Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This is why it is called the "boob tube"

My mother has been away this week. Her and my oldest sister are down visiting my middle sister in New Mexico. I cannot really say much more because my mom is just sure that there are some burglars that lurk online just waiting to find a blog that gives them the information they need to commit their crimes. I do not mean to make light of being careful online because that certainly is an issue. I do however doubt there are many online stalkers just dying to break into a house to steal canned goods, hairspray and every frozen ice cream treat known to mankind which are the three most numerous items in her house. Besides, Dakota and I have been staying there at night to enjoy her excellent air conditioning, Direct TV and frozen ice cream novelties.

I have never been a real big television person. Sure, there was a time as a child that I wanted to watch “Speed buggy” or “Scooby Doo” but that was mainly based on Debbie and Daphne’s respective mini skirts. When I was a pre teen Miss Marcia Brady then later as a teen Miss Daisy Duke could make me focus on a TV schedule to some degree. There have also been a few programs over the years that I truly do enjoy such as “The Sopranos” and “Deadliest Catch” but I would much rather watch them on DVD on my own schedule or when they have “marathons” of these programs throughout the year. For that reason and because I am basically a red neck hick we do not have cable, satellite TV or other television service here at home. *GASP* In fact, we have never had any of these services over the time that Chris and I have been married for many reasons.

Spending the last few evenings with access to television made me debate this stance but also confirmed that I have made the correct choice. I tend to operate in the reality world or at least what I perceive to be reality. Because of this it affects what type of programs I enjoy. I have caught up on the previously mentioned Deadliest Catch and what the Bering Sea crabbers have dealt with especially the passing of Captain Phil Harris this year. I also have watched a few History Channel episodes of things I found interesting and that I felt added to my knowledge of the world. There are also all kinds of sports type shows which made me think maybe I should get a dish installed for my evening enjoyment.

Just when I think I should buck up and spend money on a monthly subscription I take a cruise through the dial (channel guide) and see why I really do not plan on doing this anytime soon. I found “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” and holy crap did I ever shake my head. Now I am all for the idea to each their own but DAMN. You have some 40 plus year old bimbo going in to her plastic surgeon for her 4th, yes 4th time to do a breast augmentation! If you have watched the show it is painfully clear that Danielle desperately needs her 1st brain augmentation WAYYYYYY more than she needs her butter bags lifted for the 4th time. Holy batshit Robin do people actually watch this crap on a regular basis?

The other problem with watching TV in the evening is the constant blows to your self esteem. Apparently the programmers and product selling companies have decided that most everyone have breasts, credit ratings and tallywhackers that are too small coupled with asses, debt levels and stomachs that are too big. Sadly I also must admit that Gregory Peck and John Wayne do not seem near as impressive when you realize they gallop their horses over the same 12 feet of ground over and over in those old westerns I once loved so much.

Then you have all the “experts” on TV that are trying to tell you how to make your life better. I am sorry but as someone who gets to work outside, work around nature and cattle I just cannot see how some “Dr.” Phil that has to wear a suit and tie and talk to losers for an hour each day is going to tell me anything that I have not figured out better than he has. I guess I could use a little help though because one program focused on what dress some movie star wore to some event and how “atrocious” it was. I really did not see the problem other than the fact that she would have looked better in some boots, Wranglers and a tube top running a sorting gate while keeping her mouth shut.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Sand wasp aka Bembix rostrata.

Today’s picture is a video of some fall calving cows being unloaded today in a new pasture. I am thinking maybe there should be a show “Real calf raisers of North Franklin County” If you notice none of them need their teats augmented and they are all much more attractive and some are in better physical condition than any female from New Jersey that is on TV.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The smell of gunpowder in the morning

The last two days have just flown by. Yesterday my nephew Chase spent his last day of the summer on the ranch. Rather than move irrigation water all morning He, Dakota and I did some target shooting and thinned down the carp and rock chuck population. There are few things more satisfying than teaching a kid how to use a firearm safely and properly. It also gives a great opening to teach them about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and how owning a firearm is their right in this country.

Today Dakota and I moved irrigation water and then I did a few things around the corrals while she worked with her fair steers. Knock on wood this group of steers has been the easiest to tame as a group that I can remember. They are really starting to enjoy the almost daily rinsing and leading around on these warm days. Today was not so bad, 85 degrees but there was a nice breeze all day. We then came home for lunch and a break and I had another small project to complete.

In this area you “order” irrigation water either “on” or “off” or if you need a “change” in the amount of water. You usually have to order your water changes by 3:30 p.m. the day before you want the change. I had the corn water go off on Wednesday but forgot to call yesterday to order it back on for today. There are people who are “ditch riders” that travel a portion of the irrigation system each day to make the requested changes. I really needed the water turned back on today so I called Dan my ditch rider. Luckily he thought he would have enough extra water for me and if necessary he would shutoff one of my pasture units leaving more water in the ditch so he could restart the corn water. Dan has saved me more than once and is a great guy to work with. I put together a package of rib steaks, hamburger and roasts in a cooler and left them at the water “turnout” gate with a thank you note. Dan left a thank you message on my phone today as I primed the pump and restarted the corn circle. Thank you to Dan for helping me out and thank you for being a beef eater.

This afternoon Dakota and I traveled to Connell to pick up grain and a new hose for the gas tank at home to replace the one that split and doused me with gas 2 weeks ago. The Grain Growers was a hopping place as wheat harvest is in full swing and trucks arrived and left at a steady pace. We also stopped at the Grange supply for the gas hose and Dakota bought a magnet with the promise that she could use it to get the broken off key out of the John Deere tractors ignition. Dakota also thought we should stop at the Sun Mart convenience store for a snack. I agreed on the condition that we each only could buy 2 items and they had to be something that we individually really liked the taste of. Dakota bought a single bottle of Vanilla Coke and a bag of Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos. I understood the game much better and bought a 30 pack of black licorice and a 18 pack of beer.

This evening I spent some time checking calves and a bit of water changing. The two calves I treated on Tuesday are much better and there are a few others getting over whatever they had but it looks like things have run their course thankfully. On the way home tonight I stopped on the road and chatted with my neighbor. Ishmael is the employee of another neighbor but is my emergency contact whenever I am away and become aware of some problem at the ranch because of a phone call. After a long chat about life, a cow and heifer calf of his bosses that is in my pasture and the joys of being a Dad to teenaged daughters we parted ways to let a tractor pass right before the sunset in the western sky. Pretty exciting day wasn’t it, now you see why I do not post something daily even if I have time.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Painted Lady butterfly aka Vanessa cardui.

Today’s picture was going to be of a Painted lady butterfly but my memory card on my camera was full of images of kittens, Festus and the teenaged dork who filled the memory card! Sometimes it is hard to believe that she can 3 inch group on a target at 75 yards with her 10-.22 Ruger. Love you Gus

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Learning the ropes

What a wonderful and productive day I was able to enjoy today. I had started the day with fairly low expectations based on a few things I knew I was going to face. My nephew Chase is leaving tomorrow and my sister, brother in law and Mom were taking him and Dakota sturgeon fishing today. I was glad the kids had the opportunity for a fun day but I knew I would miss my irrigation changing team members. These two teens have been a great help this summer and have worked very hard helping me. Everything they have learned from me is probably not all politically correct but my teenage work ethic school program I am sure will serve them well later in life. Thanks you two for all the help, the jokes, the laughs and even for keeping the snickers and ridicule to an acceptable level when I missed that rock chuck from practically arms length.

Knowing I did not have my helpers I planned that morning irrigation would run extra long and hoped for few problems or issues. The irrigation Gods smiled today and everything went fine and without any real problems. I was also a bit worried for today because I knew I had to do a thorough check of the spring calves. Yesterday I noticed two calves that were a bit droopy and not feeling exceptionally well. Neither of them was anywhere near “treatable” level but I certainly wanted to check on them specifically as well as the whole herd as much as possible today.

Everyone has their own idea of just what constitutes a “cowboy”. There are some cowboys who can ride any bronc or bull but could not spell “cat” if you spotted them the “c” and the “a”. There are some who can maneuver a horse through any obstacle or over any terrain but cannot back a stock trailer 2 feet in a straight line. There are some cowboys that are superstars in the auction barn but fall woefully short in the vet shack or the hospital pen. There are cowboys who can tell you exactly how many days pregnant a specific cow is but will also palpate a bull and tell you he is going to calve in February. I guess my point is that there are so many skills you need in this business you just try and always learn and hope for the best.

I mostly feel fairly competent and secure in my being a “cowboy” because I can do most anything but I am not really good at anything. There is one thing though that I cannot do for shit and that is rope. Oh, I might be able to rope a stray basalt rock, a turtle with footrot or the neighbor’s dead ca...ummmm ka...ummmm, neighbors dead kitten on a really good day, but a bovine? Yeah no, that will likely not happen. It does not matter if I am riding a good Quarter horse, a Honda horse or lying in bed with my rope with nothing else to do until Christine gets in bed dressed in her chaps and lingerie I just CAN’T rope. That being the case I have to decide just how to deal with a calf that might be under the weather and needing human intervention.

I can gently drive (walk) the calf to a corral and then use a squeeze chute or squeeze the calf behind a panel depending on the specific case. The issue is whether the drive to the corral with the stress and the dust breathing is more damaging to the calf than the treatment helps. If the animal and cowboy will move slow and steady and be patient this works very well. I luckily have semi erect corrals usually within a reasonable distance so this is often the choice but it can be time consuming especially if dealing with multiple calves.

The other option is to “bulldog” or steer wrestle the calf. This involves creeping as close to a calf as possible then usually traveling at a high rate of speed from a horse, atv or the back of a flatbed pickup and jumping off, catching the calf around the neck and wrestling it to the ground and subduing the calf. This way usually works well for the cowboy that is sick himself because the calf usually overpowers you while you are busy pulling a 16 gauge hypodermic needle and syringe from your I mean upper thigh that is now empty of your chosen pharmaceutical. I usually employ some combination of the driving and wrestling schools of thought.

I found out today that my calves are bigger than I thought. Funny how that calf that was only 250 pounds from the pickup seat is much closer to double that size once you have it in a squeeze chute or your arms around its neck and a needle and syringe in your upper thigh. I treated two calves today one by each method and made note of 3 others to check tomorrow. These calves had some type of respiratory issue (bovine respiratory disease BRD) which can be several bacterial issues. These calves were a longggg way from dying but were not 100% and had fairly low grade fevers. This type of issue usually is short lived and rarely widespread but anytime you see something like this there is concern. There certainly has not been any stress on the calves other than days in the 90’s and nights in the 50’s.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Azure hawker aka blue dragonfly aka Aeshna caerulea.

Today’s picture is a video I took as I watched cows graze today. Seeing what plants they prefer, which plants they avoid and watching them eat in general hopefully makes me a better “cowboy” and range manager because I am always going to be a shitty roper. Oh and yes, some cowboys listen to songs like Copperhead Road on their pickup radio.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The squawking environmentalist

I told myself when I started this blog that I would really try and not make it a soapbox for political issues or to lecture and preach. For the most part I am pretty satisfied even though I know I have lectured a time or two and been on a soapbox. This post may start out as one of those posts but I really am not trying to preach or give an opinion as I am trying to discount some widely held beliefs about ranchers and how they treat and look at the environment around them. I recently had someone in a political chat room that said, “Farmers, miners and oil companies basically exploit and plunder the land.” She on the other hand was an “environmentalist” that lived in a major city in a third story condominium. Hmmmmmmmmm. I will let the mining industry and oil industry deal with her but I did have a few points as related to farmers and ranchers.

Certainly as a primary goal and focus I want to make a living and take care of my family. Sure, I basically do that by somewhat bending Mother Nature to my whims in the best way to make that happen. I feel I have been given the honor of being the caretaker of a small portion of our planet. What I am not doing is exploiting or plundering the natural resources that happen to be in my care so that I can reach the previously mentioned goals well as what she termed “to become filthy rich”. The things that were manifested in my day on July 17th 2010 are a real testament to why I not only feel lucky to be who I am and do what I do for a living, but also why I am proud of what myself and so many other farmers and ranchers do in life.

For whatever reason I slept for 6 hours straight last night which is very rare for me but damn did I feel great when I awoke this morning. We had some tentative family plans today if all went well and I felt an early start would make that time off much more possible. The corn circle was stuck and had shutdown and was the first thing I noticed as I left the yard to plunder and exploit to become filthy rich. I was not too happy about that but as I worked to unstick the machine I had some appreciation of nature. To know that millions of small seeds (one kernel each) of corn were placed into the ground the first week of May has now grown into plants that are approaching 8 feet tall is pretty awe inspiring to me. Granted, that seed has had some nurturing, water and fertilizer in some dirt that would be lucky to produce a 6 inch tall cheatgrass plant if left to its own devices in this desert climate.

I then changed the “number one unit” irrigation water. This land has had a 3 week break from grazing and the grass and clover have really grown well. I both smiled and cursed when I saw about 50 Canada geese take flight from an area where they spent last night consuming succulent green clover. I guess the trade was fair, I provided them some food and as they left they provided the land with some fertilizer. As I drove home I watched a mother coyote cross the road with two pups, for now the population is fairly in check so I just admired them for awhile despite Festus and his noisy protesting. I saw a momma skunk and her 3 kids in about the same area last night.

I then went to the house and picked up Dakota so she could work with her show steers for a bit. That interaction between human and bovine is something that is really amazing to watch. The animal and the kid both come to know and trust each other given time and I will talk more about this on some later blog post. She and I then traveled to Eltopia to fish with her cousins for part of the day (Chris is a bit under the weather today). Each cousin as well as Grandma caught some nice trout and had a fun time. We then came home so Dakota could shower because she had a babysitting job this evening. After taking her to Connell I spent some time changing more irrigation water. I almost skipped out on the fishing so I could change more water this morning but then had a thought. If I had been one of my two friends that passed away the last few weeks would I be happier that we went fishing or changed irrigation water? I wish I always could think this way and make the right choice.

Birds are very prolific around here. Hardly a week goes by that I am not trying to find some new species online based on their colors and habits that I happen to witness while out working. We had a barn swallow family raise five healthy kids right on our inside back porch this spring and despite the whitewashed guano covered concrete it was fun to watch them grow, hatch and leave the nest. There has also been a family of Western Kingbirds hatch out in a locust tree close to the house. Kingbirds are very territorial and I have watched them drive magpies and other much larger birds off in quick order. The locust tree behind the bunkhouse provided a nesting area for some hawks (not yet identified) that successfully raised 3 children. I have been watching the young hawks learn to dive on rodents in the pasture close to sunset time each night. I guess when my Grandfather planted those trees and built this house it was part of his exploit and plunder program. For those that knew him you can attest to how filthy rich he became by doing this.

Would land that had been mismanaged, exploited, and plundered provide these magnificent species and many others the opportunity to reproduce in such a prolific way year after year? I think not and today’s picture will show you just how “managed” nature and “natural nature” co exist and sometimes compliment each other. Those are killdeer eggs in the middle of a cowpie I found in the pasture this evening. You want to talk about natural habitat and camouflage. I even plugged two sprinkler heads so momma Killdeer would not have to spend a very wet night incubating her future offspring. To think some people consider themselves “environmentalists” because they send a check to some group each year makes me laugh. Next time I run across this lady I think I will ask her “how many bird species reproduce in your checkbook?”

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Western Kingbird aka Tyrannus verticalis.

Monday, July 12, 2010

You just cannot beat experience

Well a pretty decent start to the week. The wind blew all day and gave a welcome reprieve from the high temperatures in the triple digits that we have experienced the last few days. There was nothing really of note today but we did have our 3rd (fall) calf born today. So far we have had all solid black little heifers. Maybe this will offset the very high percentage of bull calves we had compared to normal with the spring calvers this year. As long as they are born alive and healthy I am just fine with whatever percentage of girls or boys we get.

This evening I needed to travel to Kennewick to the fairgrounds for a Market stock committee meeting. The meeting went well and fairly rapidly and it looks like we will have everything in place for our fair the third week of August. I did not have time to eat supper before I left home and after the meeting I really did not feel like a ketchup and deli burrito or mustard and chickenpart corndog. There is a neighborhood bar that I used to stop into about quarterly in Kennewick that I had not checked out in about a year. Today’s post is about that experience and how as we age previous experience can help with decision making.

The “Tin Hat” is basically a gathering place for construction workers, service industry workers, railroad workers and other basically good, hardworking, Marlboro smoking, tap beer buying white trash (no disrespect to the white waste management people or to those who prefer their beer in a bottle, or the two Mexican fellas that were playing pool by the way). The clientele is not whom some would care to hang out with but these are just mainly decent people that just want to live life and have a nice place to smoke, drink and complain to each other about their boss after work. Other than my cowboy hat and lack of tattoos and/or outstanding arrest warrants I am hard to pick out from the regulars in this place.

The bar girl was prompt and told me the special for the day; any canned beer for $2. Right away I am faced with a decision of Coors Light or Milwaukee’s Best for $2 but I got through that ok. I noticed they now have hard liquor there but after Saturday I am off whiskey for at least 72 hours. I then asked if they had a menu and I still do not know if they have menus but Sara (the bar girl) rattled off about 6 things that she could make. She recommended the beef ribs that were left over from Sundays BBQ and horseshoe throwing tournament. After making sure she did not mean left over from a Sunday BBQ prior to 2004 I went ahead and ordered the ribs. She first brought my green salad and a bottle of Thousand Island dressing. These fancy places that do not limit your dressing consumption or place it in a thimble sized cup on the “side” are one of the reasons I love these type of establishments. The ribs were big, meaty and honestly were absolutely delicious. Thank you Sara and thank you for keeping the beer glasses clean. More on that later.

As I consumed my meal I listened to some of the conversations going on around me. There was one very intoxicated and close to belligerent gentleman outside near the horseshoe pits and smoking deck. As I listened I learned his name was Scott and he was unemployed and had last worked at a local roofing company. His friends convinced Scott he should go home and as they made their way to the door they happened to stop right behind me. I had chosen my spot at the bar based on previous experience. I was in a spot where I could see behind me in the bar mirror which is always a good choice in an out of the way bar. I had also chosen to sit overlooking where the sink for washing the bar glasses was. This was mainly because Sara was wearing a low cut top. Experience helps decision making…anyway.

Scott whispers to his friends at about a 178 decibel level that he is going to “accidentally” bump the cowboy hat of the stranger at the bar. Now 10 years ago I would have been ready to explode like a Saturn Rocket off my bar stool and offer the unemployed Scott some discount rhinoplasty but being alone in a non local bar I made a different decision based on previous experience. When Scott “bumped” me I jumped up, spun around and spat semi masticated rib parts all over and said, “Scott!, how the f*ck have you been dude?” as I reached out to shake hands. Well Scott was totally surprised and asked, “Do I know you?” of course I said, “We worked together at XYZ Roofing, don’t you remember?” Scott said he did not remember which was really great because in all honesty neither did I.

Now that the situation was diffused Scott asked me what I was doing for a living now. I told him I had started my own roofing company and other than being able to find good help things were going well. Well, as luck would have it HE was looking for work. (You don’t say) To shorten the story Scott bought my second $2 beer after I complimented him on his mullet and he will be waiting at the Conoco station to be picked up for work at 6a.m. tomorrow for his new high paying roofing job. At 6a.m I will probably be tapping Chris on the shoulder asking if she feels frisky and if she needs someone to take a shower with her. I wonder if Scott will still have BBQ sauce all over his right hand from the nice handshake we shared before he left the bar so he could get a good nights sleep and find his tool belt. I sure hope he packs a lunch because it could be a really long day.

I guess I will not be visiting the Tin Hat for awhile but I am not in jail, I did not get beat up and I am still burping BBQ ribs and thinking next time I visit the Tin Hat I will order my beer in a glass but insist that I get a clean glass for each beer.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Yellow warbler aka Dendroica petechia.

Today’s picture is some yearling bred heifers relaxing near the home place pond.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

So long cowboy

Well I tried to tell you that all the great wet and cool weather would have its own piper to eventually pay. Those days are here as yesterday hit 99 and today hit 102 and it looks to be in the upper 90’s for at least a few more days. All those semi green/brown places in the pasture are no longer anything but brown. The total amount of feed is still excellent for this time of year and for that I can be very thankful. I have needed a few things to be thankful for the last two days. It seems that the difficulties, tragedy and pain of last week have just rolled on this week.

The week started with so much promise despite the hot weather forecast. With the good sale of calves last week I was able to pay the ranch bills that are due which is always a welcome thing. The hot weather is a bit of a bummer but in general things were looking good as we charge through summer. Dakota has really focused on working with her show steers and that has gone well. Irrigation is a never ending chore this time of year but for the most part has went fairly well as Chase (my nephew) and Dakota have been helping me in the morning with moving pipes. I have almost kicked this cold to the curb and am feeling much better than I was at the end of last week.

I had an aunt and uncle in visiting Mom and had a nice chat with them Tuesday at lunch. I got ready to leave Moms house Tuesday to work on a few items when my sister came out the door with some terrible news. A great man, a family friend, a true American cowboy and someone I have always looked at as a mentor in the cattle business passed away in a plane crash that morning. Since hearing that news I have been almost in a fog as I have spent the last two days.

I don’t know if it is the fact that he left this world too young, the fact that it was an accident or exactly what but the pain of losing another friend in the cattle business has really made me struggle the last couple of days. Elwyn Fletcher was my 4H leader for many years and was always someone I counted on for good advice. He had a ready smile and was someone I always enjoyed seeing in any venue at anytime. I am sure that the whole community is reeling with this loss just as I am.

There are several things about him that were part of my memories the last two days. I always appreciated that Elwyn treated me as an equal and an adult even though he had so much more experience and knowledge. I bought one of my first show steers from him years ago and it was as if he was doing business with another fellow cattleman even though I felt he was larger than life in the cattle business over the years. Elwyn was as “real” and as old fashioned as a cowman as you will ever know yet he was also very aware of changes in the business and alert to new strategies for success.

Elwyn was usually happy go lucky and would regularly have a new and good joke to tell. He was able to accept compliments when he made a good marketing or other decision and also quick to admit when he made a mistake. One other thing I always respected about him was how he was not into the “fluff” of things like fancy new pickups or equipment that did not have a reasonable purpose. He was much like my Dad in that he was happy with his life and his place within the total spectrum of life.

I could go on forever about all the great things about him and all the things he taught me about the cattle business but I am going to close this with two things. One thing was Elwyn had a tremendous passion and work ethic but he really had a great compassion for animals. He was someone who would do anything to save the life of a calf regardless of the time or expense that was needed. The other thing he had was a great wit and an “aw shucks” way of saying things related to a certain subject that would often combine reality with humor. I was once having a conversation with him about governmental agencies and how they often seem to be heavy handed. This particular conversation was about the ATF (alcohol, tobacco and firearms) Federal agency. Elwyn summed up the agency perfectly when he said, “I always felt alcohol, and tobacco and firearms sounded more like a shopping list than a Federal agency!” I hope you and my Dad are having a Pendleton and a laugh right now sir.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is Red Top aka Agrostis gigantea.

Today’s picture is from my perspective how nature shows us that those who pass before us live on if we choose to see them.

Monday, July 5, 2010

There oughta be a law

The July 4th weekend has come to a close once again. It is hard to believe and appreciate that the days are actually now getting shorter than they were prior to the summer solstice. We enjoyed a great night at the wedding and reception that was a perfect Columbia Basin night for July. It was not too hot, there were no thunder storms and it really was a great evening. Congrats to Randi and Rob and best wishes on a life full of love, memories, and help at the spring branding.

If you have to leave your cousins wedding reception early because someone called and told you cows were out, you might be a redneck, or me as the case was Saturday night. Luckily it was not many cows and they went back in quite easily. Sunday dawned bright and clear but there was a bit of wind that would steadily increase throughout the day. The family went to our friends beautiful home and enjoyed a great day of excellent food, great friends, the pool and water slides and later an “illegal” yet excellent fireworks show. Thank you to all of you that hosted, cooked and provided a great day to celebrate our nation’s independence.

I really was not sure where today’s blog was going when I started but I have decided I am going to do a soapbox moment since I really have nothing else. I am a great believer in freedom and love many things about this great nation of ours. I certainly would not want to live anywhere else but I sometimes think our great nation of freedom has started down a slippery slope because we always feel we have to do something and by something it usually means the whole idea of “there oughta be a law.”

I started my Independence Day well enough. I awoke in my own home; I had a choice of what time I wanted to wake up and what time I wanted to leave the bedroom and the house. So far so good but that was the end point of my “freedom”. I started up my pickup that has a speedometer that does not work, has a cracked windshield, and currently does not have the exhaust system all attached. The moment I backed out of the driveway and onto the county road I was already a three strikes offender. I am a believer in wearing my seatbelt but when I am going to drive .3 miles and not attain a speed of 37 m.p.h I rarely put it on. I will point out that although I am a believer in seatbelts I am none too happy that a governmental agency “tells” me I “have” to wear it.

I changed some irrigation water and fed the fall calving cows in the corral and although I do not know what specific laws I broke I am sure there were at least one or two. I know that I did not perform a pre trip inspection of my pickup, tractor, irrigation pump or colon at anytime yesterday morning which surely made me a scofflaw. Just to make sure I was a rebel I crossed the Potholes canal bridge at 51 m.p.h just to feel free. At least I am guessing it was 51m.p.h based on my tachometer and since my speedometer is not working. While out changing water I noticed at least one noxious weed that I had not mowed or sprayed placing me farther outside the realm of the good loyal (subjects) or citizens written laws.

I then went to the party and had a beer which was legal but if I had drunk that beer on the way to the party would have been illegal. I only drank one beer yesterday as this cold is still kicking my ass. You know I am not feeling well when I drink one beer on the Fourth of July. Not only did I go to the party I drove my pickup that has no mud flaps which is a no-no here in the land of the free. The party was great but I was amazed that all of us were able to eat and nobody died without the presence of anyone from the Department of Health to monitor the cooking and food preparation. I saw one guy actually pull a chunk of steaming pork from a whole cooked hog without gloves and eat it. Clearly this man should be incarcerated immediately.

Anyway, I will stop my rant but honestly please as election season nears ask your candidates just where they stand on some of these issues. From my perspective it sure seems like the more we try to “save ourselves” the deeper our problems and negative issues manifest themselves. I have always felt lucky to be an American. I have always appreciated that the British showed up to squash a revolution dressed in uniforms that are the same color as targets. What the hell were they thinking anyway? Their planning commission really failed them. We should dress in bright red and then send a drummer boy through the forest at the front of the troops so some freedom lover that is standing behind a tree has no idea where we are. Think freedom people, think freedom and what that means to you.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Barn Swallow aka Hirundo rustica.

Today’s picture is of the first “fall” calf of 2010. I know it is too early but this is a cow I bought this past winter and her and her mates are all looking to calve on the front end of the fall. The calf is healthy, alert, got its first milk and is alive. I would like to make this a law for all calves but nature has her own way of making laws.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The world keeps spinning

Well here we are into the month of July. The celebration of our nation’s independence and really so many things about being an American that makes us proud is close at hand. The month has started out well for this cowboy. The fall calves that I sold on Thursday topped the market and actually returned more money than the cost of raising them. This is all too rare in this business and was very welcome from a guy who is really just appreciating the chance to live, breathe and participate in the daily activities of life given the reality of life the last week.

Dakota and my nephew Chase helped me sort and load and also traveled with me Thursday to market the fall calves. The whole idea of the world is always spinning was on my mind that day. If you had given me a preview of July 1, 2010 three years ago I would have expected to travel to Toppenish with Dad. As it was I traveled with his grandson and granddaughter and we had a good time sharing memories of Grandpa Larry. I will say he would have really been proud to watch his grandkids sorting, selecting and making decisions about the calves that were chosen for marketing that day. Seeing you two kids run the sorting gate that your Grandpa ran for so many years really made me proud and tugged at my heart strings as well.

Friday was just a normal day around the place and I did the bare minimum as I have not been feeling too well. I had fought off a summer cold for weeks and finally succumbed to it. Body aches, fever, runny nose, and deep cough were the words of the day but I did get the minimum level of irrigation changed. On the plus side I think I probably set a new record for loogie hocking distance given the phlegm that had to be expelled. The other plus side is it is not too hot as those who have suffered a summer cold can appreciate.

Today I did a bit of morning irrigation and then we headed to Basin City for the annual Fourth of July Parade. This year it was dedicated to Fire Chief Chet and it was really quite the show. Fire fighters and their apparatus from all over the state joined in the parade to really make a wonderful tribute to my friend and a community member who had given so much for so many others.

After the parade I manned a grill with many others so that after his final memorial there was hot food for everyone. I can not express enough appreciation and thanks to the whole community for all the contributions of time, effort and money to really send off a truly remarkable man. I need to wrap this up as we soon need to travel back south for my cousin Randi and her fiancĂ©es Robs wedding. From a male perspective getting married on “Independence Day” weekend makes a small amount of sense but I honestly love them both and hope that today is the beginning of a wonderful life together. As I always say, “marriage is a great institution, as long as you like living in an institution!” Honestly if it was not for being married I doubt I would be walking the earth today. Have a great weekend everyone and really celebrate being an American.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is puncturevine aka Tribulus terrestris

Today’s picture was difficult to choose so I chose two of them. The first one is of all the fire equipment from many different places that participated in the parade in Chets honor. The second is Chets brother driving the combine that Chet drove in his last combine demolition derby in June. I remind you that all pictures on this blog can be seen in large size by clicking on them.