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Author Archives: Frank J. Buchman

A Cowboy’s Faith:Grass makes livestock hay

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“The brome grass is all wrapped up in bales.”

Well, that’s not completely accurate, but the 65 acres of brome grass around the ranch homestead has been baled. There’s a lot more brome grass to go into bales at other ranch locations and cooperating with neighbors in haying.

“How did your brome hay make?” is a common question wherever one goes. Answer isn’t too easy to give.

Certainly, “Better hay crop than it could have been.” Or “A lot more hay than before it finally started raining.”

Still, “Not nearly enough hay especially for all of the investment in fertilizer.”

That doesn’t include the other sharply increased input costs for the brome crop. As everybody knows, this time uptown consumers aware as well, fuel expense is at the highest level ever.

What can anybody do about all that? It’s either pay the bill or let all the work and other expenses go down the drain. “A rock and a hard spot,” somebody accurately said.

Another thing, if a rancher has livestock, it must be fed. However high the expense baling hay on the ranch, with few exceptions, is less costly than buying feed.

Complain all that’s absolutely necessary, but still count the blessings for what there is.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Rains stop for parade

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“The heavy downpour quit just in time for the parade to go on as planned.”

Taking the detour to prevent muddy road mishap, it was an hour drive to the fairgrounds starting location.

Obviously, many others were anticipating parade participation as dozens of horses, floats, and other entries were already waiting in line.

Exactly 2 o’clock, the annual Flint Hills Rodeo parade from Cottonwood Falls to the Strong City rodeo arena was underway.

Not even a sprinkle dropped during the hourlong route, with an enjoyable time for everybody although spectator viewing seemed low.

Quite the contrast to 59 years ago, the first-time riding in that rodeo parade. Then, the rain never did stop, although there were still plenty of parade entrants and spectators too.

Although missing a number of those parades through the decades, other times remain quite memorable. That first one sticks out like it was right now.

First year to own Spot, there was no way to get there until an elderly cowboy offered a ride. It was already pouring down when loading into his truck at the old railroad stockyards.

Same parade starting point as nowadays, lots of horses and dedicated riders participated without complaining. Certainly, an exciting time for the 12-year-old wannabe cowboy in his first rodeo parade. Rain never letdown as the rodeo also went on with ample spectators.

Several different horses have been used for the parade with not everyone remembered.

A raised-ranch gray gelding called The Wonderful Zane pranced high headed all the way through one year. Those riding along insisted, “Don’t hold his head so tight,” but directions were not followed, thus preventing a runaway.

Another year the nice-headed sorrel gelding called Jaguar was most enjoyable to ride. He even received a compliment from Mr. Roberts, who had organized the rodeo years earlier. “That’s a better-looking horse than you usually ride,” he said.

A Cowboy’s Faith:Following orders for prevention

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Coronavirus remains a worldwide health threat not to be taken lightly.”

One of the most controversial concerns of recent times, coronavirus has had major impact on all phases of human life.

Literally millions of stories, scientific reports and even books have been written about the vast implications including mortality.

Yet, in reality, very little is known about coronavirus other than it truly is definitely serious. That fact hits hardest when close friends die from coronavirus, and several have.

Many people have ignored every warning denying dangers. They would not even follow laws requiring safety measures, insisting, “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do.”

Feeling the need for utmost caution from the beginning, all recommendations for prevention were followed closely.

A mask was worn for protection of coronavirus spread from others. Despite waiting extended times for availability, two inoculations were received without side effects.

Continuing research indicated those immunizations might not be effective. So, the readily available booster shot was taken.

After that, it seemed a public speaker who insisted, “They are just putting water in the syringes,” might be right. He and his family followed the entire preventive procedures, and everyone still contracted coronavirus.

“It was terrible, and we thought we were going to die,” he said. “Fortunately, we are alive, but who knows the aftereffects.”

Although cases of coronavirus are continually being reported, urgency of the news has subsided. Majority of the population has become unconcerned about any coronavirus precautions.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Those critters demand affection

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Ranch animals want their fair share of attention.”

Uncertain whether it’s Fluffy the big yellow cat or ZaneEtta the yearling gray filly who is most demanding for affection.

Likely Fluffy is the loneliest as she’s the only cat on the place most of the time. Occasionally a strangly stray gray tomcat Lioness shows up and wants to fight with her more than romance. Still, Fluffy isn’t so demanding of human attention when that ornery visitor comes around.

Fluffy has a unique story of her own, coming to the ranch six years ago with a mate Garfield. They lived in the hay mow for a very long time afraid of humans but eventually came to the food pan.

The pair did become more accustomed to ranch life and moved into the barnyard. Staying in the hay shed mostly, it took several months before they would accept human touch.

Garfield never became overly friendly, but Fluffy was completely heartbroken when her mate was run over by a ranch pickup.

Extensive human attention is now demanded by Fluffy, who beds down in various ranch locations. Whenever the house door opens, she bounds to it and wraps herself around whoever’s legs they are. It’s impossible to walk without stepping on her. While relaxing on the step or swinging, Fluffy is nuzzling in the lap wanting petted.

Now, ZaneEtta – the intensely ranch-bred filly was a bit ornery at first. She learned to lead, tie, and have her feet picked up quite readily.

Yet, ZaneEtta had a sour attitude, for a while rolling her eyes and laying her ears back. She only tried to nip once and just lifted her hind leg up to kick another time.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Horseback job finally arrives

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Certain things just take a long time to come around.”

Every Saturday, the red pickup with stock racks and a black horse would go down Main Street. Cowboy was heading for the livestock sale to help drive cattle, sometimes hogs, into and out of the auction ring.

The grocery store carryout boy, always a wannabe cowboy, waved acknowledgement with strong inside envy. Oh, how exciting being a real cowboy working cattle on horseback, the adrenaline always was nearly overflowing.

Many livestock auction barns hire horseback riders to move cattle. Sometimes real working cowboys consider it a menial job anybody who can get on a horse can do.

However, the job does require a horse, not necessarily one with cow working skills. Still those horses with sale barn working experiences have quite diverse abilities.

When horses are being sold at auction, those with sale barn work backgrounds are credited for that. They will generally bring more bids and higher total sale price, regardless of looks and color.

Admiration and envy have continued through the ages. Nearly six decades later the wannabe cowboy’s opportunity has finally arrived working on horseback every week at the livestock auction.

It is another dream come true. Maggie has been here, there, nearly everywhere, and done nearly anything anybody can think of a horse doing. Still, she continues to have more than her share of quirks. They can arise anytime, for seemingly unknown reason, and always in the most inopportune situation.

Sale barn workers got a free show bringing grinning, laughing and enjoyment, fortunately no clapping, on Maggie’s first day there. She was high, wide, and handsome, said with personal prejudice, driving that first group of cattle down the alley.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Average will pay off

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“A slow time is always better than a no time.”

While fastest runs and highest scores are required to be a champion, there is something to say for consistency.

Riding in horse shows, what have sometimes previously been called “showdeos” and horse playdays, it’s easy to make mistakes.

Seasoned everyday working cowboys, even bigtime rodeo stars, have sometimes made jokes about such events. That’s okay, but horse ability and horsemanship skills are just as important to be a winning cutting horse rider or champion roper.

Too often the horse gets the blame, but generally it is “pilot error,” the one mounted giving directions who is at fault.

Participating in at least a half dozen different associations as well as open events, it’s been new experiences this past couple weekends.

Patterned racing events like barrel racing and pole bending are common competitions. Barrel racing in playdays is sometimes referred to as cloverleaf because horses race in a cloverleaf pattern.

An interesting reflection, the first show ever entered 60 years ago, entry was made in the barrel race, thinking it was the cloverleaf. Nope, the event called barrel racing was three barrels in a line calling for circling each barrel to the left and right. Spot had never thought of that and got fourth out of four.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Bulls must romance cows

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Cows will never have a calf if they don’t have intimate lovemaking with a bull.”

For a cowherd to make profits for a ranch, cows must have calves.

All the long-drawn-out discussions about bull performance data, pedigree and production ability are fine and good. They are important, but the most essential ingredient is that the bull gets cows bred.

On the forefront, it sounds simple, but many factors come into the equation for this to happen.

Most importantly, the bull must be fertile. Just because a bull sired a pasture full of calves on the ground this spring doesn’t mean anything now. Many things could have happened since the bull bred cows last year, and he has become infertile.

A bull may have been injured by the last cow he mated. Injuries to his breeding system could have occurred while fighting with other cattle. An accident could have injured the bull while grazing rough pasture terrain.

Freezing cold winter temperatures can have negative impact on a bull’s breeding soundness. The list goes on and on.

So, every bull going out with cows to be bred to raise calves must have a breeding soundness check. That is easier said than done.

Bulls must be rounded up for a qualified veterinarian to do the examination. Most bulls do not like the procedure, which certain people might even consider inhumane, but it is required.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Grasslands endure despite transition

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Method of transporting cattle has sure changed considerably in the past century.”

Railroad cattle cars arrived at Kansas cowtowns before daylight as Flint Hills cowboys were mounted on horseback ready to work.

Mixed colored, big, thin, long yearling steers from Texas rambled out of the train cars into the stockyards.

Real working cowboys on real working cow horses calmly moved the typically a bit renegade, often longhorns out the gate.

It was a 30-mile, sometimes longer, cattle drive through vast just turning green Flint Hills to their summer home.

Never has it been publicly recorded any cowboys got lost enroute or returning in the wide-open prairie without direction signs.

Oh, how times have changed. Today, semi loads of cattle, some from Texas but from many other places beyond, arrive at the big pastures.

A portable chute is there for ease of unloading cattle after their long ride. Often just one cowboy, sometimes even without a horse, carefully counts the summer grazers off the long double-decker truck.

Nowadays, the younger, shapelier, more muscular, lightweight cattle may just graze for a few months. Many will come off the pastures in July instead of October like it used to be.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Forever changing weather uncontrollable

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“In the spring, I have counted 136 kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.”

Mark Twain said it originally but the comment has been repeated in wide variations during recent weeks.

The temperature can be far above average almost like summer and within minutes near freezing or below. It is calm and still when starting to chore in the morning, then wind blasts seemingly 60 miles per hour when finished.

Those who have planted early spring gardens have been mad to say the least. Often when the sun shines, sky is blue, temperature is short-sleeve-shirt, gardeners till and plant. New sprouts peak through the soil, and then the weatherman says: “It’ll freeze tonight.”

Gardeners scamper to protect the vulnerable new plantings. Potted plants are taken inside as sheets, blankets, feed sacks, everything imaginable are used to cover rest of the garden.

Depending on how low the thermometer gets, some plants generally survive while majority are destroyed. With gardeners’ grunts and groans, there’s something about putting another new seed in the ground that gives felling of optimism.

Of course, this time of year, every farmer has the itch to get in the field. While modern corn varieties are colder weather resistant, chance of freezing still exists. Dry conditions and low night temperatures have kept corn plantings below average.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Opened mail most suspicious

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Uncle Sam’s horses have evidently been lamed a lot recently, and now their riders can’t read too well either.”

Likewise, it’s a wonder tax refunds ever arrive, but interestingly there’s never an issue with past due notices.

A large brown envelope with correct address and canceled postage slip was mailed from Stilwell, Kan., March 11. It arrived at the ranch 25 days later on April 5.

That’s poor service in everybody’s book. Used to be mail from all the way across the country would arrive at the ranch in a couple days. It’s been sometime since that was the case.

A century ago, blame was sometimes placed on the horses, nowadays there’s every other excuse imaginable. Late mail is a common story repeated whatever barbershop, grocery store line, or elevator one stops at.

This time was even much more disturbing. The envelope had already been opened and two short pieces of loose Scotch tape did not seal it back shut. That’s mail tampering, deception or some unlawful action, isn’t it?

Inside the envelope was a collectible country music song book from a friend and a Xeroxed Internal Revenue Service note. No, it wasn’t a past due tax notice and definitely not a tax refund.

Rather the three-inch-by-eight-inch paper was inscribed “Misdirected Mail Opened by the IRS.” To have a preprinted piece like that, evidently, they open lots of mail that’s not theirs.

That would make many people’s blood boil with remaining commentary on the paper likely heating certain tempers even hotter.

It said: “The enclosed correspondence was misdirected to us by the Post Office.” That’s just not logical in any sense of the definition, because the address was legibly correct.

The return address was also very readable. So, if for some reason the big envelope had been undeliverable, it should have been returned to the sender, right?

Excuse given on the IRS note: “The large volume of mail we receive daily is first opened by machine. Therefore, your ‘enclosed’ envelope was opened before we discovered that it was not addressed to the Internal Revenue Service.” The note was inside the original envelope not attached outside.

Suspicion is increasing about both the United States Postal Service and the Internal Revenue Service.

Reminded of Acts 14:2: “They sowed mistrust and suspicion in the minds of the people.”

Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.




Olivet farmer still busy with lifelong job after 50 years with highway department

Soybeans have been a major cash crop for Kathy and Glen Tyson on their farm near Olivet, in Osage County. Courtesy photo.

Working one job for half a century is a major accomplishment but Glen Tyson has been in his “second profession” even longer.

“Well, after 13,331 days, February 28, 2022, was my last day with the Osage County Highway Department,” Tyson said.

During those five decades, the Olivet man has also been what most would also consider a full-time farmer.

“I’ve had two jobs, a day job and an evening and weekend job,” Tyson admitted. “I was farming before I worked for the highway department, and I plan to keep right on farming.”

Announcing his retirement officially publicly with a Facebook post, Tyson instantly got a complimentary rebuttal. “All those hours on the official clock don’t include your overtime nights and weekends, Saturday and Sundays,” an acquaintance posted.

“It was all part of the job, which worked well with the farming,” Tyson said. “My last day was tough saying goodbye to a bunch of very good friends and employees. They’re the ones who’ve been so important in making my career much more than just a job.”

A Cowboy’s Faith: Flat tire assistance appreciated

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Fortunately, the tire was only flat on the bottom side.”

A common intended joke said by others when a person has a flat tire, most upsetting when an urgent situation.

Never is a flat tire a joking matter, but nothing to do except figure out how to get it changed.

With major construction on ranch frontage, the main highway was closed last month. Repairs are so complex the thoroughfare won’t be opened to regular traffic until this fall.

What was a 16-minute trip for weekend church now requires 45 minutes, or much longer depending on the detour taken. Of course, the short route is automatically the one to use for most efficiency. So, despite knowing better, the sharp gravel road was selected.

First time there and back was without ordeal other than slow and hazardous with oncoming traffic in the narrow roadway.

Second time wasn’t so fortunate when returning home dash light indicated “low tire.” Hardly sooner than blinked, the right front tire was completely flat, no air whatsoever, almost impossible to guide.

Sought for assistance, the ranch manager was far away but promised to see about finding another helper. Grudgingly the trunk was opened to attempt undertaking the task at hand.

It could have been worse, but not too much. The car has 260,000 miles on it, and the spare had never been used. Only those who’ve figured out how to put such a jack-and-wrench apparatus into use understand how complicated that can be. It’s completely impossible to describe.

When temper was nearest exploding, a pickup truck stopped: “Need some assistance? Here I can help you.”

A Cowboy’s Faith: ‘New’ sleigh still horseless

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“That skiff of snow wasn’t enough to bring the ‘new’ sleigh out of the barn.”

Uncertain if there’d even been sufficient white stuff whether Maggie would have been hooked. Still oh what fun it will be when that time comes.

Several friends had been on the lookout for a sleigh and finally one was located in South Carolina. After describing the antique sleigh, relating the cost and opportunities for delivery to Kansas, approval was given for purchase.

First off, one-horse open sleighs like pictured on record covers for the Christmas song are “hot commodities.” While supply is somewhat limited, they are actually available all across the country.

Quality is widely varied, but everyone has a very high cost. The one to be purchased was at the lowest end of other printed asking prices.

When picking up the “new” sleigh, first sight was rather disappointing compared to what had been envisioned. There was little resemblance of other advertised sleighs, one like Santa Claus has and some displayed during Christmas holidays.

Still, the antique sleigh was in good shape considering how old it could possibly be. Everything is timeworn but ready to use including the shafts which alone sometimes are expensive. Scratched and frayed, paint is original; important to collectors.

“You don’t have to take it, and then I’ll just keep it myself,” said the friend who’d acquired the sleigh.

Without much contemplation, check was written, sleigh loaded in the 12-foot horse-stock trailer, brought to the ranch, and into storage.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Home deliveries nothing new

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Call ‘Four One Oh’ for free delivery twice daily.”

Advertised heavily, seemingly proudly promoted, was that service of Buchman’s Grocery, long gone family business in Council Grove.

Now many years later, grocery stores and other businesses are offering home deliveries. It is as if the service is new and completely unique, but that’s definitely not true.

However, not having checked out delivery service highly publicized by numerous companies, most likely it is far from “free.”

More than 60 years ago, there were nine grocery stores in the hometown, and only one promoted delivery services. However, there were a couple others who likely did deliver groceries to shut-ins and like, whether charging or not unknown.

Of course, that was a much different time as far as what it cost to offer any kind of services. New cars were about $2,700. Gasoline was a quarter a gallon or less. Employees worked for a dollar an hour. Of interest perhaps, stamps were six cents, and grocery store milk was a dollar a gallon.

Morning grocery deliveries were at 10:30, and must be completed before customer’s dinnertime. Afternoon deliveries started at 5 o’clock.

Sometimes three deliveries would be made on Saturday, since the store was closed Sunday. Before holidays, especially weekends when the store would be closed two days, generally four deliveries were made the prior day.

A Cowboy’s Faith: New books bring reflections

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Reading is the best way to be informed about the past, present and future while also having a fun time.”

Always enjoying reading since learning how more than 65 years ago; newspapers have generally been read the most. However, books have also been a prominent source of reading through the decades taking spurts of frequency.

That fact has come to mind in recent weeks when two unsolicited books arrived in the mailbox free of charge.

The first one had many pretty pictures, a children’s book of sort. Quick fun reading, it required only five minutes or so of time cover to cover.

The second book, also a paperback, had a price tag of $17.95 on the back cover. It was certainly more intimidating to start reading.

Opening the front page to the small type and long paragraphs made it look uninteresting. Then leafing to the end of 182 pages likelihood of reading the book seemed even more unlikely.

Yet, relaxing in the leather rocking chair recliner, instinct was to pick the book up from the nearby wooden chair. Then all of a sudden there came an urge to see how boring the book really had to be.

Interestingly, reading began and the book was so intriguing true-to-life, no cover-up or pulling punches, it was impossible to put down. Upon completion in maybe four hours more less, the book’s somewhat complex yet somehow quite appealing writing created serious ponder.

The author had faced so many different life situations not unlike many others and reacted to them head on. Desiring to know more about the writer, an email to the book publisher provided contact information.

A Cowboy’s Faith: ‘Beautiful’ snow is work

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Who said they sure would like to have some snow?”

That’s the same one who insisted, “It sure is a pretty snow.”

But definitely not the ranch manager who had to count every cow in six different pastures. Then make sure everyone that had already calved was with their young’un tagging behind.

Nor was there any excitement assisting that second-calf heifer having trouble birthing down in the draw. She found what seemed like a good place, unaware that the snow was going to drift in right there.

Anyway, those praying for moisture got their answer in partiality, whether enough to get the brome growing. Importance of tame grass fertilization has been previously elaborated. But with all of the “bucks out of the hip pocket” stagnant in uphill gumbo, some green should follow melting.

None of those hardships were experienced during youthful years when scooping snow from sidewalks was main concern. Whenever snow came, all of it had to be cleared off in front of the grocery store before school. Looking back, that really wasn’t as big a job as it seemed six decades ago.

Actually, Main Street frontage was only about 50-feet more-less wide and maybe 15-feet deep. If there was just a skiff of white stuff a heavy broom with strong strokes made the task a whiz.

Still when accumulation was several inches up to a half-foot or more, work with the grain shovel was dreaded. Fortunately, Dad had a long handled snow-shovel-of-sort so he’d help when the kid acted too tired.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Babies must have milk

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“The kitchen has been turned into a calf milk factory.”

At least that’s the way it seems in recent days as calf nursing bottles are being filled with milk replacer.

Sometimes as many as a handful of babies have been in the barn during the past week cold and hungry.

A couple calves are a twin that their momma only accepted the mate. Others their moms wouldn’t claim or the cow wasn’t supplying any or enough milk to keep their baby going.

So the hot water faucet and handled pan on the stove keep warm water supplied for mixing powdered milk. There are several two-quart plastic bottles with big nipples almost constantly circulating from the kitchen to the barn.

Of course if the newborns haven’t received a bit of first nutrition from their ignoring momma cows there’s “colostrum ration.” Never an “A” animal nutrition student, hands-on experience has taught importance of first-milk colostrum for newborns. When babies – calves or colts or pigs – don’t get that, they generally won’t survive or have a very difficult time.

Initially, those bitty babies don’t understand what that big nipple trying to be stuffed into their mouth is all about. Generally one time taste of that warm soothing nutritious liquid makes them want more. Yet, there are a few that require “bottle training,” but they soon learn it’s better than being hungry.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Mary didn’t ride donkey

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“At first obnoxious, the ‘Eeyore’ now heard frequently from the ranch corral is becoming somewhat the norm.”

Still Cody the palomino barrel horse in the neighboring pen isn’t so sure he likes the donkey next door. Often, he’ll still lay his ears back and charge toward the long-eared rough-haired crest-necked equine-of-sorts nearby.

Actually, when the roper brought what some might call a burro into the ranch yard, Cody had a fit conniption.

The strange sounding, a bit weird looking, sure enough quite long-eared visitor is becoming acquainted with the roper daughter’s mare. They’re corral mates now with intentions to move together to a summer pasture lot for convenience of care.

While owning a donkey or two through the years, they typically haven’t been around long. The one rode quite well and sold at a profit. What his owner called a “Mammoth Jack” (big male donkey) trained readily and supposedly became a fine riding mount. Ranch manager has goats too and keeps what’s defined as a miniature donkey around to keep predators away.

More common around the ranch has been mules with a wide array of successes and disarrays through decades. One pretty mule was doing well before coming down with mortal sickness.

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