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
The Cowboy Brain
Gentle readers, there has at times been much discussion around the campfire, the bunk house and the local café or bar about the “smarts” that a cowboy or cowgirl might have in between their ears. Personally, I think most cowboys, we’re talkin’ working ranch cowboys, feed lot cowboys or cowboys that have fallen on hard times and had to wrangle “dudes” to get by for a while are usually pretty savvy. Now I don’t consider most bull riders to be cowboys. I do realize they carry that tag because they dress up like cowboys when they perform in the arena. There are exceptions, of course, as there are working ranch cowboys that come to town to ride bulls or rough stock during the local rodeo. To me, a “cowboy” is someone who works on a ranch and looks after someone else’s cattle. It’s just that plain and simple. With that out of the way let me get to the subject matter once again. Most cowboys are comfortable pokin’ fun at themselves and any one else that is handy they feel needs to be stirred up a little. Now my poem…The Cowboy Brain. (as a sidebar, I do admire anyone that rides rough stock, real cowboy or not)
The cowboy brain is hard to explain,
is it part of their soul or just up there pluggin a hole?
Jest give me a sec to lay it all out
and you’ll be amazed, there ain’t no doubt.
The year is now 2045 and scientist have found
more ways to keep us alive.
Yessir, their latest discovery or slant is a
way to give us a brain transplant.
Her husband was ill with a cancer in his head,
without this new procedure he soon would be dead.
She went to the clinic where the brains were stored.
They were stacked in jars from the ceiling to the floor.
“Who’s brains am I viewing, what type of brains
are available to me?”
“Well, ma’am, we have cowboy brains and brains
from nuclear scientist with an I.Q. of 163.”
“We have brains from doctors, lawyers, strippers,
housewives, bikers and such.
We’ll have what ya need and some just don’t
cost all that much.”
“What are your prices?” she ask with
“You can get a cowboy’s brain for half a million
or a doctor’s brain for three hundred thousand less.”
“A cowboy’s brain, why so much? I am really confused.”
The doc replied, “it’s simple really, the cowboy’s brain
is so expensive because IT’S NEVER BEEN USED!”
Stay tuned, dear children, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
To Cry or not To Cry
I don’t remember crying much as a little boy and as far as that goes, my man hood was supposed to prevent me from crying except on special occasions. I did cry when Duffy got run over in front of me and on purpose by one of my neighbors because the dog chased his cat. I was fourteen years old and I cried
like a baby. I was mad, mad and set out to get revenge but it didn’t work out as planned. Another story for another day. I have been saddened by the
loss of special pets or a special horse. I have had my eyes fill with tears on some of those occasions, but never cried. It would have been okay to cry but I was raised up believing that maybe I should be stronger than that. My folks did not necessarily instill that in me, I just observed my dad and other men that I was exposed to. I didn’t cry when I lost my dad or my mom. I was sad for my loss but they had lived long lives for the most part and their passing was a blessing in a way because of health issues. I certainly cried when I lost “Little Miss Martha”. That’s been nine years ago and I still can get emotional when I relive some of those tragic days and times. I have been present at some horrific accidents and have had images imprinted in my brain that will never go away. I didn’t cry then because I didn’t know who those mangled bodies were. I was very very sad especially when children were involved. I believe that it’s good for us to cry when we feel the need. I think it’s healthy to do so. We are going to have thousand and thousands of soldiers coming home from the war zone that once they get home need to cry and cry a lot. They will have been witness to things we can only imagine, terrible things that will never leave their memory. Sometimes I do get amused when I hear a big strapping football player being placed into the “ring of fame” in his home stadium or maybe being inducted into the Football Hall Of Fame when he tears up and can’t talk because of the honor that has been placed on him. I’m thinking, “what’s he got to be crying about?” I think what makes him cry is the very fact that his career if over and has been over for years and this is his last “hurrah”. Maybe, maybe not. I really shouldn’t be the judge of that I suppose. But given the type of men that they are and the type of game they have played during their career, Ihave a hard time with the blubbering that goes with the awards and recognition that has been heaped upon them. They didn’t cry when they hurt an opposing player so badly he had to be removed from the game and maybe for the rest of the season. They got a pat on the back. One more thing…I have always believed that the reason that man or woman that just passed me on a snow packed road at eighty miles an hour when they should be doing sixty or less is because they have never been witness to those types of terrible wrecks that I have seen. I believe like the bumper sticker says, “drive like hell and you’ll get there sooner than expected”. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, slow down and you may save my life and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all!
I think most of you gentle readers know that I was born and raised in Texas and lived the first forty five years of my life in the Lone Star State. I am proud to be a native Texan in the same manner that folks from Colorado are proud to be natives in this beautiful adoptive state of mine. Any one should be proud of their birth place and I think that most folks are. Of course I catch a ration of “you Texans bla bla bla” from time to time and I expect it. Texas did lots of braggin’ when they were the largest state in the union until Alaska entered the union. There are some things that I never knew about the old country until recently and I’m about to share them with you now. Did you know…… El Paso, Texas is closer to California than to Dallas? Texas claims the first rodeo was held in Pecos, Texas on July 4, 1883. I know that Deer Trail, Colorado claims to have held the first rodeo. The Flagship Hotel in Galveston is the only hotel in America built over water. The Heisman trophy was named after John William Heisman who was the
first full time coach at Rice University in Houston. The first word spoken from the moon was “Houston”. King Ranch in south Texas is larger than the state of Rhode Island.
Texas is the only state to enter The U.S. by treaty (known as the Constitution of 1845 by the Republic of Texas). This allows the Texas flag to fly the same height as our American flag.
A live oak tree in Fulton, Texas is estimated to be over 1500 years old! Did you know that Dr. Pepper was invented in Waco, Texas in 1885? The name Texas comes from the Hasini Indian word “tejas” meaning friend. Tejas is NOT Spanish for Texas. ( I always thought that it was). The first domed stadium in America was the Astrodome in Houston.
This is a little weird…the state animal is the Armadillo. They ALWAYS HAVE FOUR BABIES AND THEY ARE ALWAYS MALE OR FEMALE! I had no idea. So there ya have it. I lived in Texas for 45 years and never knew any of the above. Yes we Texans do brag on occasion, but Texas has a lot of history and it is different in so many ways than some of it’s neighbors. There are things that I miss about Texas and the thing I miss the most are the friendly people. When you cross into Texas from any bordering state and most likely the first person you meet coming down the road (if they are from Texas) will give you a big wave. Texas has some beautiful country and trust me, it has some ULGY country. That country around Sundown, Texas where I grew up is like lookin’ at Miss Jane Hathaway, Beverly Hillbillies, compared to looking at a Marie Osmond of the Texas hill country. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and most folks around Sundown wouldn’t live anywhere else. They are comfortable there
and if they moved to Colorado, most likely no one would wave at them coming home from church. God bless Texas and I hope He finds favor with you and yours.
Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all!
Gentle readers, I first heard of Charlie Brown and his misfortunes in 1959. I was just a pup a year out of high school and did I ever have a lot to learn. One thing that I did learn was that ol’ Charlie and I had a lot in common. Sometimes as hard as we may try, we just could never make four out of two plus two.I have often written about this circle of life that we sometimes find ourselves in the spin cycle. It’s interesting to say the least. Back then in Odessa, Texas working in the oil patch I never thought that I would in fact become a cartoonist or live in the beautiful state of Colorado or become a cowboy, all of which were my fantasies. Of course, the very idea of being friends with the daughter of Charles Shultz, the creator of Peanuts would have had to have come from outer space.
Meredith Hodges, famous trainer of mules and donkeys has a ranch at Loveland, Colorado and I appeared on some of her training videos years ago and what a nice down to earth woman she is. We have remained friends and on occasion I make it to her Christmas parties. Ain’t it something the way life works sometimes? As far as myself being a cartoonist, it just seemed to come about. I have always loved to draw and being involved for so many years on the ranch (and still am in a very small way), I drew what I knew the best , cowboys. Poor ol’ Otis. He is a lot like me and ol’ Charlie Brown. Seems he just never is able to make a bronc ride, say the right thing at the right time, or always be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Otis is a combination of several folks.
He is part me and parts of other cowboys that I have known. My comic panel, Hoots from the O-NO Ranch is featured in this fine paper and several other papers and magazines. I never could have imagined that would come to be all those years back in Odessa, Texas covered in grime and grease. You cannot
but be amazed at the wonderful mind of Charles Shultz when he was alive and doing those daily strips, Sunday comics and specials for television. I think for over fifty years he came up with those thought provoking strips. How many times would little ol’ Charlie Brown make a run at that stupid football that Lucy was holding for him to kick? How many times will ol’ Otis throw a leg over that ol’ bronc Puke thinking that maybe today will be the day he doesn’t have a wreck? I love to draw and I love to create my cartoons. I often have wondered how Mr. Shultz could come up with so many different cartoons without repeating himself. Think about it. Three hundred and fifty two cartoons a year for over fifty years. Amazing. Myself, I have been doing the Hoots cartoons for well over twenty years, however I only do one cartoon per week. Still that’s 52 weeks times twenty years. Do the math. That’s well over one thousand cartoons that are all different. It’s a challenge sometimes, but it keeps the wheels turning inside this old noggin.
Dear friends, life is full of surprises, some wonderful, some tragic, but all in all it makes us who we are. Remember that it’s not what we have said or done so much in our lives that folks will remember us by but it how we made them feel. When I receive a compliment from a reader about my column or my cartoons, it really does encourage me to always put my best foot forward in trying to be more creative and bring a smile to your face or a serious thought to pass through your brain. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
I got just enough of a whiff of gas the other morning to know that it had to be coming from the newly drilled oil well across the road. Presently the well is flowing with the oil and frac water being separated into the appropriate storage tanks. That little smell of gas and just the site of the newly installed tank battery gathering system took me back to my roots in West Texas. Yep, most of you readers know that I grew up on the Mallett Ranch west of Sundown, Texas. We lived in an oil field camp on the ranch. It consisted of three houses. One for my dad, one for the geologist, and one for the construction foreman. My dad was the production foreman for the oil production on that vast ranch. Just outside my back door were cowboys, cattle, oilfield hands and pump jacks and tank battery systems in just about every direction you looked. My first summer job at age fourteen was to work with the construction crew building pads for the pump jacks and tank gathering systems. In fact, gentle readers, every job I had until I was twenty three had something to do with the oil patch. If you have every watched that new television program called Black Gold, you will have seen the country I grew up in. The show is filmed in the Permian Basin area around Midland an Odessa, Texas. I know every character on the show. I don’t know them personally of course, but when I was a young man I worked with individuals that were exactly like the folks featured on the show. I never worked on a drilling rig but spent a good amount of time on the work over rigs. The smaller rigs that pull the pipe out of the hole to change a pump or to replace old pipe with new pipe. As an eighteen year old kid I was forced to see the world through the eyes of these types of men. Most were good guys just out to make a living for their families. There were a few “roudies”, rough guys, some ex convicts and some real “dummies”. In the series Black Gold there is always conflict on the rig floor and it appears as if there is always going to be “fist-a-cuffs” sooner than later. Most of that is just drama I’m sure put on them by the producers to make the show more appealing. From my past experiences working with men like that and managing ranch crews, most of that is just that, “drama”. Fellers that are always trying to stir the pot or looking for trouble don’t last past dinner on most crews. The show does give you the big picture of what it’s like to work on the floor of a drilling rig. It’s loud, it requires a great deal of muscle and to say it’s dangerous is an understatement! Back to the rig that was across the road. I looked out one cold December morning when the wind was blowing wave and wave of snow and there was the derrick man up in the crow’s nest stackin’ pipe that was being pulled from the hole. “Man, I’m glad that’s him and not me,” I mumbled to myself almost out loud. This patch of oil my neighbors and myself are sitting on will pay some dividends sometime in the future we hope. If not, I get a little taste of West Texas right out my front door. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and don’t forget your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day. I’ll c. y’all, all y’all!
Ol’ pard, ya purt near convinced me that you wouldn’t tell a lie. I wuz purt near believin’ that that ol’ hoss of yours could fly. Ya bragged ’bout his breedin’, Fast Freddie by Ain’t Got A Clue, and I had purt near decided there weren’t nothin’ he couldn’t do.
I wuz purt near spellbound when you made a run at that big ol’ log. You wuz whippin’ and a’spurrin’, gonna’ jump it like an ol’ coon dog! And ya purt near made it pard, jest four legs got in the way!
I ain’t never seen a prettier somersault than the one I seen that day.
Yer ol’ pony wuz purt near flyin’, to bad he wuz upside down, and you wuz still in the saddle when you boys plowed up the ground!
That wuz purt near the most awful wreck I reckon I’ve ever seen. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and my face went purple green!
Pard, I believe that you’d made a purty fair hand if fate had give you a little more time.
You might have purt near figured out the cow and jest maybe learned how to handle yer twine!
Yer spectacular wreck got all the boys to talkin’. You sure caused quite a rattle.
The bad news is yer deader than dead, and the good news is I purt near loaned you my new saddle! Well, gentle readers, with that said, I’m purt near fed up with all this politicin’ goin’ on and and am dang sure fed up with what’s coming out of Washington these days. Like I told my neighbor Phil this morning, “If the sons of biscuit eaters want to fight, then BRING IT, LET’S FIGHT! It’s to cold to ride the ol’ Harley so I’m off to the barn to ride my ol’ fat paint hoss, Howdy! It’ll cool me down some.
Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c.y’all, all y’all.
Gentle readers there has been much discussion in the past few years concerning our border with Mexico and what should be done about it. Some say build a fence from Texas to California. Nope, not in my opinion. To costly and the terrain in many places would make it all but impossible. Not only that, our neighbors from the south would find a way to get across. We tried the virtual border with cameras and what not in places in Arizona and some of that helped to a certain degree. Now these folks runnin’ for President of the U.S. all say they would CLOSE THAT BORDER! Yessirree, that’s what they say. We all know that that is just a croc. George Bush when he was the not only the gov. of Texas but our President didn’t make any attempt to close it down. Neither has Rick Perry. Why? I’m not real sure but I would bet ya that it’s because of the large Hispanic population of Texas. Not only that, but most of those folks work cheaper than the average worker in our country. I can understand why the Mexicans want to leave their own country and come here. Life is better here. We treat them better here than they get treated at home. I have been on the Mexican border and have worked down there with Mexican cowboys and I have to tell ya that their lives are pretty tough. I can’t blame them for trying to get across any way they can. I can blame them for being “drug mules”. I can blame our government for giving them welfare, free health care and free schooling for their kids. What about the Mexicans that followed the requirements for gaining citizenship and did it the right and legal way? How are they supposed to feel if those that are here illegally get a free ride and get some sort of amnesty? It’s a tough and difficult situation. It puts you and me in a bind when we are taxed to support those that are living for the most part off our hard work. It brings me to this: they are here and I don’t think they are going anywhere. We are going to have to deal with it the best way we can. Speaking Spanish is difficult for me. Difficult heck! I don’t speak much at all. I have a book to offer you. It’s called Farm and Ranch Spanish by two brothers George and Rex Kelly who live on the Texas Mexico border. I came across this book years ago, lost my copy and found a copy at the Denver Stock Show a number of years back. This book is the easiest way to understand border Spanish. It’s Tex Mex Spanish. If you live on a farm or a ranch or have dealings
‘with folks from across the border that don’t speak much English, you can order this book from Kelly Brothers Book Co. HCO-1 Box 174 Vanderpool, Texas 78885.
I have a listing for their telephone # as 210-966-3430. I hope that it is still available as I believe that if you have as much trouble with Spanish as I’ve had over the years, this book will be a tremendous help to you. This column reflects my opinion and mine only. Take some time and go to the National Western Stock Show that’s going on in Denver at present and remember to stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all!
It’s that time again. Yessirree, we find ourselves in a brand spankin’ new year. Today is the second day of 2012 and it’s going to be a really nice day by all appearances. Every year at this time my mind wanders back not only the past year but previous years. I think about my grandkids, my kids, little Miss Martha and of course, myself and the future. Going through my emails recently I came across an email from the Evan’s and it was a picture titled “REAL COWBOYS HAVE NO FEAR”. In the foreground of the photo is a little boy about two years old, standing feet apart with his back to you and he is wearing nothing but his little cowboy boots and his cowboy hat. He stands without fear while staring at a huge “bremmer” bull that is staring back at him just a few feet away. Talk about cute, it was the cutest thing that I have seen in ages. It reminded me of my first grandson, Gavin. Martha took a picture of him standing in our kitchen naked except for his cowboy hat when he was three. Well, gentle readers that was thirteen years ago. Time gets by us so fast or so it seems. Let me tell you children, the older you get the faster time seems to slip away. Gavin just the other day got his FIRST ELK! Yep, that boy is country wise and country wide in his appreciation of where he lives and how he has been raised. I feel soblessed to have this time in my life when I can harvest such great memories of what is happening in my children’s and grandchildren’s lives. Our time on this earth is to be enjoyed and I believe that there are certain things expected of us while we are here. I believe that we are expected to appreciatewhere we live and the opportunities that are abundant in this great land of ours. I think we are expected to follow certain rules, treat others as we would expect to be treated and lend a hand when we can help to lift someone up, but not have them expect us to stand and hold them up all day every day if they are capable of standing on their own. I believe we are supposed to invest ourselves in our jobs, our families and our friends. I cantell you that the unexpected can happen and then it’s to late to say, “I love you”. It’s over, someone you cherish is gone forever. The ancient Indians
of South America predicted long long ago on their calendar that this is the year our world would end. Well, this past year an old preacher predicted that our world was going to end not only once but twice did he get it wrong. The world will end this year for those who pass on and I’m hopin’ that you and me are still writing and reading this column. Time! Enjoy this time we have and make the very best of it at every opportunity. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c y’all, all y’all!
WHO AM I ?
Well gentle readers, I know who I am and you know who you are I bet. It apears to me that there can be some folks out there from time to time that are someone totally different than they have led us to believe or they are living vicariously through someone else or some figment of their imagination. I have
gotten hooked on watching Dateline NBC and Paula Zahn older segments of solving murder mysteries. I want to tell you about one that I was fascinated with.
Some of you may have seen this and I hope to get most of my less valuable facts straight. Here we have a 47 year old ex marine who is married with two children. He has gone on the computer and gets involved in a chat room with others. His tag is “marinesniper”. Here comes a message one day from “tallhotblonde”. She has taken an interest in this “marinesniper” and she has sent him a picture of herself. She indeed is a tall hot blonde and not only that, she is only 17 years of age and still in high school. Right away our marine knows he is going to have to be someone else than who he really is. He sends her a photo of himself when he in fact was an 18 year old marine. Their messages grow stronger and stronger and she has fallen in love with this young marine and he has flipped totally for this hot young blonde. His wife has discovered what he has been doing on the computer and sends “tallhotblone” a family photo of her 47 year old, balding, potbellied heart throb and his wife and kids. Blondie responds with a terrible belittling of her marine for misleading her. He is devastated. Our marine works at a manufacturing plant where one of his young male coworkers has also been in the chat room and calls himself “muscleman”. He is a handsome husky 19 year old male. The marine discovers the next time he goes online that his young friend from work is flirting with “tallhotblone” and she IS FLIRTING BACK. This upsetshim greatly but there is just not much he can do about it. To his surprise blondie begins to flirt with him again telling him she can forgive him for misleading her but she still thinks of him as an 18 year old marine sniper about to be shipped off to the middle east and she wants to remain friends. He’s back in the saddle again and it appears that she is still romantically interested in him but still flirts with “muscleman”. He is so outraged with his younger competition that he ambushes him one night after work and shoots and kills the young man at the work site on the parking lot. After some investigation the cops have figured out who the killer is and go to arrest him. His wife doesn’t know where he is, he just left and has been gone for a while. Their concern now is for “tallhotblone” as she may be the next victim of this maniac so they notify the state police in the adjoining state where this young girl lives to be on the lookout for him and they are headed in that direction themselves. The state police go to the young girl’s home and are greeted at the door by her mother. The girl is at school and they tell her mom what has been going on with the computer and there is a mad man maybe on his way here to kill her daughter. They are astounded as I was when she tells them that SHE has been living vicariously through her daughter and SHE is “tallhotblone” and her daughter has no clue what her mother has been doing. “Tallhotblone” is an overweight, sagging forty seven year old woman with bleached hair. Our marine is caught and convicted of murder and sent to the pen for the rest of his life. A young life snuffed out over two adults living in a fantasy world. Just call me “tallbaldoldcowboy” and I bet I don’t get in any trouble. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and have a wonderful new year. I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.
HANG AND RATTLE (Nov. 2011)
In the cowboy’s world, gentle readers, the phrase “hang and rattle” usually refers to trying to stay on an ol’ pony that sometimes can be a hard bucker. I’ve confessed before many times that I never was and will never be a bronc rider. There were those limited times when I was able to grab the night latch and “hang and rattle” and boy was I ever proud of myself. Any cowboy worth his salt has had horses that intimidated him. To many times he was required to ride those ponies on a regular basis as that was just part of his job. And….I have seen some young bucks that could just sit up there on a hurricane deck and knock the hair off of some dysfunctional horse.
That was just not one of my talents. There was that warm July morning in 1985 when the cowboy crew, my teenage kids and I set out to gather a small pasture of fairly wild steers that had been sold and the trucks were on the way to load them up. Ol’ Jiggs was my favorite horse in my string but let me tell you children when he got upset and decided to buck, you’d better get hold of every thing you could if you were going to “hang and rattle”. The details of what caused this wreck are not important, it’s just that stuff happens sometimes when you are workin’ cattle. Jiggs caught me off guard, blew up and I found myself way outta’ the saddle in a whisper. I kept reachin’for the night latch but I just couldn’t seem to grab on. I was airborne about nine to ten feet in the air and I was on my back lookin’ up at that beautiful blue sky.
JIggs was a big horse. He was five years old, stood over 16 hands and weighed almost 1500 # with the saddle on. I bought him as a two year old and broke him and I was partial to him most of the time. Not today. I must have looked like a “Jack In The Box” that was out of the box and floppin’ around just before I made contact with the terra firma.
I landed on the back of my head and neck and yes, it hurt a lot. I was layin’ there watchin’ flashes of light. Through the light I saw my kids lookin’ down at me and of course, they were worried. Their mom was out of town as her dad had died a few days before and she was with her mother making funeral arrangements. Ol’ Jiggs ran off still buckin’ like a world class bronc. The boys caught him up, helped me get up and remounted and we penned the cattle. I took myself to the hospital as soon as the steers were in the pen and they put me to bed and put weight on my head and let it hang off the bed. Heck, that hurt worse than you can imagine. After about twenty minutes, I took that contraption off my head, checked myself out against doctor’s orders and went home to be with my kids. It took a little over two years before I could put a pillow under my head at night. I wish that I had been able to “hang and rattle” that morning, but then, my story wouldn’t be as good. Right now I am “hanging and rattling with a bad chest cold. I think in a couple of more days I’ll be okay.
At this writing, the date is 9-11. I remember with sadness the events of that day. There were folks that “hung and rattled” as long as they could. God bless’um! Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c.y’all, all y’all.
Oct. 1 , 2011
THE SAFETY MAN
Freddie was our safety man. He represented not only the oil company that owned the ranch at I managed, but every piece and partial that had a connection to the oil company. Freddie would travel around to not only the ranches, the farms, oil refineries and everything that had to dowith oil production or even their real estate interest. When Freddie showed up I would have my ranch and farm crew in my office so Freddie coulddo his thing. It might be a class on C.P.R., safe driving habits or just about any subject that might help us to be more aware of hazards on the job.Of course, if anyone got bucked off and hurt or run over by a crazy cow, just anything that would require a doctor visit would have to be reported to O.S.H.A. Boy I gotta’ tell ya, I had a good many reports to send to O.S.H.A. in the ten years that I was there. I encouraged my crew to be as
cowboy tough as they could be and not run to the doc. every time they got a bloody nose. These guys were pretty tough and I only had one “weenie” on the crew and he didn’t last but a few months. The forms that I would have to fill out would go something like this: what could the injured person havedone differently to have avoided his injuries. Answer….”he could have rode his buckin’ horse and avoided hitting the side of the concrete water trough.”That was about the only way I knew to answer a question like that, but let me tell ya pilgrims, it made those folks as O.S.H.A. really upset at times.Freddie would try and school me on how to think outside the box and give them an answer that probably would make no sense at all to a cowboy, but would satisfy the folks requiring the report. Then came the day that Freddie and I were riding around the ranch in my truck one late fall afternoon. I spied a bloated steer that was about to go down. I called one of the cowboy crews up that would more than likely be closest to us and told them to come over
and doctor this steer. “”Well, boss, we just got done puttin’ our horses up. We’ll run over and doctor him out of the back of the pickup.” ” Can they dothat safely?” asked Freddie. “Ugh, well, yeah, it can be done if it’s done right. The ole steer can’t run hardly at all, it shouldn’t be a problem.” Jake and Jessie showed up. Jake being sixty two, red headed, hard headed and wantin’ to be at the house instead of workin’ late on this particular evening. Jake crawled up in the back of the truck and stood leaning over the headache rack and pounding on the top of the cab for Jessie to chase the steer.“Ugh, Jake, why don’t you tie that rope off to the bumper and kneel near the tail gate when you rope?” I offered for Freddie’s sake. “I’ll be fine…LETS GO JESSIE, LETS GO.” Jessie took off after the steer who made a 90 degree turn, so Jessie made the same turn and Jake flew out of the back of the truck and landed on his head and shoulders. Freddie was almost beside himself when we reached Jake. Jake was out cold with his eyes rolled back in his head. “It killed’em, Jack, IT KILLED HIM!” Jake began to move and moan somewhat. Turns out he fractured a shoulder blade, broke a few ribs, punctured a lung and a few other maladies. “What could the injured party done that would have prevented this accident?” the question ask. “He could have listened to his boss!” Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c. y’all, a’ll yall.
Sept 12, 2011
One of my uncles told of the depression era and how my dad would sometimes help out on my grandfather’s farm by driving a tractor. “Your dad would carry a wrench on the tractor and if he saw a jackrabbit, he would stop the tractor, jump off and throw the wrench at the rabbit,” my uncle said with fondness towards my dad. He went on, “ya know he could throw a baseball really well and he brought home lots of rabbits for the skillet.” Times were tough during the depression, gentle readers, and I know some of you were there doing the best you could. I havehad my own depressions as I’m sure that most of you have had also. I have written before that when LIttle Miss Martha and I were first married there were times I couldn’t scrape up a quarter for a cup of coffee with the guys. That in it’self is depressing. Of course things got better. I got better jobs and was able to better provide for my family. I worked for Sears and later for Procter and Gamble before I decided that “cowboyin’ ” would be the best place for me and my family when the dust settled. It took a couple of years of “hard times” before the dust settled and I was manageing a large ranch. Times were good then. Ranch and farm work is always going to be harder than your run of the mill sales job or most other jobs. I know that some of you are on hard times now. Times are tougher than they have been in a long long time but there is always hope that this rough ole road will get smoother as we travel down it. Right now farming and ranching in most of Texas, Oklahoma and some parts of Colorado and Kansas is tougher than an ole boot that has been on the fence post for a decade. The drought has devastated many farms and ranches in those states. My thoughts and prayers are with those folks who have worked so hard to build up their places and now many will be lost. Hard times build character. At least that is what I have always been told. We are tough people and we will get through these hard times, but I betcha’ that they are not soon forgotten. Ths country is going to change and I believe for the better. Check yer saddle pad for burrs, check yer cinch, be sure the pasture gates are closed and tight. It’s gonna’ get better sooner or later. Stay tuned and I’ll c. y’all, all y’all.