I wanted to share some things I learned and did last week on my trip to Texas for the Texas Cattle Feeders.
In one of our many discussions on animal behavior, Joel Ham told me how he observed horses stomping their feet, when a big ant that is native to his ranch country started to climb the hoof, but before it got up the hoof to the coronet band. That’s even more sensitive than a fly landing on its back!
I rode a real nice horse at Dawn Feeders. We saddled him and I had some time before my demo so I went and helped them sort some calves out of the hospital pens. I didn’t have spurs on, and he worked real nice and was very responsive. After we were done the owner thought he may get pretty lazy before the day was done so he gave me his spurs. There was a surprising change in the horse when I stepped back on. I almost had to use a little spur each step and quite a bit at times. It was like he had to wait for the spur to go. He was a different horse after I put spurs on, and for him and me, it did just the opposite of what is should have.
I may have been because I had my buckles to the inside, as they are worn opposite in Texas than we do in Montana.
When I was flying out of Amarillo, I visited with a real nice older lady. She told me a story of how four very young kittens ended up on her front porch, and she had four shiatsu dogs. The kittens would hiss at the dogs but they didn’t pay attention and would pack the kittens in their mouths and mother them. After a bit the kittens hooked on to the dogs and they
were real content with them. The dogs would try to sneak them in the house packing them in their mouths. She said the dogs paid no attention to the hissing and pretty soon the cats lost their fear. Something to think about when getting animals to trust us.
I am a huge fan of Red Steagall and listen to Cowboy Corner on KGHL in Billings, Montana.
He promotes the National Ranching Heritage Center, and I have wanted to go see t for a long time. I rented a car and headed south to Lubbock Texas on Friday, as I had the day before I flew out.
It was a great experience, and in Texas style, bigger and nicer than I could have imagined. They have taken barns, dwellings, and facility’s from different ranches and areas and set them up so you can walk around and go back in time as if you were at the ranch itself. They have created hills and trees and grasslands to really separate it out and it feels even bigger than it is.
As I went to each place, I would really look it over and compare then and now. The question I wanted to answer was this. Is life better now or then? After I had looked it over I would really take a little time to think it over, and have been thinking about it since.
Here’s what I have decided. We should have a way better quality of life now, because of technology and our modern conveniences. Machines have made Ranching much less physical.
I think we have a easier life, but the technology, machines, and debt make our quality of life less in the things that really matter in life.
Think about these these observations.
Rattlesnakes will make you very aware of your surroundings. Catching water off your roof will make you appreciate a drink. Hanging beef in a smoke house and no refrigeration will get you enjoying good food. Gathering cowchips and storing them in a cow chip house will make you appreciate a warm home in the cold. A home with a breezeway to cool it in the summer will get a family together to visit. A saddle horse and a team as your only transportation will make you a better horseman, and a milk cow and chickens will make you a better stockman. Working real hard all day will keep you in shape, and you will appreciate sitting and thinking about how to do things better at the end of the day. Having to put rifle slits in your home to survive Indian attack will bring you closer to your maker.
I don’t want to go back to those days, but I am sure going to try to live the good parts, and really enjoy the things my great grand folks enjoyed. I’m not going to let debt and technology take over my life.
A fellow I have been watching work for several years, Jim Brett Campbell is the Ranch Manager so to speak, and he is real proud of the National Ranching Heritage Center and all the folks that make it work. Check it out at “www.nrhc.ttu.edu” or better yet go visit and see what you can learn.
I am very proud to have my heritage from the Pate side of the family being Texans. I will try to do my part to keep the Ranching Heritage alive.