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Author Archives: Frank J. Buchman

A Cowboy’s Faith: Too many rotten tomatoes

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Yes, we have no bananas.” “Yes, we have tomatoes.”

For some peculiar reason whenever arms and hands are overloaded with “stuff” to carry, those two comments come to mind.

“Yes, We Have No Bananas” was a major novelty song hit in 1923. It became the bestselling sheet music in American history.

The tune inspired a follow-up 1930s song “I’ve Got the Yes! We Have No Bananas Blues,” that was not so popular.

Anyway, the grocery store carryout boy’s Mom gave him a brown paper sack to take to the bank every morning. Longtime bank clerk Buddy Prater always said “Yes we have no bananas” when he opened the sack to do the bank work.

It didn’t make much sense to the grocery boy who nodded and grinned. The grocery bag with no bananas only paperwork reminded the banker of the popular song from his younger days.

Now tomatoes are very prolific on the vine in certain highly tended gardens. Feed tubs next to the tack room have tomatoes doing quite well, growing up through wire cages, too. The red fruits taste good on daily cheeseburgers.

There’s really no correlation between no bananas and lots of tomatoes. Still, it comes to mind when remembering picking tomatoes 60 years ago.

Uncle Don and Aunt Luvella always had a large garden with high production due to Luvella’s green thumb. Every October, Don and Lu went deer hunting in Wyoming. Dad and nephew were assigned their monthlong chores feeding nine staghound coyote dogs, birddog Rusty, and Snowball the mutt.

One year their garden was still producing abundantly, and nephew was assigned to “go pick the tomatoes.” A half dozen medium sized sacks were taken along to carry the tomato harvest to the grocery store.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Beware of those grasshoppers

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Grasshoppers are sure a menace jumping around when going for a morning horseback ride.”

While there have been no cautionary reports about grasshopper problems this year, there are still a lot of the “bugs.”

It’s easy to see how the thousands jumping around just in a 50-acre brome field could cause damage when multiplied.

Can’t help but think how devastating grasshoppers were in the 1870s and Dirty 30s when swarming blackened the skies.

People from the 1930s remembered swarms of grasshoppers eating entire crop fields, even farm implements and household items. The grasshoppers would eat anything.

Conventional wisdom was that grasshoppers liked salt, so they would eat wherever perspiration, sweat from livestock and people, landed.

Stan Jensen, a plant scientist, believes that there are natural fungi that control the grasshopper populations in wet years. In dry years, grasshoppers often will thrive.

Walter Schmitt remembered grasshoppers chewing wooden tongues of horse-drawn equipment to get the salt from the sweat that landed there. Others said grasshoppers chewed hoe handles.

Elroy Hoffman recalled being hit in the face by grasshoppers when he was doing tractor field work.

There were recollections of cars squishing so many grasshoppers that the roads became slick. Trains sometimes could not get up hills because the grasshoppers’ bodies “greased” the tracks.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Prairie hay is baled

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Make hay when the sun shines.”

Well, the prairie hay is all wrapped up in big round bales. Later than wanted and anticipated, but in the bale is better than grass standing in the pasture.

Still, earlier than decades ago when big round balers first came out and a custom operator did the hay baling. Between inclement weather and machinery breakdowns, then the native grass haying sometimes wasn’t finished until mid-September. It wasn’t of the highest protein quality but was much easier to handle than in small square bales as had been done previously.

When getting started in ranching, a three-point, seven-foot sickle mower was used on the John Deere 1020 tractor. A then brand-new John Deere side delivery rake accumulated dried grass into windrows.

A John Deere 7T (twine tie) baler dropped small square bales in the field to be loaded on the pickup. Most farmers had hayracks to load bales right from the baler, but such equipment was unavailable for a beginning rancher.

With 36 bales on the pickup driven to the barn, they had to be hand thrown and stacked in the loft. It was always hard work but more doable than for an old man a half-century later.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Hometown law enforcement yesteryear

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Main job of the town marshal is to check and make sure all of the business store doors are locked at night.”

That’s the way in was in rural communities six decades ago and a century before. Most little towns really didn’t have much “law enforcement.”

Oh, how times have changed, not to the better. Lawmen are now “essential” in every community from the largest to even the smallest.

While television and movie Westerns of the ’50s featured law and order with regular gunfights, that was inaccurate. However, certain shows including the highest-rated of all time, “Gunsmoke” did note nightly door checks by the marshal.

In the hometown, there were three on the police force. Charlie Michaels was the daytime marshal, whose main job was collecting coins out of the Main Street parking meters six mornings a week.

Charlie Breese was the weekday night marshal, who checked to make sure all doors of Main Street stores were locked. He did call Dad one night – the grocery store backdoor was unlocked since the boy forgot to do as told.

Grant Carson was the weekend marshal, although uncertain if there was anybody on duty much Sunday or even Saturday overnight. Grant carried a rusty .22 pistol, but uncertain what caliber the other marshals had, although they were “armed.”

The police car was parked in the center of town on the Main Street corner west of the hardware store. Occasionally, a policeman would drive it across town to “blow the cobs out.”

A Cowboy’s Faith: Gray horse is ‘good’

“If you can’t ride a good horse, ride a gray horse.”

Apparently, that’s an old saying harassing those who stand out from other cowboys when riding a gray horse.

Actually, the quote hadn’t been heard personally until riding the gray gelding BB Zanes Hallelujah at the sale barn. The remark can become offensive when the horse really is a “good” horse.

Still, opinions about the quality or usefulness of a horse are widely varied. A horse that is appreciated by one cowboy, sometimes doesn’t appeal to another cowboy, and gets certain criticism.

That’s the way it is with this gray horse. The ranch manager blatantly declares: “That horse is no good.” Yet, he uses Hallelujah regularly for cattle counting and checking water gaps.

However, the old horse, formerly serving as one of the ranch broodmare service stallions, fits the manager’s dad just perfectly.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Heifer’s day in town

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“I’ll just eat you alive if you don’t get out of here.”

That scrawny black renegade 600-pound heifer went about proving her point, putting fear of life into cowboy and his horse.

“Whenever going through a gate, always make sure its shut and locked again.” The rule has been preached to every generation, yet sometimes somehow without fail the gate doesn’t always get latched.

Such was the case when two rampaging heifers plunged through the shut-but-unlocked gate into the city.

“Cattle are out heading down the tracks. Go get ’em,” ordered workers at the opposite end of the sale barn.

The wild critters were running full speed ahead straight south with riders in hot pursuit. “Quit chasing them,” orders were ignored.

Sure enough the rambunctious bovine girls in their first-time-to-town escaped into the timber. Strange surroundings alarmed one heifer, so she came back north sticking her head through green branches.

Foaming-at-the-mouth, glaring-bloodshot-eyeballs, she saw the horse and came chasing toward him lickity-cut. Uncertain which was more scared – the heifer, the horse, or the cowboy.

She won that round as the horse sashayed out of her way. Another charge by the runaway bovine again bluffed the horse-rider team as the beef-girl headed toward downtown.

A Cowboy’s Faith: ‘New’ road provides ‘access’

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“They finally built a personal ‘super-highway’ so the ranchers and neighbor lady down the road weren’t home locked.”

It was after utmost aggravation with an occasional negative remark.

By law, the Department of Transportation is obligated. “Upon signed agreement to change highway logistics, they must provide access for homeowners.”

More than one assured without question; that is the rule. “Call the Highway Department and the construction crew and then file charges if they don’t build a roadway,” counselors advised.

There have been “Road Closed” signs for several months situated to be driven through to the ranch house. Then, the signs were “locked” across the pavement to stop traffic completely.

In a rage-of-sorts, the sand-bagged ‘orders’ were moved aside several times so the ranch family could get through. Construction crew moved them back, evidently thinking the 45-degree-sloped, 10-foot-wide roadside could be used for travel.

That was done a couple of time, but with a horse trailer behind the pickup it was very dangerous. No accidents occurred, but another call was made to the construction foreman.

Later instead of sooner, a cobbled quarter-mile dirt path was bulldozed from the driveway to the paved highway north.

It was at least a way out until the prayed-for, very-much-needed summer rain came in abundance. That makeshift road became impassible by even the most powerful four-wheel-drive pickup.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Flint Hills summer roundup

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Be ready to go at 4:45 in the morning.”

That was the call from the pasture manager about gathering short-season yearlings for shipment to a feedlot.

Sure enough a half-dozen pickups and trailers were waiting at the pasture gate right on time. It was still pitch dark as two handfuls of cowboys and cowgirls unloaded horses and mounted up.

Across the highway dayworkers rode through three gates to another pasture with a catch pen.

Barely light enough to identify fellow riders, brief orders were given about the roundup. “Now spread out and go to the north, south and west. I’ll be in the timber to keep any strays out of there. We don’t want any trainwrecks.”

Sun peaking above the east horizon, cowboys and cowgirls single and in pairs searched for cattle. Small groups of predominately black heifers could be seen from every direction in the still-lush-green Flint Hills.

Unlike television roundups, riders moved quietly at a slow pace as cattle were gathered into a substantial herd. When all were accounted for, the calm heifers, which were used to horses, moved toward the corral.

Occasionally, one heifer would put her head down to graze as easy-cowboy prodding moved her forward with mates. Always a couple troublemakers, one took off from the herd at a trot only to be guided back by three cowboys. Another such attempt was halted in even shorter order.

A Cowboy’s Faith: A lifetime positive influence

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Certain people become mentors positively directing every endeavor and decision.”

Reminder of that came during a recent visit to the Morrison Ranch, operated by Gordon and Janet Morrison south of Concordia.

Of course, parents and other immediate family impact life’s direction beginning and throughout. Yet, Mr. Morrison, now 93 years old, has also been a major influencer of which fork-in-the-road to be taken throughout maturity.

Vocational agriculture instructor, Gordon Morrison wearing flip-brim felt hat and pantlegs in boots came through the grocery store backdoor. He’d go out carrying a 30-dozen crate of eggs borrowed to train his high school poultry judging teams.

Then Mr. Morrison was the grade school Sunday School teacher requiring learning Bible verses every week. Poor student often didn’t get the assignment done, but memorable times remain of Sunday School class get-togethers.

Insistent upon the grocery store carryout boy enrolling in high school agriculture classes, Mr. Morrison never imagined where that’d go. Wannabe cowboys don’t have shopwork ability, but Mr. Morrison was patient teaching him to weld.

What excited the town kid most was agriculture meetings, and writing stories about them and compiling for perpetuity. That led to school and community newspaper writing and eventually lifetime communications career.

A Cowboy’s Faith: It’s county fair time

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Hey, let’s go to the county fair.”

Attending the county fair is highlight of summertime for many throughout the Midwest.

Young and old, oftentimes those of most maturity, look forward to attending the county fair.

Once a year, county fairs offer unique entertainment, a brief look at country lifestyle like none other.

Oh, sometimes local fairs will bring in prominent entertainers and even a traveling carnival. Those added attractions often increase fair attendance and provide atypical fun for rural people.

Yet, the livestock, crops, foods, sewing, flowers, art displays people enjoy and always best remember.

Looking back, a grocery store carryout boy-wannabe cowboy has distinct memories of attending the county fair.

Earliest reflection is going to the Friday morning livestock premium auction. A cousin always had a Hereford steer she’d shown at the fair and sold it in the auction.

For family support, Dad and his son attended the auction to bid on the “baby beef” as called back then. Idea was that the steer would be butchered and sold through the grocery store.

At least one time, Dad did have the winning bid on the “high-priced” fair entry. When processed, the steer carcass, while likely Prime grade, was heavily covered with fat. Meat-eating customers don’t like fat, so it had to be trimmed off, vastly reducing meat counter profitability.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Casey came to town

“It was a really big deal when Casey Tibbs came to Council Grove.”

He parked his shiny purple Cadillac right at the Ritz Theatre front door.

Wearing his high-crowned, signature-creased black hat, Casey’s prominent dark curly hair set off his forever-ornery grin. A white silk neck scarf blowing in the breeze highlighted Casey’s doubled-breasted purple shirt with pearl snaps.

His buck stitched engraved personized leather belt sported Casey’s skillet-size 1955 world champion all-around cowboy buckle. Casey’s starched Wrangler jeans draped over the custom-made white boots embossed with his purple “CT” brand.

World champion rodeo cowboy Casey Tibbs the night he came to Council Grove.

The famous saddle bronc rider, who also rode bareback broncs and bulls, wasn’t wearing his personally-designed, brand-engraved spurs.

Reminded of that night when Casey guest starred on Dale Robertson’s Tales of Wells Fargo television show.

The nine-times world champion professional rodeo cowboy turned Hollywood movie star was in town for a 1966 movie premier. “Born To Buck” had just been released in Casey’s home-state South Dakota with Casey as writer, producer, and leading star.

Enroute to Council Grove, Casey went to Strong City and picked up his good friends Emmett, Ken, and Gerald Roberts. The Roberts boys were also professional rodeo champions. Dad Emmett, rodeo contractor, renowned for riding bucking horses too, was Rodeo Man of the Year.

Custom harvester-local cowboy Sam Curry then owned Ritz Theatre and had made sure the rodeo celebrities were in attendance.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Dreaded disease causes considered

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“You are fine, everything’s clear, just come be checked again in three years.”

Oh, what a relief to get that positive doctor’s report after what was a long-dreaded colonoscopy procedure.

When parents passed from colon cancer at what now seem quite young ages, regular checkups are especially nerving.

Both gone more than four decades, Mom passed at just 62 years old and Dad a year earlier at 71 years old.

Every day, obituaries report cancer deaths, many stating long lost battles with the disease.

Modern medicine has lowered fatality rate as awareness has also increased attentiveness to early detection and treatment. Still, cancer is likely the most feared illness when receiving diagnosis often without optimistic proven cure. With all modern technology and advancements in research it seems that there would be better understanding of the dreaded disease.

Terrible to repeat, but certain philosophies are that cancer is such “big business,” a cure is not “allowed” by powers-that-be. Surely that’s not the case, yet considering the millions probably billions of dollars cancer generates annually, it is a possibility. Drug companies, plus medical specialists, and treatment centers reap large financial return from cancer patients.

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.

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