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A Cowboy’s Faith: Equipment repair major ordeal

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.

“Keeping farm machinery operating in the field when work needs done is essential to profitability.”

When tractors and small line equipment were first produced, farmers could often do the repairs personally.

With rapidly increasing technology that’s often not the case nowadays. Fixing a farm machinery breakdown requires a high level of ability, often requiring a computer program to figure it out.

Then, sometimes the problem still can’t be solved, forcing technicians to call the factory or other upper-level knowhow for help.

On top of that issue, farm equipment repair businesses typically have long waiting-lists of machinery needing repaired.

Sometimes, that can be up to several weeks. Plus, most repairs must be done in the main shop, where the computers can be utilized.

Situations do arise infrequently when a repairman will come to the field to fix machinery, but not often.

Fortunately, when this ranching operation was getting started, Dad had the ability to fix most of the problems. He typically had natural ability and learned by doing, but that would not be the case today.

His son never had any mechanical ability period with “It won’t start” a frequent response to any breakdown.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Pasture care complex issue

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“The Flint Hills native grassland could become a forest.”

Professor Clenton Owensby made that emphatic declaration on opening day of range management class in 1970.

It was preface to the semester course that highlighted proper care of the prairie for continued productive longevity.

The comment was made in sincerest honesty and concern by the renowned range specialist often times a bit tongue-in-cheek jovial.

Those mostly animal science students in the popular college class may have copied it in their spiral notebooks. Yet few gave much thought to the statement which has now truly become harsh most accurate reality.

Smoke filled skylines and accompanying distinct smell from recent annual spring grassland burning is reminder of management’s importance.

Burning native pastures has seemingly always been a highly controversial issue among landowners. Likely the majority feel controlled rangeland burns whether every year or in certain rotation is essential.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Rural life becomes appealing

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“There’s nothing like living in the country.”

Many who were raised on farms and ranches feel that way about rural living. Yet others growing up in the country can’t wait to get away and live in the city.

Being raised in town, there was always the urge to live on a ranch to have horses and cows. It would be most difficult to again become an urbanite.

Sometimes farmers and ranchers who’ve lived in the country their whole life move to town upon retirement. Despite certain conveniences, they generally soon dislike city life desiring to return to rural living. Often that’s impossibility after country assets have been dispersed.

Still most farmers and ranchers cringe at even the suggestion of leaving the rural life they’ve forever known and loved.

The recent nation’s health shutdown confining majorities to their city homes has some people thinking country living might be nice.

Real estate brokers say that demand for homes has shifted to rural areas as people react to the coronavirus pandemic. Many want to move out of dense urban areas for freedom to partake and enjoy all that Mother Nature offers.

While the issue makes media headlines today, it’s actually nothing new. Three or four decades ago there was similar “fad” as several office coworkers moved to homes in the country.

Acquiring small tracts typically an acre or two up to maybe a “40,” it was exciting restoring an old farmstead. Others went the extreme, acquiring bare ground, constructing new homes and outbuildings from scratch.

Expenses were higher than speculated with labor considerably more demanding caring for the land compared to a town lot.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Always remember water’s importance

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Water is the most valuable and precious commodity in the world.”

Yet so many, perhaps most people have such little appreciation and understanding the value of water.

That is until the bathroom faucet is turned on and there is no water.

Then all urgency explodes: “There’s no water. What shall we do? We can’t do without water.”

It is a fact. Nobody or anything can live without water.

Food is an essential commodity for life, yet one can live for quite long times, perhaps three weeks without nourishment.

However, a human would typically only last three to four days without water, according to those in the know.

Still, individuals have lived a week at the end of life when food and water intake has stopped.

Never personally the sharpest in science, books verify at least 60 percent of the adult body is made of water. Water acts as a lubricant for joints, regulates body temperature through sweating and respiration, and helps to flush waste.

Fortunately, the ranch front yard well supplies ample good water for household use and has supported substantial livestock numbers too. Even during drought when other ranchers’ wells went dry, it continued to flow clear water with no bad taste.

An elaborate electrically operated pumping system circulates water from the drilled well hole around the barnyard generally quite dependably.

When the electricity goes off for whatever reason, there’s no water. Every mechanical device wears out over time with continued use. The water pump has been repaired on several occasions and replaced a couple of times in nearly five decades.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Everybody has made mistakes

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“The more one does the more mistakes that can be and often are made.”

Nobody wants to make errors and most do their best to prevent them.

However, anybody claiming to have never made a mistake is not telling the truth.

While certain inaccuracies can have long term detrimental impacts, in reality most errors are quite insignificant.

From an early age, blunders are made from adding wrong on a math test to knocking over the milk pitcher.

Slip-ups are common in athletics, those with the least often become a star, sometimes happenstance more than ability.

Certainly as a lifelong horseback rider and professional trainer for decades, many mistakes have been made handling horses.

Every mistake has a certain impact, yet most can be overcome with correction and positive reinforcement moving forward. The smarter the horse, sometimes the dumber the horse, the more difficult it is to forget wrongdoing.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Home deliveries nothing new

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Free delivery twice daily. Call 410.”

That was the inscription on the delivery wagon, newspaper ads and order pads.

It was a unique service of the family grocery store setting it apart from the other seven grocers in town.

Times are repeating themselves as businesses now frequently promote home deliveries of many products.

Special assistance has been somewhat common with senior meal deliveries for some time.

Then grocery stores in several rural communities started helping out, especially catering to those with limited travel capabilities.

Work-away-from-home moms, complexing busy family life yet with modern technology, encouraged more stores to provide computer shopping. Carryout boys not as prominent these days went back to work bringing orders to cars at the store door.

A few rural grocery stores still have carryout helpers who congenially offer to put sacked purchases in buyer’s cars.

Every grocery store customer was provided that service days gone by as cars were parked up and down Main Street. Curable problems arose when a customer got a different car unknown to the carryout boy or were parked blocks away.

Today with the worldwide health concerns demanding distancing, businesses of all sorts are offering home deliveries.

A wannabe cowboy growing up in a grocery store, fondest early memory is going with Dad to deliver groceries.

Delivery orders were taken after customers responded “410” to the telephone operator’s request “Number please?” Mom or another grocery store employee answered the ring: “Buchman’s Grocery.”

A Cowboy’s Faith: Health shutdown historically significant

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“This is turning back the pages of time.”

It’s considerably different, yet all of the recent heath and economic issues have a certain semblance of days gone by.

Before today’s many forms of social media, communication beyond immediate acquaintances was vastly limited. Hard for young people nowadays to even imagine no cell phone, no computer, not even a television, or a mailman.

Likewise forefathers would have never been able to envision all of the modern day technologies. Telegraph machines of the 1800s boggled minds before radios and telephones were invented.

While all may seem old fashioned to the present they were slow coming into some rural households.

Families were proud to be the first one in the county to have a radio. Then they got a telephone, vastly different than cell phones.

Televisions with only black and white pictures were uncommon to many 60 years ago as color came later.

This required electricity, an unknown luxury in great grandparents’ time. Tall poles with powerlines created fear but lights with a switch soon healed concerns as additional conveniences followed.

Letter writing is sadly becoming a thing of the past although many decades since the Pony Express initiated mail delivery.

Penny postcards received by an acquaintance all the way across the country the next day has been nonexistent for some time. Yet postal services are far unappreciated communication means.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Tis season of renewal

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Get up, give up, do something and be thankful for all there is.”

What a confusing seemingly contradicting statement. Yet it’s the simple accurate description for this season among those of strong faith.

Lent started Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26, and concludes Easter Sunday, April 12. Gospels prescribe Lent to be time for fasting, almsgiving and prayer.

“Get up” into action reflecting days the savior Jesus spent facing difficultly. Ash Wednesday begins “40 days” expression admitting need for repentance thus sorrow for wrong doings.

Marking the beginning of Holy Week, Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus entrance into Jerusalem with palm branches placed in his path.

He is arrested on Holy Thursday, crucified on Good Friday, and His body placed in the tomb on Holy Saturday. Jesus is gloriously resurrected, raised from the dead, on Easter Sunday.

“Give up” generally refers to fasting, meaning eating less. That might be missing one meal, or smaller amounts consumed breakfast, dinner and supper.

Interesting nutritional studies indicate longer periods between meals prove quite beneficial. Most in modern times can merit from taking in fewer calories.

It’s time to make additional sacrifices, perhaps spending less on frivolities. Staying home rather than carousing however insignificant that might be.

“Do something” means extra activity not for personal satisfaction but to benefit others.

Call an acquaintance who hasn’t been heard from in a long time. Visit a shut-in who is lonely, where just a short personal time together can brighten their life immensely. Send a card with just a few words of reflection expressing awareness of friendship.

A token gift to a loved one, family or friend simply lightens another’s life. Maybe a box of goodies, a warm supper or that just right knickknack become so significant.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Great feeling once again

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“The first ride is the most important one.”

Such philosophy is profound among those who’ve worked with young horses. That initial mount is often reflected in later life whether positive or undesirable. Horses are very smart creatures, much more so than most handlers it seems.

Horses typically don’t forget the good; yet likewise typically remember anything bad that might have happened. Recall can sometimes even come years afterwards.

The doctor ordered for six months: no driving motor vehicle; no horseback riding; no bath.

Come to find out it’s against state law to drive, considering possibility for personal injury and safety of others.

Evidently there’s risk of drowning while bathing although showering hazards would seem as great? Always one to bath more often than Saturday night, that doctor’s directive was soon ignored.

It’d been 55 days. There just wasn’t anything that could control or stop the urge to get back on and ride, defying physician’s warning.

Blame has to be on the group president who a couple days earlier had asked, “Have you been riding?”

The “no” answer was embarrassing, setting stage to do what a cowboy is supposed to do: “ride his horse.”

A Cowboy’s Faith: Calving heifers becomes miraculous

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Babies having babies require even more extra care.”

Such a comment is not completely factual but strong semblance all concerns considered.

Modern day proficient cow-calf operators breed replacement heifers as yearlings to calve when they’re two years old.

That’s some different than several generations back when old time cowmen grew their heifers to stronger maturity before breeding.

Today’s efficiency demands reproduction at an earlier age to increase profitability in an operation, making every momma cow more prolific. Doing that requires especial management of that herd replacement from her birth until she has a baby of her own.

Size and maturity are essential ingredients to make the program work. A heifer must grow well herself, and be of sufficient fertility and maturity to be bred. She must settle safe in calf, birth that baby and be momma enough to care for it.

Writing and reading about such might seem simple to a lay person who’s never been there and done that. Yet, calving replacement heifers is a major ordeal requiring highest expertise.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Helping hand conquers problems

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“How’s calving going this winter?”

Those unfamiliar with birthing calves out of stock cows likely don’t understand that question.

Yet the reply is important to cowmen whose paycheck depends on a calf being born and growing to be marketed.

Conversations in recent days have been better than sometimes with herdsmen claiming this year is “going pretty good.”

Generically that means there haven’t been many problematic calving issues with a high percentage of live births.

Conscientious cow-calf operators readily quote number of calves, specific issues which might have arisen, and efforts to keep babies healthy.

That’s quite contrasting to the calving question response from one young cowboy responsible for a big ranch cowherd four decades ago.

He said, “I’ll know after we burn pastures this spring, can see carcasses and how many calves tail the mommas in.”

Obviously he was not a dedicated cowman. His only concern was doing his first duty making sure the cows had feed and maybe knowing the herd count.

Dedicated ranchers with cows know every one of them like their own child. They may all be black, appearing identical to outsiders, but each is a unique individual to the one caring for them.

Identity may be by tag number, or personal moniker deriving from distinct disposition, conformation or unique characteristic.

A Cowboy’s Faith: More calves to market

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“You need to do a story about Bill’s cowherd; he has a 104 percent calf crop this year.”

Nearly 40 years ago another horse breeder friend stopped by and commented about his Chase County neighbor rancher’s cattle operation.

A visit to the cowman’s place verified sure enough it was a great year to be raising calves. He had 78 baby calves nursing the 75 cows in his herd. Another neighbor high school math teacher verified that figured out to exactly 104 percent.

Such successes don’t set records and aren’t completely unheard of, but a 100 percent calf crop is every herdsman’s goal. Some achieve it, certain ones quite frequently, but to wean one calf out of every cow every year is uncommon.

To exceed that one calf per cow number obviously means some cows went above and beyond natural expectations and duties. In Bill’s herd that time, three cows had twins and the remainder of the herd count each raised one baby.

Twins aren’t completely uncommon in beef herds with certain breeds known for having higher percentage of twins. Likewise specific bloodlines are more prone to give multiple births.

If a cow has twins once, likelihood of her doing it again increases. Her daughters and granddaughters seem to have increased probability of having more than one calf, too.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Horses lives change, too

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Put him out to pasture when his work is done.”

It’s a common view about old horses and sadly sometimes similar opinion of retirement age people.

When a cowboy’s told “no riding horses for six months,” mounts’ routines change too.

The 13-year-old buckskin performance mare Maggie has been “boxed up” ever since getting her six years ago.

That’s not completely true, but the ornery show horse has been kept inside all of the time. It might seem inconsiderate, perhaps even inhumane for those not completely understanding the importance of quality horse condition.

Yet, to compete successfully in today’s horseshows, horses must be well fit. That means bright slick hair unaltered by sunshine and outdoor elements. Horse mane and tail styles, not unlike hair fashions of today’s cowboys and cowgirls, have changed through the decades.

Compared to yesteryear horses’ manes being roached with tails thinned and shortened, most show horses nowadays have naturally long manes and tails. That requires more owner management so the horses’ extended hairs don’t become tangled, ratted, damaged. Horses kept outside are naturally inclined to rub on fences, posts and the like messing up their manicured flowing tresses.

Clarification, Maggie had a clean stall being turned out every morning through afternoon to exercise around the indoor arena. She was ridden almost daily, sometimes briefly, frequently more extensively.

Still the show horse was pleased when her home became the barnyard corral. With a shelter, still amply fed, and freedom to do as she wants all of the time without any riding.

A Cowboy’s Faith: ‘The Cowgirl’ everybody’s friend

Faye Heath rode Waldo to win the rodeo barrel race sponsored by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association at Longford.

“Certain people have a definite lifetime positive impact on others.”

Faye “Peck” Heath was one of those who had such an influence on so many through the decades. Her recent passing created a heart drenching void as fond reflections of Faye for nearly 60 years flowed freely.

A true heroine, Faye was a very real cowgirl who did more horseback than any cowboy then or now.

At the first “shodeo” ever attended, horseshow like rodeo, no broncs but pleasure riding and racing events, Faye was entered.

With her best friend Rosie “Rezac” Clymer, they won all of the team events. Faye personally won every individual performance class and speed competition that day and for years to come.

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.At a Saturday night Emporia yokel shodeo a year later, Faye and Rosie were shy a relay team member. As they often did before and after, the smiling cowgirls would ask any young person wanting to ride to join their team.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Memory most important sense

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“What time is it? What day is it? What month is it?”

Those are very serious questions when one doesn’t know the answer.

Mom was always very conscious of what time it was, but when that became unimportant, she lost sense of worthiness. Or so it seemed lack of desire to care about anything that was happening.

Memory is one of the most important senses one has, perhaps the most important of all. People in younger years too often joke about not remembering what they did or where something was left. Everybody forgets certain things, but when one doesn’t know who they are, what they’re doing, or anything around them, it’s terrible.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are two of the worst and most dreaded illnesses in the world. While certain treatments have shown to be limitedly effective, in reality there appears to be low cure for the ailment.

It’s been said one prefers to be physically incapacitated rather than completely mentally deficient. Both are bad, but it’s sure important to know what is happening around one even if unable to participate.

Research on the problem continues with few positive results, commonly considering it an uncontrollable inherent issue. That appears true as those with memory issues in their family often have similar difficulties despite efforts to prevent.

Keeping the body and mind active and interested in everything that’s going on does help prevent memory loss it’s said.

Yet there are certain incidents, such as a wreck nearly five decades ago, that cannot be remembered. Things before and after are recalled completely, and stories heard and read can be recited, but no precise details.

Likewise there is no reflection of specifics from a recent serious health setback except what happened before and after. The stories that are told about the situation become blurred with the actual facts. Timelines surrounding it all are completely array confusing from one conversation to the next.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Earthly life is mortal

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“I’m planning to live forever.”

The neighbor dairyman made that statement years ago when helping with a project getting ready for the annual field day.

That’s a positive outlook giving incentive to get up get going live another day make another accomplishment.

Yes, there are said to be many ways to live longer, improve life through exercise, diet, faith, positive thinking.

Yet everyone is completely mortal, although many try hard to deny it. The old saying “Nobody ever gets out of this world alive” is true.

No matter how well one feels, how everything looks perfect, how much money is in the bank. Even if the best horse in the world is in the barn, death is going to come.

Every day the paper has an obituary, often several, of sudden deaths of frequently healthy young people dying without warning.

Then sometimes there are wake up calls. Life takes many directions working to succeed, survive, accomplish more. It becomes unrealized stress, which can take its toll in many forms. That might be mental or physical or a combination of those and others.

When the dire notice comes there is no forewarning. Fine line between life and death, just a hair of a second from one to the next.

No recalling the actual circumstances whatsoever other than the stories that have been related since the occurrence. Evidently emergency crews were most efficient arriving and caring for the unconscious, making sure additional essential healthcare was provided.

Literally dozens of health professionals with the utmost modern technological services worked diligently together for continued life. There may have been telltale warnings, but they were not understood or perhaps ignored.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Calendar turnover brings optimism

buchmanheadEd. note: Frank Buchman is taking a break to start off 2020, so we’ll revisit his New Year’s optimism from six years ago. Originally published Jan. 5, 2014.

“Everybody is talking about the new year.”

Somehow, new always has a positive connotation, whatever the subject. Thus, regardless of what the past has been, and despite sometimes even gloomy forecasts, when the calendar turns to January, most people look forward to better days ahead.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Generous Mom remembered at century mark

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Mommas are the most important person in the entire universe.”

No debate about the comment, other than recognizing The Almighty God who created everything.

Nobody would be around now or before or into the future without a mother, mom, momma, ma, whatever moniker preference.

Mom, affectionately remembered by most as Laura Mae, passed away nearly 38 years ago at age 62. Do the math, Laurie, as sometimes referred to with orneriness by her only child, would have been 100 years old on Jan. 7.

Without prejudice, Mom was the most interested congenial generous person always giving others helping hand.

Laurie’s heartfelt way was related in a phone call Saturday afternoon.

A smiling farm boy was paid $7.50 every two weeks for milking cows twice daily on the family farm dairy. It cost a dollar a day to eat at the high school cafeteria, a total of $10, for two weeks. That was $2.50 more than the farm boy earned.

Never shy most congenial, the boy went into Laura Mae’s (what many called Buchman’s Grocery). He explained his financial situation to Mom always at the cash register in the front of the store.

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