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Rushmore State sends three to WNFR: Lockhart, Routier, O’Connell to compete

Three South Dakotans have qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR).

Bareback rider Shane O'Connell, Rapid City, and barrel racers Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, and Jessica Routier, Buffalo, will be in the city of "neons and nylons," Las Vegas, competing at the 60th annual WNFR December 6-15.

For Lockhart, the veteran of the trio, this will be the twelfth consecutive trip.

For O'Connell and Routier, it is the "maiden voyage."

O'Connell, who is 23 years old, had a "world champion-type season" all year, up till mid-July.

He won second place at the 2017 RAM Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo in Minot, first at the All-American Finals in Waco, Texas, and placed at nearly every rodeo he went to.

After winning third at Cheyenne Frontier Days, he was ranked seventh in the world standings. A separated and strained sternoclavicular (SC) joint, connecting the sternum to the collarbone, didn't keep O'Connell from rodeo but slowed him down. Sports medicine trainers helped, but he slipped in the standings. "I didn't win but five, six thousand dollars from Cheyenne to the end of the year (Sept. 30)," he said. "That's a pretty rough three months of rodeo when you're hurt. But they were going to have to rip it away from me before I would go home. Making the Finals was what drove me."

O'Connell has had time to rest, rehab and relax since the rodeo year ended, and he's appreciated it. "Being home, not getting on for the last three or four weeks, has been tremendous for my body and great for my head. I'm able to relax. There's a lot of pressure towards the end of the year."

O'Connell's dad, Jiggs, was a bareback rider and started his only son. "Dad pushed me into riding bareback riding pretty hard, but I loved it. I could take it," O'Connell said. He rode junior junior barebacks in Little Britches Rodeo, winning the National Little Britches Rodeo five years in a row. He also won the S. D. State High School bareback riding title three times and the bull riding once, and at the National High School Finals in 2013, he won the bareback riding.

This won't be O'Connell's first time to compete in the Thomas and Mack Arena, the home of the WNFR. When he was thirteen years old, he was one of three top Little Britches Rodeo bull riders to ride a bull as part of the PBR World Finals.

His dad has been anticipating this for a long time. O'Connell has twice finished the rodeo season in nineteenth hole, four places out of the WNFR qualifications, and when his son had won $18,000 last October (for the 2018 rodeo season), Jiggs made room reservations in Las Vegas. "I knew this was coming," Shane said.

He doesn't have butterflies, either. "I'm more just ready to get it done. I've been waiting on this for a long time. I might get nervous when I get there, but right now, no way. I love riding bucking horses, and they're going to run the best ten horses under me for a lot of money. Bring it on. I'm just waiting for it."

In addition to his dad Jiggs, his mom Ann will be in Las Vegas to watch their son ride, and his sisters Rylee and Eryn will be there for part of the rodeo.

O'Connell enters the WNFR in thirteenth place, with $80,162.66 won.

Two busy mamas' lives are going to be a bit hectic for ten days in December.

Lisa Lockhart, the mother of three, and Routier, the mother of five, will both be in Las Vegas to run barrels at the WNFR.

It is Routier's first trip.

She's aboard a seven-year-old palomino mare, Fiery Miss West, "Missy," owned by Gary Westergren of Lincoln, Neb.

It was never Routier's plan to make the WNFR. But when she won second at the 2017 Badlands Circuit Finals and second at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Florida, she thought maybe she should try. (Monies earned from the '17 circuit finals and the national circuit finals counted for the '18 rodeo year). "The way things looked," Routier said, "I thought it would be silly not to go a little bit more. We kept going, and it kept going well. It wasn't our goal at the beginning of the year to make the Finals by any means."

It was at the rodeo in Guymon, Oklahoma, when Routier sat down with a map and the rodeo listing, and planned her schedule. She figured out how much it had taken in earnings to qualify for the barrels in past years, and "I had an idea in my head of how much I needed to win each week to be in the top fifteen."

She was never more than ten to fourteen days from home, her husband Riley, and their kids: son Braden, twelve, and daughters Payton, ten, twins Rayna and Rose, three, and Charlie, two.

The older kids, Braden and Payton, understood what their mother was trying to do and urged her on. "Braden has asked me for years why I never tried to make the NFR," she said. "I told him I'd have to be gone from home a lot. They were part of what pushed me to do it."

Braden and Payton are excited for their mom, and through the year, Braden kept track of her earnings. "They checked the standings online, and after every run, Braden would want to know what (the rodeo) paid."

Missy, by Firewater Frenchman and out of Frenchmans Bo Dashus by Royal Quick Dash, came to the Routier ranch as a two-year-old, and Routier ranched on her, breakaway roped and did poles on her. "She's good at every task you put her to," Routier said. She doesn't like cattle that are facing her, however. "She's terribly afraid of them if they're facing her. I think that's one of the things that made her tough. At a young age, we made her work through it." Routier, aboard Missy, worked the alleyway during AI season, so "she had to work through that fear. She's tough as nails."

Missy also faced new arenas and situations all summer long and handled them with aplomb. The first barrel at the Thomas and Mack is "blind," meaning horses don't see it till they're through the alleyway and in the arena. But Routier doesn't think it will bother Missy at all. "She's never had anything throw her for a loop."

The mare also loves her job. "When we decided to (rodeo to make the WNFR), I decided, if she gets tired or sore, I'm not going to push her. She kept running strong all summer long and jumped in the trailer every time it was time to go. She handled it really well."

Routier also isn't worried about making so many runs consecutively. "It's hard on a horse to make ten runs in ten days in a row, but we've almost done that this summer, and we had to drive between runs. Usually if you run her several times at the same place, she gets stronger and stronger every run."

She has turned to veteran barrel racer Lockhart for advice about the WNFR. "I've asked a lot of questions from a lot of people who have been there before, mainly Lisa," she said. "She's been my go-to all summer."

While Riley and Jessica are in Las Vegas, a trusted babysitter, Jada Maher, will stay with the kids at home. All of them will fly out for the last four days of the rodeo.

Routier enters the WNFR in eighth place, with $98,704.23 won in 57 rodeos.

Veteran barrel racer Lisa Lockhart will have two horses in her trailer, when she and husband Grady head for Las Vegas.

Fans know and love her main mount, Louie, and they are becoming familiar with her number two horse, an eight-year-old mare buckskin named Rosa who looks very similar to Louie. The way fans can tell the two horses part: Lockhart takes Louie to the right barrel first, whereas, Rosa goes to the left first.

Louie is Lockhart's "Mr. Consistent," she said. "There's not an arena that Louie doesn't love." If it means staying in the average, Louie might be her mount. But if it means winning a round, Rosa might be her choice. But that doesn't mean the two horses aren't interchangeable. "There is no right or wrong answer," Lockhart said, "and there is no right or wrong horse. It's an instinct thing and we haven't decided what we're doing."

Even though, after nearly a dozen trips to the "big show," a person might think the WNFR would be old hat, but it's not. "You can't get too comfortable," Lockhart said. "It's great, having expectations of what our schedule will be, and things like that, that make a huge difference. But we'll be just as nervous for the first round (this year) as we were for the first round the first year."

And even though the routine is somewhat familiar, it's still a big deal. "The stakes are higher," Lockhart said. "You're going to do your job, to the best of your ability, regardless of whether it's a regular rodeo or the NFR, but in the back of your mind, you know what's at stake. There's a lot of money to be won out there these days. It's a game changer for your year and your life."

She and Grady have three children: Alyssa, a student at Black Hills State University (and also a WPRA barrel racer), Thane, a senior, and Cade, a freshman, both at Hot Springs High School. The boys won't come to Las Vegas to watch their mom; there are basketball practices to attend. But Alyssa might come for the entire ten days. "She'd love to see how it all happens," Lockhart said, "from start to finish. We'd love to have her there with us."

But before they head to the WNFR, there are plenty of obligations at home: wrapping up high school football, Alyssa's last college rodeo for the season, selling calves next week, and a few circuit rodeos.

And the day after the WNFR is over, the Lockharts will make a beeline for home. There's a high school basketball game on Monday, Dec.17, and two of the Hot Springs Bison – Thane and Cade – will have their mom and dad in the stands. "We switch modes pretty quickly," she said. "It'll be back to the parent mode, the cheerleader mode, in short order."

Lockhart enters the WNFR in third place, with $123,515.19 won in 43 rodeos.

The WNFR consists of ten rounds on ten consecutive days, December 6-15. After the final performance, two champions are crowned in each event (four for the team roping): the average winner, who won the WNFR by having the best cumulative time or score over the ten rounds, and the world champion, who won the most money throughout the year (including what was earned at the WNFR). The average winner and world champion might be the same person, or different people.

USDA, FDA will oversee cell-cultured proteins

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration held a public meeting to discuss the use of livestock and poultry cell lines to develop cell-cultured food products. At this meeting, stakeholders shared valuable perspectives on the regulation needed to both foster these innovative food products and maintain the highest standards of public health. The public comment period will be extended and will remain open through December 26, 2018.

After several thoughtful discussions between our two Agencies that incorporated this stakeholder feedback, we have concluded that both the USDA and the FDA should jointly oversee the production of cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry. Drawing on the expertise of both USDA and FDA, the Agencies are today announcing agreement on a joint regulatory framework wherein FDA oversees cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation. A transition from FDA to USDA oversight will occur during the cell harvest stage. USDA will then oversee the production and labeling of food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry. And, the Agencies are actively refining the technical details of the framework, including robust collaboration and information sharing between the agencies to allow each to carry out our respective roles.

This regulatory framework will leverage both the FDA's experience regulating cell-culture technology and living biosystems and the USDA's expertise in regulating livestock and poultry products for human consumption. USDA and FDA are confident that this regulatory framework can be successfully implemented and assure the safety of these products. Because our agencies have the statutory authority necessary to appropriately regulate cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry the Administration does not believe that legislation on this topic is necessary.

Lia Biondo, with the United States Cattlemen's Association shared some thoughts in a live video announcing the decision. "FDA and USDA just issued a joint statement saying that the two agencies are going to jointly regulate foods produced using cell-cultured technology. We've seen a regulatory battle over the last year," she said. The decision for dual regulatory authority is exactly what USCA had lobbied for.

"This joint regulatory framework is exactly what's needed. Both agencies have a role to play. USDA regulates meat products."

Biondo said her organization believes that if USDA had been allowed to exclusively regulate the cell-cultured protein products, that the products may be allowed to be marketed as meat. They believe this may be part of the reason that some meat companies were lobbying for this approach.

–USDA/FDA news release and staff reporting

Big Timber rancher wins Young Farmer & Rancher Discussion Meet, Polaris Ranger at FB Convention

BILLINGS–Cali Rooney, a young rancher from Big Timber, bested three other competitors to win the Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Young Farmer and Rancher Discussion Meet. She got the keys to a Ranger® 570 EFI and an all-expense paid trip to compete in the national competition in New Orleans in January. The three other contestants were Joel LaLiberty from Belgrade, Lacey Sutherlin from Stevensville and Mark Boyd from Alder. The Discussion meet was held November 8 during the MFBF 99th Annual Convention in Billings.

The Discussion Meet, which is open to Farm Bureau members age 18-35, is meant to simulate a committee meeting with ideas discussed and solutions developed. The question for the final round: In our modern world, the rapid dissemination of information and opinion about agriculture and food technologies can make it difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. Given these challenges, how can Farm Bureau best protect farmers' and ranchers' access to production technology options?"

In the discussion, Rooney said that early education about the truth and science behind agriculture is an effective way to reach consumers at a young age. The fifth-generation rancher noted that farmers in the U.S. produce the cleanest and safest food supply in the world due to technology, and added that she is excited about the challenge to produce food for the future.

"I enjoyed participating in the Discussion Meet because of the different perspectives I heard from the other contestants," Rooney said, adding that she has a long-time Farm Bureau legacy having participated in the Montana Farm Bureau Foundation Youth Speech Contest, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and coming from a long-time Farm Bureau family.

As for the Utility Vehicle, the young rancher was thrilled. "We will put it to use immediately for fencing, working cows and dispensing mineral. It will be worked hard, but it will be loved. I thank Farm Bureau and the Polaris dealers for the opportunity and this amazing prize."

Chad Adams with Yellowstone Polaris noted that the participating Montana Polaris dealers are proud to be the Discussion Meet sponsor for the fourth year in a row. "We now have 75 percent of the Montana Polaris dealers on board with this program," said Adams. "It's great seeing these talented young people involved in agriculture participate in this contest."

The Montana Farm Bureau YF&R Committee thanks the participating Polaris dealers in Montana who made the amazing final prize possible. (Gallatin Recreation, Helena Cycle, Sports City Cyclery, Yellowstone Polaris, Beaverhead Motorsports, Riverside Marine & Cycle, Montana Power Products, Jesco Marine, Kurt's Polaris, Redline Sports, Inc. and Lewistown Honda & Polaris.)

–Montana Farm Bureau

Sharing the Holy with the Cow: Rancher-based organization helps feed the hungry

It was a church sermon on helping the needy that sparked the idea for Holy Cow Ranches. Seven years ago Jate Heap's pastor in Bozeman, Mont., was conveying the need for the congregation, as Christians, to step up to help the needy and not just rely on the government to do it.

The message hit home with Heaps, a cowboy and cattleman who today lives and ranches in Absarokee, Mont. "During that sermon I tried to figure out a way I could help, and cattle came to mind," says Heaps.

Like the principle of "teaching a man to fish," Holy Cow Ranches is based on the concept of sustainability and relying on a renewable food source. To Heaps, the fact that cattle reproduce and have calves – and thus create a perpetual food production system – kept coming to mind as he scribbled notes. Heaps and his wife, Brook, launched the 501c3 organization along with the help of Heaps' parents, Joe and Carrie Heaps. Joe currently serves on the board of directors and they work to grow the program around the Challis, Idaho, area where they live and ranch.

The purpose of their work is simply to use cattle to feed the hungry, and they do it in a variety of ways. For the most part the program operates in Montana and Idaho. The basics are cattle which are donated and then either harvested for beef or sold, with the money used to purchase ground beef. Holy Cow then partners with churches to set up a freezer in their facility, and relies on word-of-mouth and referrals to distribute the beef to needy families. "Congregations usually have a pretty good idea of who among their own needs help," Heaps says. Jate and Brook are also starting to build a herd of "Holy Cow cows," that will serve as a base for the program, with the calves being used feed the program – both literally or through cash sales.

A second base of operations is emerging in the unlikely location of Nashville, where Jeff Lucas – a PRCA rodeo announcer, marketing expert, and also the new social media coordinator for Holy Cow Ranches, lives.

To Lucas, the cause of hunger hits close to home. "I grew up in a family where my parents worked six jobs to try and make ends meet, but we still didn't have enough. Trips to the food pantry were what we relied on for groceries," he says. Lucas notes that as salt-of-the-earth, hardworking ranchers, "at times we forget that just because someone works hard, it doesn't necessarily mean they are able to afford food, and just because someone has to rely on a hand-out doesn't mean they don't work."

As Holy Cow Ranches has grown, corporate sponsors have come on board in the fight against hunger. Currently, Merck Animal Health donates all the vaccine for the Holy Cow base herd. Allflex donates the tags. Cinch, maker of western jeans and shirts, has donated product to help raise funds, and Big Bend Trailers is raffling off a trailer from their booth at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this year.

Different donors often have different request of where and how they want their contributions to go, says Lucas. For that reason they try and keep options open and Holy Cow's "flowchart" of operations is intentionally left loosely defined. "We are very deliberate about not setting limitations on what kind of donations we take, or how we help those in need," says Lucas. "Our primary method is to simply take a donation dollar and reproduce it through cattle."

As a rancher, Heaps says his expertise is raising cattle, and networking with others who do the same. "We run our own cows, so we have a pretty good idea of what we can do as ranchers," he says. He hopes other ranchers see the difference a donation will make, and are called to join in as they are able. "We have a lot of people asking how they can help, and they appreciate the fact that since we are operating in uncharted territory we will continue to learn as we grow."

Heaps says as they look to the future, one of their areas of growth will focus on children, especially the food insecure population who depend on school programs. "When the weekend rolls around, there're a lot of kids who will go hungry before Monday comes," says Heaps. "We'd love to be able to provide some sort of preserved beef like jerky for them to take home in their backpacks."

Today Holy Cow Ranches continues to be part food collection and distribution, part networking to build the organization, but more than anything – it's the promotion of the timeless principle of taking care of one another.

"Even if you don't get involved with us in particular, if we can inspire people to get involved in some other organization to serve their neighbors or encourage others to take care of the less fortunate in some way, then we've fulfilled our mission," says Lucas.

For people interested in being a part of Holy Cow Ranches – either through cattle or cash donations, sponsoring beef processing, setting up a distribution freezer, or any other means of involvement, call Heaps at 406.223.0274. Donations can be made and more information found at the website HolyCowRanches.org.

The basis of the organization continues to be faith, and Lucas says they've done a good job as an organization to surround themselves with likeminded people who truly have a heart to help others.

"The reality is we may not ever be able to end hunger, but we know we can make a difference," says Lucas. "And that difference is what we strive to do. It may be filling someone's belly, or leading someone back to their faith."

Maybe hamburger is just the way to do that.

Leaving a Legacy: Raymond followed the Sutton legacy before him, left his own legacy

The Sutton name is tied to many notable livestock enterprises: some of the finest rodeos produced, the oldest privately-owned bison herd in America, quality Quarter Horses, and, at one point, the largest Hereford bull sale in America. Most of this was established and enacted by either Raymond Sutton Sr. or his father Edwin and carried out by his family. For his vision and creativity, Raymond was honored as a rodeo promoter at the 29th Annual Casey Tibbs Foundation Tribute Dinner last Saturday.

Raymond was born on the home ranch west of Agar, South Dakota, in 1906, as the third son of Edwin and Jessie Sutton. He took a strong interest in anything livestock-related. His particular talent was training heavy horses to drive and light horses to ride.

In 1911, Edwin introduced bison to the ranch after trading a Hereford bull for two bison cows and a bull. Raymond drove the bison as well. Unbroken yearling bison were a specialty act in rodeos by being hardnessed to a chariot, testing how long a man could last in the single wagon.

Edwin and Raymond also used the chariot for mule races; Raymond and one of the hired hands would race teams of mules against each other.

"Raymond was the cowboy of the family," his daughter-in-law Georga said. "His father Edwin was always looking for some way to make money."

So, in the mid 30s, the Sutton/Fairbank Rodeo Company was established. Raymond competed in bareback riding and bulldogging, the only brother to rodeo. He paid the price, however, getting bucked off at a rodeo, breaking his left hand and ending his violin playing.

"The partnership was successful for a number of years, but as the Great Depression deepened, the rodeo company was dissolved," Georga, who married Ray Jr., said.

Having said he would marry before he turned 30, Raymond married Beulah Cass on his last day as a 29-year-old. He continued his father's lead and established Raymond Sutton Rodeo Company thereafter.

In the early 1940s, Raymond Sutton Rodeo Co. had contracted a rodeo in Minneapolis, but when a conflict arose with the planned facilities, they seamlessly moved the event to St. Paul.

"Raymond took not only stock, but also a number of Native American dancers from the neighboring Cheyenne Agency as another specialty act," Georga said. "The rodeo went well and the gate looked to be profitable, but when Raymond went to settle up, the rodeo promoter that held the contract refused to pay."

He claimed that the contract had been breeched due to the change of location, so Raymond was forced to sell the livestock he had brought in order to pay everyone and get them back to South Dakota. This resulted in the disbanding of his rodeo company.

"For eight years, he worked his ranch and rebuilt his finances," Georga said. "In the mid 1950s, he joined with his brothers and Erv Korkow to form the Sutton/Korkow rodeo company. He was in the rodeo business again."

He had also joined the ranks of another business in the meantime: Quarter Horses. In 1948, Raymond and his brothers found an opportunity during the drought in Texas to buy a handful of well-bred Quarter Horse mares, the first of their kind on the ranch. Prior to Quarter Horses, the Suttons raised heavy draft-type horses, but seeing a change in trend with the ever-growing popularity of mechanized machines, the Suttons sent a whole train load, the largest of its time, of heavy horses to Chicago.

The first Quarter Horse mares foaled in 1949, and the Sutton's first production sale was in 1951, and the herd grew to include stallions from the lines of Three Bars, Poco Bueno, and many more.

Prior to acquiring Quarter Horses, in the late 30s, Raymond had a horse named Dude that he discovered was quite a jumper. That proved handy for practicality and entertainment purposes.

"Dude started off as a saddle horse on the ranch. There were miles and miles of fence and few gates in between, and so Raymond figured that if he put a coat on the fence, Dude would jump it," Georga said. "At the rodeo, he used to jump over three horses or steers packed together. It was a very popular act."

Many approached Raymond with offers to buy Dude, but he had always turned them down. One day, he went to his stall, only to discover he was gone. They never did find him.

Similar to discovering Dude's jumping talents, Raymond founded the Sutton bucking horse lines. Raymond had a palomino stallion Plaudits Sun Top that had been registered in the Palomino Breeker's Association but didn't pass inspection to be registered by AQHA.

"He tended to throw colts that bucked," Georga said. "Two of his sons became national bucking horses of the year. Some of his colts started out as saddle horses on the ranch but later bucked cowboys off in the rodeo. At the end of the ride, they pulled the flank strap off and rode them out of the arena."

When Raymond grew tired of rodeoing every weekend, he gave his partnership portion to his brother James and concentrated instead on building his horse and cow herds. James' son, grandson, and great grandsons still successfully manage Sutton Rodeo Co.

Raymond was a caring, humorous man who passed away in 1993 at the age of 86, but he is still fondly remembered by those close to him.

"When I was going to country school, we got to get out of school to go to the buffalo roundup," said Mark Byrum, who grew up neighboring the Suttons. "They would have the cowboys horseback bring in the buffalo up out of the river brakes on to some flatter ground, then there would be a bunch of old guys and other people in pickups that helped herd the buffalo into the pens. My mom would always tell me whatever I do, do not get in the pickup with Raymond. Guess who I always rode with!"

Byrum bought his first horse from the Suttons at the age of 10. He still owns several Sutton-bred horses, who he has named James, John, Raymond, and Lyle, all Sutton men.

Justine Nelson enjoys ranch work, tack creation

It has been said that a Wyoming cowgirl is a force to be reckoned. She can ride, rope, sort, run a place-essentially by herself and still have a hot meal ready for a crew in less time than it would take a short-order chef. Add running a small business to that mix and you've got Wyoming's own Justine Nelson.

"The desire to build and create has been a part of me from my early childhood." Justine explained when asked the inspiration for her business. "My first efforts were directed towards outfitting toy horses. My sister has a bridle I braided, out of yarn, for her stick horse

when I was about 7 years old. Horse tack has always fascinated me, especially braided pieces. When I was about 8, I was given a set of simple 8 strand round braided reins. I tried and tried to understand how they were built. But unlike flat braids, which I could look at and recreate, the mechanics of a round braid escaped me. Finally, when I was in my teens I came across Bruce Grant's 'How to Make Cowboy Horse Gear'. I was delighted!" She went on to explain that, as teen on a budget, instead of using leather or cord she first employed bailing twine to braid. "After graduation and getting a job, I was able to work with paracord and eventually kangaroo. Learning to cut and bevel my own strings. Around this time I also started learning to tool leather and began building my skills in the construction and finishing of leather goods. I didn't come from a family of craftsmen, so I learned mostly from books, articles and lots of trial and error."

She went on to tell that in 2015 she attended a rawhide braiding workshop put on by Doug Groves in Elko, NV. "It was at that class that working with rawhide finally clicked for me.

Being able to feel a correctly tempered hide and to see how to correctly use the tools associated with cutting and beveling, made all the difference."

During the past few years she has honed her skill and has been rising as a top tooler and creator in Wyoming. Nelson can be found in her shop building just about anything. "Horse tack, personal goods such as wallets and notebooks, decorative items like custom brand pillows. All kinds of stuff!" She described and went on to share her appreciation for working with rawhide, "I relish the challenges that working rawhide offers. Each hide is unique, and even though I might make a dozen bosals, each one will offer it's own unique challenge."

In regard to time Nelson explained that she has to be strategic with hers and prioritize. "The 6 months when I don't have cattle here, I spend most of my time in the shop. But the rest of the year, the live cattle come ahead of the shop work. I do usually get at least 6 hours a day in the shop provided nothing is wrong with the waterline!"

Justine describes her key to success as "Producing a quality piece that is both functional and beautiful." She said to other women aspiring to start a leather working business, "I believe it was Duff Severe who said 'Saddlemaking (and rawhide) work is a medieval craft done with medieval tools for medieval wages' I try to make it clear that this is no get rich quick deal. You'll put a great deal of time and money into it before you get any back." She also described some of the frustrations that come with a women in a traditionally man's trade. "One challenge I still encounter is the belief that a woman isn't capable of building good cowboy gear. When I have a booth at a rodeo, etc I often hear the compliment 'Wow your husband is a really amazing craftsman.' They mean it well, but it's pretty frustrating to have your work immediately credited to a non-existent man!" She continues on with a skilled hand and a smile and said, "I am finding that my rawhide work is more easily accepted than my saddles. So for the time being, I intend to build my reputation as a quality gear maker with the rawhide. And perhaps, eventually focus more on the saddles on down the road."

In terms of clients, Justine Nelson has them spread across a wide swath of the country. Anna Burch from Oshoto, WY stated in regard to Justine's work, "Justine does beautiful work. Is precise and really makes an effort to perfect each piece. She is definitely gifted."

To learn more about Justine Nelson and JLN Custom Leatherwork just visit facebook.com/JLNCustomLeatherwork.

Nelson works on a ranch between Gillette, Wyoming, and Broadus, Montana. For half the year she runs between 150 and 200 cow-calf pairs. "I spend far more time maintaining the water system and fences than I spend doing 'cowboy' stuff. But I enjoy it." She stated. "Certain times of the year, branding, shipping, and hunting season I help out at the main ranch. Usually in the kitchen."

Along with her ability to handle numerous ranch tasks well, Justine is gaining a lot of recognition for her leather working business JLN Custom Leatherwork.

Serial Cattle Thief Ends Saga with Guilty Plea

CARTHAGE, Texas — Serial cattle thief Bradley Wayne Guthrey, 29, of North Little Rock, Arkansas, entered a guilty plea Nov. 1 for felony cattle theft charges that date back to 2014. He will serve five years in state prison as a result of the plea agreement. The conviction stems from an extensive investigation conducted by Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) Special Rangers with the assistance of multiple law enforcement agencies.

TSCRA Special Ranger Larry Hand and former TSCRA Special Ranger Toney Hurley led the investigation. In December 2014 Hand was called to the Panola Livestock Auction to inspect a suspicious load of cattle dropped off by Guthrey. While Hand and Panola County Constable Bryan Murff were on the scene, Guthrey returned. Upon seeing the investigators, he fled and led the two lawmen on a high-speed chase before crashing through a gate and escaping on foot.

After a seven-hour manhunt involving state and local police, K9 units and a Department of Public Safety helicopter, former TSCRA Special Ranger Hurley negotiated Guthrey's surrender by phone.

With the assistance of fellow Special Rangers Hal Dumas, Marvin Wills, Jimmy Dickson and Brent Mast the subsequent investigation revealed numerous additional thefts. During their 2014 crime spree Guthrey and an accomplice, Levi Boyd, were involved in stealing more than 70 head of cattle and equipment across Texas and Arkansas in addition to outstanding warrants in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The wide-ranging investigation has led to numerous convictions across Texas and has kept Guthrey incarcerated in various jurisdictions since his 2014 arrest. The Panola County conviction is among the last related to Guthrey's spree of cattle thefts.

Hand used the sentencing as an opportunity to remind cattle producers about the importance of branding cattle. During the initial investigation, the suspect specifically told special rangers that he targeted unbranded cattle because they are not as easy for authorities to identify.

TSCRA would like to thank all of those involved in the investigation, especially the Panola County District Attorney's Office, Panola County Sheriff's Office and Panola County Constable Bryan Murff for their assistance on the case.

-Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association

Young farmers and ranchers donate $6K to Montana Food Bank Network

BILLINGS–The Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Committee presented a check for $6000 to the Montana Food Bank Network (MFBN) at the MFBF YF&R Luncheon Thursday, November 8 in Billings.

The donation came from proceeds raised during the YF&R Hoofin' it for Hunger Race Oct. 6 at Fort Keogh Agricultural Research Station in Miles City. This was the eighth year for Hoofin' It for Hunger, which was launched during the Montana Farm Bureau Convention in Missoula in 2011 as part of the national Young Farmers and Ranchers work with the Harvest for All program.

"We are so thankful for the relationship we have with Montana Farm Bureau Federation. The Hoofin' it for Hunger event has raised a total of just under $50,000 for the Montana Food Bank Network. That amount equates to 153,000 meals provided to people in need in Montana," said Bill Mathews, chief development director, Montana Food Bank Network. The Missoula-based Montana Food Bank Network secures and distributes donated and low-cost food to nearly 150 hunger relief agencies throughout Montana. "The Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers decided years ago that helping to end hunger in Montana was important to them and they have never wavered in their efforts to give back their time and funding to this important cause."

Gil Gasper, YF&R Chair, noted, "Once again, our Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee was thrilled to be able to donate proceeds from our Hoofin' it for Hunger race to the Montana Food Bank Network to help provide food for those in need. As young farmers and ranchers, producing food is important to us, and we see this as a great way to share the bounty. I'd like to thank everyone who is part of the cooperative effort including the Custer/Fallon County Farm Bureau, our MFBF Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, Fort Keogh, Miles City Community College students, citizen volunteers and the race sponsors. Hoofin' it for Hunger is successful because of them."

–Montana Farm Bureau Federation

Veteran salute: Sam Marty

"God has secrets that we aren't meant to understand."

After Sam Marty learned of two soldiers in his company literally blown into pieces a couple miles away from him, he wondered why it wasn't him. A pastor shared comforting words that he's held onto all of these years.

"I think about that a lot. I went and talked to a minister after that happened. It could have been me. I believe in God and Jesus. Maybe God spared me for a reason."

The Prairie City, S.D., rancher was drafted into the U.S. Army in early 1968. He was 20 years old.

Marty soon found himself in Fort Lewis, Washington, where the cold and damp April weather, along with mad, screaming drill sergeants made for miserable conditions at first.

He remembers that the coal furnace would often go out at night because the private assigned to refill it would sleep through his duties.

Marty said the company was composed of men from South Dakota and California. He recalls some serious teasing by the barbers when the "long haired hippies" were shorn.

There was fighting — he saw a soldier from Rapid City kick a guy's eye out, there was stress — he helped escort a man who experienced a mental breakdown. There was cold mud to crawl through, barbed wire to crawl under and a huge pile of sawdust to be moved, one helmet at time, for punishment when the company would "screw up."

Marty said the South Dakotans were generally quite capable of handling what was thrown at them.

"Back in those days, even the kids that grew up in town knew how to handle a rifle and stuff like that. They took orders well and were mentally able to deal with the stress." Many of the South Dakota recruits and draftees were Native Americans, he said, remembering that his bunkmate hailed from Pine Ridge. "He'd just gotten married and he was sure lonesome. We got along well."

When basic training was wrapping up and the company completed their individual physical assessments, Marty recalls earning around 297 points out of a possible 300. "I think there were only one or two guys that earned 300 points," he said. He remembers being paid around $43 per month for his time in basic training.

From the bone-chilling spring Washington weather, Marty was shipped to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where he learned to survive extreme heat coupled with humidity.

Marty didn't know a soul when he arrived, but made friends as he had in Fort Lewis.

As a combat engineer, he learned to look for land mines, build bridges and roads, and more. He remembers the tick infestation in the area, but says he never found one on himself.

Although he hadn't been allowed to attend church in basic training, he could do so in advanced individual training, and took advantage of the chance. He also enjoyed another change — no kitchen duty.

After his AIT training in Missouri, Marty was allowed two weeks off. He flew home — being held up after offering an elderly couple his seat, but eventually he arrived home. It felt good.

Marty said he helped with day to day ranch duties and did not feel anxious about his future deployment to Vietnam.

"When you are young, you don't really grasp that, in war, people are trying to kill you. You think you are invincible," he said.

But he remembers the somber faces on his mother and father and sister when he waved goodbye from the bus window after the two weeks had passed.

Marty again found himself surrounded by people he hadn't yet met — this time at a base in Oakland, Calif.

One night he had gone to sleep at about 11 p.m., asking his friend to wake him if any important announcements were made.

"I'd fallen into a deep sleep. They read a group off and called my name. My friend said, He's over there.' They came and found me. I don't know what would happened if he hadn't."

The soldiers flew out at midnight, landing in Anchorage, Alaska, to refuel. Marty recalls the view from the plane after it took flight again. "It was really pretty. Unbelievable. The sun coming up over those mountains."

That was the end of anything pretty in his life for a while.

The plane refueled again in Japan, then finally landed north of Saigon, Vietnam.

"When I stepped out of the airplane that night, it smelled like big petri dish of mold. There were no sewer systems, which meant there were a lot of sanitary issues."

Marty said he and others immediately went to training on a firing range. "Again, you had all kinds of people from throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Ninety percent of them didn't have a clue about guns."

Taking apart and cleaning the rifle was a regular occurrence because of the sand, mud and water that would jam it up.

Soon Marty found himself in the Delta, in a town called Tan An, south of Saigon.

One of his missions was sweeping for mines. "Every morning we'd drive to the infantry camp to build bunkers and then we'd drive back to the base camp at night. We always had to sweep this one area of road. You were always locked and loaded with rifles and machine guns." Mortar and rockets from the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese were a regular occurrence, he said.

"When we would find stuff (land mines) we set it off. They may be small, or they may pile mud on the road and you have to clear that off using c4 (a powerful plastic explosive). If we detected something on the road, we'd circle it, put an 'x' in it, and the next guy would put explosives in it and detonate it."

It was easy for the enemy (the Vietcong or North Vietnamese) to booby trap the two to three mile stretch of road nightly, he said.

Marty recalls one heartbreaking day.

"We had stood around, about 15 of us, getting our mine-sweeping equipment on, then made our regular early morning sweep through the road."

Marty said his team then went about five or six miles to an infantry camp where they worked for the day. When they headed back to home base, at around 4 that afternoon, they came upon a jeep that had been blown up, about an hour before, in the very same spot the group had stood that morning.

"The Vietcong had found a 700-pound bomb that had never gone off. They transplanted it and waited for an opportune time to set it off. When we came back the road was gone from shoulder to shoulder. They'd blown up a jeep with two guys in it. There were body parts all over. I saw a rib from one of the guys, and picked it up, then set it back down. From then on, war became real."

About three months later, Marty stepped on a land mine in the same spot. Miraculously, the mine had been planted upside do wn. "I got shrapnel in the base of my skull and gravel in my back and whatnot. I don't know why I wasn't killed." It was afterward that he visited with the pastor.

Marty spent about five days in the hospital and later received a Purple Heart.

The Vietcong would spy on the Americans sometimes, posing as South Vietnamese, and taking jobs within the compound as barbers or other things, he said.

"The Vietcong would apply for army jobs. You didn't know who they were. They would get in there and step off the distance to this or that."

Marty remembers the compound being mortared every night. He slept in a protected barrack because the regular bunker was unsafe. "A lot of guys would sleep in the bunker, I don't know why. One night the door where I would have slept was shattered. I'd have been killed if I'd have been there."

The infantry soldiers and helicopter soldiers had the worst assignments.

"I was lucky. The infantry guys had it awful, just awful. They didn't have facilities like we did. They were wet all the time, never had a warm shower, no hot food."

Marty's company built roads in rural South Veitnam in an attempt to provide safe living conditions where the fighting had decimated the countryside.

He has not forgotten the poverty and squalid living conditions the Vietnamese endured. He remembers mothers prostituting their young daughters, families living in boxes on top of landfills where the flies were so thick "you had to cover your eyes and mouth when you went by."

"Those poor people. That's what communism, socialism, dictatorship gives you." Marty remembers the Vietnamese as a happy people, and the children as very inquisitive and friendly. "We always had stuff for them. They loved us."

There are some fond memories, too. He saw Bob Hope perform, as well as Ann Margret. "There would be Philippine bands, Australian bands. We played a lot of basketball at night."

Still the tough memories remain.

"I can't say enough about how awful it was. War affects everyone differently, but killing isn't natural. To see someone you killed is not natural. It's not right, but sometimes you have to do it."

War weighed heavily on those at home, too.

His sister had shared a story about his parents. "My mother was in the kitchen one evening washing dishes and she saw the sheriff drive up the road. She didn't realize he was coming to bring the ballot box for dad, who was the chairman of the voting committee in our precinct. She nearly collapsed when she saw the sheriff's car coming.

"That was a tense time for the family, those 15 months. That's one part of wars and conflicts that some people don't realize exists," he said.

Marty returned home after 14 months in Vietnam. He ranched his entire life and now serves in the South Dakota House of Representatives for District 28B.

Miss INFR is at home in Pine Ridge

Young women from South Dakota don't often get national notoriety, Kade Bettelyoun, on the other hand, found herself in the Las Vegas spotlight last month. She was awarded Miss Indian National Finals Rodeo 2019 Oct. 26 during the INFR championship round at the South Point Casino.

The 19-year-old got her start in pageants in 2013 when she tried out for Miss Oglala Nation Rodeo Queen at Pine Ridge at the age of 15.

"It was just a really simple, one-day pageant at the rodeo grounds," Kade said. "I got that title, and it just took off from there."

The INFR pageant ties together Kade's love of rodeo and her passion for the Great Horse Nation of the Oglala Lakota. Instead of evening gowns, Kade, who placed second in this section, and her five competitors sported authentic, handmade Native American regalia.

"I wore a traditional handmade buckskin dress, sewn with sinew, and adorned with elk teeth. What they would have worn pre-reservation days, before my tribe was colonized, before we had access to trade cloth, and we only had the animals around us available to us," Kade said. "After the settlers came, that's when we had access to cloth and regular fabric."

As the youngest competitor, Kade's favorite portion, horsemanship, went well for her, despite her inability to practice. Due to an onslaught of snow when Kade received her horsemanship pattern, she wasn't able to practice like most of the other girls who reside in warmer climates.

"The horsemanship was so fun. Most of them had kind of an advantage and got to practice the pattern before," Kade said. "I looked forward to that the most, and it was a big part of the overall score, 41 percent. The pattern coordinator said one of the judges scored me 275 out of 280."

The simple reining pattern they were required to complete consisted of a figure eight at a lope, a few rollbacks, a sliding stop, a queen lap, and a lap with a flag. She rode her nine-year-old blue roan mare Kipler, registered as Shiny Blue Hiney.

"I think her strongest point was definitely the horsemanship competition," Kade's mom JoDee said. "She and her horse get along really well together."

Kipler joined the Bettelyoun herd after Kade's "rez pony" Jeremy, as she called him, was stolen in 2014. Kade and Jeremy had qualified for INFR in junior barrel racing in 2010 and 2011, so this trip to South Point wasn't her first but felt far different.

"When we first made it in 2010, it was just kind of like, 'Cool! We made it!'" Kade said. "We didn't expect to win barrels. The pageant, we were in it to win it. It's such a huge difference for me and my family."

The Bettelyoun family consists of Kade and her mom JoDee, who made the long trip with her daughter last month with the trailer in tow loaded down with Kipler, endless outfits, six hats, six pairs of boots, a study binder, and a different mindset.

"I really want to inspire the next generation of cowboys and cowgirls," she said. "Where would rodeo be without the little ones? It all starts in junior rodeo, riding little ponies around. I want to help inspire on other reservations and my own too."

Kade received a perfect score on the written test and received best essay, but she is unsure how she landed in the speech portion, though she thinks she did "ok", she said.

JoDee has already seen the start of a transformation in her daughter from competing in and winning the pageant.

"She is opening up and getting to talk to more people," JoDee said. "She is learning to meet and greet new people, and learning to push her boundaries and actually engage in conversations with people she's never met before."

JoDee knows her daughter has the ability to be a fine rodeo queen, and looks forward to a year of growth; she said she couldn't be more proud.

"She is gaining confidence in her abilities, which I know she has. I know she can do things; she just needs the confidence in herself," JoDee said of her Kade. "She did this all on her own, so I know she can do great things."

Kade is working toward a career in the health care field, specifically mental health.

"I think it's kind of forgotten on the sidelines," she said. "I would like to raise awareness."

Beginning her college education in high school at Ogalala Community College, Kade transitioned to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where she was recruited to join the rodeo team.

"Coach Todd Kirchenbaum reached out to me and saw how I ride and excel in events and offered me a spot on the team," Kade said. She competed in barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, and goat tying in high school rodeo, and in barrels and breakaway in college.

Kade is currently studying at the University of South Dakota, where the lack of rodeo program resulted in Kade unhooking the trailer and putting up her horse for the time being.

"It's harder to travel to college rodeos as a single competitor," Kade said. "I had my Women's Professional Rodeo Association permit for a while, then I got back into queening, so that got put on hold. I would eventually like to try my hand at it."

In order to be one of the six competitors of Miss INFR this year, Kade had to submit an application and fit the requirements of being a Native American female ranging from 18 to 25 years of age and must have a GED or high school diploma.

In addition to Miss INFR, Kade was also awarded the title of Miss Congeniality.