Billy Joe Shaver died. He was not only one of my favorite singer/songwriters, but a mans man that seemed to have lots of challenges in life but just kept on living a simple life and writing and singing songs about life. I never saw a picture of him without a well worn cowboy hat, wrangler denim shirt, boots and the same belt and buckle. I read the book “Honky Tonk Hero” and learned a lot about his life. He shot a guy outside a bar in Waco, was a pro bronc rider, was the start of the outlaw movement in country music, and was a believer in God.
He wrote the song “ If you don’t love Jesus, go to hell”. I doubt they would play it at the church at Agape Boarding school, but they might at the Hubbard cowboy church. One of my favorite movies is a spaghetti western named “Trinity “ and there is a line in it that says “the ways of the lord are many”.
Several years ago I was in Fort Worth and did a demo at the Texas and Southwest Cattlemen’s convention. I for some reason felt the need to get out of the big city. I headed south on 35 and got of on the first main road I new headed west. I think it was “67” (there was a western store at the exit) headed to Glen Rose. I had the radio on and it had an ad for the “Brazos River Music Fest” and I thought that would be a good place to go.
I find the spot and it’s in a park on the river. I walk around and find me a spot in the shade and buddy up with a real nice Mexican family and some of their friends. I was really enjoying the music and seeing people really enjoying the Texas music. The headliner was supposed to be Darrell Dodd. For some reason he didn’t show. They said they had a surprise fill in. If my memory serves me correctly everyone was guessing who it might be. Well, they made a big deal about the secret introduction and out steps Billy Joe Shaver.
He stepped up and sang and played his heart out. It was incredible how he took ahold of a audience that was disappointed and turned it into a crowd that was very into his performance.
Then he spoke about his son Eddy who had died not to long before. After his emotional talk about overcoming challenges and going on with life he sang the song “I’m going to live Forever “ and I have never been so moved by a song being sung. He stood there singing his guts out looking at the sky and flapping his arms like wings like he was flying away. I can’t explain what it was like. He had everyone in the place in awe.
I have been a fan of a man that was not perfect but lived what he lived and seemed to enjoy the simple things in life. He’s gonna live forever in songs!
Just got back to Montana after a 10 day journey. Took my Mother to Yuma, Arizona where she spends the winter. (I’ll show you why in a bit) Spent a little time with my Dad and Stepmom as they live in Yuma, then flew to Fort Worth, Texas to shoot some video footage for the upcoming NCBA Stockmanship and Stewardship virtual experience that will happen November 11 and 12. Sign up at “Stockmanshipandstewardship.org”.
Had a good morning helping Ron Gill and his crew vaccinate calves and demonstrate how not too operate a ArrowQuip chute. Then I headed to the Will Rogers in Fort Worth to watch Daughter Mesa show her nice horse “Six”. They are getting better every time I see her show, but she drew a real tough cow to show well on, and even harder to rope.
Next on the agenda I headed to Stockton, Missouri to take part in “Agape colt camp” at Agape Boarding School. A few of us with a little colt starting experience were able to combine our knowledge to help around twenty 2 year old colts that had only been halter broke, and twenty young fellows, most who had never ridden a horse before get started in the right direction to spend the next several months together before the horse sale in June when the boys show their horses to be sold.
When we brought the young horses in the arena the first time and to see how snorty they were, and to see how the boys didn’t know how to put a halter on the first time I saw them, I was wondering if it was possible to make it work.
In four days almost all the boys were saddling their colts without much help and everyone got on and we led them around on the colts with very little trouble. It never ceases to amaze me how much change a young horse can make in a very short time if the right kind of pressure is applied. It is the most satisfying part of stockmanship for me.
The reason I love going to “Agape” is the change that the horse and the right kind of pressure from the staff at the school apply to the boys to make the same kind of change for the life challenges they face, and to learn to get along in the world, like the young horses must adapt and improve to get along with the world of humans.
I tell the boys in my first visit that the horse does not care what color they are, what they have done in the past, or how rich or poor they are, and I don’t either.
All they and I care about is how they do things right now, and I hope I can be as pure as the colts.
The school is faith based and so is the colt starting. We pray when we start and we pray when we are done. All the instructors are on the same page and work together to keep people safe first, then use horsemanship to progress through life better. I truly believe it will help these young men change to make better decisions in life and give them the courage to make good decisions as they face the challenges and triumphs of life. I am so proud to be involved with it.
They shared some videos and photos with me and I thought you might enjoy seeing the progress. No one that I know of was videoing the day we got them all on. That would have been nice to see!
The instructors teach God first, becoming a good human second, and becoming a stockman third. I am in awe of their skills!
I got back home Yesterday afternoon and jumped on the tractor to plow snow to get my horses fed. The snow was so deep they were having a hard time getting grass pawed open. It’s good to be back with the woman and animals I love.
This is why my mother goes to Arizona every winter!
This past week I presented cattle handling demos at 5 different areas in Minnesota. I have not presented for several months. The first day in Badger, Minnesota I was a little scattered in my “power point” ( I use my Greeley Hat works hat for it, not a computer)presentation. I got what I wanted to cover covered, just not as smooth as I would of liked.
The rest of the week went good on the discussion side and I feel real good about what I call the “dry work” part of my presentation. I feel it is very important to present attendees with basic information that they can really put in their mind and own it for themselves rather than just be told what is good and bad. I really enjoy the challenge of presenting a subject that is difficult to effectively explain to people. I also think it’s important to set things up for better understanding of what the attendees are in the “live work”.
I really felt spot on with my live work. In three of the five I got to demonstrate gathering cattle from a pasture. That usually doesn’t happen for various reasons but the organizations putting it together were all grazing based and the producers that hosted were mostly grazers with power fence so it was easy to have cattle close to pens.
In all three that we brought cattle from the pasture to the corral, or a smaller pasture, the cattle put themselves in. I didn’t force them, but created the right kind of pressure that the drift of the cattle caused them to graze their way or drift into the corral without being forced. When cattle go into a corral this way you don’t even have to worry about shutting the gate in a hurry. They decided to go in so they aren’t in a hurry to leave. They were very ready to be pressured in the corral and worked really nice, because of the attitude they had coming in to the pen, and the way they learned to accept my pressure getting set up to come in.
I was also able to demonstrate what I feel is very important bringing cattle out of a pen or into a new pasture. From a profit standpoint it is very important to get cattle to put their head down and eat when you ask them to. Cattle gain when they are putting more energy into the body than they are putting out. Being able to control movement and placing them where you want them is a very good management tool in a pasture situation and also in a feedlot pen. If cattle are walking they are trampling feed and not gaining weight, and for some reason don’t want to be where they are.
To get the most out of a horse, a good horseman controls the movement of his horse. The more control the more you can get done with the partnership. The same goes with cattle. If you can get them to go to a place then stop and be content, you really increase the potential for better feed utilization and improve the potential for profit.
With a horse we can use contact of our body and the mouth to control and stop movement. The mouth is as far forward as we can get on a horse and it works good to control forward movement once the horse understands checking up movement. You need to balance the pressure on both sides or the movement will go in a circle. If you try to stop the horse faster than he is ready for or if he is not trained to it he will fight the pull and run through the stop.
Same thing with cattle. They need to be checked up and learn to slow and stop straight. The more cattle you have the more “herd” movement you have and the more push they will have. You need to position yourself far enough forward to keep them from splitting and going around you, but be close enough that they are slowing their feet down until they stop. If you force them to stop quickly they may turn back and have “panic” movement in the other direction and you are at the back and lose control.
This is such a good thing to do and easy to see how to do it. It takes a little time and work to get it to working for you but it really helps the cattle and feed.
There were several different working systems and corral designs in the different locations. We got the animals through them all without much trouble. The ones I had the most trouble with were the ones I didn’t have any where to work with the cattle before going to the processing area.
I have had a great summer of total immersion in handling livestock. I have been on horseback, or under (shoeing) or around (saddling) one from daylight to dark all summer and spending lots of time with my small number of steers. I really feel like my handling skills and timing is real good right now. I have a lot of confidence in my ability to get animals to do what I would like them to do.
Horses, cattle, dogs and grass!
It doesn’t get much better than that.
That’s a great feeling and I hope the folks that sold time to buy what we offered this last week made a good trade, and from what they were presented can get on the way to improving their stockmanship and satisfaction.
Sitting on the plane and writing this and thinking things over I realize just how much I enjoy the people in agriculture. We had a great mix of farm folks from young enthusiastic brothers that are grazing and marketing their way to profit to a good Native American cowboy to farmer feeders to Hispanic dairy workers to cowboy poets to highly productive and forward thinking bull and performance horse breeders. The group that put it all together were well organized and all great to work for and really made it good for everyone.
I am always drawn to the hard working, good people from Mexico.
After being away from all the great people in this wonderful business of cattle production, it has made me realize just how good this business and the people that make work are!
Quality people, quality cattle, and quality resources make Beef Quality Assurance. I’m sure proud to be a part of it.