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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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calf



by Darrell Rankins
Ph.D, Alabama Cooperative Ext. System Animal Scientist
From Cattle Today



On numerous occasions the topic of calving in the fall versus calving in the spring has come up as a topic of discussion among cattlemen. There are advantages and disadvantages associated with each of them and as with most management decisions it becomes a matter of which fits your production scenario the best.
Fall calving. Most cattlemen who utilize a fall calving season calve during the months of September through November. Ideally, the system would allow for the first calf heifers to calve in early September and then be followed by the mature cows that would finish calving by the end of November. The two main disadvantages of this system are that during calving season an adequate supply of good quality forage (pasture) is not available. Warm season forages have dramatically declined in quality by this time and cool season forages have not yet produced appreciable growth by this time of the year. The second factor that makes fall calving unattractive for some producers is the fact that you will need to feed a lactating cow a lot more feed during the winter than you will a pregnant, non lactating cow.

The advantages of a fall calving season include the following: 1) The weather is generally mild during this time period. Most of the baby calves will be born during times of warm days and cool nights and relatively dry conditions. This type of weather is good for calf survivability and health. 2) In the spring when forages are abundant and the quality of those forages is excellent the calf has gotten old enough to spend an appreciable amount of time grazing and will have excellent weight gains as a consequence. This leads to heavier weaning weights of the calves compared to springborn calves of the same age. 3) It is quite common for a fall born calf to be sold as a weaned feeder calf in August of the following year. Historically, calf prices tend to be relatively good during that time of the year.

Spring calving. The months that comprise a spring calving season are somewhat variable but for many it would start with the heifers calving in February and then followed by the cows for the next two months, March and April. The disadvantages of this system include the following: 1) The weather is generally more erratic during this time period leading to slightly more baby calf health problems. 2) Breeding season would be in late April for the heifers and from late May through late July for the mature cows. In general, conception rates tend to be lower during extremely hot weather which would be the case during July in Alabama. 3) Calves tend to have lower weaning weights when they are weaned in the fall because forage quality and quantity are usually limiting during September and October. 4) Weaning and selling the spring born calf in October coincides with the historically low calf price of the year. Most calves in the U.S. are spring born, thus there are extremely large numbers of weaned calves being marketed during the fall of the year. A large supply equals a decreased demand which equates to lower prices.

The main advantage of calving in the spring is that it allows the cow herd to get the vast majority of their nutrients from grazing forages and results in minimal feeding of both hay and supplement. It does not require a lot of high quality feed to winter a dry cow and when her nutrient demands peak (60 days after the calf is born) she has abundant amounts of lush, spring forage available.

Take home message. Calving during the spring or fall can have both advantages and disadvantages. Like most management decisions it becomes a matter of what works best in your situation. The primary advantage of calving in the spring is that it requires considerably less supplemental feeding for the cow herd. The primary advantage of calving in the fall is that you are able to market heavier calves at a time when market prices tend to be a little higher. Either fall or spring calving is much better than year round calving.

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Heart B Dyna, ridden by Laura Hermanson, is the first mule ever to compete at the US Dressage Finals. Check out http://www.psdressage.com/viewarticle for the full story. Video courtesy of Richard’s Equine Video: http://www.richardsequinevideo.com.

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Johnny Carpenter (above right) (1914-2003) was an American film actor, screenwriter and producer. Between 1953 and 1956 he produced and starred in a handful of Westerns, three of which — The Lawless Rider (1954), Outlaw Treasure (1955) and I Killed Wild Bill Hickok (1956) — were lensed on the Iverson Ranch in Chatsworth.

Besides being B-Western actor, Carpenter had a great love of horses and tried to share his enthusiasm with all who cared. In the 1940s he created “Heaven on Earth” ranch, which eventually settled in Lake View Terrace, CA. The ranch was available for handicapped children — mostly from Los Angeles — to come and spend a day enjoying horses and the mock western town that served as the ranch’s backdrop. The ranch operated until the mid 1990s — approximately fifty years.


This article is from the wonderful website b.westerns.com
By Boyd Magers

Johnny Carpenter, the last of the shoestring B-western independent combination producer/stars, didn’t make top drawer B-westerns, but through all the budget pinching and corner cutting, his love of western films shows through on the screen in much the same way his friend Ed Wood’s did in low echelon horror films. Johnny tried. And tried hard to make decent, exciting B-westerns. His best was BADMAN’S GOLD (1951). Johnny didn’t get started til it was nearly all over. If he’d come along ten years earlier — who knows. But at least we must give him A for effort when every other producer was fleeing for the TV range.

What Johnny accomplished off screen, out of his own pocket, for hundreds of thousands of handicapped children who visited his “Heaven on Earth” ranch for 47 years far surpasses what he did on screen. Johnny’s motto, emblazoned on a sign at the ramshackle ranch, read, “The service we render to others is really the rent we pay for our room on this earth. Dedicated free forever to the handicapped.”

Johnny Carpenter — a true western hero, on or off screen!

Born June 25, 1914, in the small Ozark mountain town of Debinsville, AR (just south of Russellville on Hwy 40), Johnny learned to horseback on his Dad’s farm. His father also operated a butcher shop. Little else is known about his childhood, but as a member of the University of Arkansas varsity team at 18, he moved up to the Southern League and was set for a first team berth in 1936 with the Chicago White Sox when, during spring practice, he was run over by a car in a hit and run accident, breaking his left leg in seven places, breaking his back and causing internal injuries. In a body cast for 119 days, he lost his chance at a baseball career. During an eight year recuperation, he went back to riding and shooting on his Dad’s farm, interests he had prior to baseball. (At the bottom of this webpage are census records and other info which indicate that Carpenter was born in Dardanelle, Yell County, Arkansas.)

Johnny (and his brother, Frank ‘Red’ Carpenter) came west to Hollywood in the early ’40s, finding work at a stable where he put his riding skills to use.

His first part in a film is apparently a bit in THUNDERING TRAILS (’43) with the 3 Mesquiteers at Republic. Working as a stuntman, he was the only stuntman to ride the entire prestigious Grand National horse race on film for Mickey Rooney’s NATIONAL VELVET in ’44. Johnny’s also seen in NAVAJO TRAIL (’45) with Johnny Mack Brown, NORTHWEST TRAIL (’45) with Bob Steele, SANTA FE SADDLEMATES (’45) and EL PASO KID (’46) with Sunset Carson, SONG OF OLD WYOMING (’45) and COLORADO SERENADE (’46) with Eddie Dean, TRAIL OF KIT CARSON (’45) with Allan Lane, SONG OF THE WASTELAND (’47) with Jimmy Wakely, STRANGER FROM PONCA CITY (’47) with Charles Starrett, RELENTLESS (’48) with Robert Young, RED CANYON (’49) with Howard Duff, KID FROM TEXAS (’50) with Audie Murphy and COMANCHE TERRITORY (’50) with Macdonald Carey.

Stranger from Ponca City, The (1947)[supporting role] starring Charles Starrett, Virginia Hunter, The Lone Star Cowboys (Iverson Ranch) Columbia

Stranger from Ponca City, The (1947)[supporting role] starring Charles Starrett, Virginia Hunter, The Lone Star Cowboys (Iverson Ranch) Columbia

In 1950, Johnny hooked up with producer Jack Schwarz (releasing through Eagle-Lion) who gave Johnny bigger and better parts each time in I KILLED GERONIMO (’50) with Jimmy Ellison, BORDER OUTLAWS (’50) with Spade Cooley and Bill Edwards, FIGHTING STALLION (’50) with Bill Edwards, and Johnny’s breakthrough film as the Tucson Kid in CATTLE QUEEN (’51) with Maria Hart. Directed by prolific Bob Tansey, this was a remake of Tansey’s Trail Blazers title, BLAZING GUNS. Tansey then produced and directed Johnny in what is regarded as Carpenter’s best B-western, BADMAN’S GOLD (’51) released again by Eagle-Lion. Tansey’s death within the year put an end to any other starring films for Johnny for a couple of years. Meantime, he was riding and stunting at Universal-International in CAVE OF OUTLAWS (’51) with Macdonald Carey, DUEL AT SILVER CREEK (’52) with Audie Murphy, IRON MAN (’51) with Jeff Chandler and LAW AND ORDER (’53) with Ronald Reagan.

Johnny also found work in the early ’50s on several episodes of TV’s WILD BILL HICKOK starring Guy Madison.

imagesBut Carpenter’s main claim to fame were the four B-westerns he self promoted in the ’50s — SON OF THE RENEGADE (’53) distributed by Schwarz again through United Artists; LAWLESS RIDER (’54) directed by stunt great Yakima Canutt and produced by longtime Gene Autry associate Alex Gordon — again released by U.A.; OUTLAW TREASURE (’55) directed by B-vet Oliver Drake and distributed independently by Amco; and finally, I KILLED WILD BILL HICKOK (’56) directed by another stunt legend, Richard Talmadge. This one was even shot in Eastman Color.

Jack Schwarz was again involved in distribution through his own Equity Studios. For unknown reasons, on the last two Carpenter listed himself as writer/producer but billed himself while acting as John Forbes. Besides the name directors Johnny associated himself with, he’d also hire two or three name actors — Douglass Dumbrille, Frankie Darro, Noel Neill (LAWLESS RIDER); Jack Ingram, Henry Wills (SON OF THE RENEGADE); Adele Jergens, Glenn Langan, Michael Whalen (OUTLAW TREASURE) and Tom Brown, Helen Westcott, Denver Pyle (I KILLED WILD BILL HICKOK).

To round out the casts in his films, Johnny fell back on friends and a stock company of regulars — his brother Frank, Kenne Duncan, Whitey Hughes, Bill Coontz (aka Bill Foster), Verne Teters, Lou Roberson (brother of John Wayne stunt double Chuck Roberson), Bill Chaney, Roy Canada, Alyn Lockwood and Bill Ward. Bob Burns, who’d starred in a few silent 2-reelers at Universal and had played character roles all through the ’30s and ’40s, wound up his career with a part in LAWLESS RIDER. Carpenter went back to stunt work and roles as a heavy after I KILLED WILD BILL HICKOK.

In 1956, he appeared on eight episodes of the Russell Hayden produced JUDGE ROY BEAN with Edgar Buchanan, filmed on Hayden’s ranch in Pioneertown, CA. Johnny’s also seen in RED SUNDOWN (’56) with Rory Calhoun, WILD HERITAGE (’58) with Will Rogers Jr., NO PLACE TO LAND (’58), TOMBOY AND THE CHAMP (’61) and 7TH COMMANDMENT (’61). Johnny never gave up hope on producing another B-western. Leading lady Beatrice Gray, who’d worked opposite Hoot Gibson, Bob Steele, Kirby Grant and Johnny Mack Brown in the ’40s, was Carpenter’s ‘wife’ for a small scene in WILD HERITAGE. For our book Westerns Women (McFarland 1999) she told us:

“He talked me into investing $10,000 up front to finance a western script he called ‘Johnny Ringo’, which he’d direct. Everyone would get paid when it sold. It was shot in Jacksboro, a small town in Texas. One day, the leading lady’s (Elaine Walker) husband misunderstandably told them (the cast) that I had money to pay their salaries. He organized a work stoppage only halfway into the film. So, it had to be shut down. I returned to L.A. minus my 10 grand. Johnny kept the film. I’d sure like to see it! What there is of it!”
It’s very likely this was some of the footage Johnny showed me, my wife and stuntlady Evelyn Finley one 98 degree day in 1984 in his barn at his “Heaven on Earth” ranch in Lake View Terrace.

Johnny Carpenter at his Heaven On Earth Ranch

Johnny Carpenter at his Heaven On Earth Ranch

Johnny Carpenter at his Heaven On Earth Ranch [/caption]Johnny’s first Heaven On Earth ranch, devoted to handicapped children, was in Glendale. Located there since the mid ’40s, he moved the mock western town to Foothill Boulevard in Lake View Terrace (20 miles northwest of Los Angeles) in 1970 where he stayed til he was evicted in January 1994 to make way for a housing development. It was Johnny’s empathy with handicapped kids stemming from his hit and run accident when he was 18 that led him to first open the ranch. He made a pact: If God would let him walk again, he would spend his life helping the handicapped. He kept his pact. Over the years, thousands of children from the L.A. school system and from such groups as the United Cerebral Palsy/Spastic Children’s Foundation were greeted at the gates by Johnny as they spent the day for free touring the western town set and riding horseback, with Carpenter’s help if need be. Johnny’s many supporters pitched in to pay the $700 a month it cost to rent the five acres of land. These included former President Ronald Reagan, L.A. mayor Tom Bradley and the Variety Clubs of America.

Johnny told Readers Digest in 1982: “The Bible says, ‘As you sow, so shall ye reap.’ Well, I’ve reaped two-hundredfold. I’ve gotten more satisfaction out of this ranch than anything else I’ve ever done. Everything I own is on my back. Yet because of the ranch, I can get up every morning and walk down the street like a king. If I get to heaven, it’ll be on the coattails of these kids.”

Indeed, Johnny Carpenter entered Heaven on February 27, 2003, after a battle with cancer for a year or so at a Burbank nursing home. He was 88. He was survived by a sister, Corinne Bostian, of New Mexico. Johnny is buried at Forest Lawn in Los Angeles.

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44cowgirl


Double 6 Ranch’s Open Forum: Gun Breaking Horses. SAFETY FIRST! If you don’t have firearms experience, please get someone who does.

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By Andrew Schneider
From the NPR blog The Salt

If you’ve shopped for meat recently, you no doubt have noticed that beef prices are up. Some grades are even at the highest levels ever recorded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Though the inflated prices may be hard on consumers, they’re helping Texas cattle ranchers recover from a fierce drought.

On a sprawling ranch called 44 Farms in Cameron, Texas, about two hours’ drive northwest of Houston, cattlemen raise Black Angus, the most common breed of beef cattle in the U.S. The ranch recently held its fall auction, but none of the animals were headed for the dinner table anytime soon. Instead, they will be giving birth to a new generation of cattle.

Until recently, most Texas ranchers were reducing the size of their herds as they struggled with years of drought. A relentless sun withered the grasses and grains that cattle eat. During the worst of it, feed costs soared for ranchers.

“Our grasses were dying just from the lack of moisture. We were feeding just corn stalks and anything else we could find to maintain the cattle through that tough time,” McClaren says.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 2.15.23 PMFinally, ranchers had to respond by reducing herds to cut costs.

“The drought was so severe for so long, and the feed prices were so high, that you just couldn’t do that forever,” says David Anderson, a livestock economist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. “We do have producers who were forced to sell off all their herds. A lot of those beef cows did go to slaughter.”

Meat is displayed in a case at a grocery store in Miami in July. Pork and beef prices are up more than 11 percent since last summer.

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy has been improving, so more Americans want to grill beef again. Now the demand for beef is rising, just as packing plants are running out of excess supplies. The result is predictable: Beef and cattle prices are going through the roof.

Consumers may hate it, but those higher prices are making it possible for ranchers to purchase expensive feed in those areas — like the Texas Panhandle and north-central Plains — where land remains badly parched. In other parts of Texas, the drought has eased, allowing ranchers to start rebuilding herds. That means McClaren is seeing strong demand for his cattle.

“We have had calf prices at auction pushing $3 a pound,” Anderson says. “That is twice as much as what we would have thought in the past being tremendously high prices.”

The fall auction at 44 Farms drew hundreds of bidders. The ranch made roughly $3 million in just a few hours, more than double the take from last year’s fall sale. McClaren is already gearing up for his next auction in February.

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Remembering Veterans Day with pride.

That’s my son Andrew Beal (above) around 2003. After a tour in Kosovo he served many more years in the Army and Army Reserves. These days he’s Executive Director of Hyperbaric Medicine for the Salt Lake Medical Regional Center hospital.

And here’s my Marine brother John Beal back in the early 1970s. A highly decorated Vietnam veteran these days he’s President at Reeltime Creative and a Composer/Conductor for the Film and Television Industry.

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Brother-in-law Brian Donnelly recently retired from the Air Force after decades of service all over the world.

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My grandfather (mother’s father) Everett Runyon entered the Navy for World War I. After marriage he settled in the Bay Area of Northern California and rose to be a Vice President in Del Monte foods. He died in 1986.

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And me when I first enter the Air Force in 1966. Got out in 1971 and these days I ride horses and work cows.

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Life is good because of all those Veterans before us. Thank you.





Lt. Colonel Oliver North tells stories of true patriots from the front lines.

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Thanks to my brother John Beal for finding this.

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My friend Bob Kinford. “You can follow holistic grazing plans with a minimum of effort, in larger pastures, or on land where fencing is impractical by instilling herd instinct into your cattle. ”




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By Michelle Innis
From the New York Times


You can get more information at their websiSYDNEY, Australia — Australia is close to signing an agreement to ship live cattle to China, opening up a significant market for producers, who said exports could grow to one million animals a year, driven by demand there for fresh beef.

The agreement could eventually result in a doubling of Australia’s export volumes for live cattle. It is likely to increase competition for beef and help lift prices, both in the domestic market and among other buyers of the country’s live cattle, including Indonesia and Vietnam, producers said.

“We are on the cusp of a new major announcement for the Australian beef industry,” Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce told reporters Friday in Tamworth, an agricultural center north of Sydney. He said that quarantine officials in Australia and China had worked for about 10 years on the export agreement and that the deal was separate from a trade agreement that is in the final round of negotiations between the two countries.

Alison Penfold, chief executive of the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council, said that industry and government officials had worked intensively on the agreement over the past 12 months. Completion of the deal rests with the Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. The final hurdles involve Australia’s meeting health protocols commonly applied to live exports, including disease-free cattle, testing, quarantine periods and treatment for parasites like ticks, Ms. Penfold said.

“This is obviously a big market signal,” Mr. Joyce said. He added: “You’re about to be paying more for cattle, and this is good,” referring to producers’ hopes that the price of beef would rise from around two Australian dollars a kilogram — a bit less than $0.80 a pound — to above 3 Australian dollars, as demand for exports squeezes prices higher in domestic and existing offshore markets.

David Warriner, president of the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association, said that if producers achieved 3 Australian dollars a kilogram, then “the price is high enough to allow cattlemen to increase productivity,” and that there would be no threat to the supply to existing offshore buyers.

Australia exports about 1.13 million cattle a year, worth about $860 million, to Indonesia, Vietnam and Israel, and an agreement was recently reached with Cambodia. Mr. Warriner cautioned that the exports to China would build slowly and take some time to reach one million.

Exporters were more upbeat. “Our biggest market is Indonesia,” said Mauro Balzarini, owner of Australia’s largest privately owned cattle exporting company, Wellard, which buys and ships about 400,000 head of cattle mostly to Indonesia and Vietnam each year. “We hope once the market in China opens up, we won’t just export live cattle, but we will have joint ventures as well for processing, in places like Beijing.”

The potential in China is significant, said Troy Setter, the chief executive of the Consolidated Pastoral Company, which manages 390,000 head of cattle across almost 10 million acres of grazing land in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia. The company exports about 80,000 head of cattle annually, 80 percent to Indonesia, where it also runs two cattle feed lots, and the remainder to Vietnam.

“The devil is in the detail when it comes to the health protocol,” Mr. Setter said. “We expect it to be similar to other export agreements for live cattle. China is a massive market, where we estimate 40 to 45 million head of cattle are eaten each year.”

Ms. Penfold, leader of the exporters’ group, said that all animals exported from Australia were closely tracked and that there were strict regulations about their welfare before export, during shipping and even after they landed in a foreign country. The regulations were tightened after export bans were imposed after accusations of cruelty in some Indonesian slaughterhouses.

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From the film “West Of The Badlands ” ( 1940 )

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mr1102_ph


From the San Francisco Chronicle



When pitching ace Madison Bumgarner arrived at Steuart Street for the start of the World Series parade, the cops assigned to the parade were waiting, and just as pumped as the thousands of other Giant fans who were lining the route.

As high fives and knuckle knocks were exchanged, the cops gave Bumgarner the usual lines: “Great series,” “One in a million” — and, of course, the obligatory, “If there is anything we can do for you, just let us know.”

At which point, Bumgarner looked over at the line of police horses and said, “Anything? How ’bout you letting me ride one of them horses in the parade?”

The first call was fine — after all, Bumgarner is an experienced horse rider.

Maybe, but this was in the rain, with a huge crowd and confetti cannons ready to go off.

After careful consideration, and thinking about what would happen if he fell off, “we made a compromise,” said Police Chief Greg Suhr, who was called in to make the call.

“How about a picture on the horse, and we keep that golden shoulder?” Suhr said.

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By Jesse McKinley
From the New York Times



EASTON, N.Y. — Something strange is happening at farms in upstate New York. The cows are milking themselves.

Desperate for reliable labor and buoyed by soaring prices, dairy operations across the state are charging into a brave new world of udder care: robotic milkers, which feed and milk cow after cow without the help of a single farmhand.

Scores of the machines have popped up across New York’s dairy belt and in other states in recent years, changing age-old patterns of daily farm life and reinvigorating the allure of agriculture for a younger, tech-savvy — and manure-averse — generation.

“We’re used to computers and stuff, and it’s more in line with that,” said Mike Borden, 29, a seventh-generation dairyman, whose farm upgraded to robots, as others did, when disco-era milking parlors — the big, mechanized turntables that farmers use to milk many cows at once — started showing their age.

“And,” Mr. Borden added, “it’s a lot more fun than doing manual labor.”

The view is improved as well. “Most milking parlors, you see, you really only see the back end of the cow,” Mr. Borden’s father, Tom, said. “I don’t see that as building up much of a relationship.”

Tom Borden, owner of O. A. Borden, said machines like the Astronaut A4 robotic milking system gave him more time to care for the cattle. The cows seem to like it, too.

Robots allow the cows to set their own hours, lining up for automated milking five or six times a day — turning the predawn and late-afternoon sessions around which dairy farmers long built their lives into a thing of the past.

With transponders around their necks, the cows get individualized service. Lasers scan and map their underbellies, and a computer charts each animal’s “milking speed,” a critical factor in a 24-hour-a-day operation.

The robots also monitor the amount and quality of milk produced, the frequency of visits to the machine, how much each cow has eaten, and even the number of steps each cow has taken per day, which can indicate when she is in heat.

“The animals just walk through,” said Jay Skellie, a dairyman from Salem, N.Y., after watching a demonstration. “I think we’ve got to look real hard at robots.”

Many of those running small farms said the choice of a computerized milker came down to a bigger question: whether to upgrade or just give up.

“Either we were going to get out, we were going to get bigger, or we were going to try something different,” said the elder Mr. Borden, 59, whose family has been working a patch of ground about 30 miles northeast of Albany since 1837. “And this was something a little different.”

The Bordens and other farmers say a major force is cutting labor costs — health insurance, room and board, overtime, and workers’ compensation insurance — particularly when immigration reform is stalled in Washington and dependable help is hard to procure.

The machines also never complain about getting up early, working late or being kicked.

“It’s tough to find people to do it well and show up on time,” said Tim Kurtz, who installed four robotic milkers last year at his farm in Berks County, Pa. “And you don’t have to worry about that with a robot.”

The Bordens say the machines allow them to do more of what they love: caring for animals.

“I’d rather be a cow manager,” Tom Borden said, “than a people manager.”

The machines are not inexpensive, costing up to $250,000 (not including barn improvements) for a unit that includes a mechanical arm, teat-cleaning equipment, computerized displays, a milking apparatus and sensors to detect the position of the teats. Pioneered in Europe in the 1990s, they have only recently taken hold in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New York, which is a leader in the production of Greek yogurt and the third-largest milk producer in the country.

Kathy Barrett, a senior extension associate at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, credited a recent surge in milk prices with motivating dairy owners to seek new ways to improve their farms — and farm life.

“I’d rather be a cow manager,” Mr. Borden said, “than a people manager.”

“It’s really the flexibility of not stopping doing hay because at 3 o’clock you have to go milk,” Ms. Barrett said.

Ms. Barrett said about 30 farms in New York had installed more than 100 robotic milkers. Two European manufacturers, Lely and DeLaval, said they had installed hundreds more across the country. California, the nation’s leading dairy producer, has been a curious holdout, in part because there were problems at some farms that adopted the technology in its early years.

The president of Western United Dairymen, Tom Barcellos, who milks some 1,300 cattle at his operation in Tulare County, Calif., said he was intrigued by the robots but worried that they would be too slow to keep up with the needs of a large herd.

“They just don’t milk enough cows to be economical,” Mr. Barcellos said. “You might milk 40 cows an hour. We can do 80.”

But farmers said output generally increased with robots because most cows like being milked more often. (To allow lactation, cows are kept in a near-constant state of impregnation.)

Animal welfare advocates give the new machines a guarded thumbs-up. “Not being milked hurts,” said Paul Shapiro, a vice president of the Humane Society of the United States. He said letting cows move more freely was also an improvement on older methods that involved tying cows to stanchions.

The Bordens installed two milkers for about 100 of their cows last November in a new barn, a $1.2 million project all told. “It was a little cash-scary,” Tom Borden said. But, he added, he hoped the machines would pay for themselves within seven or eight years through labor savings and other efficiencies, like tailoring the amount of feed to a cow’s appetite.

The Bordens expected a dip in production as their cows got used to the machines. But the cattle were quick learners.

“It just clicked,” said Susan Borden, Tom Borden’s 24-year-old daughter. “One day we came in and they had started milking themselves.”

Sure enough, on a recent Friday, the Bordens stood watch as cows lined up in front of the closet-size devices; each quietly allowed the machine to wash and scan its underbelly with lasers before attaching mechanical milk cups.

The cows ate the whole time, then moved along when the machine was finished. Nearby, another new device, a Roomba-style robot, pushed feed toward cows who lounged in a pen or lay on straw mats.

“We’re the most disruptive thing in here,” Mr. Borden said.

The machines have mellowed both the cows and much of the routine on the Bordens’ farm — though the humans have received the occasional distress call from their mechanized milkers.

“It’s a machine, so it breaks down,” Mike Borden said. “But people get sick, too.”

All of which has the Bordens considering more robots, and dreaming of the perquisites that enhanced automation could bring.

“I don’t think I’m ever going to sleep in real late,” Tom Borden said. “But if we could roll it back another hour, that would be great.”

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By: Clifford Mitchell
From Cattle Today



Hay is one of the most common winter feedstuffs in most regions of the country. Mixed emotions come from most cattlemen when talking about this vital resource. Most know getting it baled right means a lot of long hot days in the field and feeding it often comes with bad weather.
The puzzling fact is the hard work put into getting these forages baled at the proper time and cured right often goes to waste because of poor management. Feeding high quality hay in the winter starts with a lot of planning and carries through the winter.

“Getting good quality hay starts with properly fertilizing at the right time, harvesting, storing and feeding it properly. There can be significant losses if every step isn’t done right,” says Dr. Rocky Lemus, Extension Forage Specialist, Mississippi State University.

“It costs plenty to bale your own hay or purchase it, producers need to store it properly to avoid significant losses,” says Dr. Daren Redfearn, Oklahoma State University.

Methods of storing can be different for every operation. Finding the best option often comes down to available capital for most operations.

“Obviously, hay stored in a barn will be the best quality hay. Unfortunately, most operations don’t have the capability to store hay in the barn,” Redfearn says. “The worst hay is hay that’s stored outside on the ground. The best option for most is finding something in between these two that fits management.”

Poor management often costs outfits dollars that could be put to use within the operation or add profit. A few simple changes to storing practices can make a big difference in hay quality.

“The biggest mistake most producers make is storing hay in the shade along a fence row. This is a big mistake because that hay is never allowed to get dry,” Lemus says. “Losses are significant if you leave hay on the ground and can be up to 50 percent. Getting it off the ground with pallets or tires will cut losses. Any step you take to storing it properly will save hay quality. Losses are typically two to five percent if hay is elevated and covered with a tarp. Elevated hay losses can be 10 to 15 percent compared to higher losses if hay is stored on the ground.”

“Hay stored outside is going to get weathered and have a lot of nutrient loss. If producers don’t have a barn to store hay inside, just getting that hay off the ground will save a lot of nutrient quality. Covering hay with some kind of tarp is almost as good as a barn,” Redfearn says. “Get those bales out from under the trees. Storing hay is a common sense thing. Most producers may not want to go to the expense of covering hay, but store it in a well drained area in the sun and use pallets or tires to get hay off the ground.”

Expenses are high in the beef business. Production costs have rapidly increased the past five years and feed costs are a big reason. If most knew the value of the hay crop, storage alternatives may seem cheap to ensure quality winter feed.

“There are a lot of things you can do from a storage standpoint that don’t cost a lot of money. Most outside hay is going to see 20 percent losses at least and that adds up pretty quickly when you start figuring costs to replace it,” Redfearn says. “If producers know hay quality they will get better at storage practices and can justify dollars spent for storage.”

“Hay is the most expensive feed for most operations and you need to protect that investment. It costs the same amount of money to put up high quality hay as it does bad hay,” Lemus says. “There can be significant losses with hay depending on storage methods. It costs quite a bit of money to buy hay or supplement to replace losses in crude protein, dry matter and TDN. Initial investment costs are minimal. Once you calculate the losses from improperly stored hay, some of these storage methods are really cheap in the long run.”

Studies show improperly stored hay can lose value quickly. According to Lemus, properly stored hay gives a producer the peace of mind that he will have quality hay to feed through the winter months.

“We did a study with hay cut last year. Some was stored in the barn and some was left outside on the ground,” Lemus says. “Hay stored in the barn was 11 percent crude protein. The hay outside was only seven percent crude protein and we lost a lot of dry matter. Producers will have to buy a lot of supplement to make up for those losses.”

In the heat of the summer it is hard to talk about feeding the hay crop, but most know it’s just around the corner. Some areas of the country have been bit by drought and other areas have seen unseasonably cool temperatures. Good management cannot get the best of Mother Nature and a lot of areas are seeing decreased hay production. The laws of supply and demand would point to hay prices climbing even higher. Getting the most out of the available hay crop could save producers a lot of money during winter feeding.

“The biggest mistake most producers make is they don’t do a forage analysis. Knowing crude protein and TDN in the hay you’re feeding can save a lot of money because you may not have to supplement cows or can reduce supplement costs. There are a lot of differences in the hay crop and it pays to know what you have before you feed it,” Redfearn says. “Make sure you get those round bales tight end to end in a well drained area off the ground to reduce losses. We have equipment now that lets us bale tighter bales and it is another barrier against losses, but it won’t protect hay from bad management practices.”

“Most producers don’t do a nutrient analysis so they don’t know how much their hay is worth. If they did a nutrient analysis it would be a lot easier to spend a little money to store it correctly,” Lemus says. “Storage loss and losses from improperly feeding hay are big ticket items. From the time you bale until the time you feed is a forage system and you have to protect that investment.”

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Some small tweaks to the original movie of Drew Pringle “The Magic Peasant” driving one thousand Blackface sheep 6 miles over hills of the Ederline Estate on Loch Awe (near Oban on the West coast of Scotland). Drew makes use of his trusted bearded collies (Jeff and Tannie). Features Landrover and music from Deaf Shepherd and Blazin’ Fiddles.

If you have problems seeing the video below click HERE.

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Dr. Rick Funston, University of Nebraska-Lincoln beef reproductive physiologist, presented webinar on planning for successful use of estrus synchronization in beef heifers and cows. Current protocols and management strategies to optimize pregnancy rates through the use of estrus synchronization were discussed.

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Taken at the Hunewill Ranch in Bridgeport, California. Aspen, Sierra and Eli run in the ranch horse on June 27,2014. A GoPro camera was mounted low on a fence post to capture the action from a unique angle

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Cord McCoy talks with miniature bull riders at the National Western Stock Show.

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The PBR world finals are going on right now and that event simply would not exist without the Bullfighters. A big thank you from the riders and all the fans.

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Short ad at the beginning, look for “skip ad” and click on it.

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For the second year my Beal’s Cowboy Buckles store is an event sponsor for this year’s 2014 Wrangler Buck Brannaman Pro-Am Vaquero Roping contest. You’ll see some of the very best ranch roping in the world. Best of luck to my many friends who will be competing!

“A unique vaquero-style roping event is set for October 24, 25 & 26, 2014 at the Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Center in Santa Ynez, California. Conceived by horsemanship clinician, Buck Brannaman and his daughter Reata, the Wrangler Buck Brannaman Pro-Am Vaquero Roping will be free for spectators to watch 100 teams compete for substantial prize money in the classic California ranch roping style.

As Buck says of the event, “For years I’d been wanting to do a roping event styled after a pro-am golf tournament. Two-person teams enter and come to town, and out of a pool of handpicked pros that I have chosen; we’ll draw their third team member. That will be their team for the weekend. It’s going to be a neat deal – after two days we’ll take the top 30 teams for the finals held the third day, on Sunday. Unlike a lot of ranch ropings, it’s going to have serious prize money – we’re figuring over $25,000.”

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

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The Professional Bull Riders finals start tonight in Las Vegas. And it’s the last time we’ll see the champion bull Bushwacker. You can read more about him in my previous blog entry by clicking HERE. It’s been a great adventure.

If you have problems seeing the video below click HERE.

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Rugged ranchers or welfare cowboys? Dispute over grazing fees on public land rages on. I thought this was a good summary of two points of view.

By Rob Nikolewski
New Mexico Watchdog

SANTA FE, N.M. — The accusation is a blunt one: That ranchers who hold permits from the federal government to graze their cattle on public land are little more than welfare recipients. The response is just as blunt: Like hell we are.

The argument has kicked around the West for years, and it’s come into sharper focus in recent months as ranchers in parts of northern and southern New Mexico have clashed with environmentalists over the recent listing of a critter most people in the Land of Enchantment have never even seen — the meadow jumping mouse.

In June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the mouse — which can hop up to three feet from its hind legs — on the endangered list. That has prompted the U.S. Forest Service to reinforce a gate along the Agua Chiquita in Otero County and erect barbed-wire fencing near the Rio Cebolla creek in the Santa Fe National Forest to keep cattle from damaging the mouse’s habitat.

“The livestock industry has enjoyed special treatment from the federal government for so long that our streams have been trampled to death,” Bryan Bird, program director at WildEarth Guardians, said earlier this month when his group filed a lawsuit just before the fencing was constructed.

Bird’s comment echoes a long-running complaint environmentalists have about grazing fees on public lands.

They say ranchers have been getting a sweetheart deal from the government for too long, pointing to fees charged by the entities such as the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service charging $1.35 a month for what’s called “Animal Unit Months,” compared to an estimated $16-$20 a month on private land.

They also cite data from a 2005 report from the General Accounting Office and say U.S. taxpayers suffer a direct loss of more than $120 million because of the fees.

“Ranchers have benefitted from a whole suite of subsidies. I used to call them welfare queens,” John Horning, the executive director of WildEarth Guardians-NewMexico, told New Mexico Watchdog in an interview in July. “I don’t really care if it’s welfare because the bigger issue for me is not that (taxpayers) subsidize it, but that we allow the activity to degrade so many valuable things.”

But cattle growers push back just as forcefully.

“It couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association. “And it’s a tired old argument.”

Cowan says the price difference between grazing fees is misleading because ranchers have to pick up the costs for things such as managing and fencing their allotments, supplying their herds with water and absorbing any losses due to death and attacks by predators that aren’t usually incurred when grazing on private property.

“It’s kind of like you renting a house in Albuquerque that has all the amenities,” Cowan said. “It’s furnished, you’ve got electricity, all the utilities are done.” But grazing on public lands is like “renting a house that’s totally vacant, has no amenities … and anyone can come through your house and use the bathroom anytime they want … The price is low until you look at the amenities that don’t go with it.”

But Horning counters the pricing formula for grazing on public land has essentially been frozen by the executive order since 1986 when Ronald Reagan was president.

“The grazing fee today is the same as it was 30 years ago,” Horning said. “Name one commodity or one resource that you can extract today for the same fee you could 30 years ago.”

But for ranchers like Mike Lucero, grazing cattle along the Rio Cebolla is something his family has done for generations, going back to the time of land grants in New Mexico, predating the existence of the U.S. Forest Service.

“This is my family and ancestors’ heritage,” said Lucero, a member of the San Diego Cattleman’s Association.

Unique to states such as New Mexico, land grants were awarded to settlers by the Spanish government during colonial times. Under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, the U.S. government pledged to honor the grants, but property disputes have persisted in the Southwest ever since.

“I totally agree, there is a discounted rate involved,” Lucero told New Mexico Watchdog this summer. “But when that used to be a land grant, that wasn’t federal land at all. So you’re telling me I don’t have a right to get a discount when it was taken away from my ancestors to begin with? Everyone knows land grants are for the people in those communities to make a living off of.”

THE MOUSE IN QUESTION: Listing the meadow jumping mouse as an endangered species has led to a battle between environmentalists and New Mexico ranchers.
THE MOUSE IN QUESTION: Listing the meadow jumping mouse as an endangered species has led to a battle between environmentalists and New Mexico ranchers.
Ranchers at the Rio Cebolla say their cattle only use the meadow for four-five weeks in the fall and one-two weeks in the spring. They insist they keep the area in excellent shape.

But environmental groups say the habitat for the meadow jumping mouse has been systematically degraded in New Mexico, as well as Arizona and Colorado.

“We are asking the Forest Service to keep cows out of 1 percent of public lands that have streams and rivers,” Bird said. “The livestock industry needs stop kicking and screaming and cooperate to ensure clean water and healthy wildlife.”

“Ranchers are responsible for the stewardship of their land,” said Cowan. “Recreationists don’t pay to hunt or hike or fish on those lands. But the timber industry, the oil and gas industry, the livestock industry (do). I think guides and outfitters even have to have some kind of permit. Those folks are paying the government something.

While WildEarth Guardians has filed its lawsuit to protect the mouse’s habitat, the ranchers have filed their own, alleging the Forest Service of heavy-handedness and not following its own environmental analysis.

Regardless of what decision is reached, it’s clear the debate — and the rhetoric — over grazing fees will continue.

“Grazing permits are costly food stamps for cattle,” wrote an attorney from Utah in the Salt Lake City Tribune earlier this year.

“The whole purpose of what (environmental groups) are doing on the land is not to save anything, it’s to protect it from people who actually doing something productive and I’m talking about ranchers ,” said C.J. Hadley, publisher of the pro-rancher publication RANGE magazine.

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