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Lee Pitts: Everythin I Know I Learnt In Collage

Over thirty years ago Robert Fulghum wrote a short essay that overnight made him one of the most beloved writers in America. The essay was called "All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." It contained sage advice such as, "Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit. Flush. Take a nap every afternoon. Be aware of wonder." The essay was read into the Congressional Record, recited by Paul Harvey and quoted by Dear Abby and led to a multi-book deal for Fulghum who, by the way, had once been a working cowboy, among other jobs.

I'm afraid if Fulghum's essay was written today to reflect current attitudes it would be called "Everythin I Know I Learnt In Collage" and would contain modern day wisdom such as…

• Go in debt $200,000 to get a BA degree in blog writing and then go back home and live with your parents until you're 35 and try to land a job waiting tables.

• Climate change is real and the earth will self destruct in 20 years if we don't stop cows from farting.

• America is a rotten place and our founding fathers were a bunch of creeps and jerks.

• Success in life is best measured by the number of your Facebook friends and You Tube subscribers.

• Anyone who makes over $100,000 a year should have to pay 90% of it in income tax.

• The energy that powers electric bikes and electric cars is all produced by windmills and solar panels. All coal plants should be shut down and while we're at it, we should tear down all dams.

• The stock market is evil.

• It's a waste of time to learn to spell or write because a computer will do that for you.

• It's not impolite to put your phone on speaker and talk loudly in a crowded restaurant so everyone can hear both sides of your idiotic conversation, nor is it impolite to roll down your windows and turn your car radio up so high the base notes register on the richter scale.

• Joining the Army, Navy or Marines is for suckers.

• Eating too much Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream won't make you fat because its founders were greenies.

• Species didn't start becoming endangered until loggers, ranchers and miners stated wiping them out.

• The only way to get rich in America these days is to buy a winning lottery ticket.

• You should put more thought into the design of your tattoos, your computer passwords and what emojis you use than you do in selecting a "partner". (Notice I did not say spouse.)

• All Americans should be ashamed of themselves for all the evil things our country has done.

• Everyone should be entitled to a free college education, free medical care, a good job and paid maternity leave for both the sperm and egg donors.

• All cops are evil and kneeling during the National Anthem will stop them from killing black people.

• Books are dead, rap is forever, skateboards and social media are the future.

• Humans were never meant to eat meat or wheat, or drink milk. Vegans rule!

• Socialism is much better than capitalism and the best examples of the utopia-like conditions possible under socialism are the havens of Cuba, Venezuela, and the former USSR.

• All men are jerks.

• If a person finds himself or herself deeply in debt for school loans, is presently living out of their van with no job prospects, one can always go back to college for further education and a PhD and then become a highly paid college professor who knows everything.

Baxter Black: The Rookie DVM

How many of you have ever had a new veterinarian out to your place? You think you're scared!

One of the hazards of a livestock veterinary practice is that it is the one specialty in vet medicine where the client almost always knows more than the new graduate veterinarian! Ya, see, in vet school we spent years learning diseases and treatments. We were taught hundreds of possible ailments that might afflict yer critters.

By the time we finally escape and are turned loose on the unsuspecting public, we are bursting with knowledge. They've packed it in our brains like sand in a rat hole! Only problem is, we haven't figgered out which diseases get priority when we're tryin' to come up with a diagnosis.

Say I was lookin' at a feedlot steer with a swollen foot. My brain would be swimmin' with possibilities – ergot, frost bite, fractured sesamoids, BVD, corns…While I'm sifting my computer-like memory bank for tests to run to determine how to diagnose the limping steer, the feedlot cowboy is shuffling his feet. It's the third steer like this he's pulled this week and the 99th one he's seen in the last five years. He knows what it is. The odds are in his favor.

Or the rancher with an Anaplasmosis cow. He's seen hundreds of them. The new vet's never seen one! Same with Erysipelas in hogs or bumblefoot in sheep.

New livestock vets learn a lot their first year, thanks to the kindness and patience of many livestock producers.

The new vet that goes into a dog and cat practice still have the same problems sorting out priorities but the average dog or cat owner is not as knowledgeable in pet diseases. Horse practice is probably the strangest of all specialties. Backyard horse owners are much like pet owners in that they really know very little about the ailments of their equine.

But those brave new vets who take up racetrack practice or a horse show specialty face a mysterious clientele. In addition to the extensive list of legitimate problems and treatments encountered, they must also deal with a blithering array of mythical ailments and mystical treatments. Superstition, patent medicine and secret ingredients abound in the horse world.

So all I can ask is, when you have a "wet behind the ears" graduate veterinarian out to your place, cut 'em a little slack. Who knows – with your help they might amount to somethin' some day.

Baxter Black: The Hunter’s Son

This is the poem of the hunter's son as he tracks the woods alone

And the beaver's revenge when he seeks to avenge the hunter's gauntlet thrown

By choosing to pair with a grizzly bear, big, nasty and fully grown.

He was raised in the woods and meadow where ice and forest collide

In the Peace River reach where fathers still teach their sons how to hunt and provide

Young Scott was in search of the beaver. The country was thick with'em then.

Traps were his love but he wasn't above a rifle shot now and again.

He snuck through the woods like a shadow and stopped just short of a spring.

There on the bank like a person of rank sat Oscar, the Beaver King

He was big as a Yellowknife huskie and humming a Rachmaninov

Scott froze in his tracks, Oscar never looked back till he heard the safety click off.

Then he rolled like a log to the water. The bullet sang just by his ear

Though caught unaware he escaped by a hair and Scott saw the King disappear

Scott cursed his bad luck 'cause ol' Oscar had beaten him just like before

So he turned on the trail, like a dog tuckin' tail and headed back home sad and sore.

But his path was impeded in progress by a bear with a griz pedigree.

He was hungry and large, so when he made a charge Scott climbed up a poplar tree.

He clum till the tree started bendin', twenty feet up off the ground

He sat crotch while the bear carved a notch each time that he circled around.

He climbed within inches of Scotty and scared the bee jee outta him

He snorted and growled and about disemboweled the poplar tree, root to limb

But he finally backed off, reconsidered, like only a grizzly bear could

He shook a big paw and bid au revoir, then disappeared into the wood.

Though shaken, Scott felt he had triumphed, there from his perch in the bleachers.

The vast human brain will always remain the master of God's lesser creatures.

But the sight he beheld left him chastened, outwitted by over-achievers.

The bear reappeared, new help commandeered, with Oscar, the King of the Beavers.

Lee Pitts: Don’t Let it Snow

I hate snow. I know, I know, every ten inches of snow supposedly equals one inch of rain and we all need rain, but a blizzard seems to me to be an awfully inefficient and dangerous way to get your moisture.

Such is my hatred for snow that I'd go so far to say that I'm a chionophobiac. That means I live in fear of the white stuff. To me there is no such thing as "beautiful snow". The holidays are the worst because at any minute I could walk into a store and the Muzak will be playing that irritating Christmas classic, "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow." It's gotten to the point that I hate every month with an "R" in it, which means I don't get any relief until May.

I've got a lot of respect for those of you who live in northern climes where it snows, you with the icicles hanging from your nose hairs. I don't know how you do it. Please understand, I'm a southern California kid, born and bred and the only time I saw snow as a child was when me and my buddies went to YMCA snow camp every winter. One year, three weeks before the camp I suffered a compound fracture of my leg playing an unsafe, unsupervised rugby-like game at the Y. The YMCA leaders were so grateful that my family didn't sue them they insisted that I go to snow camp while on crutches, all expenses paid. The minute we got there a blizzard set in for three days and the Y leaders had to carry me out 12 miles on a toboggan. By the time we got to dry pavement I'm sure they'd have wished we'd have just sued them for ten million.

I think you have to be born in the snow and grow up with it to be able to drive in it and I freely admit that I'm no snowman. This was a big problem because my job description required that I drive 50,000 miles per year and much of that during the winter in the northlands. But the minute I see a snowflake I lose my ability to drive. Making matters worse, I never took my 4 wheel drive pickup nor did I have studded tires which meant I had to chain up a lot. My personal record was the winter I had to chain up 28 times and three times were on the same day!

My wife and I did spend one year in New Mexico but had to move back to California because I didn't have the clothes for the Land of Enchantment. I added up what a Carhartt jacket, cap with ear muffs, long underwear, woolen socks and Sorrell boots would have cost and figured I could live in an ocean front house back home where it never snows and the term "winterize" merely entails rolling up your car windows. Oh sure, we have deadly fog where you can't see two feet in front of you but at least you never see what kills you and your teeth aren't chattering and knees knocking because it's 20 degree below zero!

One problem with living in California is if you want to escape the state to the north you either have to drive over Donner Pass where you can get trapped like we were for three days in a Shell gas station with 20 other folks. (It's a good thing the road reopened because we were starting to size people up to see who we ate first.) Or you can head due north into Oregon via Mount Shasta which holds the record for the single greatest snowstorm in history: 189 inches!

I think I was there that day.

Our worst trip was actually in Oklahoma's panhandle where we got stuck in a blizzard on the way to a bull sale in Guymon and my wife had to open her passenger side door, look at the edge of the asphalt and tell me which way to steer the car. Later I was informed by a grizzled survivor of 89 ruthless winters that I should have just swerved into a snowbank and stayed in the car because that makes it a lot easier to identify the bodies after all the snow melts.

Baxter Black: Pull My Finger

ATTN: This is addressed to teenagers, tuba players and grown-ups in the news media who have gotten great giggles out of the story that cow flatulence is a danger to mankind!

It can be expected from those that have the attention span of a Bartlett pear, but tuba players should know better.

Cows do not flatulate.

Allow me to give you a lesson in bovine physiology. Cows are herbivores, vegetarians. They live on grass. Cows are big. 1,000 lbs. Cows eat a lot of grass. They have four stomachs, the biggest is the rumen. The rumen's job is to prepare grass and roughage to make it digestible by the other stomachs and the alimentary track. This is done by bacterial digestion and fermentation, and physical maceration.

Now, cows lead a fairly boring life. They graze and chew their cud. The cud is a baseball-size wad of chewed, swallowed, re-chewed, regurgitated, chewed and swallowed grass, ad infinitum. This cud is part of a magnificent digestive mechanism that allows cows and other ruminants to utilize fibrous vegetative material that is otherwise completely indigestible by simple-stomached animals like…people. For instance, cows can derive nutritional benefit from lettuce! Who'd a thunk it!

People eat lettuce because it is the next best thing to eating nothing. If you wanna lose weight, the best way is to eat…(?). No, not lettuce, Nothing! But nobody wants to eat nothing, so they eat lettuce, which is the next best thing.

This whole issue involves Greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere. There are three; carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide.

METHANE comes from fermentation of organic breakdowns; compost in your flower garden, garbage dumps, rice paddies, wetlands, domestic and wild ruminants, and alcoholic beverages…agriculture produces 5.8% of all Greenhouse gasses.

CARBON DIOXIDE comes from fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, their energy production, transportation and use. CO2 accounts for 86.3% of all Greenhouse gasses. Transportation (cars and trucks) amount to 33% of all fossil fuels used.

What do we do with all this information? Eliminate non-essential herbivores? Starting with elephants, buffalo, goats, horses, prairie dogs and termites. Next they begin to regulate our diet; no sugar, no organic food (too inefficient) and how about trees? They absorb CO2 and produce Oxygen but what if we have too many trees and they won't let you cut them down? I can picture an army of bureaucrats regulating the use of gasoline, diesel, electricity, construction…wait a minute! They already do!

Back to Cow "Flatulations"; the methane that cows emit comes directly from the rumen. They belch it up. Not as funny, but at least now you know.

In the U.S., 30 million cows emit more methane than all the cars. 125 million cars produce more total Greenhouse gasses than cows. Which is worse for our environment? Hard to say which is more essential; agriculture or transportation? How long can you live without driving?

Pastor in the Pasture Wendel Elliott: Position on a cow, position in Christ

The National Cutting Horse Association rule book states that a horse will be penalized, "when a horse loses his working advantage, misses a cow, or is working out of position;…" For those of you who may not have ridden in a cutting, you now know the definition of "to miss a cow" or "to be out of position." However, you still might not fully understand what I'm talking about. You probably could gain a little more knowledge if I were to actually ride into a herd, separate a cow out, and show you by riding my horse to where he is out of position. I could walk you through things that might develop in the event of working a cow out of position. A rider might lose the cow or "back fence a cow" resulting in extra penalty points. Even then, the understanding of why wouldn't fully be seen until you rode in and experienced it firsthand.

Likewise, if you have played linebacker you understand how that position is practiced and things to watch. You actually put the pads and helmet on and got in the game. You know what a linebacker is and put your position into practice. You've lived out what it was to be a linebacker. I on the other hand never have, so I wouldn't know "come here" from "sic 'em."

As Christians we may get a little confused or unsure of exactly what our position is in Christ. Perhaps we're a little overwhelmed, possibly that such a great salvation and love would save someone like ourselves. We know our skeletons in our closets. However, it becomes more clear what we have when we read the book of Ephesians in chapter 1:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world… In love he predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ… In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ…

In Him we have obtained an inheritance… In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:3-14 ESV)

That is quite a list of things we possess and our position in Jesus Christ. As believers we have:

● "Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places"

● "Adoption as sons (and daughters)"

● "Redemption and forgiveness"

● "Knowledge of the mystery of His will, His purpose, in Christ"

● "An inheritance"

● "The Holy Spirit, as a guarantee of that inheritance"

● and we were "Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world"

Look upon this list and reread Ephesians chapter 1 and see all the things which He has blessed us with as believers. When we see this and gain that knowledge of it then we can put it into practice, living it out. See this list as a launch pad for living out and understanding more and more what we have in Him.

Well, I better saddle up and get back in the practice pen. I got a whole lot more to learn about my position, understand it more, and put into practice.

I'll see y'all out in the pasture!

Lee Pitts: Here and There

I've been in every state but feel most at home on the left side of the Mississippi. I've climbed all over the 17 western states, floated the Rogue, rode horseback on the Borderlands, know how to pronounce the capital of South Dakota, visited Cabelas in Nebraska, watched a rodeo in the Astrodome and the first World Series game ever in Kansas City. I froze my butt off in Aberdeen, been to a 4th of July rodeo in Prescott and the parade in Cayucos. I've never been to the Egyptian Pyramids but I've been to the one in Las Vegas where I also visited Paris and Venice, albeit with slot machines ringing.

I've haggled with Indians selling their jewelry at Four Corners, been to the castle in Castle Rock, slept out with the cowboys on the Bell, been to the top of the Space Needle, unknowingly fed the bears in Yellowstone and fished in the shadow of Half Dome. I've seen and felt the west's haunting beauty in the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion and I know you can't possibly understand my part of the world by just visiting Disneyland on vacation.

This doesn't mean I don't appreciate the East. I spent a week on the beautiful beach in Rehobeth, traipsed all over Florida and visited my brother at West Point on the Hudson. It may be a glittering generality but there are more symptoms of civilization in the East, more tall buildings, toll roads and government offices. The East is more about history while the West is more about the landscape. The East is Arlington and Gettysburg, while the West is the Little Bighorn.

Nature's handiwork is more on display in the West. It's Carlsbad Caverns, the Badlands, Black Hills, the Redwoods, Mt. Whitney, Lake Tahoe, the Oregon seacoast, and the Great Empty, a name given to Montana that could apply to the entire West. It's God's backyard. While the East was built by people like the Amish, the pilgrims, the millionaire's on Jekyll Island and the great southern plantations. The East is architecture, history and all the wonderful monuments in DC. There's more things to do in the East. The West is the oil patch, cowboys and farmers. The East is more inside, the West more outside.

The East is brick, the West is adobe. The East has more and better museums and high brow culture. I've spent days at the Smithsonian, been to Ford's theatre and saw Henry Fonda in a play at the Kennedy Center, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the barb wire museum in Emporia, Kansas, and Georgia O' Keefe's home in New Mexico. The East has Cooperstown. The West has the Cowboy Hall of Fame. I've never been to a Superbowl in New Orleans but I don't see how it could possibly compare with Friday night lights in Texas. I liked Mark Twain's cramped and dusty office at the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City, Nevada, better than his eastern mansion.

I feel closer to nature in the West. I felt the ground shake when Old Faithful erupted and witnessed the destruction when Mt. St Helen's blew her lid. I was also present when my wife did likewise when I lost the car keys in Death Valley in July. She didn't speak to me for days after I insisted we take a plane ride and dive bombed the Grand Canyon.

Whenever I visited the East I felt a divide between the North and South that still exists 150 years after they supposedly settled their differences. The same can be said about how the West feels towards the East. That's because the feds own far too much of the west and have too much say on how we Westerners must live our lives. The West is far less dense and people are more spread out here so that when we do make human contact we tend to be friendlier. Westerners are also more independent, have a stubborn streak and tend to mind their own business. That's why we resent Congressmen and eco snobs from New York City, who've never earned an honest day's wage, trying to rid the world of Oregon loggers, Utah miners and cowboys and cows lest they supposedly destroy the world with their flatulence.

The only disgusting aroma Westerners smell emanates from the much-too-powerful people on the Potomac.

Lee Pitts: Women’s Suffer-Age

If I was a woman I'd be a radical feminist and darn tired of sick jokes like, "My wife ran off with my best friend and I miss him." Or, "women have smaller feet so they can stand closer to the sink," or a sign on the door of a hardware store, "Gone to wife's funeral. Back in half an hour."

Women have long been oppressed. In the 1400's a man was allowed to beat his wife as long as the stick he used was smaller in circumference than his thumb. That's where we get the phrase, "as a rule of thumb." And listen to Napoleon Bonaparte's feelings about the fairer sex: "Nature intended women to be our slaves… they are our property; we are not theirs. They belong to us, just as a tree that bears fruit belongs to a gardener. What a mad idea to demand equality for women! Women are nothing but machines for producing children."

It's only been in the last 100 years that women have been looked upon as anything other than babysitters and housecleaners. James Fargo, brother to the founder of American Express said, "When the day comes that American Express has to hire a female employee, it will close its doors." If I was a woman I think I'd tear up my American Express card upon hearing that.

If you think women are discriminated against in the workplace now consider that in 1900 for a woman to be a telephone operator she had to be between 17 and 26 and be unmarried. Up until Pearl Harbor half of the then 48 states had laws making it illegal to employ a married woman!

I used to be proud that we in the west were more open-minded because we were the first to give women the right to vote, initially in Wyoming and then Colorado, Idaho and Utah. Then I learned the real reason wasn't that we were thinking with our brains but another part of our anatomy, as men often do. In the west in 1850 it's estimated there were only 3,000 women to 70,000 men and the sight of a woman was a rare treat. Of the 36,000 people who arrived in San Francisco in one Gold Rush year only 2,000 were women and it's estimated that females made up only 2 to 4% of the entire population of San Francisco. At a dance in Gold Country there were 150 men and only 9 women.

The west's politicians and newspapermen laid awake nights trying to devise schemes to lure more women westward and one was to give them greater legal freedoms than they enjoyed east of the Mississippi. For example, California passed a law that all assets a woman accumulated prior to marriage and during her marriage were hers to keep. Giving women the right to vote was just another one of those enticements and it had nothing to do with we westerners being more fair.

Honeymoons didn't last long in the west. If a man did manage to find a wife soon she was being treated like a hired hand or a piece of furniture. The western man was open-minded only in that he was more than willing to let his wife do her half of the chores… and his too. Any man's topic of conversation was more important than anything a female might say and women were being mistreated in Hollywood long before Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby came along. Roy Rogers' horse Trigger got higher billing than Roy's wife Dale Evans did.

It all makes you wonder what women ever liked about men to begin with.

I was President of the California Association of the FFA in 1970 when females were allowed to be members. I was all in favor of the move then but had I known that in just a few short years they'd be beating the boys at every turn I might have been of a different mind. But the genie is out of the bottle now and I agree with the anonymous sage who said, "any woman who seeks to be equal to man lacks ambition."

So men, don't be surprised that someday soon revenge-seeking women will take over the world. And when they do, just like in the west, it too will be a far better place.

Baxter Black: Graftin’ Calves

I was ugly when I was born. How ugly were you? I was so ugly they had to tie my mother's legs together so I could nurse! If you've ever grafted a calf you know just what I'm talkin' about.

Graftin' calves. An unnatural act. One of the more frustrating parts of calvin' season. You've got a good (or not so good) heifer who lost her calf to calvin' difficulty, scours, deep water, snow drifts, tractor tires, excitement, BVD or any of a million or two reasons that we could all by name.

You figger to graft another calf in its place from one of your many sources: a twin, a dried up heifer, the sale barn, the local dairy, Walmart or one of those late night television commercials that offers a four-legged lizard to Guy-Ko you, tape you can plug your septic tank with, or the pillow man to personally come to your home to fluff you up!

I imagine since the time of Noah's Livestock Auction and Commission Company, peddlers have been offering magical solutions that you can sprinkle on the calf and the heifer's nose to mask the scent, different formulae abound; musk from a rutting beaver, compost drops, eucalyptus oil, limburger lotion or grizzly after shave. They all have one thing in common: they smell like two dead carp left in a Hefty trash bag on a warm Phoenix afternoon.

I've tried rubbing the graft with the new mother's afterbirth. I tried the ol' sheepherder trick of skinnin' the dead calf and tyin his hide around the new one. I admit that trick always makes me feel sorry for both calves. It certainly couldn't be too comfortable, not to mention it would take both of 'em right off the best dressed list!

My most effective method involved cow psychology. That's right . . . SHOVEL TRAINING! Hobble the heifer, pen her and the graft calf up for a few days and do it the hard way. First you stand in the pen with them and encourage the calf to suck. He tries, she kicks, you konk her with the shovel. On the poll is a good a place as any.

Eventually she will stand still and let him nurse. For the next few days you lean over the gate and wave the shovel when you want him to suck. Usually the heifer gives up and finally you can turn'em both out.

I don't know how well this method works on mules, kangaroos or Holsteins but I'd recommend it fer yer good ol' run of the mill bally.

A Few Thoughts by John Nalivka – A well-marbled steak and single malt scotch

I follow a couple of rules – first, never leave a good steak unattended on the grill and second, don't mix anything with expensive liquor except a couple of ice cubes. Those two rules can be combined into one – have a glass of good scotch in your hand while standing next to your grill and savoring those well-marbled thick cut steaks seasoned with only salt and pepper cooking to perfection. You may be wondering where I am going with this and whether it has anything to do with markets other than it does concern beef.

Just this week I read an article about "Nurture Ranch 1 Steer Ground Beef." The claims for this ground beef product were quite interesting and for many reading the article, probably better described as controversial. The "1 steer" was "100 percent grass fed – no feedlots, confinement, antibiotics, hormones, or GMOs" and "was a quality ranch breed like those found in steak houses." That steer is priced at $9 per pound. I am sure there are consumers who are both willing and able to pay $9 for "1 steer ground beef."

A few years ago the question was raised about growing demand for ground beef and whether the industry could supply that demand. In conversation, I somewhat facetiously made the comment, we can always grind the entire steer adding that I wasn't sure the consumer would be willing to pay the higher price that would be implied by grinding steaks. Of course, I was assuming the steer in question was grain finished since 98 percent of steers and heifers marketed are grain-fed. And, I while I do enjoy a good hamburger, I also enjoy a good steak – but not as a hamburger patty! It's somewhat like sorting calves – some are worth more than others and should be sold as a separate lot if you are to capture their higher value.

The U.S. beef industry is the most efficient producer of quality, wholesome, safe beef in the world. I am sure there is demand for that "1 steer ground beef," but let's not give the other 98 percent of U.S. beef which is grain-fed a black eye in order to market 2 percent of the beef. Going back to my two rules mentioned earlier – while I like ground beef, I prefer my steak as grilled to perfection as a steak. Call me a purist!