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By S. Omar Barker
From the Cowboy Poetry website



As one who’s been a cowhand since the wildcats learned to spit,
I’ve made some resolutions for the comin’ year, to wit:
Resolved, to ride a shorter day and sleep a longer night;
To never come to breakfast till the sun is shinin’ bright;
To draw a top-hands wages when they’re due or quit the job
And hunt a wealthy widow or an easy bank to rob.
Resolved, to quit the wagon when the chuck ain’t up to snuff,
To feed no more on bullet beans nor chaw on beef that’s tough.
Resolved, to straddle nothin’ in the line of saddle mount
That ain’t plumb easy-gaited, gentle broke, and some account.

Resolved, that when it blizzards and there’s stock out in the storm,
To let the owner worry while I stay in where it’s warm.
Resolved, that when it comes my turn next spring to ride the bogs,
I’ll don the bib and tucker of my town and Sunday togs,
And tell the boss, by gravies, if he craves to shed some blood,
Just try to make me smear ‘em tailin’ moo-cows from the mud.
Resolved, that when a thunderhead comes rollin’ up the sky,
I’ll lope in off my circle to the bunkhouse where it’s dry.

Resolved, to do such ropin’ as a ropin’ cowhand must,
But never when the air ain’t free from cattle-trompled dust.
Resolved to show no hosses, and resolved, to swim no cricks;
Resolved, no dead-cow skinnin’, and resolved, no fence to fix.
Resolved, to swing no pitchfork, no pick, no ax, no spade;
Resolved to wear my whiskers—if I want to—in a braid!
Resolved, to take this New Year plenty easy through-and-through,
Instead of sweatin’ heavy like I’ve always used to do.

As one who’s been a cowhand since before who laid the chunk,
It may sound like I’m loco, or it may sound like I’m drunk
To make such resolutions as you see upon my list,
And others purt near like ‘em that my mem’ry may have missed;
But gosh, they sound so pleasant to a son of saddle sweat!
And New Year’s resolutions—well, I never kept one yet!
So why make resolutions that bring furrows to your brow?
Let’s make ‘em free and fancy—’cause we’ll bust ‘em anyhow!

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A friend recommended this place in Colorado for a great spiritual/retreat with horses.

From their website:

“The Buffalo Woman Ranch is dedicated to providing a sacred space of community where horses and humans are supported in discovering and living their true nature. Located in Colorado, the ranch is nestled between the Blue Mountains in Utah and the Four Corners Area. It is a 50 acre sanctuary whose purpose is to facilitate renewal at a deep level for all who enter.

“We invite people to experience their wholeness as it is already present within themselves. Integral to this process are the animals who share in this ministry. The ranch provides workshops, horse interactions, counseling, energy Kinesiology (for releasing trauma/limbic system balancing), wisdom council, shamanic journeying, ceremony, lodging and vision quests.

“We offer individual intensives/retreats as a co-creative journey. Intensives at the Buffalo Woman Ranch are focused on being authentic in all relationships, through the Way of the Horse. We co-facilitate the Equine Experiential Learning aspect with our herd of 8 horses, as well as teachings on authentic community. When you are in a sacred space to feel your feelings and hear false self messages, a lot can be explored in relationship to experiencing “congruency” in the round pen of life.”

You can get more information at their website by clicking HERE.

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Camel Racing Blends Centuries-Old Traditions and Modern Technology



By Sam Borden
From the New York Times




ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Not long after sunrise one recent morning, a camel race here began, as they all do, with two starts. First, there was the expected opening: About a dozen camels pressed their noses against a dangling metal barrier, and when a man in a sparkling white robe gave the signal, the gate lifted and the herd surged forward, necks bobbing and humps hopping as spindly legs galloped off into the fog.

A beat later came the second wave. As the camels sprinted toward their first turn at Al-Wathba racetrack, a fleet of sport utility vehicles, five or six wide, shifted into gear and zoomed after them, tailing the animals on the paved roads that flanked both sides of the soft dirt track. To the uninitiated, it looked like a presidential motorcade locked in a low-speed chase with a pack of Bedouins. To the more familiar, it was simply camel racing, modernized.

Inside one of the vehicles, Hamad Mohammed watched the action from the passenger seat. Mohammed, who works for an Emirati sheikh and trains numerous camels, was tracking his entry, Miyan, while a friend navigated through the glut of semidistracted drivers circling the 3.7-mile track. Miyan broke from the starting line and quickly pulled away from the typical jumbling. She settled on an inside position and churned along, flanks heaving beneath green silks.

Small robots have taken the place of children as the preferred jockey for camel racing in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

The car was quiet, save for the thundering tones of the radio announcer calling the race from a van about 15 feet away, also following the camels. As the race neared its midpoint, Mohammed picked up a walkie-talkie, leaned his face against the window and began to make a clucking sound.

It was not a word — not in Arabic or any other language — but more of a murmur, a throaty noise like one might use to coax a hesitant dog. Mohammed made the sound over and over, and Miyan, who was at least 20 yards away, responded, surging forward a bit.

“Good,” Mohammed said softly to his friend. “The robot is working.”

Sports are important in this region, both in the U.A.E. — where big-money sponsorships and high-end events happen in everything from cricket and soccer to rugby and golf — and in other countries, like Qatar, which will host the 2019 track and field world championships and the 2022 World Cup. Yet while much of the action here is geared toward outsiders, there is at least one aspect of sporting life that remains primarily a locals’ game.

Camel racing, in one form or another, has been part of Arabian culture for generations, with some historians tracing races to the seventh century. Camels are viewed as magnificent creatures here — there are even camel beauty pageants — and racing is seen as a unifying activity, a sport that brings together people of all backgrounds, whether royals or paupers, businessmen or laborers.

Racing in the U.A.E. became more organized in the 1980s and ’90s, when Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, the first president of the federation, oversaw construction of several racetracks. As races became more competitive and prize money grew, many camel owners began to use lightweight children as jockeys, some as young as 2 or 3, importing them from countries like Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan. Falls and critical injuries were common. Trading, bartering and kidnapping of child jockeys, as well as accusations of physical and sexual abuse, were frighteningly frequent, too. At one point, it was estimated that 40,000 child jockeys were being used across the Persian Gulf.

The horrors of that human trafficking left a scar for the sport that lingers even now, 12 years after the practice was officially banned in the U.A.E. Some owners said quietly that they still might prefer to have human jockeys — though none would say so publicly — but a majority, perhaps recognizing the troubling perception of having children ride animals that stand 6 feet tall and can run up to 40 miles per hour, unabashedly praised the technology now widely used instead: robots.

Early models of the robots, which were first produced in 2003, were cumbersome and weighed as much as 30 pounds. The camels generally did not respond well to them, and owners were put off by the difficulty of obtaining them.

In the years since, the production of the robots has become more local and more streamlined. Now, camel owners can go to numerous shops or markets in the U.A.E. to buy robots and accessories, which can even include deluxe silks (the robots are made to actually look like tiny jockeys). The latest version of the robot weighs only a few pounds.

The robots, which are made to look like tiny jockeys, weigh only a few pounds each. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times
One shop, located a quick ride (or, alternately, a leisurely stroll on a camel) from the racetrack in Dubai, advertised its wares with a display of robots in various colors outside the front door. Inside, two Pakistani men, who gave their names as Raheem and Jameel, worked at tables strewn with tools, bolts and power drills.

The Dewalt power drill is the heart and lungs of the modern robot jockey; shop workers like Raheem and Jameel order the drills in bulk and use them, and their rechargeable batteries, to construct the core of each robot. Remote-entry clickers (the kind used for cars) combine with long ribbons of plastic wrapped in cotton to make a spinning whip that can be activated from afar, and walkie-talkies allow the owner to speak to the camel from a trailing S.U.V.

Tailored silks and a spongy head of sorts complete the robot, which can cost less than 2,000 dirhams, or around $500, for a generic model. The robots sit on molded metal saddles when they race.

Raheem estimated that he and Jameel could make 10 to 20 robots a day, though not all of their customers ask for a full device. The shop also handles repairs, and Salim Ali, a camel owner in Dubai, said that the robots could last for several years if taken in “for regular checkups.”

Nader Al Jabri, an owner from Oman, said that he often shopped for robot parts in the U.A.E. because of the high quality of production there. He entered the shop in Dubai on a recent afternoon and began negotiating the price of a whip with Raheem, who was asking for about $10.

After a friendly back-and-forth, Al Jabri departed with the whip and a smile. Raheem and Jameel went back to work. “There are always more to make,” Raheem said.

Race Day

The waiting area behind the starting line of a camel racetrack is a gathering of characters walking every which way, some dressed in robes, some dressed in slacks, some leading camels, some talking to — or, really, for — robots.

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There are owners, trainers, training riders and handlers. Very rarely are there fans or tourists. When Mohammed and his friend tracked Miyan that morning, they did so in front of an empty grandstand at Al-Wathba. This is not uncommon, since betting on camel racing in the U.A.E. is not allowed. So unless a particularly big race is being contested — one season-ending race has a first-place prize of 1 million dirhams, or about $272,000 — the interested parties, including sheikhs, generally prefer to watch the events on television.

A lack of attendance, though, does not equate to a lack of passion. Owning a camel is an honor in many Gulf countries, and there are laws about how much tax a camel owner must pay (it depends, in part, on how many camels he or she owns). Camels can also be used to pay a woman’s dowry — prices vary — or as collateral in a trade of goods or services.

Owning a camel is an honor in many Gulf countries, and there are established laws about how much tax a camel owner must pay.

Buying camels at an auction — the S.U.V. carrying Mohammed had pamphlets from old auctions littered on the floor — requires heavy research (much as buying a thoroughbred does), and sale prices for camels can range from as little as $2,700 to about $815,000.

Feeding, training and housing a camel costs around $275 per month, according to Saeed Fayed al Zarie, a trainer in Dubai who oversees about 40 camels that are mostly kept in a camel community (a collection of low-ceilinged barns) near the track.

Every day, Zarie wakes up at 4 a.m. and feeds the camels, who rouse and begin their walk to training by about 6 a.m. The camels train until around 9 a.m., then walk back to the barns, eat again and nap until the midafternoon. Then it’s another training session, then more food, and they are back asleep not long after 5 p.m., their bellies full with the nine pounds of food, much of it barley, that they eat each day.

On a race day, the camels line up in the area behind the starting line and wait for their race, kneeling in the sand while their trainers saddle them with the robot jockey and double-check the whip and walkie-talkie. The length of the race depends on the age of the camels, but unlike the action at a horse track, the racing is nearly continuous. There are no lulls, no breaks between races. As soon as one group crosses the finish line, another gathers at the start; then the gate is lifted and the next race begins.

During the race, the soundtrack is a mix of car horns — owners beep at their camels for reasons they struggle to articulate — and loud thwacks, which are the sounds made by the robot whips smacking against the camels’ hindquarters. Watching Miyan, Mohammed waited until the race was about two-thirds through before he began to use the whip, alternating between throaty murmurs via the walkie-talkie and remotely enabled pops to the rear.

Miyan began to fade. As the camels made the final turn, Mohammed pressed the whip button a few times and made desperate squawks into the receiver, but there was no kick, no burst.

He and his friend sighed. Miyan lumbered on, a bit of foam frothing her lips as she bounced to the finish.

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“I am disappointed,” Mohammed said. “This is very average.”

Miyan came in seventh, good for about $2,500. After she crossed the finish line, handlers removed her robot and saddle — selected camels and their equipment are tested after races to ensure no drugs or artificial substances were used — and led her back through a gate. If she had finished in one of the top three places, her head and neck would have been rubbed with golden saffron, a sacred spice, as a show of honor. On this day, she simply went to the waiting area to cool down.

Mohammed and his friend idled in the S.U.V., discussing Miyan’s race and groaning about her performance. After a few moments, the friend hit the gas and Mohammed sat back in his seat.

There was another race beginning, another opportunity. The gate lifted. The camels bolted from the start line. The engines thundered and the S.U.V.s lurched forward, their horns beeping and their tires squealing as they chased the robots through a thin layer of early-morning fog.

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Cowhands on the JA Ranch in 1898

Cowhands on the JA Ranch in 1898



From The Reader’s Companion to American History. Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, Editors.



“When you call me that, smile,” the hero said to the bad man in that first of thousands of cowboy novels, Owen Wister’s “The Virginian.” Even before that book’s publication in 1902, the cowboy had become a part of the American psyche. Something there was about him—tall in the saddle, alone, facing danger, one man against nature’s vast, treeless plains and humanity’s outlaws—that appealed to people and made the cowboy a folk hero, a half-real, half-mythological symbol of the American West.

Predecessors of the cowboy date back to colonial times. In western Massachusetts, in the uplands of the Carolinas, in Florida, and across the northern, red clay hills of Georgia and Alabama, cattle-raising societies existed long before the Great Plains had been cleared of buffalo. It was in Florida that much of the protocol involving branding evolved. Yet the cattle industry of the Southeast never attracted national attention. The herders never became heroes. They remained little known and were recognized for what they were—illiterate, unmounted trespassers on the public domain, drifting from grazing ground to grazing ground, trailing their beasts to markets at Ohio River towns or to Savannah or Jacksonville.

Did You Know? Cattle herds travelled an average of 15 miles a day.

The cowboy of myth and reality had his beginnings in Texas. There cattle grew wild with few natural enemies; by the end of the Civil War there were an estimated 5 million of them. It was then that the cowboy entered his twenty-year golden age, 1866-1886, the era of the open range and the great cattle drives.

The incentive was the high price of beef up North, where Union armies had exhausted the supply and the urbanizing East provided a ready market. A steer worth four dollars in Texas was worth forty dollars in the North. The economics did not escape the Texans. Beginning in 1866 they began moving long lines of longhorns northward, with the primary destination being the railhead at Sedalia, Missouri. Indians and farmers who resented cattle trampling their crops and spreading the dreaded Texas fever protested their passage. Outlaws stole the cattle and were not averse to killing the men driving them.

Texans searched for a route with better grass and fewer Indians, farmers, and desperadoes. When railroads inched across the plains, new trails, among them the Chisholm, Western, and Loving, veered westward to intercept them. Cattle towns such as Abilene, Wichita, Ellsworth, Caldwell, and Dodge City enjoyed a brief heyday of prosperity and violence. Later trails headed on north to Ogallala, Cheyenne, Glendive, and Miles City. By 1886 the open-range cattle business had spread throughout the Great Plains and had merged with earlier cattle enterprises in Colorado, Idaho, Washington, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California.

The men who worked the cattle in the treeless expanses of the West, at least one-fourth of them blacks, became known as cowboys. The image of the courageous, spirited horseman living a dangerous life carried with it an appeal that refuses to disappear. Driving a thousand to two thousand cattle hundreds of miles to market; facing lightning and cloudbursts and drought, stampedes, rattlesnakes, and outlaws; sleeping under the stars and catching chow at the chuckwagon—the cowboys dominated the American galaxy of folk heroes.

Even their dress inspired envy. The cowboys’ hats were high-crowned with wide, floppy rims, practical for protection from the sun’s glare, useful as a cup with which to scoop up water or, folded over, as a pillow. The bandana handkerchief tied around the neck could be lifted to cover mouth and nostrils from dust. Originally the collarless shirt and trousers were nondescript, of flannel or wool. A vest was often worn; it gave some protection from cold winds and also had a number of useful pockets, one of which held Bull Durham tobacco and cigarette papers. The boots with heels two inches high, the better to rest in the stirrups or dig into the ground while roping a calf, may have appeared exotic to a dude, but they were absolutely practical. The stock saddle’s design traced all the way back to the Moors of North Africa, having come to the American cowboy by way of the Spanish and Mexicans. Chaparejos, or chaps, served a valuable purpose when a cowboy had to chase after a steer into a patch of thorny mesquite. A bridle, a lariat, and, during the cattle drives, probably a well-balanced six-shooter completed the cowboys’ outfit.

Ranchers staked out homesteads often centered in a cottonwood grove, with ample water nearby; they grazed their cattle over thousands of acres of public domain. Barbed wire, a web of railroads throughout the Great Plains, and enforcement of federal land laws all put an end to the open-range cattle industry and the great trails. By the mid-1880s prudent cattlemen realized that the industry was overexpanded, the Great Plains overgrazed, and the price of beef declining.

The dry summer of 1886 followed by the terrible winter of 1886-1887 destroyed what remained of the original industry. The open range was ended. Blooded cattle were brought in to improve the stock. The cowboy who hated to work unmounted was often reduced to riding a haymow, mending fences, and applying medicines to sick cattle. Where once he had herded cattle up the trails to Abilene or Dodge, he now ran the line—the water divide between his ranch and his neighbor’s. There was still the semiannual roundup when cowboys representing several ranches rendezvoused and rode great circles, rounding up all the cattle they could find. They were then herded to a central place where cowboys from each ranch cut out its beasts and drove them back to the home range.

Glorified in thousands of novels and hundreds of motion pictures, the American cowboy is so mythologized that the reality and the legend are almost inseparable. Yet the reality is that the cowboy still exists because his work is essential to the industry. In many areas of the American West he still rides a horse, though he may carry it in a horse trailer behind his pickup truck to the point where the road gives out and a horse becomes indispensable. He may survey the ranchman’s spread in a small airplane that he pilots, and he may help his employer determine with a computer matters of feed, weight, and salability. But he still dresses like a cowboy because the garb is practical; he understands cattle and horses and gazes out upon the treeless expanse just as his predecessors did. His work and his workplace, in spite of encroaching population, are still there.

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From the Party 411 website

Midnight Cowboy is the perfect theme for a New Year’s Eve Party. Let’s get one thing straight pardner, I’m not talking tumbleweeds and cow patties here! By combining a western theme with a snazzy black, red and silver color scheme, this is one cowpoke party that will impress every guest, and be fun to boot!

A personalized Cowboy New Year’s invitation is a great way to get everyone’s attention (and get your party on their calendar!). You can add a sprinkling of western confetti in the envelope for extra pizazz. Or try one of these fun invite ideas:

If you’re crafty and you have the time you can make your own invitations. Create a “Wanted” poster from layers of cardstock and glue a square of mirror paper in the center (most craft stores will have it). When guests gaze at your “Wanted Poster” invitation they will see their own reflection in the mirror!

Cut cardstock in the shape of a cowboy hat or boot and write your party info on the front. Add some cowboy bling with adhesive jewels from the craft store.

Get rid of all your old jeans by cutting out the back pockets. Slip your invite into the jean pocket and mail in a padded envelope for a fun western twist.

Send along a red or black bandana (to match the color scheme) with the invite for your guests to wear to the party
Go all out on your invitation with a western rodeo caricature. Include your own info alongside an illustration of you riding a bull!

Once you’ve chosen an invite, make sure to include wording that gets your friends and family ready to party:

Whatever you decide, make sure to add a line on your invite that says “Western attire is encouraged” so people feel free to express their inner cowboy or cowgirl.

As your guests walk in the door, welcome them with a cowboy hat from the Western Night Party Kit!

When your guests walk into the party room you want them to think “Cowboy goes to Times Square”. You can accomplish this by mixing western elements with some of the glitz and glamour of New Year’s Eve.

Stick with the midnight inspired color scheme of black, silver and red and decorating will be a snap. Here’s what you need to dress up your ‘home on the range”:

Your family and friends will love being greeted by a lifesize cutout of you as a bull rider! This cowgirl cutout is another cute option. These make for a perfect photo-op!

Black and platinum balloons make great balloon bouquets. You can make your own balloon weights by filling a plastic zipper bag with sand and then tying a red bandana around it or try this cowboy boot balloon weight.

For fantastic floral displays, fill a short round vase with red roses and tinsel. Place the vase in an overturned sequin cowboy hat or cowboy boot. These are great for table decorations, or even centerpieces.

Make “wanted” posters to hang all over the walls with pictures of the host, hostess, or even the guests!

Hang “Cowboys” and “Cowgirls” signs on your bathroom doors.

Even use some western scene setters to decorate the walls. Turn your venue into a western town!

A silver and black Happy New Year stringer is great in a doorway or on a blank wall. Add more balloons to each side.

If you don’t mind a little mess, get straw bales for guests to sit on!

Remember to mix and match the New Year’s Eve and western elements, and your venue will look fantastic, I promise!

Depending on the size of your guest list and party space, you can have a sit down dinner or a buffet. Either way, serve a selection of barbequed meats, chili, cornbread, beans, and other cowboy/BBQ fare.

Want to do something fun for drinks? Have a whisky tasting! Have a selection of whiskeys on hand, and follow a few of these tips to make your tasting a success:

Give everyone a flashing shot glass. Guests will love taking them home as favors, too!

Make sure to give your tasters little cards to write reviews, or just vote on the party favorite.

After the tasting, consider sending guests home with mini-bottles of your favorite whiskey as a favor.

Water with personalized bottle labels is another unique touch as well. Make sure to still serve some non-alcoholic choices, and pass out glasses of champagne when it is time to toast the New Year!

Sticking to your theme is easy when decorating your tables. Start with western theme paper goods, which match perfectly and don’t require washing in the morning!

Make it easy on your guests by creating silverware bundles. Just wrap red plastic silverware in a bandana napkin and voilà! Cutlery and a napkin! Try a few more of these decorating ideas to tie your tables in with the theme:

Use cowboy hats as centerpieces. They are great turned upside-down with a vase full of flowers in them as we suggested above. Or place a metal bowl filled with ice inside the hat and use it as an ice bucket for champagne!

You could also take a plastic cowboy hat, cut a small hole in the top, and thread a balloon bouquet through it. These cowboy boot balloons are fun and go with the color scheme!

Use black and red tablecovers to match the color scheme and scatter silver star confetti on the tables to finish off the look.

Don’t forget to fill silver buckets with peanuts and place one on each table for guests to snack on throughout the night!

Besides counting down to midnight, have some fun activities ready to keep everyone busy (they will make great pictures too!)

Line or square dancing is always fun. Have an instructor come out for an hour or two to teach everyone the two-step.

Two words – mechanical bull. If you have a large area and budget you can rent one for the night!

Have a Texas Hold’em tournament. Let people bet with personalized money, and then they can trade it in at the end of the night for themed prizes, like western tattoos or sheriff badges.

Set up a photobooth with a cowboy and cowgirl photo op! Wouldn’t guests love a photo of themselves as a bull rider with this bull rider photo op, too?

Everyone loves a pinata! This cowboy boot pinata fits the theme well. Make sure to fill it with tons of candy.
Karaoke is always a crowd pleaser. Keep it in theme by singing country songs about cowboys (put me down for Willie’s “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”).

Your cowboys and cowgirls will want to raise a ruckus when the clock strikes twelve. Hand out noisemakers and some fun party items throughout the night, and when the New Year rolls around everyone will we ready to welcome it! Here are a few ideas:

You can go simple with gold horns and black noisemakers which will match your decorations perfectly, and not break the bank.

Hand out confetti poppers, and silver new year beads for wearing (and maybe throwing)!

Why not fill a few balloons with western confetti and pop them over the crowd when the clock strikes twelve? A balloon drop is another fun option with big impact!

At the end of the night you can hand out a personalized western candy bar as a final way of saying “Thanks for coming”, and put them in some favor bags!

Your guests will hate to leave, but they will remember your Midnight Cowboy New Year’s Eve Party for years to come. With help from Party411.com, all of your parties will be a huge success!

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Tammy Burgard: “This footage was shot on the Flying W, a forth generation ranch in Colorado where they still move cattle to the high country the same way they have for generations – on horseback. We have to cross a 10,000 ft pass in Gunnison, CO in late Novemeber and this year temps dropped below zero and a blizzard rolled in. The documentary I shot this for never came to fruition so I re-edited to music by my friend, Michael Martin Murphey as a Christmas carol.”

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Erin Enderlin performing “Cowboy Christmas” at Music City Roots live from the Loveless Cafe on 12.14.2011

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My Friend Jay Joseph at the Hunewill Ranch in 2012.

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Video of Jeff Light riding his horse edited to Dave Stamey’s “Song for Jake” from his CD “Twelve Mile Road.”

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In a land of enormous skies and majestic valleys, Mustang Monument Wild Horse Eco-Resort & Sanctuary is home to over 600 Wild American Mustangs.

Cowboy and family man, Clay Nannini, shares insight into the value of preserving the American Mustang while introducing his children to this icon of American history, and a legacy worth protecting.

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hay-roll-home


By Del Williams
From Cattle Today



When a farmer or rancher has to clear fields of round hay bales, there’s nothing that does the job like a hay trailer. But what kind is best for you? That depends on your equipment (tractor or pick up), your use (bale size, quantity, and labor), and your budget.

If you’ve got enough tractors and labor, and would like to minimize the up front cost of a trailer, then traditional inline, self-unloading hay trailers are a good choice. These trailers typically load bales with a tractor’s hayforks from the rear, until the trailer’s cradle is full. When the trailer reaches its destination, a lever is pulled and the hay bales are rocked then rolled off the cradle by gravity.

If a farmer or rancher is choosing a traditional inline, self-unloading hay trailer, there are two questions they need to ask: 1) How reliable do I want the trailer to be, and 2) How long do I want it to last?

For those hauling less hay, for less time, and lighter bales, a typical trailer will do. Still if you don’t want your hay trailer in the repair shop when it’s time to bring in the bales, it’s important to look for at least a few quality features.

For instance, it’s best to choose a trailer with a frame at least 5′ wide. Many inline hay trailers only use a 4′ wide frame to save on freight shipping cost. But sitting a 6′ wide bale on top of a 4′ wide trailer frame makes a load more top heavy and less stable. This becomes a problem on fields filled with berms, terraces, gopher holes, and ditches. Too often, when narrow trailers hit a ditch, the whole load is dumped.

With many trailers, hauling 6,000-12,000 lbs. of bales per load, another caution is to choose a trailer with a double latch system, since latches hold the load in place until it’s ready to dump. Single latch trailers are prone to tearing the sidewall off the main tube over time, which can require cutting off the latch, regrinding, and rewelding. A double latch system cuts the latches’ metal fatigue in half as bale weight is dispersed, improving safety and reliability. A linkage between the latches also allows them to operate with only one lever.

For heavy bale loads, more loads, long use, consider a hay trailer that’s built to last. Besides an extra wide 5′ frame and double latches, trailers such as the Red Rhino or the Competitor Bale Handler use more steel in the cradle, neck, axles, main tube, and rail supports.

Since the main tube is the backbone of the hay trailer, some are built heavier than other manufacturers. The Red Rhino trailer, for example, is built with an 8 5/8” OD .352 wall thick main tube. Typical hay trailers use 8” square .188 wall tubing or 8 5/8” OD .250 wall. Rail supports are also critical because they carry most of the bale weight and should be made of more steel.

Since bale capacity can determine how many trips you have to make to clear the field, it’s important to consider this as well. Hay trailers typically range from 21′-40′ long, with a 32′ trailer carrying about 6-8 bales. When capacity is a concern, it might make sense to consider some of the larger inline hay trailers which can haul 9-11 bales at once.

Farmers or ranchers wanting the speed and convenience of staying in their tractor or pick up while loading or unloading bales should consider self-loading/unloading hay trailers. With these hydraulically operated trailers, it’s a one-person operation that doesn’t take physical strength. If they choose a pick up-capable version, it doesn’t even require a tractor.

In fact, some farmers and ranchers find they can dramatically improve productivity with their existing equipment if their wife hauls baled hay in a pick up-pulled trailer while they bale hay with the tractor. This can remove the bottleneck of waiting for one person to do all the work with a single tractor.

While self-loading/unloading trailers initially cost more than inlines yet save much labor, it may make sense to consider a simpler machine with few moving parts like the 2EZ Bale Mover. It’s designed to gently but hydraulically pick bales straight up and set them straight down when its rails slide under or away from the bales. Because it has few moving parts, this can mean less cost, maintenance, and downtime. Its design allows even old and mis-shaped bales to be transported with no further damage. Since its design keeps a single side of the bale in contact with the ground, it also saves hay by minimizing the number of bad hay spots caused by ground-absorbed moisture.

Since it loads bales individually or up to six at a time, using your tractor or truck, it can unload the whole load at once or one at a time. Come winter, when it’s time to feed the cattle in pasture, this ability can turn three typical trips with a tractor and hayforks into one with a pick up and hay trailer.

While the original bumper pull 2EZ works best with tractors, and the gooseneck model works best with pick ups, the new hydraulic bumper pull model works best for those using both a tractor and a pick up to haul bales. The new hydraulic bumper pull model, in fact, combines the speed of the original bumper pull model with the ground clearance of the gooseneck model.

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The National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas has started and for all you fans it’s important to have the official clothing, whether you can attend or not. The NFR has all kinds of cool stuff this year – and they make great Christmas gifts.

You can get more information at their website by clicking HERE.

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From the New York Times


LEESBURG, Ind. — Kip Tom, a seventh-generation family farmer, harvests the staples of modern agriculture: seed corn, feed corn, soybeans and data.

“I’m hooked on a drug of information and productivity,” he said, sitting in an office filled with computer screens and a whiteboard covered with schematics and plans for his farm’s computer network.

Mr. Tom, 59, is as much a chief technology officer as he is a farmer. Where his great-great-grandfather hitched a mule, “we’ve got sensors on the combine, GPS data from satellites, cellular modems on self-driving tractors, apps for irrigation on iPhones,” he said.

The demise of the small family farm has been a long time coming. But for farmers like Mr. Tom, technology offers a lifeline, a way to navigate the boom-and-bust cycles of making a living from the land. It is also helping them grow to compete with giant agribusinesses.

While some benefit, others will lose. Silicon Valley is credited — or blamed — for tearing down many old ways of doing things. With its adoption of the latest technology, Mr. Tom’s farm is expanding, to 20,000 acres today from 700 acres in the 1970s. But some of his neighbors’ farms are fading away.

Furthermore, such costly technology is beyond the smallest farmers. Equipment makers like John Deere and AGCO, for example, have covered their planters, tractors and harvesters with sensors, computers and communications equipment. A combine equipped to harvest a few crops cost perhaps $65,000 in 2000; now it goes for as much as $500,000 because of the added information technology.

“We’ve seen a big uptick in the productivity of larger farms,” said David Schimmelpfennig, an economist at the Agriculture Department. “It’s not that smaller farms are less productive, but the big ones can afford these technology investments.”

And there is another risk. There is an incentive to grow single crops to maximize the effectiveness of technology by growing them at the largest possible scale. Farmers with diverse crops and livestock would need many different systems. Smaller farmers without technology could also grow one crop, but they would not capture most of the gains.

Technology encourages farmers to move too aggressively toward easy-to-grow and easy-to-sell crops that are more easily measured by instruments, rather than keeping some diversity in the fields — an age-old hedge against bad weather and pests, said Ann Thrupp, executive director of the Berkeley Food Institute, a policy and technology research institute at the University of California, Berkeley.

That is the fear. But there is also the promise that technology can make farming far easier. Like Tom Farms, other farms have also grown with the adoption of technology.

At a large family farm in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, Brian Braswell uses satellite-connected tractors to plow fields with accuracy of one inch between furrows. His soil was tested with electrical charges, then mapped so that fertilizer is applied in exact doses from computer-controlled machines. He uses drones, the newest new thing, to survey flood irrigation.

“It would be easy to put an infrared camera on one of these and spot where crops are stressed,” he said, except that he is wary of Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

Brent Schipper takes data readings from his combine every three seconds at his 6,000-acre farm near Conrad, Iowa. In the storm season, he checks the weather app on his smartphone every 30 minutes. With the harvest in, he and other farmers who used to spend winters resting and repairing machines will be adding new sensors to their equipment, and poring over last season’s data, hoping to get an edge on the next season.

And at Iowa State University in Ames, a professor, Lie Tang, hopes to have his prototype weeding robot in fields by next spring. The robot may use infrared data to help identify weeds it then plucks.

In the past, “a farmer with 1,000 acres could make a good living,” Mr. Tom said. “I’m not sure that’s going to last.”

Tom Farms has genetically modified crops, cloud-computing systems and possibly soon drones, if Mr. Tom does not go with lasers on low-orbit satellites. All of these items will be sending their data for analysis on the cloud-computing systems that Tom Farms rented from Monsanto and other companies.

“Farmers still think tech means physical augmentation — more horsepower, more fertilizer,” Mr. Tom said. “They don’t see that technology now is about multiplying information.” With corn prices at almost half the level they have been in the past few years, “my growth is going to come from farmers who don’t embrace technology.”

From a self-driving John Deere combine, Ernie Burbrink, a Tom Farms employee, sorts real-time data about moisture, yields and net bushels per acre on his iPad, sending important information by wireless modem to distant cages of computer servers that begin analyzing the data for next season’s planting.

“It used to be, if you could turn a wrench you’d be good at farming,” Mr. Burbrink said. “Now you need to know screen navigation, and pinpointing what data should go where so people can plan and predict. You need to be in tune with other people: seed consultants, agronomists, the equipment folks.”

Left unsaid: Mr. Burbrink, 34, has left behind his own family farm. “I just work for Kip. He’s probably five years ahead of my dad in technology. You have to have more land than we do to pay for all this,” said Mr. Burbrink, who has an undergraduate degree in agricultural economics from Purdue.

Tom Farms has 25 employees, including six family members, year-round and at various times can have up to 600 temporary workers. “Farms of this size can gross more than $50 million in a good year,” Mr. Tom said. He will not disclose profitability, but he notes that margins are generally lower in farming than in most industries.

He still remembers begging for loans at 21 percent interest during the 1980s farm crisis. He credits his survival and growth to using technology, and figures it is how he will prosper now that corn is at $4 a bushel, about half the level it was two years ago.

Looking at last year, he said, better uses of data analysis have raised his return on investment to 21.2 percent, from 14 percent. Other technology, like variable rates of irrigation and automated farm machinery, he said, accounted for another 4 percent of the total.

Like many farmers Mr. Tom is wary of what big company might own his data. He shares some information with Monsanto, for example, but is careful of others’ policies around data retention. He also worries about how computation is going to change the farm he hopes to leave to his children.

“We and the other farmers could pool all our harvest data in real time,” he said. “You think the big companies would like that? You bet they would. Farmers don’t trust that; they’re independent. Your neighbor is also your competitor.”

Kassandra Rowland, one of Mr. Tom’s five children, manages personnel and partnerships with other farms and companies, and also the farm’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest accounts. Her 9-year-old daughter is in the local elementary school’s robotics club.

“That’s another big change,” said Marie E. Tom, 84, Mr. Tom’s mother. “Our daughters go to farming meetings, and they speak. They’re respected. It wasn’t like that when I kept the books, and farming was all about what you did on the field.”

Mr. Tom’s father still tends cattle at 87. “Too many people don’t think farming is a business,” Ms. Tom said. “When we were first married, I told my husband, ‘You don’t ever go to town dirty; that’s what those people think farmers are.’ We’re a business, and if you don’t keep up, you get left behind for good.”

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A few days ago there was a story that Budweiser beer was going to drop the famous Clydesdale horses in order to “appeal to a younger audience”. Anheuser-Busch, which made Budweiser, was purchased by AB InBev in 2008. AB InBev is a Belgian-Brazilian multinational beverage and brewing company.

Fortunately a huge public outcry has reversed that decision.

From USA Today


After a Monday morning story in the Wall Street Journal detailed a new marketing strategy for Budweiser that will focus more on “Jay Z and zombies” than the iconic American images normally associated with the brand, there was much worry that the company’s iconic Clydesdales would fade from the Super Bowl advertising landscape they’ve been a part of since 1986.

But fear not, lovers of the famed horses. Though a younger vibe will indeed be prominent in Anheuser-Busch advertisements in the future, the Clydesdales will continue to be featured in Super Bowl advertising in February.

“The story this morning may have left a wrong impression – the Budweiser Clydesdales will, in fact, be featured in next year’s Super Bowl advertising and are also a part of upcoming holiday responsible drinking advertising,” Anheuser-Busch said in a statement.

The company’s 2014 spot “Puppy Love” which featured a Clydesdale chasing after a departed canine friend, was the runaway winner of USA TODAY’s Super Bowl Ad Meter. Another Clydesdale-inspired spot was named the winner in 2013.

In all, five Budweiser spots have taken the crown.

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By Jen Skerritt
From Bloomberg News




There’s been a lot of attention paid to how Canada’s oil boom has helped make gasoline cheaper. What many people may not realize is that the boom is also driving up the prices they pay for burgers and steaks.

Surging energy investment in Prairie Provinces, home to most of the nation’s farms and cattle ranches, has boosted domestic crude output to a record and sent pump prices to a three-year low. That’s led to jobs on drilling rigs or pipe crews paying two-thirds more than those in livestock, luring cowboys and beef-plant workers to the oil patch.

The labor shortage is squeezing a cattle industry already diminished over the past decade by mad cow disease, drought and floods. The herd in Canada, the world’s eighth-largest beef exporter, is the smallest in 21 years. Beef supplies are so tight that Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) is importing more meat from the U.S., where prices are the highest ever.

“It’s impossible to find workers,” said Tim Stewart, 57, who has four unfilled jobs and is considering selling the 4,000-head ranch in Rockglen, Saskatchewan, that his family has owned since 1910. “If someone came along with a big fat checkbook, we’d probably walk away.”

In Alberta, Canada’s biggest producer of oil and beef, annual wages for specialized livestock workers was C$44,870, ($39,700) or 63 percent less than petroleum workers at C$73,105, according to a provincial government survey of employers last year. The data showed 72 percent of farm employers experienced hiring difficulties, with 25 percent reporting unfilled vacancies for more than four months.

Industry Losses

Meat processors including Cargill Inc. and JBS SA (JBSS3) also are affected, with fewer cattle and workers reducing beef output. The slowdown will cost the industry as much as C$300 million this year, even with beef prices at all-time highs, according to the Canadian Meat Council.

At the same time, Canada’s crude reserves, which are the world’s third largest, are attracting $514 billion of planned investment in oil sands production over the next 24 years, according to the Canadian Energy Research Institute.

Output has risen for four straight years, expanding 23 percent to a record average of 3.95 million barrels a day in 2013, according to data compiled by BP Plc. Retail gasoline plunged to C$1.1452 a liter on Nov. 21, the lowest since February 2011, government data show.

“The oil patch is rolling along pretty good right now, and it makes it difficult for agriculture to compete with the same labor force,” said Greg Bowie, chairman of Alberta Beef Producers, a Calgary-based industry group that represents 20,000 producers. “It’s difficult to get and retain good labor, and in a lot of cases, that’s crucial.”

Smaller Herd

Canadian ranchers held 13.3 million cattle as of July 1, the fewest since 1993, government data show. Since then, heavy rains in Manitoba and Saskatchewan have flooded pastures, damaging forage and boosting feed costs that are forcing ranchers to cut their herds even further.

Beef processors may be forced to reduce plant operations to as low as 70 percent of capacity, the lowest since 2008, because they don’t have enough animals, said Brian Perillat, a senior analyst at Calgary-based Canfax, a livestock industry researcher. Meat packers will probably slaughter as few as 2.4 million head in 2015, the fewest since 1963, he said.

The price of Grade A slaughter cattle in Alberta have surged 40 percent in 12 months to a record C$173.25 per 100 pounds on Nov. 7, the most recent data available for Manitoba’s agriculture department. The cost of feeder cattle, the young animals purchased to be fattened for slaughter on feedlots, are up 74 percent from a year earlier, after reaching an all-time high C$295.50 per 100 pounds in October, the data show.

Expensive Beef

Supplies also are dropping south of the border in the U.S., after grain costs surged to a record in 2012 and a multiyear drought damaged pastures in Texas, the biggest producer. The herd fell to 87.7 million head on Jan. 1, the smallest for that date since 1951, after the smallest calf crop since 1949, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Cattle futures in Chicago are up 26 percent this year, touching a record $1.7275 a pound on Nov. 19. Prices traded at $1.70 at 10:50 a.m. in Chicago.

Retail ground beef in Canada rose 23 percent in the 12 months through October to a record C$11.74 per kilogram, according to the government. Consumers paid C$21.43 a kilo for sirloin steak in September, also the most ever. In the U.S., where meat prices are rising more than any other food group, beef output will drop 3.2 percent in 2015, USDA data show.

Herd Incentive

While it can take as long as three years to expand cattle production, higher prices are creating an incentive to boost global supply. Calves born on ranches graze on pastures until they are about a year old. The animals weigh 500 pounds (227 kilograms) to 800 pounds and are fattened on corn until they reach 1,300 pounds, when they are sold to meatpackers.

Canada’s herd may increase as much as 4 percent in 2016, Canfax’s Perillat said. In the U.S., drought is receding in Texas, and the feedlot herd in October was 0.5 percent larger than a year earlier at 10.633 million head, government data showed Nov. 21. Australian feedlots held the most cattle since December 2006, industry data showed Nov. 11.

For now, flooded pastures in parts of the prairies is compounding the stress on ranchers. Portions of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the largest beef producers after Alberta, had a record wet growing season in 2014, according to Gail Martell, the president of Martell Crop Projections.

Excessive Rain

The rains fell on parts of Manitoba where the soil remained saturated from flooding in 2011, with excess moisture reported on 80 percent of the province’s cattle-ranching areas, said Melinda German, general manager of Manitoba Beef Producers.

Neil Olafson, who has 200 head on 2,300 acres near Lake Manitoba Narrows, said he may have to sell half his herd next year to generate the cash needed to feed the rest of his herd because the pastures are so water-logged. Most of his hay fields are too wet to plant, and calves are about 100 pounds below their normal weight, he said.

“The stress is unbelievable,” said Olafson, 57. “That’s why so many of our neighbors are throwing up their hands and saying we just can’t deal with this anymore.”

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Adrian Buckaroogirl

Adrian Buckaroogirl

Music: Branding Pen of My Father / What Will I Tell Him? (feat. Waddie Mitchell)” by Adrian Buckaroogirl. Photos by Cayde Cuprak.






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images-1We recently lost the great photographer and really nice guy David R. Stoecklein. But thankfully we’ll have his pictures forever.

imgresJean Prescott is known as “The Songbird of the Prairie”. She lives a little bit south of Abilene with her husband, singer/songwriter Gary Prescott.





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Texas cowboy poet Andy Hedges recites “The Red Cow” by Larry McWhorter at the 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada.

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S. Omar Barker

S. Omar Barker

By S. Omar Barker
From the Cowboy Poetry website


A beef roast in the oven and the hands all waitin’ ’round,
So they got to kinder talkin’ ’bout the different things they’d found
That each of them was thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day,
And some, they told it solemn-like, and some, they told it gay.

Tom thanked the Lord that hosses had four legs instead of two,
So cowboys don’t have to walk like some poor suckers do.
Ol’ Bashful claimed that women was the blessing in his life—
No doubt he meant his mother, for he’ll never get a wife!

“I’m thankful most for cattle, boys,” says Slim, who thinks a heap.
“In a world without them critters we would all be herdin’ sheep!”
The Ramrod spoke his thankfulness that grass was good and long,
And Curly said he thanked the stars that he was young and strong,
While Bud, he blessed his appetite. The way that beef roast smelt,
He also felt thanksgivin’ for the long holes in his belt!

Ol Dunk, he kinder sucked his pipe and gazed off toward the hills.
“Well boys,” he says, “I’m sixty-five and full of liver pills.
My rheumatism aches me and my pipe is gettin’ stale.
My hossy days are over, and I’m feelin’ purty pale.
My bunion’s grown so bulblous that I’ve had to split my boot.
My ears—I’d have to climb the tree to hear a hoot owl hoot.
Cain’t down my woes in likker, for my ticker’s on the blink.
I cain’t enjoy the cattylogs, the way my blinkers wink.
I’ve got some nose for smellin’ left—that roast is purt near done,
But all the chawin’ teeth I’ve got adds up to only one.
Ol’ Gus shore savvies cookin’ beef! I’d like to eat a pound,
But hell, I couldn’t chaw it if he took and had it ground!

You talk about Thanksgivin’, boys, and here you see me set,
A plumb wore-out ol’ cowhand—but I’m mighty thankful yet
For every hoss I’ve ever rode and every sight I’ve saw,
But most of all for gravy—which a man don’t have to chaw!

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