Category Archives: Cattle Production & Management

My inspiration

The title of the picture in the Monday Morning Photo is “El Vaquero” by Ernie Morris. Ernie is a left-handed roper (everyone knows left-handed ropers are the best) so he and I had something in common, and along with it we have a pretty good roping story. I own a lot of his prints and had a whole series of them in my tack room in Montana.

fiesta poster 4-14-2014

What I see in this picture is a horse that is balanced mentally and physically.  His ears are forward and his mind is right out in front of them to where they are going.  He is not distracted by the other horse leaving him.  The rider and the horse are both looking and headed in the same direction. He is not a very big horse, but looks to have a good frame that would be nice for a circle horse, corral horse, or rope horse.  He is not bad to look at either.

The way the man is setting on the horse, he looks like his is not getting in the way of the athletic ability of the horse at all.  His saddle is set forward to put him closer to the balance point of the horse.  He is sitting with his chest over his saddle horn to keep balance between horse and rider and not create a drag on the horse by the way he is riding, yet is able to use his legs for balance for high level maneuvers, as any athlete would.

The man has nice gear and dresses very traditional for Californio-style.  His horse is in the bridle and if you can do your work with your horse in the spade bit style, and he stays in balance and does not gap his mouth, you have spent the time to learn to keep a horse correct.

His saddle has no back cinch and no breast collar so it must fit fairly well.  He also is packing a reata, so he must have enough feel to be able to rope something and slip rope so as not to break his rope or pull his saddle off.

His get down rope is ornately tied around his horses neck in the way of a fellow that does not have to get off and lead his horse too many times in a day.  The alamar knot on his horse says when he gets to the corral he does not tie or hobble his horse, but uses him to work cattle.

You can’t tell how skilled a person is from a painting or a picture, but you can sure tell his potential.

Everything about this says high skill and stockmanship.  There may be some things I can’t see, but like the story of the natives not being able to see the boat when Columbus first showed up, I have studied a true stockman’s skills, and I feel I am starting to see it.

There are many styles of stockmen around the world, and this is just one example of the different types.  It should not be looked at as a contest to see which is best, but what style or combination of these styles is best applied in every person’s situation using the best type of pressure possible to achieve the goal you are trying to accomplish.  This is probably true in life style as well.

There is also the big picture we need to look at.  The mission in the background says he may be a man of faith.  He has a full head of grey hair, so I would imagine lots of knowledge.  He is in excellent physical condition and looks to be healthy so he has lived a good lifestyle, most likely a beef-eater.  He has leather cuffs on his wrists and a nice scarf and a white shirt with a sleeve garter, and wears his hat like a man that is proud and confident.

I don’t know if my  way of “seeing” this picture is the way it really was.  That does not matter as much as what it does to inspire me to reach a level I would like to get to.

If you ask people to explain why they use certain gear or a type of saddle many times they have no real idea why, it’s just what someone else is using.

When you ask someone  why they work cattle the way they do or ask them to explain it to you, many will not know what to say or do.

Learn to know what and why you are using or doing something.  Don’t do it because everyone else is.  Do it or use it because it’s the best for you. Always try to get better.
Always.

You need to “see it” to get this started.

~ Curt Pate

Nevada “Range War” Seems A Tough Story To Unravel

Image via The Dana Show

Sharing at Curt’s request:

By now most of the nation is aware of the self-proclaimed “range war” brewing on the ranch of Cliven Bundy in Clark County, Nevada. The situation is complex, and like most complex issues it’s hard to pinpoint who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong on this one. Throw in the various spins the talking heads of the media are taking on the story and we will likely never get a straight answer.

If nothing else, the Bundy ranch difficulties show how difficult it is to ranch in the West under the supervision of bureaucrats.

Click here to read more in my latest Beef Producer blog on Fodder for Thought.

~ Jesse Bussard

The Greatest Cowboy

This man is exactly who I was talking about this week.  You can feel the confidence and knowledge this man had, and the pride and pleasure he had for his life. He influenced and helped many.  I don’t think he was ever “a day late and a dollar short.”  I hope you enjoy the video and the music this week.  I was really inspired by it.

~ Curt Pate

Stockmen of the past

My life has been a life learning about livestock from cattlemen, cowboys, cow buyers,rodeo stock contractors, rodeo coaches, rodeo cowboys, butchers, hog farmers, sheep herders, sheep farmers, dairy farmers, auction market operators, and more I can’t remember.  This was all before I was thirty years old.  I not only learned about livestock, but also about all kinds of different styles of management of many types of agricultural operations.

I went to college on a rodeo scholarship and took animal science classes.  I did not last a whole year. There were lots of reasons, but the main one I think of now is I felt I could learn more from my family at home.  It might of also been because I was about to flunk out. Since that time I have always been on a livestock operation and can’t imagine not.

I barely remember a man named Dan Buck.  He was a brand inspector that gave me my first real lass rope.  I have heard lots of stories about him.  He was a very different person and had many different ideas about how livestock should be handled.  I wish I would of known him better.

There is also an Indian fellow named Bill LaFromboise from Helena, Montana that I have known all my life.  He has a very special way with livestock and I have seen him do some amazing things with animals that I wish I could understand.

Curly Atkinson was a sheep herder and livestock man that was kind of a legend to me when I was young.  He worked for Sieben Livestock who had a feedlot next to our place and my mother cooked for him sometimes.  She and my grandfather had great respect for his abilities.  I could go on and on about the great stockmen and horsemen I was influenced by either through stories or actually working with them, but I will not.

I am pretty sure if you have been around livestock much you know what I am talking about.
My first big influence and inspiration was a fellow named Butch Anderson, as far as doing things different and working with an animals mind.  He also worked for Sieben Livestock.  I spent a whole bunch of time with him. Fom calving heifers to catching horses to working with dogs, Butch taught me to take a very different approach.

These great stockmen were just a few in the Helena, Montana area, and there are many more I haven’t mentioned.  I have been told so many stories about folks that were special with livestock all over the country. The common theme that I have seen with people that are good stockmen is that is all they have ever done.

The horsemen and stockmen instructors of the day are great at helping people that don’t get to work with livestock all the time.  The world has changed in the way we need to work stock and the modern day instructor is helping to get this done.

If you were raised on a big ranch and left you did not see all the good hands that were getting the job done while you were not interested.  If you are new to livestock you have no way to know all the top stockmen that have been in the area, so naturally you go to the knowledge that is available.

But let’s not forget the men and women of the past that have dedicated themselves to the care and handling of livestock.  From the Texas trail drivers of the 1880’s to the shepherds of Biblical times to the yak herders in Mongolia, I am pretty certain there have been a few good ones in all the livestock that have been handled through time.  It seems a little arrogant to think otherwise.

So on my part, I am sharing things I have learned through my life from good and bad stockmen.  When I give a live demo or write something it is partly how all these experiences have influenced me.  So thank you to all the folks that have shared the skills of a stockman with me.  If you have been dedicated to livestock all your life and have skills share it with others.

It really bothers me when people say that the stockman of yesterday are not up to par with today’s names in teaching horse and livestock handling.  When I give a demo or talk publicly about dealing with animals, in my mind all of the great influences of my past are a part of it. This is a huge responsibility and I don’t take it lightly.

Ballie Buck was a great stockman in our area.  He was kin to the before mentioned Dan Buck. There is a book I would recommend (available on Amazon) titled What the Cow Said to the Calf. The name of the book comes from Charlie Russell saying now there’s an Indian that knows what the cow said to the calf.

That kind of says it all about total stockmanship.  We should all try to understand “what the cow said to the calf.”  I will try to keep learning and sharing ways to get there.

~ Curt Pate

The subject this week is stockmen of the past.  This picture is of me demonstrating how to rope and lay a calf down calmly and safely.  The way the calf is calmly laying there, the other calf and my horse are pretty interested in what I am doing, and at least from this picture it looks as if you can rope and lay a calf down with out much stress, even though some say it isn’t possible.  All of the stockmen of my past, good and bad, have influenced and inspired me, and this week I pay tribute to all good stockmen.

~ Curt Pate

3-16-14

Cow Pasture Pool

I think we should convert all golf courses back to grazing land.  Great grass, good water holes, even sand traps that would be like a buffalo wallow.  They would already have mineral boxes in place, back scratchers already set, lots of shade.  I think it would be the perfect way to make beef more sustainable and take quite a bit of stress out of some people’s lives.  All joking aside, I saw a golf course that went bankrupt once and there were cattle grazing on it. It was on the Big island of Hawaii.

~ Curt Pate

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