At The Bar When I Should Have Been At The Church

If I was the kind of person that wore T shirts or caps I would get one that says “I love New York”.  Every time I’ve been it’s been a great experience, whether I am in the Big City, or out in the country, and there is a lot of out in the country in the state of New York.

I spent the last three days doing Dairy and Beef Stockmanship and Stewardship trainings for the NCBA.  They have partnered with Merc this year and you can see all the great things going in 2019 at .  Check it out and come see us.

The weather was not the best and I got to drive on some real tough roads because of the “lake effect” around Syracuse.  I rented a little Chevy Cruze and that thing was terrible in the snow and I got stuck a couple of times.


The dairy and beef producers are very unique in New York State.  The feel I get is they are very progressive producers, but have real strong moral and social values, and it’s kind of like going back in time about thirty years.  They are kind of a bunch of sophisticated hicks, and I say that as a real compliment.

I did three daytime dairy trainings and went to three very different dairy’s.  The main difference was the milking parlor and number of cows, and the different personalities of the management.  All were very interested in cow comfort and care, and I don’t know if anything I said or demonstrated helped, but they sure were listening and watching to see if I had anything worthwhile.  That’s all I hope for.

Two evening programs were beef focused.  One was at a real nice Farm, the Center Dale Farm, in Black River.  It turned real cold and they had a good supper out in a barn and the only heat was a single propane heater. We all gathered up after supper around the heater and I talked for quite a long time hoping everyone would get cold and want to go home and not want me to work live cattle.  Well that backfired on me as I got cold talking and still had to go outside in an open front shed and work some cattle. Don’t think New Yorkers can’t take a little cold.  It was a fun evening with real good people.

The next night we were at a sale barn, Empire Livestock in Bath, New York, had a good meal and I talked and had some real nice steers to work with in the ring.(heated ring). I just really enjoyed the people at both meetings and felt good about the things I presented to them on behalf of the Stockmanship and Stewardship program.  It seems like a long ways to go and lots of money spent, but they didn’t waste any time with five meetings in three days.

There was another presentation at the dairy meeting that I really enjoyed, think is a very important subject that fit right with what I was doing.

Erica Leubner  of NY Farmnet presented on communication (human)on the farm.  She was a great presenter and it really set the stage for for what I was going to present.  I would like to see her present at cattleman’s college next year.  Good stuff.

I had some fun things happen while I was spending my time in New York.

They were very organized at setting things up and I had a list with addresses and times of my presentations.  The second day I got to town early, drove out and found the dairy, had some time so I went back to town and looked at some skid steers(I’m on the hunt for a new one for the ranch).  I then went to the Route 38 bar and grille, as my instructions instructed, and was wondering where everyone was.  I got a text from the extension person wondering where I was.  They were at a local church for the meeting.  So, it hasn’t happened for quite some time but I was at a bar when I should have been at a church.  

The other funny thing that happened was when outsiders go to dairy, for bio security reasons everyone wears plastic booties over their footwear.  I have rubber overshoes and use disinfecting scrub because the booties always tear and they are slick.

So they handed them out at the parlor, everyone put them on and headed to the barn we were going to work in, which was was quite a ways off.  The guy that was hosting for the dairy took off at a fast walk as the wind was blowing and it was cold.  I was at the back of the pack and I had to stop and lean against the building because I was laughing so hard.  When the group hit the ice and snow no one could walk and about five of them were in a pile on the ground.  They were all young and having fun and they were laughing too.  When Brad got to the barn he turned around to look and about half the people following were on the ground, he had to lean against the building laughing.  We all got a big laugh and were happy to get in out of the wind and on concrete.  I guess confinement isn’t as bad as some people make it out to be.

After I finished up at the “bottoms up dairy”, I decided to drive to Niagara Falls.  If you want to take the back roads in populated areas all you have to do is set your gps for no toll roads.  I always do that as I like to see the country from two lanes instead of four.  It took me twice as long to get there but I really saw some nice farm country.

It was cold and miserable and the fog and the mist were heavy and made it hard to see, but it was really great to see.  They said the number of people visiting is usually way higher, but the weather had them backed off.


I’m glad I went.  The power and beauty is unimaginable until you see it.

So that was my trip. I love New York!

Too cold to De-Ice

It’s cold

We have been having some tough weather.  It was so nice through January.

Then it hit us and we have had lots of snow and this last week bitter cold.  24 below in Ryegate actual temp.  Luckily we didn’t have much wind.  The livestock on our little place are very well protected from the wind with lots of brush and trees, and I bought some cheap small squares that the top of the stack is really good for bedding so I have bedded the heck out of em.  They get all they want to eat and a little more.

My barn cats have been worrying me. So I took a electric dog bed warmer and put a box over it and a saddle blanket and they are warm and cozy.

I really like taking care of animals with no thought to profit when it’s terrible conditions for them.  I get out there with em and make sure they are all right, and actually it makes me feel better when I have to suffer a little from the cold because they do it and can’t get out of it.

If they have lots to eat and their rumen is working, they actually have like a furnace inside their body to create heat from the inside out.  This is why they can take so much cold if they are out of the wind and not wet.

The ones I feel bad for are the baby calves that are being born.  They are coming out of a 100 degree environment into a -zero environment and have not had anytime for acclimation to the difference.  They don’t have a winter hair coat and the same rumen activity so they really suffer.  If you put the bulls in at a certain time to calve in these conditions, I think you need to have the facilities and the manpower to take care of these newborns (all livestock).  If you don’t and calves freeze to death or their ears and lungs freeze, who caused it?  You had the control.  I think it’s something we all need to look at as an animal care issue.  Have you ever heard of the “five Freedoms” for animal welfare?

I’m not saying to not calve or lamb at this time, I’m saying have the infrastructure and help to get it done with the five freedoms in mind.  

I am feeding lots of deer right now, and they are free choice eating my good second cutting alfalfa hay.  I don’t see any new baby’s  with them.

I went to the ranch to check on things and turn the heat up in the main and the guest house.  It was really beautiful just after the sun went over the Bridges Mountains.  When it is real cold like this it seems everything is crisp and it comes right through the pictures.


I spent the night in Bozeman/Belgrade near the airport.  It was 32 below this morning.  I was supposed to have a flight at 6:30 to Chicago.  They loaded us up and it was cold on the plane as they had no heat until the engines got going.

Well they couldn’t get the engines going and we sat on plane for about an hour.

People demanded to get off so we unloaded.  

It was to cold to de-ice and nothing was working.  We finally got out of Bozeman at about 10:30.  It was interesting to see how much the equipment was affected by the cold and the people out working in it.  

I missed my flight to Syracuse, but United had me another one booked and I got upgraded to first class where I’m writing this from, so it all worked out for me, just getting in a little later.

It’s going to be cold in  New York as well.  I sure hope it warms up, for the animals.

Surface Work

I started writing this a while ago after Wife Tammy’s production “Art Of The Cowgirl”.  We had a little discussion  on the ranch rodeo and the way cattle were handled.  It got me to thinking about why I do things the way I do.  So here it is, kind of long, but I think it is worth your time if you are interested in improving the way you work livestock.

I’ve been in a whirlwind for the last few of weeks.   From one event to the next with not much time between and also trying to get things done on the new ranch and getting sick in the middle of it all made for a long couple of weeks.

I had one of the best demos ever in New Orleans at NCBA convention.  Ron Gill and I had done it the day before and it didn’t go so good.  Our pressures didn’t match up very good and the cattle didn’t work very good and I didn’t feel good after the demo.

I got to think about it and figure out how to do better.  Ron had a different obligation so Dean Fish and I did the demo together, and it worked out a lot better because I changed the way I pressured and was able to talk about what I was doing better.  The cattle worked great and we were able to present it in a way that folks could really see and understand what we were talking about. I learned and changed and in 24 hours it was a much different demonstration with the same facilities and similar cattle.

I have been working very hard for the last 20 years on getting more done with better pressure and trying to present this to people in the horse and livestock world, and have never backed off what I feel is right for production livestock and  working with animals.

It is very difficult sometimes to put your thoughts and opinions out to the public and not get thoughts and opinions back from folks with their own thoughts and opinions or representing what they feel are thoughts and opinions of the pioneers or “Gurus “, in my case in the horse world Ray Hunt and the cattle world Bud Williams, the two I admire and study the most

I did not know either one on a personal level, but invested a lot of money and time in trying to get what they were offering for money to improve my skills with livestock.  I didn’t really think they were the kind of people I wanted to be friends with, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t really want to be friends with me, but they both took my money and I took their teaching for that money.  I really worked hard studying what they offered, then put it in my own mind and environment to help me with what  I wanted for my horsemanship and stockmanship.

This is very important to realize, and it took me some time to figure this out.  I would go and learn from other folks that claimed to be students of one of the Gurus, but from my observations it was nothing near my interpretation of what I learned from the teacher.  You can’t be someone else no matter how you try. You can wear the same clothes and use the same equipment but it doesn’t make you recreate what the “teacher” did to be the teacher.

Many years ago I spent a little time at Tom and Margaret Dorrance’s place.  One of the talks we had was about “Surface Workers”.  It was a talk that really effected me, and I really worked hard at not being a surface worker, but really understanding what created what I was looking for in working with livestock and horses.  The important word here is what “I” want and think is important.

I am a production agriculture guy.  The way my mind was shaped growing up was raising livestock (horses were livestock, not companion animals) for profit.

My grandfather Leonard was not a cowboy even though he wore a cowboy hat sometimes, and was probably had as many horseback miles as anyone, but he wasn’t a cowboy.

He was a horse trader, cow trader, small rancher, and somewhat of a real estate investor even though I don’t think he knew it.  He bought stuff to make a profit, and was very good at upgrading things to make that profit, or buying things right to not lose money.  He was very frugal and didn’t like spending money on anything if it wouldn’t make him money.  


He was pretty good at getting animals to do what he wanted, and was really good at getting animals to eat and get fat.  He bought a lot of horses for slaughter, and said the best color for a horse was fat.  He liked horses, but he didn’t fall in love with them.  They were for sale at a profit. He really loved his cows, always made sure they had everything they wanted and more, but when it was time to sell, he sold and didn’t let emotion get in the way.

He bought and sold small numbers of livestock and trucked cattle for people with a truck with a twenty foot bed.  We weighed a lot of small numbers of cattle and when I was around twenty years old I was really good at guessing weight on cattle.  We were always sorting and working cattle and I was good at it.

I spent much of my youth with my Grandpa Len and was really influenced by him more than anybody else.

My other Grandfather, Ed Pate was a cowboy, and worked for other people his whole life.

I didn’t get to spend as much time with him as he lived and worked in Idaho, but really liked spending time working with him.  He made a lot of money for other people taking care of their livestock, and was willing to do whatever it took in human sacrifice to make sure the man paying him had his livestock cared for, and I think he helped a lot of people die with a lot more money, while he died with not having many possessions, he instilled in me the desire to take care of animals and work hard for someone you hire out too.

I put up a lot of hay in my in my younger days but I didn’t have a passion for it.

I like feeding animals and grazing animals, so when I started looking for jobs I was focused on only jobs caring for livestock and was not very interested in farming.  I got a lot of experience and worked around some real good stockman with both sheep and cattle.  The people I learned from were more stockman than cowboy, even though they were horseback outfits.

So even though I like roping and have worked hard at getting good at it, and like riding horses that are real handy, and enjoy using dogs to help handle stock, my mind has always been on the production of livestock first, and using cowboy skills to enhance that production.

So when I started to study stockmanship skills, I had a certain mindset on what I thought was best, because of all the influences in my life.  It might have created a different desired result than you or other folks have.  That’s ok, and just because we may have different desires for the outcome, we can still share and learn ideas.

I am very happy with were I’m at right now, but not satisfied.  I know I’m going to get much better, as I have lots of desire to get better and know I can tweak the things I know and make what I know even better.

I have been riding three horses real consistent for the past couple months.  They are all a little different and none of them are pets but I’ve been getting by them pretty good.

I’ve been busy for about three weeks and it’s been cold and snowy so I haven’t been riding them for a month or so.  We had a fellow come to do some filming for a couple of days, and I saddled all three in that time, led them out of the barn  and stepped on and rode em off and went to work.  No ground work or anything and they just rode like they did when I put them up a month ago.  No surface work there.


We have had bucking bull stock around here for the last several years and they have been real good at teaching me to work with and handle lively animals.  I feel I am pretty good at working these cattle.  We moved all those animals to Oklahoma for a better climate and daughter Mesa has them.

I wanted something different to work with last winter so I found a small heard of Mini cows for sale.  They are a real ranchy looking bunch.  I am not sure if I can ever get them sold as there is not much demand for them, but I sure have had fun with them.

When I went to get them the fellow that had them used feed to move them.  They would not drive.  He used feed in a yellow bucket to get them in the corral to load them and then had to put the bucket in the trailer.  The ones that wouldn’t go on Son Rial and I had to physically put them on.  They were gentle but you couldn’t move them.


Well it’s been a year since I got them and boy they are nice to handle.  They really respond well to pressure and make real nice turns and you can park them at a gate, open the gate and they will file right through.  They are not gentle and a couple are kind of on the wild side, after they got their freedom.  They are fat and healthy and I feel like I could “put em down a gopher hole or up a telephone pole (a Tom Dorrance saying).  They are fun for me to work with and I feel like they are very well taken care of and content.

So what I am saying is not every one has the same idea of how to and what’s right with working livestock.  I think it is how you were influenced and what your goals are.  I have really taken the things that I used starting Colts for the past thirty years and put those same techniques and philosophies to use handling livestock.  I am real satisfied with that style of handling.

Bud Williams had talked about his methods of starting Colts and his thoughts on it a little, but I couldn’t get much out of him.  I finally got hold of a video he had made of his method for starting one.  It was nothing like I thought it would be and it didn’t fit what I wanted.  It fit him and I’m sure a lot of people like it but I didn’t.  It’s no problem and I still am watching his stuff trying to get better with cattle and sheep, but I am not interested in the horse stuff.

I never got to see Ray Hunt working cattle in a ranch situation, but watched him work a bunch of colts in an arena and get control of them as a herd and he could really control the movement and turns of the horses.  I have used what I learned from observing that when working with herds of cattle.  If you can get a bunch of colts ready and handling for people that maybe shouldn’t be riding colts, you can surely handle cattle and put em where you want.  His horses were incredible for that kind of work.

I’ve also been studying Temple Grandin for the past several years.  She is a sponge of all knowledge.  She learns things to add to her way of seeing things in pictures and shares them with others.  Some people don’t agree with what she is saying, but if you don’t listen to her you are missing some very good things to improve stockmanship.

So what I am trying to say is be yourself but create yourself with the help of others that create what you like.  Then really ask yourself if you are just working without really understanding, like doing and saying what someone else is doing and saying without understanding why.  

Don’t be a surface worker, even if it causes a little disagreement.

King of Heartsof a good cowboy crew

I am at the NCBA National convention this week doing demos at the trade show,then fly to Saskatchewan tomorrow to do a demo, then back home for a few days, then on to the next one, Wife Tammy’s production in Phoenix, Arizona “The Art Of The Cowgirl “.  Check it out on the inter web and come buy a horse or see the show.  It’s going to be great.

I just feel so fortunate to get to saddle a horse and work cattle in front of lots of Cattleman and right in the middle of New Orleans.  Not much different than my day at home, but a little, like 500 people watching.



I just had breakfast with my good friends Todd McCartney and Dean Fish.  We discussed our jobs and how great it is.  It is so good to be part of a good cowboy crew.

Today is a real special day for us.  The King of Hearts ranch is located near Bozeman, Montana and is getting a new owner today.  I have agreed to hire on to manage the ranch for him.

I am so excited to get to really implement the skills I have been working on and apply them to the every day and overall operations of a good ranch operation.

I still get to do some work off the ranch, and we will explore doing some training and schools at the ranch.

So Tammy and I are entering another stage of our great life in agriculture.  I am very serious about profit and sustainability of the ranch and am proud to work for an owner that appreciates the land.

It’s going to change my lifestyle a lot and I will have to make decisions on the limited events I can do in the future.

I have always had the goal of running a place and am glad I get this chance.  I will keep writing and sharing ideas.

Life is great!


I had a very interesting situation shape up that took place last week.

A few months ago, I was contacted and asked to give a stockmanship presentation for a conference in Lewistown, Montana.  It was not a demonstration but a talk, and for the American Prairie Reserve.  I thought it was a great idea as it was just an hour and a half from home.  I like giving stockmanship presentations for grazing organizations.

As the time for the program got closer and they must have started advertising, I started getting emails and phone calls from folks that are against what the American Prairie Reserve is doing.  They were all very professional in their opposition, but didn’t think I should be associated with the group.

First off I didn’t know what the group was, I thought it was a livestock grazing association.  Second, I have never been into the political side of agriculture and can’t be because of my goals as a teacher of stockmanship.  Third, I had given my word that I would present and I would not go back on my word.  I would have said yes even if I had known, as I will present my thoughts on stockmanship to anyone who will listen, as I believe in it and want to help people and animals.

I was very nervous about all of it though.  The title of the conference was “Living With Wildlife “ and that was a whole different topic that I was normally used to presenting.


So when I got there I was more nervous than normal, and the first thing I saw was a livestock trailer and a pickup with round bale and sign “Save the Cowboy” as a protest to the organization I was working for.

The ironic thing is the last time I had presented at the Yogo Inn, I had presented stockmanship to the very people that owned the trucks and were against this group.

I sat in on some sessions and learned some things about predator/human interaction and there were people on both sides trying to figure out solutions for livestock producers and wildlife enthusiasts to come up with for each to get what they needed.  Not an easy subject.

Well it ends up I’m the keynote after dinner speaker.  As always I had no power point presentation and really no plan of where my talk was headed.  I let the presentations and the people I listened to around me set it up in my mind what my talk was going to be.

I have always followed the advice I heard many years ago from David Nelson with Purina Mills fame.

The Three E’s.  Educate, entertain, and touch people’s emotions.  If you can do that your speaking engagement will be a success, and that’s what I always try to do.  I stepped up there with my best Greeley hat, a vest and a neck scarf, and I don’t know if I am a cowboy, but I think I at least looked like one.  The first thing I said is I am involved in and believe in production agriculture.  The next thing I said is I had presented to the folks that we in protest of this conference.

I used some humor and humility to get everyone relaxed and having fun.

I then related this experience that I had been a part of.

When I worked for Sieben Ranch Co there were two government trappers that would take care of predators that became a problem on the ranch.  Just before Easter or sometime I had a mountain lion causing problems.  I told the boss and they contacted the trappers, Jim Stevens and Carter Niemeyer. They didn’t wait, but came on the holiday and got the lion.  They were so good and really cared about the rancher and really helped me learn how to manage for less loss and conflict with coyotes and mountain lions.

Cater became a very well known wolf biologist and a big part of the reintroduction efforts of the wolf in Yellowstone National Park.  He also was a consultant for the Nicholas Evans(author of the “Horse Wisperer”) book “The Loop”.  I new him as a guy that had helped me and the ranch I worked for and he would do whatever it took to protect out livestock and had seen him do it many times.

I got to know Conrad Burns at the Jordan Match Bronc riding as he and Taylor Brown announced and auctioned the Calcutta.  When he was running for the US Senate I was announcing rodeos and ended up spending a lot of time with him.  He has been friends with Wife Tammy’s Mother for many years.  He was an old time get er done how ever you need to politician, and would do whatever he had to for the rancher and farmer.  I really liked him and got a big kick out of how he campaigned and served.

One day I was flying from Helena to somewhere.  I was standing there visiting with Carter Niemeyer as he was on the flight.  We were visiting and up walks Conrad Burns and shakes my hand and asks how everyone is.  I asked him if he knew Carter and he doesn’t miss a beat and says yes he knows this wolf loving son of a bitch!

I’ve got to look up to Carter to visit with him.  I had to bend my neck down to visit with Conrad.  He Banty Roostered there for a minute and then went on.

I got such a big kick out of it.  As luck would have it I was behind them and they both ended up sitting across the isle from each other and Conrad gave it to him the whole ride.  When we deplaned I was walking with Carter and asked if he got his mind changed and he said he didn’t even try. 

The lesson was that these issues between  ranchers and the rest of the public are very difficult as they create a behavior that is the same behavior we are trying to overcome in animal handling.  You can force animals to do things, but you are much more apt to create conflict and give up some success, whereas if you can change an animals mind and make it his idea or at least resist a little less,  the chance for success is much better.

I new Carter as a friend of the rancher and had received help from him to make the ranch I worked on succeed. Conrad’s only thought was as an enemy to the rancher as a wolf lover.  I think it was a case of two people very passionate about the job they were given, but didn’t have the right pressure to work together, so they just were in conflict and forcing the issue up the chute with a hot shot if you know what I mean.

I spoke of lots of other little story’s and examples to make my points.  I felt good about the talk and I think I made it easier for the people that are not involved with agriculture to see our point of view and not be offended.  I enjoyed visiting with them after and got some nice compliments.  I don’t think there were people there trying to ruin or steal or whatever.  Just people trying to solve and understand a problem, and use the land for what THEY think is right.

I’m glad I spoke.

The next morning I went to breakfast at a local restaurant.  I heard the coffee talk table commenting on the trucks with the banners.  From what I could get out of their conversation was that they didn’t necessarily like what the American Prairie Reserve was doing, but they figured if they had the money and someone wanted to sell to them they had every right to buy it.


I’m just telling you what I heard.  We all have our wants and needs.  My mother and Stepfather went broke in the area in the 80’s because they paid to much for land and interest.  Someone else ended up with it.  That’s the way it is.  Supply and demand.

So we have a conflict that I ended up in the middle of.  I have not even really given thought to who is right or who is wrong.  What I have given thought to is is what pressure to use to make progress.  I would much rather be halving them tipped back in their chair listening and enjoying my thoughts and having a chance of  understanding my point of view just as I will have a better chance to see things from theirs, rather than fighting and protesting.  

I feel it is the exact same thing I do when I am riding my horse away from the barn.  He might not want to go, but I try to change his mind and get him to decide to go, and pretty soon he understands.  I could whip him down the leg and spur him in the belly and if I’m handy enough to ride him through it he might leave the barn pretty fast.  But what if I can’t win and he learns how much power he has and how weak I am?

When I got back home I went to help Son Rial move back home.  I got to hold “Neo” the new grandson for the first time as last time I saw him I was sick.


I got the same feeling as when I held his Dad the first time 28 years ago.  I had a long ride home to think about it.

We have been in the “cowboy” business in my family for a long time and many generations.  If he chooses I hope this boy will carry right on with it. I think the world is very different than when my grandfathers were cowboys, and I think it will be much different when Neo gets the chance.  So I really agree that we need to “Save the Cowboy” but feel we really need to be careful how we go about it.

The world is changing.  It’s changing faster now than ever before.  If we can’t go with the change and help create the change the way we will benefit most we lose.  Don’t fight a battle you can’t win.  Do the right thing for your Grandchildren and Mine, the “Cowboys” of the future.

When Work Is Play, Life Is Good!

As I was getting on My flight in Billings, I told Dave the United gate attendant that I was on my first paid vacation of the year.  He thought someone was paying me for vacation time.

I flew to Tampico, Mexico, stayed the night there and then rode down to the town of Tamuín and went right to work the next morning.  I had been to both feedyards that we would work at a year or so ago, so I new the operations and some of the workers.

I was told they both feed 150,000 head in each yard, graze 25,000 to 50,000, and both have slaughter plants that kill 1100/ day.

We went to all the processing areas, hospitals, slaughter facility’s and grazing cells.  They had made some of the changes we visited about last time.


It was four intense days of work that started early and working with lots of people in lots of different styles of facilities.  I’ll share some things that were interesting to me.

They are using an US feedlot model and a Brazil style grazing system.  I think they are making lots of money per head as the cattle are cheap and very green (thin).  The grazing system gets the cattle straightened out and going and the feedlot puts the finish on.  They don’t have the quality of cattle we do to finish like we want in the US and Canada, but the Mexican customer doesn’t use that kind of quality anyway.  Labor is cheap, cattle are cheap, and they have management in place that understands how to get the most out of the system.  From what I can see, it is like having a printing press for Mexican money.  I asked if drug money was involved.  They said no way, this was much better and they were against that.  The feedlots are separately owned by two brothers that compete with each other.


I went with the shipping crew to bring cattle to slaughter house.  It’s about a half mile, and you take the cattle out of the pens and in an alley back to the plant.  It was fun to get horseback with a fellow that doesn’t speak English and trot off in the dark in the middle of Mexico and just go to it.  I have been working on my Spanish and could communicate a little.  This guy was a good hand and we both rode back after the first pen went into the slaughter pens with no problems,  we new we could both work together well even if we couldn’t talk much.  A good hand is a good hand, and it doesn’t matter where you are and what language, it makes working so much better to work with a good hand.

They doctor most of the cattle in the pens, except in the hospital area.  All the pens have shade, so there are posts in the middle of the pen.  The cattle are more gentle than you would think, so it’s easy to get them roped.  They neck them then take them to a post and get the neck on one side and the rope on the other and hold them, sometimes they take a wrap on the post.



The other guy has his medicine all in a homemade sack on his saddle and rides up and gives a injection of treatment in neck, ear tag, and a chalk mark(all done horseback) then takes a hook and puts it under the rope and hooks to post or his horn and the roper turns his dally’s loose and the rope comes off and he goes to get another one.

They switch each day from roping to doctoring. They use a Mexican charro style saddle with no back chinch or breast collar and long ropes that are not the greatest quality.  They throw regular overhand  and Houlihan shots, miss like anyone else, but they have to take a good shot and set them up as their horses are not going to get them in position to do much fancy stuff.(more on that later)

I feel this is a very effective way for them to treat sick cattle.  They don’t have drovers alleys so they have to take cattle to the feed alley and there are always bunches of cattle being move somewhere so they would be mixed.  The type of cattle, even when close to finish are not as strong and don’t fight as much as our cattle  in the north.  It saves so much time not having to take the animal out, take to hospital, treat and then go home.  They never leave the pen and are treated very quickly, and if things went right, they had less stress than one in a chute if you look at the whole picture.

I think backgrounding lots could use this same method if they had the right crew that could get her done right.

I really wanted to get in on the action in the pen.  Next time.

Another part of the feedlot is on the other side of the highway and there is a guy there that I watched last time and he is very good at all his jobs.  He didn’t say much, but appreciated some of the changes I got done for him last time and asked for some more this time.  He knows what he needs and how to get it done.

We went to a processing area with a tub and they were working real well.  They put the correct number in the tub at the correct time to really get a nice flow.

They were the only tub that I didn’t suggest taking less cattle to the tub.

We visited a processing area that had a Bud Box and Danials double alley system.  The guy that was bringing cattle was the best I ever saw in the box.

He really worked great and if one was a little on the fight he would just work from the outside.  It was a pleasure to watch him and I told him I was a little nervous to work it as I couldn’t work it as good as him.  It was like the cattle wanted to walk by him and up the chute.

Ithink the place we had the biggest impact was the plant and taking cattle from the holding pens to the know Box.  They were taking 15 head and having lots of trouble.  I got the new manager to let me try some different ideas.  I got them to wait until there was  room out of the tub and brought five.  We put about twenty drafts in and they worked real good.  I showed the bow that was bringing them from the pens how to put more pressure on from the side and the cattle really responded.  When we were done they were real happy as they had been having lots of trouble.  I told them I was getting the credit, but I really was doing what Temple Grandin says all the time.


We had been at a Bud Box the day before and they weren’t getting along as good.  I asked if I could do it and took less than half as many cattle and it worked good.  We had everyone that had come to watch work the box and they really did good.  There was one zebu bull that was on the fight and kept running back and putting them on the fence before they could get the box gate closed.

I asked if I could work him and they had no problem with it.  I actually took a few more cattle to use them as a barrier and help get him in the box and the gate closed.  I sent some cattle between me and the hookey one and he was forced to go in the double alley.  Just as he was about to be past the no back and I was pressuring the other cattle so he couldn’t come out and get me, another one hit me from the back with one horn and and about knocked me down.  He ran right up and in the lead up.  The only thing that happened was my nice Greeley Hat ended up in the manure, and I don’t think it will ever be the same color.  I had a little welt on my back, and was much more aware of the other cattle as I loaded the box.

We finished up the last day going to some of the grazing units and watching them treat cattle.  They did one bunch in the center of the pivot.  Mexican common sense was used by tying a las rope to the gate and guiding the cattle to treat in with it as they were all electric fence broke.

The next place we went didn’t have a chute and they head and healed everything.  They would get them roped, tie off short and doctor.  Their horses just put there head down and ate and held.

That is really the only disappointment I had.  The horses are wore out and have cinch sores and open wounds from spurring them.  They don’t move and aren’t very handy to stop and turn.  

I don’t like it from an animal welfare side, but also you can’t have good stockmanship if you can’t get your horse in the proper place at the proper time.

The guys on foot are much more effective. I told the bosses last time and again this time that the horses were a problem and it was not right.  If you can’t move you can’t be a good stockman and you resort to noise and fear.  Bad becomes normal.

Every one at both yards were great to work around.  I try to show a lot of respect to them, because I really respect them and the work they do.  I think we made some real helpful changes, mostly in the number of cattle they try to work.

The Zoetis Team led by Horacio Herrera, with Estaban and Alberto always helping and working with the crews.  We worked hard, laughed hard, and ate really good.  The food at the restaurants was good, but I really enjoyed it when they would bring breakfast and lunch out to the feedyard .  They always had a big metal pot of coffee.  It is so good as it is boiled in the pot and the grounds strained out.  They boil sugar right with it so it is sweet.  I just about foundered on Gorditas and and home made salsa verde.  At lunch one day they brought tamales in a big old metal pot.  One kind was in banana leaves and another in corn husks.



It wouldn’t work without Lulu Rivera.  She is the interpreter.  She has these ear pieces that she gives to everyone and then she says what I say(at least I think she does).  She is great at her job and fits right in with everyone and has lots of fun.

I know there are lots of opinions and thoughts on Mexico and the wall right now.

They think it is crazy, but I told them they should be in favor of it.  I don’t think they will improve their quality of life by coming to higher wages.  They are such committed family people and are happy to get by with what they have.  They are poor in one way and rich in other ways.  I really admire and enjoy the Mexican people I have got to be around.

Maybe we should become more like them where Faith and Family are more important than the car you drive or the jeans you wear.

I feel real safe because of the people I am around take care of me.  I’m not so sure it would be if we were in a big city or I had know idea of good or bad places and people.

I hope I get to go back soon and learn and share some more.  They are really good and strive to be better.

So back to the paid vacation.  If you are having fun, seeing new things, learning about another culture and eating real well and enjoying what you are doing all day, I call that a vacation, and I was lucky enough to get payed.  It’s going to be a good year!

Circle In The Sand


Have you ever had one of those days that was real special that you will never forget.  I did last Saturday.

I started the morning having a real nice ride moving some cattle and my pups worked real nice.  Then I had a a drive through some of the most spectacular mountain ranch country you can imagine.  If you ever get the chance to drive from Martinsdale, Montana to Bozeman do it.

I stopped and had a visit with Tim Zupan, of the King of Hearts Ranch, a great high mountain ranch(more on that some other time.)

I went on to Three Forks, Montana to Headwaters Livestock Market where my Son Rial is employed.  The vet was there to bleed and preg check different pens of cows, and it was fun to work with Rial and see how much he enjoyed his job. 

They were some older weaker cows and they were going down in the chute as it was slick, so Rial got a skid steer and dirt and we made it better for the cows.  He’s a good stockman and really cares.  

He worked there when he was being homeschooled several years ago, and seeing him work shows how much he enjoys working livestock and I’m proud he is good at it.

I then headed to The Brogger’s to have an old partner fixed up.  Mark made a saddle for me many years ago, and I bet it’s been more miles, been on a colt for it’s first saddling and roped and layed quite a few cattle down in front of an audience more than lots of saddles that are built.  The sheep skin is good, but the horn and the seat have seen lots of different places.  I don’t make big circles, but there is plenty to do when I’m in the saddle.

I really enjoy visiting with Mark about the cowboy trade, and think a lot of he and Lola.  If you are considering having a saddle made, I highly recommend his saddles.

I headed back to the sale barn to give Rial a ride home.  I have been trying to find a song that was on an CD we used to have from KNON radio in Dallas Texas.  I asked Rial and he knew exactly the song and found it on my IPad.

I always liked the song and have wanted to hear it again for years, but I had the wrong artist in my mind, so I could never find it. 

We got to his house and I got to experience the main reason for my trip, to see our new Grandson.

When I saw that baby it was one of those moments in life when you feel the circle of love.  It was so great to see Rial and Mary Kate as parents.  It took me right back to when Tammy and I had Rial and all the joy and fear we had at the time.  I just couldn’t have imagined how it was going to feel to see the kid.

I’m sure they will get through all the fear and advice they are experiencing.

They have lots of ideas, opinions and good and bad habits like everyone else, and they are getting lots of advice and opinions from Moms and Grandmothers, just like we did with Rial. 

I think it’s a great time to be alive.  Just think of how good the baby’s of today are going to have it.  My hope is that the boy gets the values and love of the land and animals we in agriculture have, and enjoys a much easier and safer life as technology takes us forward.  He needs the balance of the past and the present, and that’s the role I would like to help with.  I can’t wait to see him horseback!

As I was driving home in the dark, I had a lot of time to think of all the good times ahead.  I listened to “Leo and Leona” a few times, and I’m not sure it’s a coincidence that I got reunited with the song on this special day.


This is a great love song and it reminds me of Rial and Mary Kate

Being a grandparent is real special, a circle in the sand.