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Author Archives: Frank J. Buchman

A Cowboy’s Faith: Cowboy Code Of Conduct, Hopalong Cassidy

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Some words on behavior from four silver screen icons from long ago may be more relevant and needed now than ever before.

Today, the West continues to celebrate the “cowboy spirit” of adventure and entrepreneurial pursuits.

Still, nine times out of 10, the word “cowboy” is used as a negative or a derogatory term describing improper or distasteful behavior.

However, the principled demeanor became codes of conduct that America’s cowboy heroes promoted for viewers in early days of Western movies.

Third in a four-part series, the inspirational philosophies of movie cowboys, unknown to many today, are being shared.

William Boyd portraying Hopalong Cassidy.

Hopalong Cassidy was a fictional cowboy hero created in 1904 for a Western novel. Cassidy was shot in the leg which caused him to have a little “hop,” hence the nickname.

Portraying “Hoppy,” William Boyd, outfitted in black, rode his white horse Topper in 66 movies from the 1930s to the 1950s.

Boyd continued in children-oriented radio and television shows until 1952. He made personal appearances including one in Kansas attended by former coworkers.

At the peak of the character’s popularity in the early 1950s, enormous amounts of merchandise were developed, as well as a comic strip, additional novels, and a short-lived amusement park, “Hoppyland.”

A Cowboy’s Faith: Cowboy Code Of Conduct of Gene Autry

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Some words on behavior from silver screen cowboys from decades ago may be more relevant and needed than ever.

The West is associated with honor, bravery, and the pioneer spirit heading into the unknown to make a better life. Today, the West continues to celebrate that “cowboy spirit” of adventure and entrepreneurial pursuits.

Principled behavior became codes of conduct that many cowboy heroes promoted in the early day Western movies and television shows. It’s not difficult to see how it wouldn’t be better following simple rules of polite and thoughtful deportment.

Singing cowboy songs, Gene Autry rode his famous horse named Champion in at least 93 movies and 91 television shows.

A world-renowned professional rodeo contractor, often entertaining at those rodeos, Autry also made worldwide public appearances. He and Champion performed at the Tri-County Fair in Herington, which Grandma attended.

Autry made more than 640 recordings with 300 songs he wrote, including “Here Comes Santa Claus.”

War hero, rancher, baseball team owner, cowboy museum developer, radio, television, real estate proprietor, and comic book personality with signature cowboy toys, Autry was the most financially successful silver screen cowboy.

He’s the only entertainer to have five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: radio, recording, motion pictures, television, and live performance and theater.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Cowboy Code of Conduct, Roy Rogers

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.The West has long been associated with honor, bravery, and the pioneer spirit of heading into the unknown to make a better life. Today, the West continues to celebrate that “cowboy spirit” of adventure and entrepreneurial pursuits.

However, it seems that to call someone a “cowboy,” in some circles, is an insult. Yet, cowboys’ principled behavior became codes of conduct that many of America’s heroes promoted for viewers of early days Western movies and television shows.

Second in a four-part series, the inspirational philosophies of movie cowboys, unknown to many today, are being shared.

Roy Rogers, nicknamed the King of the Cowboys, was an American singer, actor, and rodeo performer.

Riding his Palomino stallion Trigger, Roy appeared in more than 100 motion pictures, as well as his self-titled radio and television programs. In most of them, Roy entertained with his wife, Dale Evans, riding her buckskin horse, Buttermilk.

There were Roy Rogers action figures, cowboy adventure novels, play-sets, comic book series, and a variety of marketing successes. Roy Rogers was second only to Walt Disney in the number of items featuring his name.

Highlight of childhood memories was seeing Roy Rogers in person when he had his family show at the Mid-America Fair in Topeka.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Horses are not pets

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Every horse has different abilities with widely varied personalities.”

Once again, a reminder has been emphasized that for these differences a horse might fit one person and not another.

Watching old Westerns on television brings to light how certain horses worked well in the movies. Yet, most modern day horsemen would not like them being critical of the high heads and “cold jaws.”

Dad liked his horses with that kind of spirit, and the preference continued through his son. Generally, not speedy when racing, they’re more exciting to ride rather than a “deadhead.”

However, that preference is highly contrasting to skilled trainers who prefer low headed, easy turning horses.

Horseshow criteria might be reason for appeal of more collected horses. They present a nice image to spectators and can usually be ridden by a more diverse group of people.

Those who select lower-keyed caliber of horses contend they have their head and mind ready to work whatever requested.

It is interesting to study transitions in what increasing numbers of horse riders prefer. While horses have always been demanded to gather and doctor cattle, ranch horses are now being properly credited.

From being evaluated just for their eye appeal and calm disposition, horses are now selected for cattle working ability. Many of today’s largest horse shows feature cattle classes rather than halter showing and pleasure riding.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Pneumonia is serious illness

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Most people know the word pneumonia but do not understand how dangerous the sickness can be for animals and humans.

Pneumonia is one of the most significant diseases affecting calves causing inflammation of the lung tissue and airways. Damage may be irreversible in severe cases as it is the most common reason for death and poor performance in young cattle.

Factors that can cause calf pneumonia include the presence of bacteria and viruses, the environment, and the immune status of the animal. Symptoms of pneumonia are reduction in eating, dull demeanor, dropping of the head, increased respiratory rate, nasal discharge, cough, and raised temperature.

Strategies to reduce pneumonia should target improving cattle immunity and reducing stress, as well as treating any disease present. Fast and effective antibiotic treatment is critical for minimizing potential lung damage.

Providing treatment with long-acting antibiotics will often improve the health of a sick calf, resulting in quicker return of appetite and more rapid recovery. The lungs take 10-14 days to heal, therefore a treatment course should last this length of time, even if the animal appears clinically better after just a few days.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Greener grass is possible

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”

That is not true, but evidently seems so to cattle pushing under the fence for more this spring.

Heavy pressure exerted by the cattle reaching for more grass is why many fence posts slope from the pasture itself.

They go under, over, and through the fence in hopes of finding additional tender lush green grass.

Eventually the pasture will have sufficient growth to satisfy the cattle’s greedy appetites. They will graze at ease and not continually search for an extra green sprig.

Until that time, it is cattlemen’s continued battle to keep cattle in pastures, as they often push through the fence. Calves are an additional menace getting under fences to the greener other side.

Despite quality of the fence, cattlemen typically spend considerable time each spring mending fence.

It is a required effort to keep cattle in and a regular maintenance task year around. All pasture fences are typically checked regularly with a thorough going over before turning herds out for summer grazing.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Living by five P’s

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Prior planning prevents poor performance.”

It is an adage repeated in recent readings about increasing cattle operation profits, but also applies to life in general.

To produce a profitable outcome, the decisions that must be orchestrated to increase likelihood of favorable performance are demanding. It is a stringent process that mandates commitment to planning.

While most development tends to be focused on technical details, too often the human element is forgotten. With all the pieces in place and systems organized, there is a failure to provide the right training. Workers must be properly managed with enough hours in the day to get their work done in the allotted time.

Resources need to be lined up efficiently and maintained in a feasible working order. Often, a missing link in the process of setting the stage for success is assuring the people are properly rested. They must be refreshed, informed, and nourished going into demanding tasks of time and talent.

Sleep deprivation leads to mood changes, impaired judgement, ineffective mental processing, and reduced immune function. When emotions are poorly regulated and mental focus is dulled, the likelihood of accidents and mistakes increases significantly.

Recordkeeping and information-heavy processes are negatively affected when the workforce is functioning on the edge of exhaustion. Making sure that worker rotation is designed with rest periods during and following peak work sessions will have positive payoffs.

Effective training should include ongoing communication centered around well-designed processes. Training in advance of work helps to assure that people feel prepared for the demands of the task.

When employees can evaluate outcomes and adjust to workloads, they are more likely to remain more engaged and motivated. Knowing what is expected with tools and training to perform the job with sensible processes are essential to high performance.

Providing feedback and affirmation of a job well done are important in assuring that a plan is built and executed. Most essential key to productive performance is caring for the people who are expected to do the task at hand.

“Prior planning prevents poor performance.” So, plan for the future, prepare the rested, educated working team, practicing makes perfect, provide affirmation, and production will prosper.

Reminded of Proverbs 24:4: “Any enterprise built by wise planning becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.”

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.




A Cowboy’s Faith: Chicken wings still fowl

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“It is nothing short of amazing what the poultry industry has done to expand sales.”

Much of the population already had a fondness for chicken prepared in a variety of ways.

Then somebody somehow made one of the lowest quality chicken parts, wings, into what many consider a food delicacy.

Contrary to most, chicken prepared in any manner and all forms of eggs never appealed to one wannabe cowboy. However, growing up as Dad’s assistant in the grocery store meat department, there was lots of experience with chicken.

Fryer-chicken was always a best-selling meat product, and most housewives preferred them cut up ready to fry. A butcher’s helper was called upon to cut chickens into common dinner table parts, legs, thighs, breast, back, wings, etc. From the Arkansas poultry processing plant, giblets were bagged separately and then sold with the cut-up fryer-chicken in a tray.

Learning to cut up a chicken takes a little time but can be developed into quite a skill. It became a meat block contest to see who could cut up a fryer-chicken the fastest. A slip of the sharp butcher knife one time left a permanent left index finger scar.

While fryer-chickens were most popular, lower-priced whole hens were also sold for making soup or chicken and noodles.

Poultry products have always been marketed for considerably lower prices and been highly competitive to beef sales. Unclear about the nutritious value of fowl compared to real red meat.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Rural-oriented youth groups offer untapped opportunities

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Young people are busier than they’ve ever been since the beginning of time.”

There’s always something going on with school, athletics, work, church, parties, and the list continues. That’s all positive, enjoying life and learning about so many useful opportunities now and for years ahead.

Expressing a serious personal prejudice, a number of adolescents are missing what two major longtime rural-oriented youth groups offer. Membership has declined in 4-H (head, heart, hands, heath) and FFA (Future Farmers of America) through schools’ vocational agriculture curriculums.

Despite the vast experiences youth are already privileged with, these two groups present more unique involvements for increased life skills. While both youth groups were initially rural-oriented, that is far from all that they now have available. Membership in the organizations exceed the multiplicities of agriculture, homecare, family living, production, and trade skills. However, each of those enjoyable educational connections can be and are included in the vast privileges of both associations.

Seemingly most people, youth, and adults, have a dislike for public speaking, managing finances, and writing down thoughts. It’s an automatic turnoff for the two rural-oriented youth groups being discussed because those are their three most basic emphasis.

Young people learn to speak their thoughts and opinions in a public setting. Many adults are unable to express viewpoints due to lack of learning the basic skills.

Sad but true, many in the world don’t understand bookkeeping partially because they’re unable to add, subtract, multiply, or divide. With poor records, their income is often high, but they never have any money. They can’t keep track of what’s coming in and where it’s all going, often on the most wasteful purchases.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Bull’s job is important

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“A bull must romance successfully with a cow for a profitable cow-calf operation.”

It’s a repeat topic of discussion with important reminder recently heard several times. First, both the bull and the cow must be fertile so when mated the cow will birth a live calf. Perhaps initially verifying bull fertility is easier than confirming a cow will breed and calve.

Evidently, those cattlemen who have already tested their bulls to be used this summer are finding high infertility. Of course, causes can be many and varied. However most blame is being given to last year’s hot summer and this year’s early freezing conditions. Sometimes, a combination of both.

As with many tests, bulls that do show up infertile should be rechecked again for safety’s sake. One thing certain, if a bull doesn’t pass stringent fertility testing, he’ll most likely not get cows bred. It’s impossible to make money in a cow-calf operation without calves to sell.

Several other criteria go into successful bull-cow mating. The bull must romance the cow when her body wants him to do that. On sweltering summer days, certain bulls would rather not romance their female counterparts. They have found out it can be hard exhausting work.

Some bulls do wait until a cooler time of day. However, if a bull is never nosing around the cows, there is reason for concern.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Valuable calves are hard work

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Baby calves are the most valuable property in recollection of nearly seven decades in the cattle business. Prices recorded at auctions today, usually several hundred dollars, far surpass the level of half a century ago.

Heifers that calved in feedlots of yesteryear were a major detriment that managers wanted little to do with. These newborns were often available by calling the feedlots, which were anxious to get rid of them as soon as possible.

Today’s generation of calf buyers will hardly believe that feedlots sold those calves for maybe $15 or even less. While the investment was low, so was the possibility of making money with the calves. Numerous attempts at growing baby feedlot calves failed.

Stress from their birthing, lack of momma and feedlot manager attention, and time delay were immediate setbacks. They typically never got their first milk containing colostrum from their mothers. So, the generally small, thin, fragile, often shaking babies had to get the artificial colostrum from new owners. The first food was too late in most cases and did not accomplish what it was supposed to do.

Often the little calves would succumb within a few hours of arrival. If they did live with regular feedings of milk replacer from a bottle, longevity was still usually quite short.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Transitions in moving cattle

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

Most cattlemen nowadays have large gooseneck livestock trailers they pull with a big powerful pickup.

Others even have semi-tractors to pull single, double, and sometimes triple-decker livestock trailers.

There are still a few cattlemen who have bumper hitch livestock trailers, but trucks with stock racks are almost nonexistent. Quite contrasting to decades ago hauling cattle from one place to another.

Early last century, cattle were driven from horseback or walking behind. There were a few trucks with makeshift cattle hauling racks, but not many. For long distance transportation, railroads had cattle cars, which continued with limited use into the 1950s.

Mom insisted we have hogs to help pay the bills with horse ownership. That bred Hampshire gilt called Susie Q was hauled in the back of the grocery store delivery station wagon. Notably, Susie had twins and one succumbed.

For hauling horses to the fair, floorboard stock racks were built for a trailer pulled by the grocery delivery car. Things looked up when a used pickup was purchased, and wooden stock racks were built to haul livestock.

Memorable time was purchase of a new two-horse trailer pulled by a Ford Galaxy to participate in horse shows.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Cows are having calves

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Spring calving time has arrived, and workload has sharply intensified for Flint Hills ranchers with cow-calf operations.

A cow’s gestation is the period between conception and birth. During this time, the baby grows and develops inside the mother’s womb. The cycle is around nine months, about 285 days, but it can vary depending on several factors.

Some cattle breeds take longer to have a calf, and boys are often born later than girls. Of course, inclement weather conditions can delay when smart momma cows decide to have their calf.

Research indicates that feeding cows later in the day and evening increases the number of calves born during daylight hours. It is typically easier to keep a close eye on them.

Bulls are generally turned out with cows about May 1, so some cows could have calves as early as February 1.

However, most cows don’t mate with a bull the first day due to several reasons. She might not be ready for romance yet and the bull is busy breeding other cows.

Typically, a couple bulls are with a certain number of cows to help ensure mating when the cow is ready.

Ranch managers must keep a close eye on their cows once calving season is underway. Most mature cows can take care of themselves when it’s time to calve.

However, there are instances when even the very best producer can have problems. A calf can be too large, or come backwards and require assistance. There are extreme cases when a veterinarian must be called to get a live calf.

Those cow-calf producers with lots of experience can generally tell when a cow is thinking about having her calf. He will keep a more watchful eye on her to provide help if needed.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Highway construction finally completed

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Is the highway open yet?”

That question has been asked and responded to dozens of times in the past several months.

“Yes.” After more than a year, the ranch front highway to cities north and south has traffic going by. Official opening was weeks ago, but painting and signage construction has continued in recent days.

While the project seemed like it would never get done, talk about the renovation has been ongoing for years. Each time a schedule was announced, another highway or bridge took priority, moving the date back.

The project was deemed necessary to make the highway safer, which included widening, straightening, and reducing blind spots. It was a two-phase effort, so detours were not as long as rebuilding 30-plus miles all at one time.

As with any construction, the “new” highway is far from perfect, but nobody has denied “much better than before.” If one accident let alone a fatality is prevented, it’s worth the cost and time-consuming hassle.

The south half of the project was the most frustrating because drivers were forced to drive on gravel. Detour signs were either nonexistent or confusing, so many commuters became lost in the countryside.

Regardless of what the destination was, it took twice as long to get there, not considering all the flat tires.

The north half of the construction required more time because a large bridge was replaced to meet railroad specifications. Additionally, straightening the highway required tearing out some pasture hills.

Large modern bulldozers and land moving equipment with knowledgeable operators made the major project possible. One wonders how the original highway construction through prairieland was even possible decades ago.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Modern machinery still better

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“The days of tossing four small square hay bales out the south hay mow door to the bunk are gone.”

Morning feeding chores would be finished by pitching two more bales down the chute to the barn manger. Sometimes a harnessed draft team was hitched to a wagon for distributing hay to other nearby pasture critters.

Those days when a family was raised on a quarter section farm have become hindsight. Now it takes big trucks and tractors to get the livestock chores done hopefully before noon.

Instead of a couple dozen head of livestock fed in the barnyard, it’s several hundred if not a thousand. They’re spread out over a section of ranchland or sometimes several miles away.

It was sorrowful for some farmers in the past century when they replaced horsepower with tractors. Several families have talked about tears shed when a farmer replaced his team with a tractor. The horses had become almost family as they were handled and used every day.

Small tractors became essential for field work and handling livestock with pickups filling in for feeding and hauling. Like all agriculture, technology changed rapidly, and bigger, more powerful equipment was deemed essential for growing enterprises.

An established routine makes choring relatively easy for the operator with livestock soon becoming accustomed to feeding time. Problems are part of farm living and equipment breakdowns are quite frequent always increasing when the weather becomes inclement.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Optimism for better days

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Cold weather rapidly multiplies problems on the ranch.

Exactly how much is too complex to figure for one who barely passed his college algebra course. But some people say it doesn’t have anything to do with algebra, rather it’s a math equation, add, subtract, multiply, divide.

Whatever, freezing temperatures day after day add up to more and more “confuedalties.” Now that isn’t a word, according to the dictionary and knowledgeable editors, but a “made-up” term Mom said frequently. As appropriate description as one can give of the turmoil everyone across the nation faced in record winter conditions.

“The water won’t run” is typically the first alarm heard, warning that pipes are frozen because of freezing temperatures. There is not adequate insulation to keep water thawed as cold air leaks through the tiniest crack.

More hay bales around the home are the first step, while heaters blow on every visible in-house water line. When water runs, it is best to leave the faucet dripping to help prevent freezing.

Electrical power is often taken for granted until there isn’t any and then it becomes very important. Hard to do much on the ranch without electricity nowadays, and it’s often difficult to restore.

Ice in ponds and creeks can be chopped to provide livestock water supply unless it’s frozen solid in shallow areas. Pumps must start and stop frequently during the cold, causing damage so eventually that water won’t run either.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Writers have their dilemmas

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“A writer is a person, who has to expose their deepest thoughts and bare their soul before unknown people.”

Somebody else said that, but it is the truth filed away among vast reference information compiled throughout a lifetime.

Writing came readily in elementary school, although not usually receiving highest marks from teachers. Reports about specific events were generally well received and rewrites of stories or encyclopedia feature summaries always found favor.

It wasn’t until high school that a personal interest in developing writing skills developed. Acknowledgement was received for the minutes written when serving as secretary of different clubs.

Elected reporter of the Future Farmers of American chapter, writing expanded as stories were printed locally and beyond. Heavy preparation for statewide newswriting competitions yielded awards leading to being selected coeditor of the high school newspaper.

College years saw additional writing opportunities serving various publications, with agricultural journalism one of the favorite college classes. That somewhat limited experience led to a lifetime professional journalist, not an affluent one but an enjoyable career.

Another has further accurately best defined what it is to be a writer: “A writer pens his thoughts and intellectually becomes naked before the world’s people, as he writes what he thinks.”

“When we are exposed before people, we become vulnerable to their opinions and criticism.”

A Cowboy’s Faith: Fewer hours on horseback

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Maturity takes its toll on a wannabe cowboy’s horseback riding enthusiasm and already limited abilities.

Never a world class horseman, ample ambition and plenty of guts brought success training young horses.

Starting untrained horses to ride for many owners throughout the Midwest kept a calendar filled more than four decades. Notable “real cowboys” bought their horses for initial breaking and spread the word about the humble service to countless others.

It must be emphasized that the horses were not “finished” show, working, or ranch horses. They were “30-day horses” requiring additional riding when owners got them home.

Key to the program was that the horses, often untouched upon arrival, were handled every day. They had to be tied solid and exposed to a rider on their back the first day. Saddling followed as the horse stood alone to become accustomed to the handler’s expectations.

Always moved slow, the saddled horse was led in a pen the next day becoming more accustomed to being worked with. Tied back in the stall, the horse was mounted and dismounted by the gentle trainer voicing compliment for calmness.

Progressing, the mounted saddled horse was asked to turn tight circles both directions inside the stall. After continuing maneuvers, the stall gate was opened, and the horse was ridden at a walk into a larger pen.

Sessions always ended by gently turning the horse in circles and then backing him straight for a few steps. A horse learns very fast with praising gentle consistent calm control.

Within a week, the horse can be urged into a slow jog trot in a large circle. He will soon be asked to speed up into a slow lope.

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