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Baxter Black: Cowboy Mentality

I ran into Randy in the airport. He was draggin' his right hind leg like an escaped convict tryin' to cover his tracks. I could see it had taken him a while to pull his pant leg on over the swollen knee. He side-slid to a stop to visit for a minute.

"So." I asked stupidly, "Hurt yourself?"

Randy is a rodeo announcer. A good one, I might add. I've seen him work. But this injury could certainly not be worked related, I thought to myself. Rodeo announcers are a little higher up the food chain than those of us who actually get within striking distance of large herbivores. They sit in their ivory towers above the dust and flailing hooves, inciting the fans and titillating the timers. Occasionally stooping to act as straight man to the barrel man's jokes but above it all, maintaining their dignity. Ringmaster of all they survey.

He gave me a raised eyebrow, realized that I was not smart enough to have asked the question facetiously, and explained. In an effort to 'keep up with the competition' he had taken to announcing rodeos ahorseback.

'Say no more,' I thought. Riding a strange horse furnished by the stock contractor into the center of the arena surrounded by thousands of foot stompin', whistlin', avid rodeo fans, reins in one hand, microphone in the other, with flags flyin', banners flappin' and music blarrin'…the outcome is almost predictable.

His story included all of that and concluded with a wild bucking exit where he bailed out with the grace of a sand bag fallin' off the back of a runaway stage coach.

What makes people do things like that says something about the cowboy mentality. This mentality is best characterized by that old joke where the guy holds his hand in front of his face and bets his friend that he can't 'hit my hand before I move it.'

I once had to wear a neck brace for several weeks. Not in public, of course. Maybe I wouldn't have been so reluctant to wear it if I didn't have to respond to the question…"So, did you hurt your neck?"

What did I tell them? No. It's just decorative. A cosmetic article of clothing designed to offset my bad posture and enhance my fine facial features. Or maybe…my wife gave it to me on our anniversary…or, I wrenched it saving a school bus load of children from a burning building.

If I had been forced to explain, I would have to have said I was riding down the trail with an amigo whose horse was jiggin' and tossin his head. So I told this amigo that he didn't have to put up with that kind of unsavory equine behavior. When he throws his head, I said, conk him between the ears. 'Whattya mean?' asked my amigo. So I demonstrated by leaning out of the saddle and whacking his horse on the poll with a 32 oz mug I'd got at the GIT AND GO. The mug broke, his horse stampeded and when I straightened up, I couldn't move my neck.

See what I mean? Randy's story isn't that preposterous after all. Just part of the cowboy way. Here, bet you can't hit my hand before I move it.

Lee Pitts: My House Runneth Over

There are many benefits to being a syndicated columnist. Although you work for a pittance, the gifts you get more than make up for the paltry salary. For example, I wrote that I had a barb wire collection and Dan from South Dakota, a longtime reader, sent me his entire barb wire collection. Years ago Jack, a longtime friend from Nebraska, sent me a really nice three foot windmill that he made from barb wire. Consequently when people enter my home they don't know if they've entered a private residence or a barb wire museum.

Speaking of our home, due to all the nice gifts people have given me over the years our house currently runneth over. I hardly have room for all the books people have sent me because my bookcases are filled with my miniature anvil collection. Publishers have sent books hoping I'd give them a plug while many others have sent me books they wrote. I read most of them too and came to the conclusion that there are a lot of people out there who can write better books than what I find in Barnes and Noble. After Renaissance Magazine ran a couple of my columns they paid me off with a 1957 red Chevy Bel Air convertible. Too bad it's only three inches long.

I collect practically everything and people have added to my knife, spur, bit, hat, bullet pencil, art and clock collections. Will and Deb donated to my branding iron collection by sending me one that folded up. Bob made me a miniature branding iron of my own iron and Range Magazine gave me a bigger golden version of my brand that I cherish even though it isn't real gold. One of my most meaningful gifts was a cutting board Skinner made from wood from his own ranch and EC has given me 40 years worth of date books I've used to tell me where to be and when.

Butch sent me several blabs for my blab collection (they prevent a calf from sucking) and the Red Bluff Bull Sale Committee gave me a beautiful bridle, reins and Garcia bit. John sent me a favorite piece of art that is a pencil drawing of the stages a horse goes through to become a reined cow horse and Jerry, a great artist and cowboy columnist himself, sent me one of his original oils that will be worth a fortune someday when we're both dead. As a Mad Jack cartoon fan I created a shrine of sorts with the eight he drew, colored, and signed for me. Jerry also sent me one of his original cartoons.

The Western States Beefmaster folks gave me a plaque with a clock on it, the Brangus Association gave me a Cross matching pen and pencil set, and Bubba from the Akaushi Association sent me a container filled with great tasting steaks. People must look at my skinny body and think I need fattening up because I've received everything from A to Z in foodstuffs: from almonds from Bill to zucchini from Glen. The bottles of wine people have given me would have filled a cellar.

Kind folks see how I'm dressed and try to dress me. Auction markets have given me a lifetime supply of caps and jackets, and Don sent me several Pendleton shirts (my favorite) and a beautiful Mark Dahl engraved belt buckle to remind me I'm really not a very good engraver. I wear a CAB jacket that Rick gave me and a Charolais shirt from Dennis and I have to be careful not to wear the Charolais shirt to an Angus sale, and vice versa.

Writers receive so much stuff I'm thinking of starting a registration service for writers like there is for newlyweds. That way you'd know we need a 72 inch TV and a satellite dish a whole lot more than we do a silver chafing dish. And it might put an end to the odd gifts I get like the box of flies I got one time. And no, they weren't the kind for fishing. They weren't from an irate reader either, but from a company that sells castrated male flies to decrease the fly population. (Imagine how small the Callicrate banders must be for them!) The gift was fleeting however because I turned them loose and never heard from them again.

A few thoughts by John Nalivka: The image of sustainability

Does anyone else ever think about how often you see the word sustainability as you read business, industry, and investing articles? It's been on my mind for quite a while but I decided that to keep bringing this topic up was perhaps "beating a dead horse." But as I was reading about a food conference in China, there were the words "healthier and more sustainable alternatives to animal proteins," this is an important topic to the livestock and meat industry and needs to be further discussed. Sustainability today goes beyond business success.

We know the alternatives to animal proteins are plant based or those produced in a laboratory – fake meat as we call the latter. When this conversation first began, I thought it's all about technological progress. It won't be a big deal and so why be a naysayer? If someone wants to eat plant-based or lab-produced protein instead of animal protein, that's their prerogative. Those consumers will never represent more than a very small share of total consumers anyway.

However, aside from the labeling which is important, I do have to question if there isn't a hidden agenda that may be underlying this word – sustainability. So here is problem, at least from my viewpoint. As a rancher, have you ever tried to explain to someone why your business is sustainable? Your simple response might be – well of course we are sustainable. Our family has been raising cattle on this ranch for 100 years. I would submit that that answer may not satisfy the question. Sustainability includes many aspects of ranching and cattle production. I know it has been described as economic, social, and environmental, but I tend to think the average person on the street who might ask if you have a sustainable ranch is more concerned about the environment with little comprehension of how sound grazing management is a tool for sustainability – both for the environment and your ranch.

Unfortunately, the economic aspect of your ranching operation may never enter into discussion, albeit economics probably best captures sustainability. When you manage a renewable resource business for long term profitability, you have a sustainable business. In other words, that's why your family has been able to make a living raising cattle on the same ranch for 100 years, 50 years, or however long. Every generation has managed so the next generation would be able to continue. If you didn't manage for long term profitability or sustainability, this entire issue is probably mute.

I am a long-time member of the Idaho Cattle Association and I just attended their convention in Sun Valley, Idaho. ICA has their convention at Sun Valley nearly every year. I think the image of 450 Idaho family ranchers meeting in one of America's premier destination resorts discussing important issues that impact their lives every day is a pretty good picture of how ranching fits into this all-encompassing idea we call sustainability!

Outside Circle by Jan Swan Wood: Routier’s first NFR, L7 Arena results, free bronc school, open riding at Event Center, Vezain fundraiser

The weather has sure been a roller coaster of temps. Down in the single digits then up to 60, all in one week. Apparently it's November. We're shipping our calves this week and preg checking all the cows the next day. The grandboys are getting to skip school and watch their calves sell then be here to help work the cows. Now that they're in school it's harder for them to be here for important events like this so I'm pretty excited for them and me. I think they'll learn more doing this than they will in a day and a half of school, but maybe I'm just prejudiced. I was never a fan of school myself but always a fan of cow sales and working cattle.

I'm so excited for Jessica Routier as she is heading for her first WNFR in a few weeks. She's worked hard for this and it couldn't be happening to a nicer person either. She and her husband Riley and their family ranch south of Buffalo, S.D.

Jessica's friend Nichya Gunderson had ordered slug of t-shirts to sell, in order to raise money to help Jessica pay her way to Vegas. Then a friend and neighbor of Jessica's, Caroll Comes, of Camp Crook, was in a horse accident. Carroll broke her back and is hoping to recover the use of her legs. Jessica has now diverted the proceeds from the "Teammissica" t-shirts to help Caroll with medical expenses.

I mentioned Lloyd and Patty Gilbert's L7 Arena big winner last week, so now I'll share the other winners at the roping held near Buffalo, S.D. The Jr. American winner was Sawyer Gilbert; Breakaway average winner Tomie Peterson; Boys Tie Down Roping winner Bodie Mattson; Boys Tie Down Chute Out was Rio Nutter; and of course, the Breakaway Chute Out winner was Taylor Engessor. Congrats to all and we're all looking forward to next year's event!

This is short notice, but, the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame Region 1 Induction Ceremony will be Nov. 21, 3-6 p.m., at Boot Hills in Gillette, Wyo. There will be a slide show, ceremony, silent and live auction to benefit the WCHF. All are welcome to come and enjoy some wonderful Wyoming ranch history.

There will be a free saddle bronc and bareback school with Tom Reeves and Kelly Wardell as instructors on Nov. 23-25 at Healing Horse Ranch, Parshall, N.D. Gear will be provided if needed and any age and ability is welcome. What a good way to get the right start in these events. For info or to reserve your spot, call 918-964-9551.

There will be a NRCA Team Roping Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Event Center in Rapid City, S.D. Enter at 8 a.m., rope at 9. There's Open Handicap 4 head, mixed handicap (one roper must be over 60, under 15 or a woman) 4 head; #13 with #8 Incentive 4 head; Draw Handicap 4 head. You can enter four times each end, progressive after one. It counts toward the Circle T Arena Winter Roping series too. Call Jim at 605-209-8064 or Les at 605-390-8407.

The James Kjerstad Event Center is resuming its open riding for the winter months. It is open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. unless there's another event going on. On Monday nights youth riding and roping if you provide the cattle; Tuesday nights barrels; Wednesday nights open riding. Adults cost $20 and kids $10. Be sure and check the website before going to make sure there isn't something going on. It's http://www.blackhillsstockshow.com, look for the Event Center calendar.

The Western States Ranch Rodeo Association (WSRRA) is sanctioning a new event for 2019. It'a WSRRA Jr/Sr division ranch teams. It's you're putting on a WSRRA rodeo, consider including this fun event in your lineup. You can learn more by emailing info@wsrra.org.

As most of you know, J.R. Vezain, Cowley, Wyo., was badly injured in September when the bareback horse he was riding flipped over and broke several vertebrae and compressed his spinal cord. He had no feeling below the waist as a result. He and his wife are staying in Houston where he is undergoing therapy and working toward walking again. As a result, the expenses are adding up, plus they have a baby due in the spring. So, there will be a benefit dinner, dance and auction at the Firehall in Melstone, Mont., on Dec. 29. The dinner and silent auction will be at 5 p.m., the live auction at 6:30 and the dance to follow. All proceeds will be given to the Vezains for their medical expenses. Tickets are $15. If you want to donate to the auction, call Liane Newman at 406-320-1323 or 406-358-2257.

Well, that's my circle for this week. I hope you have a good week and remember to count your blessings every day.

BeefTalk: The Next Chapter–Some Happy, Some Sad

The world is full of revolving doors.

Recently, I walked through one and was selected by the University of Saskatchewan as the director of its Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence, an innovative research, teaching and industry center engaged in all aspects of livestock and forage production.

This appointment means change, which challenges me to move out of my daily comfort zone. But life is too short and the world too large to sit still for long. Something always needs to be done somewhere.

Beef operations are deeply rooted in the soil and change. As beef producers know, the work is not easy. Comfort comes with familiar surroundings, and we, as humans, go to great lengths to extend the status quo, which is not bad or wrong.

However, I have decided that now is a good time to start the next chapter, to walk through the revolving door and to meet the next challenge. The challenge of giving up comfort in exchange for the unknown is also good. The world is big, and if our surroundings prevent us from engaging the world, then we need to rethink.

On a recent trip to Mongolia, I observed vast comingled herds of grazing cattle, sheep, goats, yaks, camels and horses on grasslands. I pondered how different our two lands were but with the same objective: utilizing land, forage and all that grows on the land for the betterment of all that live on this planet we call Earth.

As humans, our interaction with the world is key to sustaining the world for the survival of future generations. Livestock, plants, soil and all living organisms are part of the interaction, creating a healthy environment in which the art and science of livestock production can thrive.

Recently, the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, initiated the Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence (LFCE) initiative. This collaborative effort between the College of Agriculture and Bioresources and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine incorporates input from the center's Strategic Advisory Board, which includes representatives from the university, the provincial and federal governments, and the livestock and forage sectors.

Collaboration is good. In fact, multidisciplinary collaboration across the many sectors that research life is essential to solving the complex problems we encounter today. The simple answers are no longer simple. For us in agriculture, we find excitement in helping create, guide and implement research and education involving livestock and agricultural products of the soil.

This goal links the LFCE with resources and ultimately impacts future generations. It also involves listening to producers and researchers by recognizing that working together will result in positive outcomes for everyone: researchers, producers and consumers. This is the heart of the center.

The center comprises 27 quarters of land and three units. The Beef Cattle Research and Teaching Unit, south of Clavet, Saskatchewan, includes a 1,500-head capacity feedlot and intensive environmental monitoring. The Forage and Cow-Calf Research and Teaching Unit, also south of Clavet, includes 300 breeding cows. The Goodale Research and Teaching Farm, near Floral, Saskatchewan, includes 165 breeding cows, horses, bison and deer for research.

If one only sits in a shell and never looks out, one would miss the fast-paced comingling of the continents. Who would have thought a calf born on a lonely day in the far back pasture could be walking off an airplane cargo deck halfway around the world a year later?

Any product, once marketed, is released to the world. A beef carcass processed in an inspected harvesting facility can go worldwide.

Worldly forces, proven true through time, are real and impact discussions at morning coffee. We need to explore the complicated international news because international relationships and markets directly impact our farm and ranch. Sometimes, the rationale evades us, causing us to retreat, but we can't.

As a rancher or farmer, we feel good because our ground was growing produce that was helping people in many parts of world, parts that we never would see. But the rest of the world is looking. Today, the tables have turned. People in other parts of the world are having the same thoughts.

The domestic cow herd, as well as those who are involved in the cattle industry, must maintain global links. The world is very competitive, with efficient production systems that control costs and sell products profitably.

This is not to say that the present is not good. It is. But so is leaving one's comfort zone. It's time to walk through the revolving door.

Having to say goodbye to a very large part of the present is not easy, but knowing one's roots will keep growing will strengthen later reunions. My feelings are happy and sad, but it's time to begin the next chapter.

May you find all your ear tags.

Baxter Black: Grandpa Tommy Saved The World

We were watching The History Channel at Grandma's casita. It was a story about the USS Enterprise being attacked. It was 1945. They were describing acts of heroism that occurred. Stories of men risking their lives, staying with wounded comrades instead of swimming to safety. Stories that never made the paper or were recognized but were remembered only by those brave souls who dog-paddled in the waves next to a burning ship 3 miles above the sea floor.

It was one of those moments where my son and I were engrossed. I said, "Isn't it funny, the only person in this house who really understands what we're watching, is asleep in his chair." Grandpa Tommy. Kansas farm boy, Junior Petty Officer on a rebuilt WWI destroyer, 3 years, 3 months, 21 days operating as troop ship on the Pacific ocean, docking only twice in ports other than atoll island landings.

Now asleep in his chair, 89 years old. He has no scrapbook of his service, no contact with those of his caliber who went through the cauldron of war, no medals or pins commemorating his contribution. The only souvenir I'm aware of is his "coconut knife" US Navy issue, which he gave to his grandson. When the subject of war comes up his light-hearted response is, "I saved the world."

It's his joke. It comes and goes so quickly. The subject changes and the opportunity to ponder his answer disappears. Which is unfortunate, because he, and countless thousands of others did save the world. Anyone who doubts that Germany and Japan had intentions of conquering us all, is deluding themself. Seldom has freedom and slavery or good and evil been so clearly defined. But at the time America reluctantly joined the Allied Forces in 1942, it was not so clear; there were many doubters.

Elected leaders make decisions of enormous consequence. They put the wheels of war, peace, conflict and resolution into motion. Korea, the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Lebanon, Kuwait, Bosnia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Iran…China?

Elected leaders ride into battle, voices loud, sabers rattling and flash bulbs popping, on the backs of men like Grandpa Tommy who answer the call and if they are lucky, come home to the welcoming arms of a thankful country.

Political leaders are honored on President's Day. Grandpa Tommy is honored on Flag Day, July 4, December 7, Memorial Day, and, I guess, every day that I draw a free breath. I'm proud and I'm gonna tell him I appreciate that he saved the world…soon as he wakes up. F

Lee Pitts: Soup Strainers And Flavor Savers

Have you ever noticed the obligatory five or six young men standing behind every Grand Champion steer or heifer at a major livestock show who were responsible for grooming the animal? While every hair is in place on the bovine the talented fellas responsible look like they just spent six months as roustabouts in northern Alaska without access to running water or shaving utensils. They have so much facial hair one wonders if they go out in public does PETA throw paint on them thinking they're wearing wool?

Beards and mustaches are a generational thing. If you look at pictures of our Presidents you'll see that only one or two of our Presidents up until Abe Lincoln had facial hair. Then Abe started a trend of nine Presidents who wore some kind of facial hair. (In Abe's case he had a good reason, he was uglier than a mud fence.) Then for no discernible reason, Presidents became clean shaven again and the last President who had any kind of facial hair was William Taft who was our 27th President.

While my generation was famous for growing our hair long in almost every instance we budding baby boomers were clean shaven. I had eight uncles and as I recall there wasn't a beard in the bunch, although I did have an aunt with a mustache. Fast forward to today and any self-respecting man has some sort of beard, mustache, fu man chu, soul patch, flavor saver or soup strainer. Even muttonchops have made a comeback. And therein lies my problem. Except for those days spent in a coma, from the time I started shaving at 16 until I turned 65 I shaved nearly every day of my life. And I hated every day of it!

I encountered many problems being a serial shaver. First, I'm nearly blind and not being able to see my face in the foggy mirror meant one sideburn was always an inch or two higher then the other and a chunk would be missing from my nose, ear and/or both. I was also a chronic bleeder which meant I always had several tiny pieces of toilet paper with red dots in the middle all over my face when I went out in public. Fast forward to today when everyone has facial hair and being clean shaven means I stick out worse than the wart on Abe Lincoln's face.

Then there's the costs associated with shaving. Men and women don't just shave these days with a razor and a blade, oh no, they have to use a "shaving system" so Proctor and Gamble and Gillette can charge you $25 for a package of blades. Thank goodness dollar stores came along where I can buy a whole bag of throwaway razors for a buck. I don't care if they do take huge chunks out of my cheeks, at least I'm not having to dip into our retirement savings to purchase shaving equipment. If I added up all the time and money I've wasted on razor blades over the years I'd probably own a big ranch and be a billionaire by now. And if my face had been covered in facial hair maybe it wouldn't now be covered in skin cancer. I can also see how a full beard might have come in handy when I had to feed our cows in freezing weather.

Now that I'm a hermit and have stopped going out in public I've started skipping the daily shave. Then other problems started rearing their ugly head. After about three days I don't feel comfortable in my own skin and after a week my face has the texture of 80 grit sandpaper and I could use it to sand furniture. And in trying to cut through the old-growth, prickly underbrush I always break two or three cheapie dollar store razors so now I wonder just how much money I really am saving.

I've almost resorted to desperate measures. The fella who cuts my hair at the Curl Up and Dye Barber Salon tells me that priests in ancient Egypt dealt with the shaving problem by plucking every hair from their bodies. I swear, I hate shaving so much it's almost enough to make me join the priesthood.

The Pastor’s Wife Norma Elliott: Fall works

Well, I made it through another Fall Works. Good times were had by all but it's always good to have it under our belts.

Have you ever noticed how well some women do this thing we call, "Fall Works"? It takes skills you know and years of practice to get things down just right. Could you imagine if we made this into a real life competition? I mean some women amaze me…kid on hip or in saddle, pot roast in the oven, along with a homemade cobbler and lots of hot coffee. They also are pros when it comes to reading their husband's minds in the gather, cutting out cattle, or snagging two feet of a calf!

A competition like this might include the following "ranch" wife responsibilities:

• Breakfast on the table, or nearly ready, when cowboys come through the door, way before the sun peeks its pretty little head. Warm biscuits are a must around here, to sop up creamy gravy or to smother with soft butter and homemade preserves. THE FOOD CAN'T SUCK…I mean, that's if you want your help to come back.

• Hauling food out to the pasture or to another camp…. still, has to be hot and upright as you make your way on rough ranch roads. Must possess skill to dive around big rocks, holes and even dodge the bull that might appear.

Pen cooking is highly favored. Sandwiches are permittable but may not win the contest.

• Gathering cattle with your husband between cooking…..earn "extra" points.

• Haul a kid, or two, or three along in saddle, or with their ponies. Now we are talking 100 plus on the score card. Maybe even a 100 per kid.

• Remember to grab the vaccine out of the fridge and puts it in the ice chest that's in the truck that ends up at the pens. Dang, you're on a roll and might even win this thing.

• Grab the checkbook your husband forgot, so he can pay the crew. Now, we're adding up the points!

• Sweet tea will earn favor with thirsty cowboys.

• Sort in the pens after lunch, now you're just showing off

• Check gates…don't make the rest of us look bad…we're in the kitchen making more sweet tea!

• And finally thank the fellas for coming! That's the most important point earner of all. Manners are double!

Obviously, that's not all, there's still cleanup and dinner, hauling horses back to the house to unsaddle. Putting unused vaccines and leftovers back in the fridge and getting reading for the next day.

What do you think? This might be the best competition to ever hit an arena near you! Would you be game or come watch these fine ranch women do their thing?

Or maybe not…because that would be incredibly hard to judge. And most ranch women I know wouldn't want the shout out or the praise for winning. They do what they do because they love it! They don't need any special recognition to fill in gaps where needed, they are truly thankful to see neighbors enjoying a meal together. They are a vital part to the ranch operation. So if you know a ranch wife or are married to one…give her a big thanks for all she does and remember she's an important part of the crew!

2 Cor. 9:11 says,

"You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." NIV

Psalm 107: 8-9

"Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things." NIV

Thank ya'll for reading and if you've enjoyed it, please visit me on my blog, http://www.thecowboypastorswife.com

At the door

There all kinds who come to my door: those delivering and those picking up, some who are buying and others who are selling, folks we are expecting and some we are not. But, there is one group of people that are unique.

Jehovah's Witnesses.

I know what you're thinking, I've been there myself. There have been times, most of the time if I'm being honest, that I was less than thrilled to find a person or two stating they were Jehovah's Witnesses standing at my door. I already knew the Lord, and their timing was usually less than ideal, seemingly throwing an awkward wrench into my day. And, while I would visit briefly and allow them to share their message, beyond that I kept our conversations limited.

But, this latest group has been a welcome relief to me when they show up on my doorstep every other month. Two visits ago my grandmother had just died, and when they asked if I had a few minutes I honestly answered that I didn't at that time. They offered their condolences, handed me their monthly pamphlet with a verbal note that it had an article on grief inside, and were gone.

On their last visit my kids and I were just wrapping up shampooing carpets unexpectedly after our outside dog came in and used our house as her outhouse. The timing was probably not ideal, but their message must have been exactly what I needed to hear, as it has stuck with me since. After a half hour or so, they left, and I went on with my day.

But, in the days and weeks since that visit, it has struck me that Jehovah's Witnesses are the only people who come to my door specifically to talk to about Jesus, the Bible and getting to heaven.

I have given that fact a lot of thought.

It cannot be easy to approach a stranger and share your beliefs on a regular basis. It isn't always easy on an unregular basis in my experience.

I don't always agree with how they interpret some things, but they make me think. They are unfamiliar with the New King James version of the Bible, but comparing verses also reminds me that it is significant which version of the Bible I choose to study. On their last visit they asked about the Lord's prayer, and come to find out that is the same between them and I.

I'm not suggesting everyone needs to roll out a red carpet every time a religious group pulls in the driveway. Rather, I now find myself paying much closer attention to who is coming to my door and what they are giving or taking away from my home and family. This new perspective has led me to the decision that if someone at my door refocuses my day on the Lord, they are deserving of a few minutes of my time, whether I find it convenient and comfortable, or not.

Jan Swan Wood: Cold breeze, Engessor wins, more tie down and breakaway, meetings, clinics, shows

Boy, someone sure left the gate open between here and the arctic this past week! It got down to +2 here on the creek and had daytime highs of the teens with high wind. Kind of makes one wonder what they did with their summer wages. It's probably safe to put the flipflops away for the season.

You'll be glad to know that the thermocube that I had the heat plugged into in the well house somehow died this fall. Of course, it didn't give notice or anything, so I spent two invigorating days with my hind end in the wind, hunched over the pipes inside the tiny door of the well house, thawing out the labyrinth of pipes to restore water to the house and corrals. I was sure relieved to get that all straightened out and have water again.

Congratulations to Spearfish, S.D.'s Taylor Engessor! She won the L7 Arena's fabulous breakaway roping Nov. 4 and I understand that she banked $12,000 for the win. If you think you're a rodeo hand, you'll find out if you go up against an Engessor in the arena. She and her clan come to win! Congrats too, to the Gilberts of Buffalo, S.D. for hosting such wonderful event at their barn.

The W Arena, Cody, Wyo., is having a Rope 2 Win Tie Down and Breakaway Roping Nov. 17, enter at 11, rope at noon. Cash only. Great added money too. Call for details to Ben at 307-899-2837 or Kate at 307-899-5031.

The Gillette High School Rodeo club will be having a meeting Monday, Nov. 19 at the Campbell County Sheriff's office, Gillette, Wyo. The board will meet at 5:30, club at 7. They have high point buckles on hand and want all the input they can get for the upcoming season.

There will be a Horsemanship Clinic with Levi Hostetler Dec. 15-16 at Westwind Equestrian Center, Casper, Wyo. It's $200 for the weekend and you must pre-register by Nov. 30. Call 307-680-5362 for info.

The S.D.Reined Cowhorse Association will be having their annual meeting on Saturday, Dec. 1 at The Lodge, Deadwood, S.D. The board meeting is at 3 p.m., Stallion Stakes Owners at 4 p.m., general meeting and elections at 5 p.m. Fresh ideas are always welcome!

The Black Hills Sorting and Cutting Club has set the team sort dates for Dec. 2, Feb. 10, and March 10 at the James Kjerstad Event Center, Rapid City, S.D. If you have questions, call Sherry Sidle at 605-381-3781.

You have time to get your working horse tuned up for the KPH Arena Ranch Horse Series which will be Jan. 19, Feb. 9, and March 9. They will have ranch riding, ranch reining, ranch trail, with open, non-pro, youth, green horse and rookie divisions. It's $20/class, enter that day by 8 a.m. and the show starts at 9. The arena is 11 miles south of Gillette, Wyo, on Hwy 50. Call Ashley Villmow at 307-680-5362 for info. You can check out the whole deal at http://www.kluzperformancehorses.com.

Wyoming is going to have horse racing again in 2019! The dates have been approved for Gillette, Evanston and Rocksprings. You can see the schedule at http://www.wyominghorseracingdata.com.

It can get busy this time of year and one can get so busy they take for granted that fat, healthy horses turned out in a good pasture with plenty of water will be able to take care of themselves without being checked daily. I had checked a group of horses two days ago that were all fat and sassy, no problems. Today they happened to be close to the road through their pasture, so we took a moment to check them over. We gave everyone a little cake and some petting and while doing that, the senior member of the group bustled over for a handout with a muzzle full of porcupine quills. They were fresh, like maybe this morning, as she wasn't drawn up from not grazing. Grazing would have been impossible for her as they were in both her top and bottom lips and around the bottom of her nostrils. We had a halter along and pliers, so I held her while my son plucked quills. She was not impressed but finally let him get them all. She was pretty grumpy but not too grumpy to eat a handful of cake when we were done. It would have been a sad thing if we hadn't seen that and a week or so went by with the mad dash of fall work. We might have lost that fine old lady.

I'm going to get off this windy ridge and call this circle ridden. Have a wonderful week! F