Monday, October 27, 2014

The greedy rancher strikes out

Hey there blog readers, yes its me, the guy who never comes here anymore. No excuses, I will try to do better but will likely fail. Tonight I want to address something I often hear when people try to tear down agriculture both crop and livestock production. I often hear we are "greedy" and everything we do is all about the almighty $. Admittedly many of the aspects of what I do involves considering what makes the most sense related to $ return. What many fail to understand is often the best return on the $ is also the best environmental, social, animal welfare and sustainability choice for this particular ranch. I can also confidently say that yes I need to make money in what I do but $ are not always the be all to end all when decisions are made on this ranch. I will also say we sometimes make mistakes in decision making, but we always try to learn from those and improve as we move forward. My Dad used to tell me if you ever figure it all out you might as well quit because it wont be fun anymore.

 I am going to tell you a story today about a cow named "Striker". My youngest daughter Dakota waxes poetically about how Striker got her name, "because of her face markings and because I was a doofus back then!"  Back story is in December of 2006 I bought some "broken mouth" cow calf pairs. Broken mouth means a cow is getting on in years and some of her teeth are missing, in our country that means a cow is likely 10 years old or more. This was a group of 12 year old cows and had calves on them that had been born in October of that year. Striker was born in the fall of 2008 to one of these now 14 yearold cows. Striker was born with a bit of a twisted front leg, nothing bad but slightly noticeable. The twist in this leg became worse as she grew up and she eventually showed an issue in her back legs and hips as well. She had a terribly twisted limp but could get around on her own. What I loved about Striker was she was a fighter. She would get pushed away by other calves and more dominant cows but she never gave up her will to live and thrive. Because of this defect she had little to no value to sell so I just decided to let her grow up thinking maybe she could grow into beef for our own consumption. (Ok I can hear the animal rights activists already, calm your asses please.) Sometimes we do things for reasons like this song by Trace Atkins explains. 

So Striker grew up and when she should have been bred (pregnant) as a 2 year old she wasnt. In fact she was probably about only 60% of the size she should be. I decided that she would be given 6 more months to breed as honestly I couldnt face telling my wife or kids that she was going to become dinner. 6 months later didn't produce the results I had hoped. She had grown a bit, had made it through a tough winter but as far as my left arm could tell she was empty inside. In fact by my assessment she had very odd inside female parts and likely would never breed. A very tough decision to put her in the feedlot pen sometime soon to eat some grain for 90 days was made. After this feeding period she would be butchered.

On about day 88 of this feeding regimen Dakota and I stopped at the corrals one evening after dark to feed. In the dark I could see somehow a small calf had gotten into the feedlot as it came running out of the barn. I was cursing until Striker also came out of the barn, ran to the calf, and the calf began nursing her. WTF? Striker had birthed a healthy and as far as we could see defect free baby! Oh how Dakota squealed! Oh how I questioned my ability to "preg check" cattle. (Admittedly I am no Veterinarian) So Striker raised her calf to weaning, and from a weaning vs. body weight standpoint did a whale of a job! 

Now the reality of the story. Strikers same aged counterparts that are still here have each raised 4 calves at this point and are currently raising their 5th. Striker has only raised 2. Economically she has not been a shining star but that being said, she is very small, has little value with her defect, and lives in about a 5 acre area of the home pasture year round on little to nothing. Yes I admit she is consuming forage that could go to a more productive cow but to my original point it isnt all about the $ all the time! Friday I gathered all the cows and calves in the pasture to do some sorting and weaning. These were spring calving cows with big calves that are ready to be weaned. Striker was off in her normal secluded spot and with her severe limp I saw no need to bring her in. I did however check on her Friday afternoon. What I found led to taking Dakota and Christine out to the pasture Friday evening.

 With todays cattle market this little coupon will go a LONG way to understanding Mother Nature isn't always perfect, females of any species can steal your heart, and life has a way of paying off in many ways and sometimes you make some money! Welcome to the world little bull calf, if you have half the heart and drive of your momma you will be something to watch grow. 
As we continue this journey of life we will still be true to my grandparents, parents and my own goals. We will raise real world cattle to help feed the world,we will do our best to care for our land and our animals, we will work to make a profit to sustain our operation while teaching our children about Mother Nature while showing them a work ethic. We will also as my Dad used to so eloquently say, "Have some damn fun!" 

Thank you all that frequent this blog. In my constant search for outlaw country music with twang and lyric richness I bring you Dry County with "Waitin on Hank" All pictures can be viewed full size by clicking on them!

 "An were waitin on Hank to come on back, to lay a little senior boot to ass, and let the A and R man know he's takin this way too far. You don't pee with the puppies and crap in the big dogs yard!" 


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Apology to the thief

Dear Thief or thieves,

I want to take a little moment and apologize to you. I hope that the log chain you stole from me is useful to you and you will give it lots of wonderful adventures. I know it has many stories to tell as it came to me second hand from an old farmer that retired and he was gracious enough to not only tell me some of its history, he sold it at a discount to the price I would of had to pay if I had purchased it new. I was very thankful for this and apologize that you wont get to feel the same way since you got it for free. I don't know if you are the same person that has stolen several items over the last few years but if you are I sincerely hope that it fits in the tool box you stole and if it breaks you are able to use the oxy-acetylene torch you stole to fix it. 

Maybe the Sheriff is right since I haven't put up a fence or locked  everything down. I don't know what I was thinking considering it was my property and everyone knows that in todays world if you don't put up a fence with security cameras you are practically asking to have things stolen. I apologize that I was raised that I should be able to leave an unlocked Mercedes convertible on the street of a major city with the keys in the ignition because if it isn't yours you would have no reason to steal it. I sure hope you didnt steal it out of spite. I apologize that last month when you tried to steal some gasoline from the tank labeled "Unleaded" you instead filled your tank with drain oil from several pickups and tractors. If your vehicle gave you fits I am so very sorry! I guess I really should have labeled the tank properly so in the middle of the night you didnt have to suffer any ill consequences of your actions.

 My mom used to explain to me that sometimes people do bad things because of their own lives. "Maybe they were a victim of a broken home" she often said to make an excuse for those that committed crimes. I certainly hope that if I did anything to make your own mother a whore and your own Daddy a f*cktard you will forgive me for doing so. It certainly wasn't intentional. With todays divorce rate I am sure it wont be long before people are stealing things because their same sex parents stayed together until death do they part. I mean not that there is anything wrong with that but I just want to make sure everyone needing an excuse is covered. 

Maybe you didnt steal my property because of your own life, but because of mine. Being a "wealthy" (in your eyes) and successful self employed rancher and landowner clearly I was given everything in my own life and have never worked hard or saved for something I needed or wanted. Because of this view I was deserving of anything that you happened to take from me. The cattle market is booming and on that fact alone I probably deserved losing something of value, I apologize that I didnt just offer it to you for free and that you had to sneak away with my property. Just this week I finished calving season. It turned out well and these calves will likely sell for more per pound than I ever dreamed they would be worth. Hopefully when the bills, taxes and other expenses are paid I will have enough to replace what you stole, if not I will just try again another year. I might think about replacing the chain by stealing one but I wont, I am weird like that in a non fucktard type of way. 

 All those times I contributed time or money to several charity organizations I am sorry it was not enough in your eyes. I will really try and do better and contribute more to my community. If I ever run for public office I will use the slogan of "A log chain for every citizen" God knows a good new one will set you back $30-40. I hope the one you stole from me isn't defective, I only paid $10 for it and the fact that I did not leave some safety glasses close by for you to steal will keep me up at night wondering if you are safe!

To wrap this up I have just a few more apologies I think are warranted. I am sorry I never fell into the trap of meth abuse, it must be some really good shit and being that I like being happy it is a wonder it hasn't happened to me. Heck, if only I had you and I could steal things together and commiserate about how unfair the world is. I also want to apologize that each time something like this happens my heart gets a bit harder. I sure hope that was not your little girl selling Girl Scout cookies last week that I so easily walked by without a purchase because I felt I had given enough already, if it was I am so sorry. For some reason as I get older I am getting to be a bit of a bastard and I dont even come from a broken home. 

Lastly I want to apologize for being a bit of a hillbilly redneck. I own quite a few guns and very rarely do I not have one close at hand. If I happen to be checking cows at 3a.m. and come across you stealing something I apologize for the attitude and the fact that you probably will have a few more holes than a chunk of Swiss cheese. Of course it will only happen because you charged towards me and I felt threatened, after all you did have that chain in your hands and  how was I to know you were not going to hit me with it? Sorry. I don't know officer, he has 6 holes in him, clearly it looks like a case of suicide to me. I am sorry that I have this attitude, it wasn't always like this.

Todays Cowman music selection is Blackberry Smoke singing "One Horse town" it is music like this that keeps me happy so I dont spend my days focused on the bad things that this world seems so full of.
 " In the tiny town where I come from
You grew up doing what your daddy does
And you don't ask questions you do it just because
You don't climb too high or dream too much
With a whole lot of work and a little bit of luck
You can wind up right back where your daddy was" 


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bundy ranch, Feds and the "Rule of law"

I just couldn't not put something down here related to the Bundy ranch issue in Nevada. I had all but given up on this blog for several reasons but maybe this is just the thing to spark me. Before I make a few points about this post please look at this map of Federal land ownership in the USA and tell me if something does not smell to high heaven in the Western USA?

1. I don't know everything about this issue, I have learned a LOT about our Constitution, our nations history and some really interesting politics the last few days. Especially the enumerated powers of Congress in the Constitution.
2. This is my OPINION based on MY view and from the information and the facts I have gathered.
3. This is not about Republicans or Democrats. If I were the Dad to these political parties I would knock their heads together, spank their asses and tell them as much as I love them they better get their shit together yesterday. Then I would knock their heads together again!
4. I am going to say a few things, I might even say a few "bad" words. You are just going to have to take it, or you can leave angry, or you can go f*ck yourself. Isn't freedom wonderful?
5. Just for troll control, the Bundy family, the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) nor anyone else paid for this blog. I am not here to defend either party in particular.
6. There are many twists to this whole issue, I think this will be a discussion point for some time. I could never post one blog and expect to capture ALL the particulars in this case. I will say there are distinct and different "rights" effected here. Property rights but not just land ownership, but water rights and forage rights as SEPARATE rights in this as well.  

So earlier this week the Federal government through the BLM moved into Nevada. Northeastern Clark county Nevada near the Utah/Arizona border. This is harsh desert country, just by the pictures of the cattle and terrain from this area I know a large part of the US cowherd could never make it in this rugged environment. I only own 1 cow that I think might make it in this harsh environment.

 Cows are way tougher than folks imagine, but these girls are special to what a mother cow is. The issue is they claim a Mr Cliven Bundy has been ignoring court orders for years and not paying grazing fees. From what I gather he has not paid these fees since 1993. There is some contention of whether he owes these fees to the Federal Government or the State of Nevada and if he has paid the state of Nevada.  
His family has been grazing these lands since the 1870's but in about 1993 the Federal Government cut his grazing allotment from around 900 cows to 150 cows in response to the Endangered Species listing of the desert tortoise. Now my issue with the Endangered Species Act is for another blog at another time. I will say it is a law with great intentions but very little real or practical use and a terrible level of success. The number of species listed and then removed because of non threatened status is less than 1%. Only our f*cking Federal government would use a system since 1973 with a 1% success rate and NOT change it! These restrictions do not just apply to public property but PRIVATE property as well. Now back to the Bundy situation.  Mind you this is on 600,000 plus acres so each cow in his original allotment had 600 acres to graze on. With his reduction this meant 1 cow for over 4000 acres! Just for perspective I run around 200 cows on 500 acres. Yes my ground is much more lush than the Nevada desert but still that is a massive dispersion of cattle given the acreage. 
So the BLM with a private contractor and a contract worth close to a $1 million dollars started to confiscate (steal) Bundys cattle from these disputed lands. They gathered around 400 head over the last few days. They used helicopters and there are reports of over 130 head dying from heat stress but I admittedly cant confirm that at this time. The BLM did admit it killed at least 2 bulls because they were scared, weak chickenshits, er I mean for their safety. Sorry, but if you pay $1 million to some "professional" cowboys they better expect some rank bull gathering as part of the deal! Whatever the case at a time of record cattle and beef prices it is DISGUSTING that these animals were wasted. Especially given the fact we have many hungry people not only here but around the globe. The BLM ran  into several issues as they found out they couldn't just send the branded cattle to Utah without a health certificate by a veterinarian and a brand slip signed by the owner which was Mr Bundy. The federal government seems to like to cite "the rule of law" but seem to want to ignore laws when it fits their purpose. 
So over the last few days many people who saw this as a Federal government overreach headed to Nevada. On Friday video was taken of armed BLM agents throwing a unarmed 57 year old mother and cancer survivor to the ground. As more people arrived, many that were armed, the federal government faced a dilemma. How much force could the Federal government exert without the American people seeing it as an out of control government state of affairs. 
So lets play devils advocate here. Lets say this is all about "enforcing the law" Could the US government be better invested in civil litigation to recover what they say are $1 million in grazing fees than spending over $3 million in deployment of Federal thugs and contractors to STEAL cattle they dont legally own? Lets look at that $1 million in grazing fees for a moment. I doubt the cows run on this land year round but again devils advocate. 900 cows X 12 months X $1.35 a month (Federal grazing fee set by the 'Law' so many quote) X 20 years = $291,600, not quite the $1 million the government and media portrays is it? 
Now lets add that this desert tortoise they say is "endangered" is the reason for this, it is so endangered that the Federal government is going to euthanize many of them? Sounds absurd right? Well not to the federal government. "Federal funds for a Nevada-based desert tortoise conservation center are running dry and wildlife officials plan to close the facility and euthanize hundreds of tortoises that were once classified as “endangered” and are currently considered “threatened.”Read about this here 
Now to add one more twist to this saga lets look at what Nevada Senator Harry Reids son was working on as recently as 2013 for this land area.

The son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Rory Reid, is the primary representative for ENN Energy Group, a Chinese energy company seeking to build a $5 billion solar panel plant on a 9,000-acre Clark County desert plot in Laughlin, Nevada.  Hmmmm, so odd

Wow, so this is an interesting little nugget here isn't it?  So again I play the devils advocate. Is a country and government (The United States of America) that is $17 Trillon, yes $17 fucking TRILLION in debt doing the best it can by spending in excess of $3 Million to confiscate (steal) cattle that it does not legally own? Is the deployment of Federal agents (aka welfare thugs) the best strategy and idea in this case? 

Folks I love the USA. I think there is still a lot of opportunity in this country for those willing to make something of their lives. I like to salute the flag and think somehow we are a special country.  I cannot however be convinced that our government is not super sized and out of control. Both major political parties are to blame here, as are the voters. Sure you can cite the "rule of law" but its funny that those on both sides of the political aisle are all for "law" until they are reminded Obamacare is the LAW or Citizens United is the LAW.

 Has Cliven Bundy made some mistakes? I would say yes, as a fellow rancher I know how hard headed we can be because we feel our contribution to a hungry world is important and none of us are perfect. I am glad his family have had their cattle returned to them and the BLM thugs have went home link.. Cows return home  
Sadly while cattle prices are high Mr. Bundy will be forced out of business if he sells off his cattle as he will be if he is not allowed to use this land that produces little or NOTHING without his grazing and management. Yes we need some laws, I am just not sure why 20 million plus people are in this country "illegally" get little notice but a rancher converting solar energy into food gets the hammer. BTW I am pro immigration reform, it is a touchy subject with no perfect answers. 

What I do know to be true, this country needs more COMMON sense, and LESS Federal government. I know if the BLM is a Federal agency "in charge of managing public land" they should not need K9 dogs or AR 15s to do that job. I know that "our" government spent way more in money and personnel on a cattle rancher in Nevada than they did in the Benghazi, Libya killing of Americans.  I know that the Federal government "owns" FAR too much land in the west no matter how you interpret the "enclave clause" of the Enumerated powers. I know that US citizens excercising their 2nd amendment rights by carrying firearms are NOT terrorists. I end this with a Thomas Jefferson quote, "If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so." Just make sure you are wearing your seatbelt in this country if you quote old Thomas. Need I remind anyone that George Washington, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Edward Snowden and the American Revolutionists were "Breaking the law" of their time. 

So my Cowman music selection for this post is Chris Knight "Go on home" which sums up what I feel about not only this Bundy situation but often life in general which makes it hard to blog regularly. Lyric RICH! Respectful comments and discussion are encouraged, and as always, thank you for reading.

"dont go online i dont watch tv
cause i know all im gonna see
is something stupid goin on
stupids in the water these days
they're gonna drink it any way
til they dont know right from wrong

yeah laugh if you want to
call me a backwards fool
but i aint takin this ride
ya'll just go on ahead and go
let me out by the side of the road
all i wanna do is go on home