Just finished last Stockmanship and Stewardship event of 2019.   It was in Monroe, Luisiana, and everything was good.  The arena, the schedule, the format, the attendees, the horses, the cattle, and especially the crew that made it all go so smoothly from NCBA staff to LSU extension folks, were all better than good, so I should restate that.  Everything and everyone was great.

I am on a plane headed home and wondering where I am headed.  This was my last booked event of the year.  My traveling and clinic schedule has been  less than a quarter of the past.  Traveling and workin with a microphone on has been such a big part of my life for a long time.

Quality of life.  That’s been something that has always been on my mind.  As with so many things, it is so simple to see but hard to get.

There is a program in the beef industry we call “Beef Quality Assurance” (BQA).  In its simplest form it is doing all the component parts of creating beef the best way possible to  have “quality beef”.

Some producers put a lot of effort into it, some don’t.  Some producers make it very simple, some make it very complicated.  Different environments and traditions create lots of different ways of producing beef.  It’s the same with life.

The two biggest things I see that will improve BQA is learning new methods and being willing to change to improve.  Some do, some don’t.

Should we have a “People Quality of Life Program”?

There is a hot springs in White Sulfur Springs, Montana that I stop and soak in once in a while.  It has some nice life size paintings on the wall depicting native Americans in the same spot when they were the ones on the land, using the same hot springs I was sitting in.  I got to wondering who had the best quality of life, us or them.


It would seem we do with all our modern conveniences and technology.  I know we have it much easier, but I think it is much more complicated now than it was then.  Everything they did was about survival and living off the land, and most of there time and energy was used to survive, and how well they managed that created quality of life.  I imagine being comfortable, not starving and being safe we’re pretty big parts of quality of life.  I doubt if there too many diet and exercise programs needed.

Now we have replaced hunting and gathering with working and spending.  We work a lot and we spend a lot.  Some are better hunters(higher pay) and some are real good at spending(debt).  If you are not careful and smart about your work it can lower your quality of life, and it is real important to watch how you spend to create quality of life.

If you don’t like to hunt, but like to eat you may not have the best quality of life unless you can do something for the hunter that they don’t like to do.  This is a good way to improve quality of life.  The important thing to understand is to not complicate this or get it out of balance.  It will then become a stressor and take away from quality of life rather than add to it.  If you have to much “stuff” it won’t mean anything and it will become an addiction getting more stuff to try to improve quality of life and it may do just the opposite.

Every one is different, but for me beating hearts create quality of life.  I don’t get real close to a lot of humans, but the ones I am really improve my life.  With Wife Tammy’s new challenge in quality of life, it has actually improved mine in a funny way as it has made me realize how important she is to me and how I may not have been giving her the quality of life she deserved.

My children are such an important part of my quality of life and I am real proud of what and who they are(most of the time).

The animals I get to care for and be a part of are really important to me.  My dog  Possum has really improved life for me, as have Taco, Silver and Rials dog Porsha.

My horse  Jaxson has become a real big part of the enjoyment in my life.  He has gone from a dead runaway scared horse to a real partner, and I think I have improved his quality of life almost as much as he has improved mine.


Having all the 63 Ranch horses and trimming feet, putting shoes on and learning to age by the teeth again, and riding and caring for so many horses has taken me back through the years and got me back to really caring about all parts of being a horseman.

I am really looking forward to figuring out what livestock will work best on the ranch.  Cows, yearlings, bucking horses?  What will create the best improvements to quality of life on “The New 63 Ranch”.

I am so grateful for the internet, this iPad, the trucks and tractors, the wonderful house and propane heat, refrigerators and all the stuff that makes life easier than those native Americans from long ago.  They really help create an easy life and allow us much more time to improve quality of life.  But they can also create so many things that seem like they improve quality of life, but really take away from us and we may not even know it.

So in my “Life Quality Assurance” assessments I am going to enjoy the “stuff” that gives, get rid of or not use “junk” that takes and really learn, implement and change the way I deal with the beating hearts in my life to not only improve my quality of life, but other heartbeats as well.

I’ll tell you one thing, swinging my leg over Jaxsons back used to be like getting on a airplane.  There was going to be a take-off.  Less takeoffs creates better quality of life!


I have said several times in the past I have the best job in the world. Over the past twenty years I have been living the life of a country music star (classic country, not modern) or a rodeo cowboy with a guaranteed win.  Flying around doing demonstrations  and riding lots of good horses and working cattle, with some good, good people.  It’s the best job in the world.

Last week I went and helped my brothers and the crew at Pate Auction Service do the state of Montana surplus vehicle auction.  It was cold and snowy all day but I love to sell and really enjoyed it.  Brothers Doug and Dan have taken over the business from the folks and have evolved with the times of technology and internet.  I admire what they are doing and how they are a good team.

My first memories of auctions are yellow legal pads to design sale posters and taking the pictures to the printers and laying out it out.  The clerk system was all filed by hand and the mailing list was on a rolladex.  We would all spend a day labeling and putting stamps on brochures and go all around putting them up in cafes and feed stores.

There is so much more to an auction than bid calling, but that’s the part I like.  Even though it was a miserable day, we sold the heck out of things and it was the best job in the world for me that day.  When I was much younger I used to love setting up auctions and going out of town and working and staying on the road.  At that time in my life it was the best job in the world.

I have been really busy lately.  The 63 Ranch has a lot that needs done. Around 50 head of horses to take care of,  cabins, lodge and buildings to winterize and machinery to buy and use, hay to buy, cattle to buy, and I suppose I need to figure out where my boundary fences are.  We are cleaning up 100 years of accumulations from a time when nothing was thrown away.  And I mean nothing!

Everything so far has been pretty physical and I’m getting into shape.  I like cleaning things up as when you are done you can really see the difference you made.  It’s interesting to see how people did things, and a place can have a pretty good cover on it, but when you go to cleaning up and maintaining things, you can tell a good manager and a poor manager real quick.

Growing up, I had four real different influences in my life.  My Dad was a hard worker and new how to build fence and ranch stuff right, but would hire qualified workers to do the things he didn’t do well.  He was a good business man and could make money running the business to hire work done..  My step Dad was very good at building and working on things.  He could wire, mechanic, and new how to carpenter right.  That was a big part of the kind of farm/ranch operations he and my mother ran.  They would do most things themselves and had good modern tools and modern Ranching and farming techniques.  They were hard workers and had lots going on but always struggled to make it work as did most people in the 70s and 80s.


My Grandpa Ed didn’t fix things he tore things up.  He had to work at places that he only worked livestock or people.  He could build fence and feedlots, but he did not care about equipment.  He was a livestock man, and a good one.

My Grandfather Leanard came through the tough times and never really got out of them.  (He had lots of money, just didn’t know what to do with it or how to spend it.) He made money with livestock and land and did not spend much money on anything else.  Much of the stuff I am throwing away is just what I grew up making work.  We had a little lean to shop with a single box of tools(no sockets) a grease gun, a few old funnels and a bunch of bins of used bolts, lag screws, hammers, saws, fencing pliers, golden rod fence stretcher,shovel, double bitted axe and a tamping bar.

We had an old air compressor, and there was a Buzz box  welder my Dad gave me to use( my Grandpa wouldn’t buy one)but it was in the meat house as it had a 220 plug.  There was some other junk in there but not much more.

I found an old sign somewhere that said “hard hat area” and I nailed it to the door and it was there for years.  With the tempers around that place it was a hard hat area!

There was no shop to work in.  It was pull up in front and lay on the ground.  If it was wet or snowy we would lay on a piece of plywood or a tarp.

The one thing that you did not do there is use something and not put it back.  It wasn’t fancy but it was organized.

We got by just fine.  The equipment we had was a swather, small square baler, a Massey 185 tractor, a Massey 65 tractor  (no loaders)a New Holland bale wagon, an old manure spreader, a old v ditcher that You had to ride and run the wheel up and down while another pulled it with the tractor, and a harrow.


That was just about it for equipment.  We had an old squeeze chute, a good stock truck(he made a lot of money hauling and trading horses and cattle with the old strait truck through the years) and a half ton pickup.  He didn’t get 4 wheel drive until I was a teenager.

That was it.  I think he was one of the more profitable ranchers in the Helena Valley.  He wasn’t big, was a master at not paying for labor, and always had a cash flow with his trading, and made money ten years in ten because he had very low cost in his livestock.

It was a great lesson for the times and I am glad I was a part of it.  I still have a lot of that in me, so I understand the things I am throwing away.  It was the greatest way to grow up in the world!

That was old school, and that’s why I answer the phone at the ranch “ The new 63 Ranch”.  I admire the old traditions, but just like the auction business, ranching has changed.  The old 63 was a guest ranch that couldn’t change with the times and had to be sold.  I love the feel and the history of the place, but that is done.  We are going forward into the future and I am so glad to be a part of it.

One of the greatest pieces of equipment on the ranch at the moment is a hydraulic dump trailer.  I have hauled so much stuff to the dump or scrap yard in my life, and unloaded it by hand.  Now I roll in, uncover and dump. As my Dad would say, handier than pull tabs on can beer.


We sold the old John Deere tractor and ordered a new one, I’ve got a nice 2012 Dodge truck with a bale bed and a cake feeder.  It’s nice!  The place came with a good skid steer and a backhoe.  We have trailers, tools and anything we don’t have and need we will get if it makes sense.

We have have plans for a good shop/storage building.  No one knows for sure what the operation is going to be in the future, but it will have cattle, horses and people in the mix.  It will be first class and the new 63 will make its place in history.  We will take care of the land and it will take care of us, just as always, but with a little different twist.

When I’m on the phone with the boss and am going out to work I say I am going out to church.  When I get out there horseback and jingle the horses in and see all the beauty around me and the moose, deer, elk and bear, I am in the middle of some of Gods greatest creation and I am so lucky to get to be a part of it.

Thanks to the four mentors I mentioned above, I feel I have a real strong work ethic and enjoy working as much as anything.  My Dad always said “to be paid more, do more than your paid for” and I think that is a great way to live.

All the phases of my life I have had the best job in the world for me and where I was at in my life.  It is up to you to get the right skills to get the best job in the world for yourself, or you are missing out on a great part of life.

Several years ago I was in Sheridan, Wyoming at Pat Puckett’s place, and were were all roping and laying down yearlings and branding them.  Buck Brannaman and I had one stretched out on the ground and he smiled and said “When work is play, life is good”.   

I’ve been playing for a long time and the games just keep getting better.  I hope it is the same for you.  It’s all about the attitude we take to our job.  Some people are always happy and content, and they create contentment and productivity on the job, and some people are always the victim and unhappy and they steal energy and suck the life out of themselves and everyone else.  Don’t do that.


(The bulls and bears of the 63 ranch!)

Enjoy life, enjoy work.


Just finished a great Horsemanship/Stockmanship/ Godmanship book titled “The Hands Of Cantu”.  It was about a young man seeking horsemanship skills in the 1500s. Spaniards in Mexico dealing with stolen horses and living God and Horsemanship.  Great book.


The brand was the cross enflanked I.( +I+) and they would ride to their death for it if needed.  Ride for the brand is a great tradition and a great way to think.

We are at the “Home Ranch” this week and I’ve been coming here for a long time and watched how the managers got the employees to “Ride for the Brand”.  The three I have worked for have had different styles but were good at getting the most out people to ride for the Home Ranch brand.


When I was doing lots of horse clinics and demos I was on the Purina team and the name of the program was” Ride With The Brand”.  For some legal reason they couldn’t call it Ride for the brand, but I was proud to ride for the outfit as they treated us right and had a good research backed product, and the boss men Darrell Burnett and David Nelson were more than fair, so it made it easy to want to do your best for them.


I’ve worked on several ranches and some you really wanted to ride for the brand.  The Iverson’s (-FL)in Townsend, Montana were our first full time ranch job.  I would do about anything for Boyd.  They really took care of us and appreciated our work.

Some of the other places were good but the management was such that you new you were an employee and they could not see all the extra you did to take care of “their” livestock.

On some of the bigger ranches I have been on if the management doesn’t connect properly with the crew you don’t get the “ride with the brand” mentality.  I think this is one of the most important skills of a good manager or owner.  So much of this lifestyle is pride of work and care of the animals.  If you know your boss appreciates and respects what you do you will go the extra mile.

I have been working for the National Cattleman’s Beef Association as what I call a “day worker”.  I have been doing demos on cattlehandling for them by myself and first with Todd MacCartney, then Ron Gill and Dean Fish.  I think we make a good team and all ride for the “BQA” brand of the NCBA.  Lots of good people at NCBA as well as State BQA people have made this organization great to work for.  I don’t get into political stuff in the industry, but I do believe in education and doing the right thing and that’s why we Ride for the Brand  by day working for this good outfit.


Riding for the Brand is very important to me.  My Dad always told me-to be paid more, do more than your paid for.  When you do this and work for good people(like I have) the “sell/buy” works for everyone.

I have been through some very interesting situations this year.  I have found out it is very difficult to come onto a place and take over where someone has been riding for the brand for many years.  It is a tough transition for people to make, especially when they really don’t want it, but are forced into it.  I was in the middle of it twice.  No fun.

The first time with the added pressure of Wife Tammy’s challenges and the ranch challenges it was not worth it to me, so we agreed with the boss to not continue.  I think it worked out good for everyone.  The ranch didn’t have a brand yet.

We went to work for the Levy Family on the “63” ranch.  It has been a working ranch/dude ranch since 1929.  The sixty three brand  was established in 1863 and it’s the reason the ranch is named so.  They got the brand with the purchase of the ranch.

We got in the middle again and there were some hard feelings.  I didn’t do anything wrong and happened to be filling up with fuel and I heard the previous manager bad mouthing me to someone.  I think his emotions got ahold of him and he acted in a way he would not normally act.  He apologized and I accept it.

The thing that was so good that came out of it was to see how the new ranch owners reacted.  They didn’t stick up for themselves, they stuck up for me.  They backed me 100 percent and proved that I had been doing the right thing for the guy all along.

They had me riding for the brand when they hired me, but now they have proven to me we are in this together.  They take the high ground and don’t talk behind people’s back and do negative things.  We are all going to help make the sixty three the best it can be and take it into the future with respect to the past and all create high quality outcomes.  We are exited.


[I’ve ridden for lots of brands in my Greeley Hatworks hat, and I think the “63” is a good one to ride for!]

If you have people you work with or have people working for you I think it is so important to get the “Ride for the Brand” mentality going.   It’s a great tradition.

Beautiful Morning

I have been starting every morning jingling in my horse herd and I can’t tell you how much I enjoy starting my day in a long trot.


Today was extra special as I had some extra help that sure added to the beauty of the Montana morning.

If you were wondering how Tammy is doing, I’d say she is doing real good.  She is getting stronger and more confident every day.  Thanks again for all the wonderful thoughts and prayers!



I’m reading a new book that is available on Marketing with Bud Williams.


The main concept is sell-buy rather than buy-sell.  The focus is on trading livestock, but it has got me thinking about everything on a sell/buy mindset.

My grandfather was a real sharp trader and many of the things I heard from him growing up, this book says it in a similar way.

The two main things were never to run out of feed or money and you make your money on the buy, not the sell.  They both said once you bought something the price didn’t matter any more as you couldn’t change it so forget it.  When you want to sell, what you paid for something no longer matters as you can’t change it.  Also when making a deal, everyone needs to benefit.  That is so important to remember, especially to establish a reputation as someone good to do business with.  My grandfather was great at it.

The thing Bud Williams has done is to use math and current prices to figure if something is a good buy or sell.  If you are in the business long enough I’m sure you start to understand, but using math and prices rather than guesses and desires is a much better way to be successful.  It is especially good if most other people buy on emotion.  It gives you an unfair advantage.  We can’t predict the future, so only base decisions on what you know, not on what you hope will happen.

Wife Tammy’s “Art Of The Cowgirl” had a horsemanship clinic with Lee Smith.

It was the first clinic I have rode in as a student for a long time.  I really enjoyed it and it really got me working on some things I might have been missing.  Lee and her Husband Mark are real good folks and have a real nice style of presenting things.

At the clinic I started thinking sell/buy.  The folks that attended sold money to buy Lee’s time and experience.  After three days of the clinic they should have more skill, so when they get home and “sell” time to work on their horsemanship it should be more valuable as they have more skill. (The buy)

At the clinic there were some folks that had just purchased a ranch in Livingston,  Montana and we got to know the family better.  We went up to the ranch for a couple days and we all decided to work together on the new undertaking.  We have a new job!  We sold our time and knowledge for a job and quality of life we seek.  They are so much fun and it is such a beautiful ranch that I feel we made a “good trade”.

As some of you know I wear a  Greeley Hat Works cowboy hat.  I have for several years.  Trent makes me a great deal on my hats and I try promote it to as many people as I can.  I told him in one of our many airport run ins last year that I thought I was getting the better of the deal.  He said it must be a good deal as he felt like he was getting the best deal.  Another example of sell/buy with everyone feeling good about the trade.


Tammy and I felt like we had one of the best weeks of our life last week. Her clinic was great, thanks to lots of good people selling time and energy and others buying the program.

Next we made the good trade on the job that we both are very comfortable with.  We will be close to Bozeman and doctors and get to live in one of the most beautiful places we’ve seen with real good people that we fit with.

But the most amazing part of the week is her progress with her cancer.  We had done a sell/buy trade with her kidneys by putting the nefrostomy tubes in to get her kidneys to functioning. She sold the freedom of normal to having bags to buy health and life.  When she had to make the decision one doctor said she may never get rid of them.  That was hard to take.  Tammy has no backup in her so she did it, but she didn’t take that sell.  She never doubted that she would get them out.

The other thing Tammy did was to decide not to take one of the cancer treatments doctors prescribed.  She instead made the sell/buy with the doctor to do his protocol and an treatment of animal wormer that lots of people are having success with.



Well last week her numbers were so good that they took the tubes out as her kidneys are functioning normally.  The doctors don’t know why,  but things are working and getting back to normal.  I can see she is getting stronger and feeling better.  We’ve got our old Tammy back.  It is so great!

So many of you have been offering thoughts and prayers.  We believe that is such a big part of it.  THANK YOU!!!

I am really looking at life much different now than I ever have.  I try to think of the sell/buy concept in everything I do.  Time and quality of life are our most important commodities.  Make sure when you sell time you make a “good trade” on quality of life.

No Normal Life

I need to do a little follow up from the “Badger Hole”.

First of all thank you to everyone who sends kind words, thoughts and prayers.

It was so comforting to both of us to have so many nice responses.

I’m not sure why I felt the need to write about it, just felt the need to get it off my chest and from all the great responses from true friends I’m glad I did as it really inspired us.

We have been vacationing at the Bozeman Deaconess  hospital since Saturday night.  Tammy got a couple of infections so we are taking care of that.

I am in awe of how great the people that work in the health care industry are.  We have been dealing with them so much in the last two months and it is just amazing what these dedicated people do.

I have been watching and learning to try to see how I can make myself better on the livestock side of healthcare and improve my BQA skills.

I watched an ultrasound of Tammy’s heart yesterday.  It was a moment of awe at the miracle of our body and how it all functions. You should take better care of your body (as should I).

Tammy has a great young doctor in Bozeman that was recommended by her brother-in-law Pete Petersen.  We had a visit yesterday and told him about using the livestock wormer.  He was a little set back at first but then because of Tammy’s enthusiasm he got interested.  She sent him some info.

It is so hard to know what to do.  Tammy is very good at researching and making decisions, and not just taking the easy way and doing what everyone else does.

She is using the parts of modern medicine that she feels will help, naturalistic things to support her body and immune system and livestock wormer.

Talk about “Art Of The Cowgirl “, that’s pretty ranchy  if you ask me.

The challenge has been her kidney function.  As soon as we can get those suckers back to normal, then our life will get back on track and we can have a fair fight.

So, I did not write for sympathy or asking for anything, just wanted to get it off my chest and let people know.  We had know idea of the response and the offering of prayer and support we would receive.  Amazing.

It’s fun to see how much Tammy means to folks.  I used to do Women’s Ranch Horse Clinics at the Home Ranch, a guest ranch in Colorado.  I made the decision to focus more on the beef production side of stockmanship so Tammy took over doing clinics at the Home Ranch.

When I was doing clinics women would cry sometimes in the middle of the clinic because they were frustrated.  Women cried at the end of Tammy’s clinics because it was over and they didn’t want it to end.  There was crying at both, just a little different types.

I feel I’ve been more of an animal person, but Tammy is both, but mostly a people person.  It is really evident that people really care about her just as she really cares about people.

You should see how she is in the resort(hospital)She is always saying she’s sorry to the nurses and doesn’t want to bother anyone.  No matter how much they poke and  prod her she stays positive.  I was  amazed how tough she was when she was having our children and I am amazed at how she is handling this.

So again thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

This is a site about Stockmanship and not about our personal life.  I am not going to make this a place to talk about this.  I just wanted you to know and to share how important it is to think and plan  ahead whether you are trotting through the tall grass or living life.  You can’t always see the badger holes but you can be prepared just in case.

Tammy brought this quote to my attention on our way home from Seattle.  It fits our situation



Many years ago I was long trotting in real tall grass.  Some cattle I was taking care of had gotten into a pasture they were not supposed to be in (CRP for those of you that know that program)and I was going to them.

All of a sudden my horses front end disappeared.  I kicked out of my stirrups, lifted my reins and leaned back.  As my horse continued to “endo”, my position in my saddle sent me forward and I lit on my feet out of my horses way and holding my rein.

My horse had stuck both front feet in a badger hole and went over.  He wasn’t hurt and either was I.  I just stepped back on and went and got my cattle.  This was back in the day of no cell phones.  We were on a pretty big place and no one knew where I was, and if I had been hurt they would of had a hard time finding me.

A fellow by the name of Greg Elio had told me several months before how you should react if your horse endos.  He said you needed to prepare for it in your mind so when it happened you would react as you have no time to decide what to do.

I had prepared myself mentally and had the physical ability to do it.  When it happened it was just like time slowed down and I was aware of everything that was happening and did the right thing instead of panicking and not following my plan of action.

Fast forward fifteen years or so and I was in a whole different world.  I was still horseback, but instead of big country with cattle, horses and dogs I was surrounded by asphalt and concrete and lots of interesting people.  I was in North Carolina and really enjoyed visiting with a real successful guy that liked the cowboy world.  Gary had lost a son in a car accident not to long before.  He told me that something in the future would completely change my life, and I should prepare myself for it.

Well, that change has come.  Beautiful wife Tammy has some health challenges.  We were trotting along in the perfect tall grass in life and all of a sudden we hit a badger hole.

We never dreamed this would happen to “us”.  It hit us hard but without really knowing it we were prepared.  We have been married for more than thirty years and it seemed through all the ups and downs we were in a perfect married state of mind to ride through the wreck together.

We have both been very concerned about our health and have tried to take care of our body’s in a way that we could enjoy our lifestyle as long as possible.

Tammy is very strong mentally and physically.

We have really tried to not have debt on things that don’t add to our future financial security.  We are not rich, but we don’t have to worry about making payments.  If we had a lot of em it would really make our life much more stressful right now.

We both have strong faith.  We go about it a little different ways from ourselves and other people, but we believe.

We hardly ever follow the crowd.  We try to do things that we feel best fit us.  Tammy will not do things because everyone else is or someone says we should.

She figure things out and does it her own way.  Doctors beware!

Tammy has a way of making people feel good.  I have seen her lifting folks up and making them feel good about life for the last thirty years.  From Peruvian sheep herders missing their families to wealthy folks that have everything, Tammy has a special way of bringing folks to a better place in their life.

She has created such a strong support base for us. You can’t believe how many people are praying for her.  I’ve seen grown men cry when they found out, and people offering whatever they have to help us.  You can’t imagine how good and confident this makes us feel.

As I look back we have always been in a long trot, sometimes at a lope, and have been on a dead runaway at times.  We’ve covered more country than we could have ever imagined, stumbled a few times but have never stepped into a badger hole.

Because we are prepared we can lean back and ride through the wreck and we believe we will come out the other side on our feet with our reins in our hands.



To tell a little more of the story cancer is the badger hole.  Tammy has been researching lots of ways to go about this.  From her research she feels the best chance at the quality of life is not conventional way of chemotherapy, as the doctors have told us that with this cancer there is no cure, you just slow it down.

The interesting thing is that the animal pharmaceutical company’s that have provided much of our living for so many years seem to have the cure for her .

Fenbendazole  (animal wormer)seems to be working with great success at curing and stopping cancer.

We are so thankful for the great care she has gotten from modern medicine,

and I believe everyone is doing the best they can, but sometimes you have to step up and go for it, and I’m so proud of and in awe of Tammy’s ability to go through this with so much courage and try.