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Author Archives: Frank J. Buchman

A Cowboy’s Faith: Payoff will eliminate debt

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Incomprehensible the volume of scam calls received in one day, let alone a week and month.

They are all aggravating with most promising something that is too good to be true.

Most upsetting and biggest rip-off to the economy is when the caller touts an opportunity to “eliminate your credit card debt.”

The only way to do that or abolish any financial obligation is to pay it off with hard earned money.

When a commitment is made to buy anything, it is the purchaser’s responsibility to pay for the acquisition.

Never have forgotten the message of a field day speaker: “You can’t eat your cake and have it too.” That applies to everything in life of material value.

The nation’s economy cannot continue to operate positively if people don’t meet their personal financial obligations.

Everything has a cost, and somebody is taking a loss when it is not paid for. It is impossible to operate any business without positive revenue for continued economic cash flow.

Credit accounts are a generous way for owners to assist buyers in extending time for payment. But, when payment is not immediate, interest on the purchase continues to mount, decreasing profits for the sales firm.

Seemingly, many people don’t understand that debts must be paid and jump on promises of eliminating monetary responsibility without payment. It sounds good on the forefront frequently even creating optimism for a person to “be out of debt.”

Most people do not want to be in debt, but the only honest way out is to pay the bill. Generally, that is far from easy and requires lots of time and dedication to do what’s right.

A Cowboy’s Faith: No place like home

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“The ranch home is a cowboy’s castle.”

While there are various sayings about homes being castles, nothing is more important than a good, safe, secure home.

The home is even referred to as a mansion, but it’s not of size and elaborateness to fit such definition. Even when a home isn’t that fancy, it still feels like a mansion because everything of personal importance is there.

People enjoy being rulers in their own homes, and others have no right to enter without the householder’s permission.

“A man’s home is his castle” was referenced in a 1500s’ proverb as well as the Bill of Rights. “The right of the people to be secure in their houses against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated.”

Disagreement over the extent of personal privacy and over interpretation of unreasonable has brought many cases before the Supreme Court.

Some people live in one home their entire lives, where they were born and where they die. They have no desire to live anyplace else.

Contrastingly, other people have lived in dozens of different homes as their professions call them to various locales forcing relocation.

Changes in life and philosophy also find people having home diversity whether location or structure quality. Even a tent or a pickup camper can become home.

A Cowboy’s Faith: ‘Old’ farmer gives advice

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.When a farmer’s wife previously provided advice, a number of readers men and women nodded in general agreement. It seems only fair to let the man of the farm share a lifetime of wisdom, give his two cents worth.

Again, unsolicited but received several times on the computer, here’s one “old” farmer’s tidbits for improved living:

  • Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight, and bull-strong.
  • Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.
  • Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
  • A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
  • Words that soak into your ears are whispered – not yelled.
  • Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.
  • Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.
  • Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
  • It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
  • You cannot unsay a cruel word.
  • Every path has a few puddles.
  • When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
  • The best sermons are lived, not preached.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Purpose for detour signs

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Detours are a common aggravation for highway drivers, seemingly more commonplace today than ever.”

As much as drivers dread seeing a detour sign and attempting to follow confusing directions, no detour sign is worse. That became apparent when major highways were barricaded off to and from the ranch headquarters.

Signs indicated “No Through Traffic,” but there were no detour signs. Drivers were given no directions on how to get from the main highway to other locations. Hundreds of vehicles, including semi tractors pulling heavily loaded livestock and grain trailers drove right around the barricades.

They were sorry for doing so when realizing through traffic on paved highways was impossible. Cars and pickups were able to make U-turns and head back to figure out some way to find their destination.

For the 18-wheelers, getting turned around became a major ordeal. Several truckers jackknifed their big rigs and spent considerable time and effort getting turned around. There was damage to certain trucks which remained stranded for extended time with their hoods up.

When headed back in the direction they came, drivers still didn’t know how to get where they wanted to go. While there were gravel rural roads, no signs pointed out which ones to take to get to any certain locale.

In urban areas, there are always detour signs which are often perplexing, but better than no driver guidance whatsoever.

“Why aren’t there detour signs posted several times along the highway before the no through traffic barricades which people ignore?” That question was asked dozens if not hundreds of times before any answer was provided.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Grain bin to texas

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“It hadn’t been used for original purpose in many years and had become a junk catchall.”

When moving to the ranch 52 years ago, the what-then-appeared high-quality steel grain bin seemed an asset.

It served for a few years as storage for the always-very-small milo crop produced on the uphill gumbo land. Before long, farming costs were more than was being produced so the land was planted to tame grass brome.

Hog and horse feed corn-milo mixture was purchased from the elevator, hand-scooped off, and stored in the bin. That became too much work, so a trailer was acquired for hauling feed where it stayed until fed to livestock.

After being empty for a while, the bin became a storage unit so to speak. Soon, everything on the ranch that wasn’t being used was pitched into the grain bin. The grain bin became so full it was nearly impossible to shut the door.

A friend looked in the grain bin and saw something he wanted and asked what it’d cost. “Free, if you’ll take all of the rest of the stuff in there,” was the response.

He agreed and had two pickup loads before everything was cleaned out. But the bin soon filled back up with things “to be used later.”

After a half century, it was decided the bin was in the way and should be removed. Several attempts to sell it locally failed. One farmer said he’d take the bin free if he could figure out how to get it moved.

Eventually, the grain bin was consigned to an online computer auction without much optimism for any bidding. But surprising, it did sell to somebody in Texas.

“Do you know how to move it?” the buyer was asked when calling about getting the bin.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Poison ivy causes misery

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Be careful, that’s poison ivy on the old rotten dead tree you’re cutting down.”

Grant Carson stopped his Ford 8N tractor to advise a teenager about hazards of the green leaves encompassing the tree.

A long time ago, the community garden tiller and weekend town marshal counselled a naive tree saw operator.

The advice was never forgotten, and similar comments are heard frequently every year when people are around thriving poison ivy.

Sure enough, the next day back then there were red itchy spots all over the arms with seemingly uncontrollable scratching.

Medicated salves didn’t help one bit, but Dr. Bowers, a story himself, gave the kid a backside vaccination with red serum. The problem cleared up shortly afterward, and the same needle poke was requested on similar itchy occasions years later.

Several people in the area are now suffering from poison ivy and wonder more about the scratchy problem.

A weed specialist said poison ivy has three leaves with the middle leaf longer than the others. Edges can be smooth or coarsely toothed while the surface can be glossy or dull.

One dermatologist said about 75 percent of the population is allergic to the poison resin found in poison ivy.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Cowboy and stallion influences

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Most little boys were inspired to become cowboys decades ago when Westerns dominated theatres and television.

For the majority it was a passing craze soon forgotten as sports, girls, and other ventures dominated lives.

That was not true for everyone as there were a limited number who still “always wanted to be a cowboy.”

There are countless who must be credited for providing continued inspiration for life’s goal.

Foremost were parents who were lifelong horse enthusiasts insisting their son always wear cowboy boots. When they finally gave in to acquiring his own horse when he was 11 years old, the “real cowboy” goal enhanced.

Everyone with a horse was a hero as opportunities expanded through training for and becoming close friends with working cowboys.

Recent passing of world-renowned cowboy acknowledged Quarter Horse breeder-elite Duane Walker brought reflections of his many positive influences.

Tribute to Duane and his gray stallion Jackie Bee are in the syndicated “For The Love Of Horses.”

“Everybody’s friend” is the best description of Duane Walker, yet national notoriety came through Jackie Bee. He was “ahead of his time” in color, size, quality, and disposition carried into offspring.

Jackie Bee did not have showring or performance genes, or even local popularity, but importantly Duane Walker’s insightfulness of potential.

First impact of Duane and Jackie came when acquiring a mare bred to a son of Jackie Bee. The brown foal called Fella was a winner in every competition, climaxing as champion at a regional fair. As a gelding, he was gentle, pretty, and a nice riding horse.

A Cowboy’s Faith: College project trailer sold

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“It hadn’t been used for an extended time, so the tractor hauling trailer was sold through an online computer auction.”

In 1971, college agricultural education construction class students were given an opportunity to build a project for their own use.

With two tractors, a 1965 John Deere 1020 and a 1939 John Deere B, they were used at both farms. It was 15 miles from the headquarters to the other location, so Dad suggested building a trailer for hauling tractors.

Somewhat proficient in welding classes, the college junior jumped on the challenge. Basic plans were sketched out with advice from the class professor and recommendations from Dad and Uncle Elmer.

A classmate didn’t have a personal project, so he volunteered to help build the trailer for college credit.

Axles with wheels and tires were acquired from a local trailer house factory. Very heavy new steel for the framework was reasonably purchased from an area dealer.

Gooseneck hookups were uncommon at that time, so the trailer was designed to be pulled from a truck bumper. A jack and safety chain with the ball hitch made hookup simple.

Shaping steel into trailer form was easy with the college’ saws, cutting torches, and welders. Classmates worked well together with professor’s guidance to assure strength of welds.

Three portable ramps were constructed out of heavy steel to load the tractors which had different wheel and axle types.

With steel work completed, there wasn’t any floor. A local sawmill operator sawed heavy native lumber planks to dimension for that purpose.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Gathering Flint Hills cattle

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“It’s summer roundup time in the Flint Hills.”

Cowboys and cowgirls throughout the area have had alarm clocks going off at 4 o’clock in the morning. They catch, saddle, and load horses into trailers in order to be ready to gather short season yearling grazing cattle at 5:45 a.m.

There were 16 horseback riders, cowboys and cowgirls, along with two mechanical carts when about 600 steers were rounded up. No stampedes or other problems that morning so the steers were penned in steel fence corrals in less than two hours.

A couple steers had been left behind as lameness wouldn’t allow travel at pace of the remaining herd. They were loaded in pickup stock trailers driven out to their pasture location later in the morning. It’ll take some time for recovery from their health issues.

Nine semi tractor cattle trailers waiting a few miles away were called upon penning of the herd. They arrived at the cattle pens within minutes and the steers were loaded for distant feedlots and additional growing.

Grazing programs nowadays are sometimes different than several decades ago. Native Flint Hills grasses are highest in protein for increased yearling grazing cattle gains early in the season.

So, cattle are often double stocked on pastures for half the season to get the best gains possible. However, other cattle are grazed full season for roundup in early fall. They will weigh more at gathering time but will not have put pounds on as efficiently as the short season cattle.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Not everyone likes cardplaying

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Most people enjoy playing cards and some folks seem to live for the next card game. But that is not everybody.

A friend sat down at the horseshow supper table and started shuffling a deck of cards. Without comment, she began dealing out the cards automatically assuming the three seated wanted to participate in the card game.

“I really don’t care to play cards,” seemed ignored with a response, “This is an easy game anybody can play.”

Rules were explained as the game proceeded forward with little attention from the bored forced participant. Shortly, it became apparent there was not mutual interest in cardplaying and the deck holder moved to another table.

Nothing wrong with playing cards for those who enjoy the varied games, but others find it boring and too complicated.

Most family and friends are cardplaying enthusiasts, although the game never carried through here. It always seemed there was something more entertaining and time better spent than playing cards. There were horses to ride, books to read, and stories to write.

Still, Grandma always insisted on playing Old Maid, which must have burned out any cardplaying desire. Grandma often played the game solitaire, which evidently can be played by one person competing against themselves. It seems they can’t find anything better, more enjoyable, and worthwhile to do with their time.

Interestingly, certain people that one wouldn’t think of as a cardplayer have been seen playing solitaire.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Suntan lotion is important

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“The sun is both a healing agent and yet can be very harmful to the skin.”

Speaking from experience, protecting the skin from the sun’s rays is essential.

For decades, jeans, t-shirt and cap were common summer attire riding horseback in the hot sun.

No consideration was given to protection from the dangerous rays that the sun generously distributes, but it did catch up.

Visits to the dermatologist (skin doctor) verified pre-cancerous spots on the face several times. There wasn’t too much concern as the doctor treated each spot with a killing freezing medication.

Return visits to the doctor every three months showed that the previous treatments were effective. However, each time new pre-cancerous spots appeared and received freezing agent squirts.

Then worst news on the next visit. “Skin cancer is so severe on your left ear that surgery is essential to remove the ear lobe.”

Fortunately, the doctor could remove the cancer and did reconstructive surgery so there has not been an ear cancer problem.

However, in another appointment, cancer was found in the lower left lip requiring surgery removal.

That was more serious, necessitating a different doctor’s appointment for reconstruction surgery and lengthy healing time. Scars do remain but are not generally noticeable when conversing with others as most are inside the mouth.

A few months later, the skin doctor found serious cancer in the lower right lip requiring surgery removal. It was another ordeal like the first time and fortunately ended up with the same positive outcome.

Scheduled appointments to the skin doctor are followed stringently and pre-cancerous spots are always found and treated. There have not been additional skin cancers requiring removal by surgery.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Corn field for soccer

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Bolton Soccer Complex used to be a corn field.

One of Council Grove’s popular youth recreation facilities is located near a park, the aquatic center, and several baseball fields.

A project was needed for a vocational agriculture class freshman as part of his Future Farmers of America (FFA) membership.

The seven-acres alfalfa field owned by Phil Bolton at the edge of town was being overtaken by wild grasses. An adjacent two-acres horse and hog operation within the city limits was ongoing, so opportunity to learn more about farming developed.

Privileged to assist Mr. Bolton with cattle work previously, he agreed to rent the tract on a “share” basis. “Go to the bank and get a lease agreement we can both sign,” Mr. Bolton recommended.

With paperwork in hand, a wannabe cowboy-carryout grocery boy was going to be a “real farmer.” Yet, farming requires machinery, which was in short supply, although Dad did have some antiques called into use.

The 1939 John Deere B tractor was hooked to a two-bottom pull-type plow for tilling the field. An old wheelless pull disc whacked the clay gumbo clods into a seedbed roughly suitable for planting.

Somehow, someway, a manually operated two-row lister was found and attachments adjusted for operation. Two seed and fertilizer boxes were filled with ingredients purchased from Council Grove Elevator up the road.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Swallows take over barn

Barn swallows nest in barn stalls ceiling and rafters. Frank Buchman photo.

Barn swallows have returned in full force, sometimes seeming to completely take over the barn and ranch.

Uncertain when the unique birds started arriving this spring or when they left last year.

When barn swallows come, their presence is made most aware. As many as a dozen will swoop out of the barn nests and into the yard. They can give the feeling of wanting to attack but then glide right back up into the air.

The barn swallow is the most abundant and widely distributed swallow species in the world, according to bird specialists. It breeds throughout the Northern Hemisphere and winters in much of the Southern Hemisphere.

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Barn swallows once nested in caves throughout North America, but now build their nests almost exclusively on human-made structures.

Horses are cautious of barn swallows initially and hesitate to move forward until becoming accustomed to the birds’ flight patterns.

Perhaps the little birds don’t feel secure around the horses either at first either. They can act territorial around their nests and will dive-bomb making alarm calls if feeling threatened. Fluffy the ranch cat was a target of one.

Nests really do make a mess on barn stall rafters and ceilings. Because it takes around two weeks for a pair to build a nest from mud, hair, and other materials, old nests are highly prized. So, there are old nests from several years with new ones added each year.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Time to make hay

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Nearly every farmer and rancher in the Midwest had the same philosophy during the second week of June.

Hay harvesting equipment of all sizes and shapes was in the fields. Enthusiasm dampened when weather forecasters predicted rain and morning showers forced machinery back into storage units.

Indecisiveness replaced excitement as farmers didn’t know whether to mow the forage for hay or wait for a dry day.

Certain first cutting alfalfa fields have already been wrapped up in bales. But most tame grass fields are just showing enough yield to justify harvest.

While farmers are anxious to get hay harvested for winter feed supply, they sure don’t want it to get wet. Quality of feed rapidly deteriorates, and most livestock don’t like or readily consume the lower quality feedstuff.

While harvesting forage to make hay for livestock operations is necessary, it’s not one that farmers and ranchers anticipate doing. Still harvesting forage to be made into winter feed is considerably easier than it used to be. As recent as six decades ago, making hay was a six-step process.

The grass had to be mowed typically with a cycle bar mower, and then raked into windrows for baling. When grass was thin, sometimes two or three small windrows were raked together to improve bale dimensions.

Most farmers pulled a hay wagon behind the baler, so the bales could be stacked for hauling to the barn. Nobody liked to stack bales on the hay rack. But it was a lot easier than dropping bales off into the field behind the baler.

That was a common scenario for beginning farmers who couldn’t afford to own a hay wagon. The bales were picked up off the ground and stacked in the back of a pickup truck.

A Cowboy’s Faith: It Always Has Rained

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Nobody is wrong more often than the weather forecaster.”

Yet there isn’t anybody who gets more following on the television and radio.

It is true that accuracy is very low because predictions even when given in percentages usually don’t turn out right.

However, the most popular topic of conversation among everybody is what the weather will be.

Talking about it is really the only thing that can be done. Praying for moisture to come or go away is never wrong but doesn’t always yield the results requested.

Interesting studying weather trends over the years and decades, but again that won’t accurately indicate what it’ll do now. What has happened in the past will occur again, but not when anybody can know for sure.

No matter how dry it becomes, rain has always come when it decides. Sometimes it is too late to save a crop and ends up costing major economic loss.

Having reported crop production forecasts professionally for a half century, there’s nearly always gloom and doom. This year is no exception with predictions of lower grain yields due to weather conditions.

Seemingly those farm production outlooks begin with a negative tone and usually go down from there. While farmers must be optimists to continue in the widely fluctuating business, a higher percentage of farmers are internally pessimists.

They’re always conversing: it’s too dry, it’s too wet, the crop is burning up, the field’s flooding, on and on.

A Cowboy’s Faith: An unexplainable bull loss

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Mother Nature sometimes seems to be involved in certain incomprehensible circumstances.

Essential requirement of bull power for a cow-calf ranching operation has been discussed before. A bull must romance a cow so she’ll have a calf the rancher can sell to help pay bills.

It is a major ordeal in early May getting bulls breeding soundness verified and into pastures with selected cows. Sometimes two bulls are put with each cowherd as backup in case one doesn’t do what he’s supposed to accomplish.

Many problems with bulls can occur during a breeding season, making it important to check them on a regular schedule. Sometimes bulls in the same pasture don’t like each other and will fight. They can injure each other, and are not mating cows when they are skirmishing.

Leg injuries are common in bulls working in rough pasture terrain, which often puts one out of commission. Reproductive organs can be hurt, sometimes severely, when the bull is taking care of business. This might be a temporary situation but is often permanent.

When a bull becomes incapable of servicing cows, it creates a major dilemma for the rancher.

Of course, when a bull is permanently unsound, he must be replaced which is a major expense. Despite guarantees seedstock merchandizers offer, still many of them do not cover certain situations that can arise.

Bulls in pastures are checked every few days, including moving around checking for soundness and encouraging them to work.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Farmer’s wife gives advice

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“It’s a whole lot easier to get breakfast from a chicken than a pig.”

Several times in recent months, advice from some farmer’s wife came up unsolicited on the computer. It must be a sign to share that wisdom with others.

Whenever you return a borrowed pie pan, make sure it’s got a warm pie in it.

Make home a happy place for the children. Everybody returns to their happy place.

Always keep a small light on in the kitchen window at night.

Always pat the chickens when you take their eggs.

Biscuits brown better with a little butter brushed on ’em.

Check your shoelaces before runnin’ to help somebody.

Homemade is always better’n store bought.

A tongue’s like a knife. The sharper it is the deeper it cuts.

It’s easy to clean an empty house, but hard to live in one.

Enjoy doing your children’s laundry. Someday they’ll be gone.

All children spill milk. Learn to smile and wipe it up.

There’s no such thing as woman’s work on a farm. There’s just work.

Invite lots of folks to supper. You can always add more water to the soup.

A good neighbor always knows when to visit and when to leave.

A city dog wants to run out the door, but a country dog stays on the porch ’cause he’s not fenced in.

Always light birthday candles from the middle outward.

Nothin’ gets the frustrations out better’n splittn’ wood.

You’ll never catch a runnin’ chicken, but if you throw seed around the back door, you’ll have a skillet full by supper.

Visit old people who can’t get out. Someday you’ll be one.

The softer you talk; the closer folks’ll listen.

The colder the outhouse, the warmer the bed.

Reminded of Psalm 32:8; “Let me give you some good advice; I’m looking you in the eye and giving it to you straight.”

A Cowboy’s Faith: Mistakes can have consequences

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“The only way to not ever make a mistake is to never do anything.”

While there is limited accuracy to the comment, nobody can accomplish anything when doing nothing.

Certainly, lots of mistakes have been made in seven-plus decades. Most of them didn’t really matter in the long run. They weren’t even known by others and sometimes not even realized personally.

Still, making errors generally hurts pride when efforts are made to do what is right all the time.

That does bring up the question of what is “right?” It easily varies from one person to another as everyone’s opinion is different.

Sometimes “right” boils down to personal conscience, what feels appropriate now and will be good in the future. When there’s a doubt about doing something, taking more time to consider the consequences is usually best.

However, waiting can be a mistake too, especially reflecting on a major land purchase opportunity 40 years ago. Situated next to other owned ranchland, it was a forced property sale during the 1980s depression. The lending firm had a private realtor handling negotiations with a set price.

An offer just slightly less than that listed was made to the realtor. He put the check in his billfold as collateral if the advertised amount was not met. That seemed like a “done deal” for a naïve cowboy starting in the ranching business.

Quite to the contrary, a call was received the next morning that another person paid the asking amount. “This was not an auction,” the realtor emphasized. “He paid the amount due on the bank note and is the property owner. Your uncashed check will be returned.”

That was a serious personal mistake never to be forgotten because that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity likely will never come again.

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