Contentment

Lots of contemplation in the last few weeks.

Watched PBR finals and they showed Ty Murray on some bulls. Great rides, but the bulls we watch today are so much ranker than then is what I was thinking.

I then had breakfast with Temple, before we did the event for Cherokee Ranch and she had made the realization from a lab with cattle that the systems she designed 30 years ago was for a different temperament of cattle than we have today.

6BD536C0-A7E5-4D98-8C35-CA2944F4C7AD

(We used a Sort of Bud Box system, and Temple never said one negative thing about it. I’ve heard lots of folks criticize her and the tubs she promotes in a very negative way. She won’t stoop to that negative type of presenting. She presents the facts as she sees them. I admire her for her honesty. If you don’t like what she presents, give her the facts, prove them to be correct and she will promote it. She is always trying to learn better ways.)

I hear the same with horses. They say the old time horses were much tougher to “break” than the ones we are starting today.

These are real important things to think about. We can change because of the changes we make. See things for what they are, not for what they have been.

Watching the young bull riders and how they have stepped up to ride these great, seemingly impossible to ride bulls is amazing to me. I really like watching the animal athletes and the human athletes.

I finished a book titled “ The Hacking of the American Mind” by Robert Lustig.

It is very science based and talks about contentment in life. It’s main idea is that often pleasure creates long term negatives in quality of life. Many times these pleasures become habits that really create problems. Sugar is a big part of the book. The pleasure you get from sugar leads to health problems, the same as smoking or drugs. The more pleasure you get, the more you want, and the worse the outcome.

I think we all have addictions. I think I have an animal addiction. I have really enjoyed working with animals all my life. I think this is a good habit and addiction. When you have a positive interaction with an animal is sends the same pleasure signals to the brain and body as a drug. The pleasure you get, or the addictive behavior actually creates more pleasure and a positive outcome through a more profitable animal or a relationship with the animal that creates higher quality of life. This causes you to want to get even better and that is a very positive addiction.

The same happens with being nice or creating positive relationships to help people. Creating art, building saddles, braiding rawhide and any kind of creating something are great addictions.

It is so easy in this modern age to get addictions that create small pleasure but big problems. THE SIMPLE THINGS IN LIFE ARE THE GOOD THINGS! This is so important to understand. The more money, time and technology you have access to the more chance you have of going toward small pleasure and big problems.

I have spent a lot of time with Hispanic people and the Mexican culture the last couple of weeks. When I am with Mexicanos I get embarrassed by our American culture. We have so much, have to work so little, and really have it easy compared to most of the rest of the world, yet we are unhappy and complain about everything.

The Mexican people appreciate what they have, take care of their family and possessions, work hard jobs that might not be the best pay, but don’t complain and are always happy.  They are content.

Bill Dale, my friend and leader of Team California Beef Council and I went to Brawley, California for a NCBA Stockmanship and Stewardship event and worked with around 150 feedlot workers, that were mostly of Mexican decent. They were very friendly and seemed interested in what we were offering them.
We also learned great safety advice from Gordon Moore of Texas Cattle Feeders.

3AB8070B-14A2-4317-A5E8-E2246246D180ADB7E2E3-D9AE-4B3B-BBF0-4CA29639499C073FF9A5-B864-4C2F-A707-C8AAECEDB13C8FB86F26-F9DE-45F4-85B4-F792484115D3

We went to supper that night and got to visit with Jesse Larios, who helped organize the event, and is a fellow Greeley Hat Works enthusiast. It made me appreciate the culture even more to get to hear his story and some of the history of the feedlots in the area.

Next I went to spend some time in Yuma with my Folks who winter there. It was great seeing all my Moms friends and how much fun they have living like young old people.

Then I went and played horseshoes with my Dad. Real fun and he is real good.
I recommend everyone at about fifty go spend a week in a retirement community. It will help prepare you for the future.

I have had a tooth that has been bothering me for about a year. My Dad said he had gone to a real good dentist in Mexico. I got the number and called and made an appointment for 8 AM the next morning. I then went back to my Moms place and she needed some new glasses but couldn’t go the next day. I called and the receptionist said to come today. We jumped in the car and headed to Mexico. We got there a little after noon, and I figured they would figure out what was wrong and then have me come back to fix it. After three hours I walked out with a sore mouth and all the work they could do done. I got in the chair, he looked at my mouth, figure out the problem, told me what he could do and how much it would cost for the work. I said let’s do it and he did it.

No nonsense. Just get it done effectively and efficiently for about 1/4 the cost of what I would have paid in Montana. I answered about seven questions before they went to work, when done the assistant took me to the pharmacy, got some antibiotics, paid the bill and was on my way.

Simple effective healthcare.

I went out to “The Ranch” as my Compo(a little Spanish lingo) Armondo calls it.
The Mendoza family are so welcoming to us.

They practice roping and horsemanship in the Mexican tradition and are creating some great young “Charros”. They are building a Lienzo (Mexican rodeo arena) at the place and are calling it the “Antonio Lepe Mendoza” arena to honor their father.

They are hard working people that put all they have into family and culture and I am so fortunate to be able to have them let me learn from them on how to be humble and proud in the Charro tradition.

So back to the book. Pleasure that creates contentment or a lifestyle that creates contentment. This is what creates the good life.

This is so important for us to create for ourselves, those that we are involved with, and the animals in our care.  Learn to create it.

When Bad Becomes Normal

I am going to Castle Rock, Colorado to do a cattlehandling presentation for Cherokee Ranch and Castle Foundation at the Douglas County Fairgrounds on Saturday with Temple Grandin. I have heard Temple use the term “when bad becomes normal” many times.

B715F4BF-4C8C-4D87-BD93-0089C8F880B7

In continuing my thinking on the stress put on calves this time of year, I think this saying fits. It has become normal thinking that this is normal.

The way we approach the predator/pray relationship with animals makes all the difference. In my opinion it is much better to approach it from a “pressure” relationship.

The human has the ability to create a positive pressure or a negative pressure. We can walk into a pen with a bucket of pellets and shake it and all the cattle come to you, or you can walk into a pen and shake a rattle paddle or flag and fix fence for the next three days.

5D267725-98B6-4D59-BF21-4B9EC2CB9DE2

I know the human can create the proper situation to get animals to change behavior.

When I used to do colt starting clinics, several times I had a couple stud colts with a bunch of mares together in the arena and with the use of a flag and a riding horse that would put you in the right spot I could use the right pressure to get them to not want to breed or fight while I was in control. If I used to much pressure it would create problems for the person trying to ride them, not enough pressure would create problems for the people on the other horses. I might have to use a bunch of pressure at first, and that was why it was so important to be on a horse handy enough to get to where I needed the pressure. Releasing the pressure at the right time and in the right amount was real crucial, and if done properly it would take less each time and pretty quick all it took is being there.

We got some kittens awhile back. We have lots of dogs around here that are very aggressive towards small animals that run. All these dogs listen to me and understand that I am in control because of the pressure I use with them. We set it up with the right situation and the cats and all the dogs get along.

8C5198D7-D70C-46C3-A2EE-4DA9CAF7C191

Because of creating proper pressure and control, these example show how the human can change real strong behavior and instinct in animals that are in a predator prey/prey relationship or the same species that left alone would be very dangerous in a group from fighting and breeding.

When the change is made life is much more enjoyable, safer and productive for the animal and the human. Quality of life improves.

This is a real challenging balance to achieve. First off, if it doesn’t work you could end up with dead cats and horses bred or hurt. Some aren’t willing to take the chance, so they either won’t try or put way to much pressure on and create a fear of the human rather then a change of mind. Then when the human is forgotten or not present the behavior intensified to get it done before the human shows up again.

Second, this requires controlling of emotions and developing a feel for pressure.
It is much easier to just put lots of pressure on and use facilities or a tool to make it happen. By using excessive pressure you get the job done, but create fear or mistrust in the animal for the future. This is the place that some horse people use the term “feel, timing, and balance”.

Third, people that use high pressure to get things done think of the skill used and the immediate outcomes as the goal. They don’t think about what excessive pressure is creating in the future. They also will criticize those that use skills that are different than the ones they use. With the extreme conditions livestock handlers have to work in, it takes tough people to do the work, and those that are tuff like to be tuff, and are proud of the skills they have.

When we work livestock, it is very important to be able to get the job done. I feel like I really got along good starting colts. I got to figuring out how to really help a colt to keep from bucking by the way I rode them. Some need to have lots of pressure to keep them moving and some need very little. I was willing to get on most anything, and if I couldn’t help them and they had to buck, I had the skill to ride them and help them through that. For me this created a better outcome father down the line because I didn’t take all the life out with to much groundwork or round pen. Not everyone has the skill to ride a bucking horse, so it’s not for everyone. I helped many of them to not buck and really got along good with very little pressure, but hardly anyone complimented me on that or even saw it. If you made a mistake and a colt really bucked and you rode him everyone could see and appreciate that.

B1D3C252-A21D-4DF9-B628-716403203ADC

 

Hopefully these examples will get you to thinking and talking to others about changing pressure with animals for immediate and future results, and hopefully “bad will not be normal” in the future.

This to me is the real rewarding part of stockmanship.

Bawling calves and Run-away Horses

Been doing some different work the last few weeks. I presented at the Black Hills Horse Expo last weekend. I enjoyed the interaction with everyone. The people in that area are great, and I had lots of Native American interaction with our friends the Ducheneaux family and Phillip Whiteman. I really like spending time and learning the ways of the native people to help improve my quality of life.

I just don’t feel as comfortable presenting to horse people as I do cattle people.
I feel my ideas are not always what horse people are looking for. I think folks are so into performance, they can’t see how important the balance mentally and physically is to all aspects of horsemanship.

I took a horse I have been riding I call Jaxson. He is a real good lookin horse that I was given because he would get real scared and run off. He was real hard to catch and was not very much fun to ride.

75A7260D-CC15-430C-A851-783248991A6B

I’ve been really working on getting him hooked on to me and not panicking when he had to make a transition in his mind. What would happen when you were riding him is he was always on alert. If you rode through the brush and your hat brushed the trees he would panic and sell out. Then he got to just going in the brush made him panic. He got to wear he was making himself panic. So I really worked at getting him to transition from standing to the walk without panicking. If I used my legs it was to much pressure, so I would lead him to a walk from his back. Going from a walk to a trot if you used your legs he would grab his butt and run off, but if you just drew him to the trot with your seat, and didn’t get out of time with him when he went to the trot he could take it, and would make the transition with out much trouble. He was real sensitive and if you did much more than think about it, it was to much and he would run off.

I really worked at getting him to settle and find a comfortable spot with me on the ground or on his back. After he got to really hunting that spot, I could use that to my advantage when he got scared. If he got to grabbing his butt I would take a hold of him and put lots of pressure on him with my legs and body until he was hunting for a way to get out of pressure, and then he would start to look for a way out rather than just running off completely.

I haven’t ridden him much in the last few months because I was on the road so it was fun to load him up and take him to Rapid City. I had never ridden him in an arena or inside so that was fun. He got a little bothered, but did great and really looked to me for support. I really like him and am learning lots from him.

The thing that I try to do with him is get the mind first and then the feet, but if the feet are going to fast I have to slow them down so I can get the mind. I have to get out in front of the mind to get the feet.

82AB96D0-7AF8-475F-B5ED-886735F5C2AD

I flew from Rapid to Calgary and spent last week working with Troy Sauter of team Zoetis and some of his clients. They were all backgrounding lots and the calves have started coming to town. I heard lots of bawling calves and smelt lots of burning hair from branding.

I got to visit about fresh weaned calves with lots of these folks. This is a spot in our industry that is very important. This is the most stressful part of a calf’s life and the place we have the least understanding and skill of how to take care of it.

Zoetis has a product called “Draxxin”. If you give it on arrival, you have a window of time before you need to treat a sick animal, 14 days more or less depending on the opinions of management. I have found this is a very good time to get these calves settled down and accepting the new life they know nothing about.

Most of the time by the time these calves get to the lot, they are very stirred up from to much pressure. They have lost the comfort of the momma cow, their diet has changed from milk and grass to some strange feed they may not like or even know what it is, and if they have never drank from a water trough or ate from a bunk it may be real disturbing to them to try either one.

They have always followed momma and now she is not there and there is a human yelling or hitting them or scaring them to get them to go in a truck or through a gate. Every experience is extreme and very different from what life has been for them up until this time.

Now we receive these calves and they get sorted, put through a chute, vaccination, branding and some dehorned. More stress. They have everything in the world against them, in their mind, and physically in their body.

These calves need help. Science(Draxxin) is a huge help, but if we can add stockmanship and stewardship to it, then we are getting something real positive happening.

If we could get everyone to understand how important it is to get these calves weaned properly, with good handling as well as keeping the calf with proper nutrition and rest through the whole process. Having good facilities that allow safe and effective handling until the calf gets to its new home pen.

This is not happening. So many of the calves that get purchased are really challenged with stress. They are much like the horse Jaxson I talked about earlier. They can’t take the pressure, so we need to help them and get them to where they can survive and thrive in the new life they are in. We need to help take away some of the pressure.

Many of these calves have been over pressured and they think that is what every human is to them. You need to change the way they think of you. If you are in a pen with them and they have lots of movement, I like to get in front and get them to looking at me with both eyes and back up to draw their mind to me, and try to stop them with them looking at me and not turning back. This is very important because of the way they have been handled, they want to escape the human pressure, and you are changing that to following the human and paying attention rather than escape. I call this “hooking cattle on”. It is real good for the cattle to change the mindset from running away from you to looking at you with their feet still. You have just changed from a predator to something of interest.

This is so important for getting the calf in a state of mind to do well. If they think about running every time you are present, they have stress. Just like my horse needing to get his feet still and not wanting to run off, before he can progress, it’s the same with the calf that is being weaned.

The first step is just getting them to stop and wait. They may start again and you can do it again if they stop soft, they will leave soft. If they stop fast they will leave fast.

If you are a caretaker of livestock I think this is something very important to think about. This is so hard to get people thinking about with stockmanship.
To me I feel what we have been discussing is the most important part of effective interaction with animals that we are trying to get to improve in performance. We can go on with what to do next, but I think it would be good to wrap your head around this first.

I wrote part of this while sitting in first class, and am finishing it in the United room in Denver. Because I fly so much I sometimes get upgraded to first class, and with my “platinum status” on United, when I fly internationally I get to go to the United Room.

It’s real nice. There is a bar, food, real nice chairs, and some of them even have showers. It is a very nice place to be when dealing with the stress of traveling.
Why not wean your calves like they are in first class, and give them as everything they need just like they do here in the United Room? It won’t cost you money, it will make you money and you will be doing the right thing. Why wouldn’t you?

Life is like a piece of Sausage

I really enjoy sausage. My Grandfather made real good breakfast sausage.
We had a slaughterhouse house when I was younger and he jokingly called his sausage, 3 brand sausage. When asked what that meant he would say “tits, tails and touch holes”. I always got a kick out of how people reacted to that.

I’m on the plane home from a three week long trip. I have been to Colorado, New Mexico, California, Oklahoma, British Columbia, and the last week Alberta.

Yesterday, was a great finish to the run. We sorted and processed a bunch of bawling calves, did a little horsemanship demo, and then finished up with some of the best homemade sausage I have ever eaten.

Rick Hagel was the host. We had a nice mix of people in attendance, and Rick was great at letting the three high schoolers learn by doing and trusted them with processing the calves. They did a great job, had a great chance to learn because their parents were interested enough to get them involved, and everyone else shared knowledge with them. Great ingredients for making good young producers.

As I was eating my steak last night and thinking over my past three weeks, I got to thinking about all the sausage I have eaten. I try to eat pretty low carb, so when I stop and want a snack I usually buy some kind of sausage. In California I had linguisa sausage for breakfast every morning. At Cal Poly we just about foundered on the sausage they served at the barbecue. Gord Collier and I always eat lots of “pepperonis” as they are called in Canada. So as you can tell I like sausage.

87225CDA-697B-40A1-A89A-25A7E301A9DA

Eating Spam In Hawaii

The thing that makes a good sausage is the ingredients. The right mix makes it the right taste and texture for different tastes and purposes. Not everyone likes the same sausages. It’s all about the ingredients.

At all the different places I went, they were all a little different. The folks at Fort Collins , Colorado were a little different than the folks in Cal Poly, California.

I went to a “rope and stroke” (team roping and golf) in British Columbia and the ingredients (people)were a little different than the ranch roping I went to a while back, but they both fit the tastes of the people involved.

Of the three operations I went to last week with Katie Roxburgh with Zoetis, the ingredients of the crews were very different, but all made good teams to produce beef.

So I came up with the idea of livestock production is not like a box of chocolates as it says in the movie “Forrest Gump”. It’s like a piece of sausage.

You can have a crew or family that make up ingredients that don’t fit together or blend very well and get by, or all the ingredients can be high quality and blend together to really create something that sticks together, compliments and blends well together to make a very good product. It’s even better if you are always trying to improve the quality of the ingredients that make it even better.

D2EB0760-A4AA-4A37-B12C-A931D4FA9752

My job, in trying to improve stockmanship skills is all about improving the ingredients that are available. The better the inputs the better the outcomes.

We producers must understand that we need to make sausage that we can make at a profit, but also make sure the ingredients fit the customers tastes. If you don’t like or trust the sausage, you’ll eat less or find something to replace it.

So there it is, my worldly wisdom. Life can be like a box of chocolates if you choose, but if you control the ingredients it’s like a stick of sausage.

Put that on the fire and Cook and eat it.

805AD554-FFDF-4A9F-A8C1-F40FDBDC10A4

Learn to Learn

Just finished the final of five Regional “Stockmanship and Stewardship “ events in San Luis Obispo, California.

I have been working for NCBA presenting stockmanship for quite a number of years now, and feel like I have had a great opportunity at acquiring knowledge of the beef industry from all the presentations I have sat in and learned from.

I have learned about economics, nutrition, marketing, consumer trends, genetics, genomics, veterinary procedures, proper use of vaccines and antibiotics, how to cut a flat iron steak, how to deal with media, how to deal with protesters and a whole lot more. From all the knowledge I’ve received I should be about the smartest guy in all the beef industry. I said should be!

2406D6F5-C8E4-47F0-80DE-211A4CBE9EBD

I’ve seen some really great presenters, and suffered through some terrible ones and tried to stay awake on some of the boring ones.

I think the favorite thing about my job is learning from so many great resources. The BQA state coordinators that I have got to work with are great. They present the materials to guide producers to produce high quality beef from the ideas they present.

I have listened to the originators of BQA to the young guns now carrying the torch to better beef, and it just keeps getting better and changing with the needs of the future, and present. It is really great.

1D311BBD-F9E1-4248-A73F-9572467A8A6B

Rene Loyd and Ryan Ruppert were the first to really bring the stockmanship and stewardship program to the NCBA. Ryan was a big believer in the program and worked very hard to get it on as many programs as possible. We had a real good program with sponsors for three years and then the support wasn’t there and it held its own for a few years, but even though people wanted it it really wasn’t promoted.

They got a new crew in the education and BQA head in the NCBA, and to be quite honest I thought it was going to be more of the same. They made the same promises I had heard before, and were a bunch of young folks that operated quite differently than what I was used to. I didn’t think they were going to get much done.Well, I was wrong. They stepped up and got it done. “They” being a bunch of young people that text while you are talking business, (most times they are doing business)having dinner and while you are presenting. “They” being a great mix of young folks that make sure they are providing everything the presenters and attendees need to make the event successful. “They” being the ones that make the event happen, but never need to be the center of attention. “They” being the ones that create the social media outlets that connected thousands of people to the knowledge we were presenting to the hundreds live. They were always polite, accommodating, and were as comfortable with seasoned producers as students. I never saw inappropriate behavior from any in all the events. “They” were great.

C07E747B-D1C7-4F09-82A0-B0E4AB8088C1

Chase DeCoite is the head of Beef Quality Assurance for NCBA. I was not used to how he did things when he started, and didn’t really understand how he did things and didn’t think he was doing a very good job for Stockmanshp and Stewardship. Well I was wrong again. He has attended all 5 events and has done an outstanding job of leading and presenting. I have enjoyed watching him get better and better at interacting with people, improving his speaking skills, and most of all, in my case, when he says he will do something, he does it.

Jill Scofield, Rob Eirich, Brandi Karisch, Libby Bigler and Jill Scofield (Jill did two events) took good care of us and put together great programs for producers. Much work and not near enough recognition or pay for the effort.

Jill asked us what the most significant thing that stuck out from all the programs we have done this year. We started out in Davis, California, then went to Lincoln Nebraska, Jackson Mississippi, Fort Collins, Colorado and finished up at Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo, California. I would have to say the diversity of the producers we met, but the desire to increase knowledge of the production of beef, no matter the level they were at was what stuck out most. Some people are so thirsty for knowledge.

One example of this was three attendees from the Dorrance family at the Cal Poly event.. I have studied the writings, videos, discussions and anything I can Bill and Tom Dorrance had anything to do with. I have always had them as examples in my mind of how I feel they would present things to animals and humans, and have tried to figure out how to present my self better to both, from the examples of folks with the kind of knowledge they had. I have often wondered how they gained the skills and knowledge they had.

1697C04B-9C47-4FCA-ABAF-28D7C626FCD9

The Dorrance group asked more questions than anyone in attendance, no matter the subject.
They seemed to be so thirsty to increase their knowledge. It was fascinating to see. They wanted to learn.

That is what I noticed about the great people that we saw at the five events. The need to improve.

I feel we all have addictions in life. Some are addicted to drugs, some are addicted to work, some are addicted to lots of things. I think some people are addicted to learning. That is one of the best addictions a person can have.

No matter what you are interested in, learn to learn. It will improve quality of life exponentially.

Education is what I am involved with and observe working with the National Cattlemans Beef Association. I am not interested or involved in the political side of it. I feel they are good and getting better at presenting things for beef producers to learn how to improve Beef Quality Assurance.

So to answer Jill’s question, I am fascinated at people that want to learn and people that can teach. I saw lots of both in the Stockmanship and Stewardship events this year. I can’t wait until next year!

For sale, but not on sale

 

I have not had time to write any scoop loops in the last couple weeks, but I have thrown a few with my rope.

IMG_2921

When I fly I use that time to write and sometimes in motel room in evenings. I like having that time so I enjoy flying and motel rooms.

I share some observations from the last couple weeks.

Judged the Zoetis feedlot challenge for about the fifth time. The skill level is so much better now than it was when I judged the first one. Many of the same people, just improved skills. When the culture changes, the outcome changes.

My judging was the pen riding portion. The skills they used to get two numbered animals out was very precise, but with the correct pressure. The real good ones still had a large percentage of the pen laying down when they got the ones they needed out the gate. I had a hard time judging, ended up with lots of teams tied, so time became the winning factor. If the score was tied it went back to who got the job done fastest. I judged on safety, calmness of pen, calmness of pull, teamwork, and stockmanship skills.

I got home from Lethbridge, and the next day headed to Fort Collins Co, and discussed going to work for a large operation. I would like to be a part of really managing resources and creating a good environment for a livestock operation. We decided not to pursue the job, but it would have been a nice challenge. It is a good outfit that does lots of good for the industry. I’m not so sure I’m not making a mistake.

Next we went over the mountain for my yearly endeavor into the world of western luxury. I’ve been going to the “Home Ranch” for many years and have seen many changes. Each Manager has added to what the ranch has offered in their own style and I have learned from each of them. A big part of a guest ranch is the head wrangler, and they have had many different styles in the years I have been going. Michael Moon is the current head wrangler and I think he is very good at his job. He’s a cowboy that is good with people.

The guests always fascinate me. They are willing to pay a lot of money(a lot of money) to live the life for one week that ranch folks live every day. Food and meals served cookhouse style (five chefs, not cooks) and all the outdoor activities we in the livestock business take for granted.

My job was to present horsemanship and cattlehandling. Most of the folks only do it for pure entertainment, but are fascinated by the relationship humans and animals can have. We worked cattle, I started a colt, and just shared what we in the animal world do every day. Great staff, great guests, great cabin, great food makes for a great week. I’m glad I get to go back next year.

IMG_0134

IMG_7042

Got home Saturday and left Sunday morning with daughter Mesa and we went to a benefit ranch roping for an old friend Maggie (Magpie)Beck, at the Wallace outfit in Hall, Montana.

I haven’t been to a ranch roping competition in lots of years, and had a blast. Wife Tammy let me borrow her horse, who according to her is the smartest horse in the world, so I nicknamed him Spencer, after my cousin who my grandmother thinks is the smartest kid in the world. I had never ridden him before and he worked real nice. I really enjoyed watching Mesa rope and interact. The first round she was pretty timid and didn’t rope as good as she does. The second time she did much better.

Comparing this competition with the feedlot competition was real interesting. This ranch roping was four team members roping four yearling, laying them down and paint branding them. The fastest time wins. It was real fun, and I understand it, but at the end of the competition the cattle were not as good as when we started. They weighed less and were worse to handle. At the feedlot challenge they were just the opposite.

I’m not criticizing the competition. I would go to more of them if I could, because I enjoy the skills of “extreme” cowboying, and feel they are needed in the real world, and the competition showcases that part of stockmanship. The better you are at roping, setting up a good shot to catch, and working on the ground, the safer and less stressful it is.

What these different competition show is the different pressures we put on with our handling and the outcomes of it. I was also surprised at the skill levels. Ranch roping have been going on for a long time and the skills have not improved near as much as I’ve seen the cattlehandling skills at the Feedlot competition improve.

We loaded up and headed west to Ronan Montana, then went to Victor Montana the next day and finished up in Gold Creek on Wednesday presenting stockmanship and stewardship for NRCS.

Three very different operations, managing resources to improve quality of life for all things. You want hospitality, go to western Montana ranches! The three operations were different, but the common denominator of all is how good the NRCS folks were, and how dedicated to the industry the three hosts were.

Now let’s look at the producers in attendance. Mesa was amazed at how different each crowd was. The towns were not 100 miles apart, but the style of each was very different. That is what is so great about my job is observing how traditions, climate, terrain, and demographics create its own culture in each area.

At Gold Creek, I new a lot of the producers and how their operations worked. I was raised just over the mountain so I was kind of at home. That made me a little nervous.
I knew how good of producers were there and what they did on the ranches they manage.

To be real honest, I like the animal work the best in my job. I had a guy at the Home Ranch tell me he thought I was more comfortable with the horses than I was in the dining room. He was right. I remember when I first came to the Home Ranch I would almost get sick, having to go and have dinner with a bunch of folks that new which fork to use first. I have over come it and actually enjoy it now, even though I still have silverware left over when I’m done.

When I get to do a presentation where I know the people, I am just so proud to be a part of this business. Livestock people are good people. The people at the Home Ranch are good people. The lifestyle brings out the good in people.

The best part of the last week was Mesa. She is a good hand. She has been working with some of the snortiest, most dangerous cattle in the world, but she has so much feel for putting the right pressure on. She really makes nice horses. She also is a good people person. We really had fun and worked well as a team. I hope she wants to do more.

IMG_2922

Every where we went someone wanted to buy one of her horses. The Thomas Hereford ranch hosted in Gold Creek. Someone wanted to buy Mesas big bay horse we call “Low Tone”. She said everything was for sale. After some fun discussion Mesa said that he was “for sale, but not on sale”. Everyone got a big kick out of that.

So now I am on a plane to Denver and will be in Fort Collins for the next couple days for the big Stockmanship and Stewardship event with NCBA. I won’t get home for three weeks and will be going to New Mexico, California, Oklahoma, British Columbia and Alberta. I should finds something fun to talk about.