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A Cowboy’s Faith: May Is Beef Month

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” is recognized by more than 88 percent of Americans.

The advertising slogan was made famous by actor Sam Elliott to promote the consumption of beef.

Launched in 1992 by the National Livestock and Meat Board, the advertising campaign is funded by the Beef Checkoff Program.

May is National Beef Month and Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly made a special proclamation recognizing the industry.

Still, many don’t realize cattle’s impact on the economy, while controversy often continues about the nutritional attributes of beef.

Cattle generate more than $9.85 billion in cash receipts annually representing 46 percent of the Kansas agricultural cash income.

Kansas ranked third nationally with 6.25 million cattle on about 26,740 farms, ranches, and feedlots as of January 1, 2023. That’s more than twice the state’s human population of nearly 3 million.

Beef cattle farming and ranching has a direct output of about $6.3 billion and employs nearly 34,130 Kansans.

Ranked sixth nationally in beef cow numbers as of Jan. 1, 2023, Kansas has 1.32 million head. There are 6.9 million cattle processed annually in the state, ranking second nationwide.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Thankful for ‘the help’

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Most jobs require extra workers to get the task completed more efficiently.”

That was proven when the spring going-to-grass crew arrived at dawn.

Ranch yard and country road were overflowing with pickups and trailers. Four handfuls of men, women, and the younger generation had a dozen horses and a half dozen mechanical carts.

Gate to the pasture was opened as workers sifted through, spreading to the west where black cattle speckled the skyline.

Ranch manager’s orders were direct to his helpers gathering a large herd of momma cows with their spring calves. Within a short while, cattle were coming from every direction as the herd started accumulating.

The morning was a bit cool with horses acting frisky, prancing about, and throwing heads into the air. Just when most of the cattle were topping the ridge, one big mare started pitching.

Bets of observing coworkers were on the rider, who gave it all before landing in a heap unhurt. Another rider returned the ornery mount as the worker bounced back in the saddle for the day’s work ahead.

It wasn’t long until the cows and tagalongs went into the barnyard corrals. Fun work was completed with only one mishap as every crew member took their special position.

Babies were separated from mommas and went down the lane through the chute first. Three younger cowboys were in charge of making sure one was always ready when the old timers called for it.

A calf cradle makes work easier than decades earlier when calves were roped, snubbed, and hand thrown to the ground. All calves have been ear tagged upon birth with left ear tag signifying heifer and right a bull.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Cows give motherly love

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Mothering instinct of cows is important to profitability in the cattle business.

That point has always been known and previously been elaborated. Reminder about significance of a cow taking care of her calf was brought to attention again by a reader.

Awareness of just how natural mothering ability varies among different cows became apparent when a cow gave birth to twins. The subject of twinning cattle is quite complex, yet it does generally reveal a cow’s dedication for her newborn.

Most cows are very good mothers. When they give birth, immediate attention is given to caring for her little one.

With motherly nuzzling, the baby is brought to alertness and before long just naturally finds its point of nourishment. Momma knows exactly where her calf is and what it’s doing such the cow manager must keep a distance.

As calves grow, there is more freedom, but momma still knows where her calf is supposed to be. When it’s mealtime, they automatically get together and if the baby isn’t where last known there is alarm.

A cow will go searching for her young, which does create an issue when an owner weans the calf. It’s several days before a good momma gives up searching for her missing young.

Cows that don’t possess natural mothering ability are costly to a cattleman and are soon marketed.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Emptiness from mentor’s passing

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.He is a hero and mentor with his passing leaving an irreplaceable void yet so many fond memories.

It was unexpected, quite sad, most humbling when asked to do a eulogy for Don Peterson’s funeral.

Originally agreeing to do the honor for the good friend and his family, personal illness prevented it at the time.

Still appropriate better late than never to acknowledge and remember all that Don Peterson did for so many.

In 1966, the new county agent scheduled a livestock judging workout evaluating Duroc hogs at the Don Peterson farm. Not much is recalled from that first meeting except that his daughters became judging teammates and later classmates.

Distantly acquainted with Don throughout the years, friendship tightened when selling him newspaper and radio advertising for several decades. He frequently offered family gathering invitations happily accepted.

Like numerous agriculturalists of the era, nearing retirement Don was stricken by financial strife and started Santa Fe Agricultural Services.

A lifelong farmer, forever-intelligent, deep-thinker, Don assisted those in agriculture to make essential financial risk management decisions. It was a complex service requiring continuous study as programs, taxation, technology, and all of agriculture changed rampantly.

Don met the challenges head-on with an unrelenting effort to help farmers succeed in the profession nearest to his heart. While many shied from technology intensity, Don grabbed ahold crediting GPS (Global Positioning Systems) vital in developing farmers’ sound budgets.

Impressive yet somewhat boggling how Don’s business grew throughout the region. It would have been challenging work for others of such maturity, but so exciting for Don with his endless energy.

The most professional, congenial, promoter, Don developed heavy, broad-based media advertising. Recognized for his tall straight posture, tie, cowboy hat, friendliest grin, Don Peterson knew everybody. He was constantly on the go visiting farmers with a positive insider’s outlook for financial success.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Going to grass time

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Busyness continues for Flint Hills cattlemen.

While there’s never a shortage of work for farmers and ranchers, going to grass time is certainly one of the busiest.

Everybody who has cattle in their operations has been preparing and moving cattle from dry lot feeding to pasture grazing. But it’s a lot more than just opening the gate to luscious green grass.

The most important thing is that there’s enough grass for the cattle to graze. With short rainfall in most locales, nearly all grasslands are slower in growth than desired.

Mother Nature is the guiding determinant of the weather, so when it rains and the sun shines, grass always grows. While there’s a tinge of green, it’s not sufficient for hungry cattle.

Just as big concern now is the water supply. Some ponds are dry, and others don’t have enough water to last but a few days. Wet weather waterholes are no compensation because there’s not been wet weather in most areas.

Some pastures have natural springs developed for water sources and others have good wells to supply the essential nutrients. Those require additional management almost daily to ensure proper operation.

Hauling water to cattle on grasslands is a major ordeal, although there are already cattlemen preparing to do just that. It’s an expensive never-ending task, requiring an ample available water source, hauling equipment, and plenty of watering tanks.

Cattle must never be without water in the tank, or the most even unimaginable problems can occur.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Time to fix fence

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

So, it’s time to repair the fence before livestock gets out or makes larger holes in the weak fence areas.

Many farmers and ranchers try to check most of their pasture fences before turning livestock out to spring grass. Depending on the acreage and quality of the original fence that can be a major task.

Methods of transportation vary from operation to operation. Likely most of the fence repairing is done from the pickup because of the ease of hauling equipment and materials.

However, some farmers prefer to drive a mechanical cart, while real ranchers will ride their horses. That can become a problem having enough of the right equipment and materials along to repair the fence issues.

Basic tools are fence pliers, a hammer, and wire stretcher along with wire staples, barbed wire, and smooth wire. Typically, steel driving posts, and a post driver are needed along with wire clips. Of course, there will always be something needed that’s forgotten or left behind.

Often that is an axe or preferably a powered chain saw, because without exception limbs have fallen on the fence. Sometimes that will become a major ordeal if an entire tree has been blown over.

What is expected to be a few-minutes job can require half a day or sometimes longer. The tree must be sawed into pieces and piled out of the way. Often posts are bent or broken and must be repaired or often replaced.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Pasture blazes are dangerous

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“There’s smoke in the air everywhere.”

That has been the most common comment throughout eastern Kansas in recent weeks. Likewise, the statement is the most controversial issue at this time of year.

Farmers and ranchers are not as much in disagreement about burning pastures as decades ago. However, there are still old timers who argue that it is an unnecessary practice that wastes feed supply.

Consensus among cattlemen and Flint Hills owners is that spring burning is essential. Purpose is twofold in that it helps destroy invaders to the native grassland and it improves grassland quality.

The main problem nowadays is the environmental issue caused by smoke drifting into urban communities.

Many regulations have been put into place determining when it is legal for landowners to burn. Wind direction and speed are major factors along with humidity, temperature, and other issues. Permission must be received before burning is permitted.

Nature is still the controlling factor. Even though all conditions are perfect when a fire is started, everything can change instantly. A planned fire can become out of control and very dangerous. Strong winds will force fire across native grassland destroying everything in the path. That includes personal lives, livestock, homes, buildings, machinery, even communities.

Regardless of the firefighting crew, a blaze pushed by strong wind is completely impossible to stop.

Populations of certain pasture invaders including brush, trees, and certain weeds are reduced by spring burning. However, additional chemical applications as well as hand mechanical efforts are required for complete control.

It is not a one-time effort, but must be done on a regular basis. Wind and animals will continue to bring seeds of the invaders back into native rangeland. Without management of the invaders, the grassland can become a timber in just a few years. There are numerous examples where former pasture ranges are heavy forests.

Considerable research has proven additional benefits of burning. When the dead grass is destroyed, young lush prairie has an opportunity to thrive. Tender new green grass is very high in protein so cattle gain pounds rapidly. There is no faster way to increase cattle gains than grazing spring native pasture.

Despite all the positives from burning grasslands, negative issues of fire dangers and smoke continue.

Reminded of Matthew 5:22: “Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

A Cowboy’s Faith: Get on to ride

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

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today.”

Many people often postpone tasks until the following day.

Procrastination is a common fault when a job can be readily completed at the present time.

If something can be accomplished, it is always best to finish the project now instead of waiting until later.

Persistence is required for whatever the endeavor. Regardless of how easy it seems to postpone a job, there is always a feeling of satisfaction when it has been finished.

Getting on a colt for the first time is typically a difficult decision. Yet to ride a horse, it first must be mounted.

There are different philosophies on how that is to be accomplished. Typically, it can be done first bareback putting the bodyweight across the horse’s back.

Once the horse becomes accustomed to the weight, the entire body can be placed across the back. Generally, the horse will soon become relaxed with the extra weight.

After becoming accustomed to the body weight, it is best to expose the horse to the saddle blanket. It can be rubbed over the back and moved from side to side.

Saddle can be slowly and gently placed on the blanket and moved around. When the weight becomes familiar to the horse, the saddle girth can be snugged slightly under the horse’s stomach.

Pressure should be increased slowly so the saddle doesn’t readily shift if the horse moves. The saddled horse can be permitted to stand for an extended time to become more familiar to the feeling.

A Cowboy’s Faith: That’s their personal chair

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“A person’s favorite chair sometimes seems the most important thing there is.”

Of course, that’s not completely true, but certainly many people become attached to their personal chair.

Often when a person is moving out of their home, the only thing they care about keeping is “my chair.” Wherever new residence is taken, the chair provides consolation and peacefulness of that at home feeling.

Whichever family member’s chair it is soon becomes common knowledge of the home that nobody else sits in it.

When a guest comes into a home, extreme caution is taken that they aren’t seated in a specific person’s chair. It becomes an awkward situation asking them to get out of somebody else’s personal chair.

Even more unsettling is when a person comes into the room, and somebody has taken their chair. Several times the offender has been told “That’s my chair,” and they grudgingly move to another chair.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Cowboy horses and bulls

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“The Cowboy’s Kind” of horses and bulls.

When breeding, raising, and selling a couple dozen Quarter Horses annually, they were advertised as “The Cowboy’s Kind.”

That description became symbolic of the ranch offering increasing the appeal to certain buyers. There are different opinions of what “The Cowboy’s Kind” means.

Original intention was that the horses were the kind working cowboys would want to use in ranching operations.

This contrasts with horses that were strictly show horses looking pretty when in horseshows. Not that the horses weren’t nice looking, but they were specifically for working cowboys.

That doesn’t mean only cowboys could ride the horses because they had all-around ability. The horses worked well for racetrack, barrel racing, pleasure classes, trail riding, parades, and as family horses.

Still, there’s something about calling a horse “The Cowboy’s Kind” that made them appealing to diverse clientele. For some reason, many people seem to have an inner often denied desire to be a “cowboy.”

But there is a wide variation in people’s definition of who a cowboy really is. Dan Webster lists different meanings for cowboy: 1. One who tends cattle on horseback. 2. One having recklessness, aggressiveness, independence. 3. A person operating in an uncontrolled, unregulated manner.

So, a lot of people actually have the desire to be somewhat reckless, aggressive, uncontrolled at certain times. They appeal to “The Cowboy’s Kind.”

A Cowboy’s Faith: Carryout sacks, bags, boxes

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.What happened to the brown grocery store carryout sacks?

Children today don’t have a clue what brown paper sacks are. The only thing they know are the plastic bags filled with whatever the purchase is.

Back in the day, there were at least a half dozen sizes of brown paper sacks. Size of the purchase determined which sack was used.

When there were many items, of course, a large sack was required. Sometimes several of the largest sized brown paper sacks were required. Fewer items purchased, smaller the sack.

Uncertain or can’t remember how sacks were identified for size, maybe they weren’t, just big enough to carry the contents.

Nowadays, plastic bags seem to all be the same size, and sometimes a dozen or more are needed for large purchases. If the items are heavy, like a gallon of milk, two or three plastic bags are used together for increased strength.

Certain wholesale grocery items, such as five and ten pounds of sugar or flour, came in larger heavier paper sacks. Those extra strength, often multi-colored, sacks were retained for use to carry more items purchased. They worked best for carrying heavier items, big cans, milk, sugar, flour, potatoes.

Canned merchandise typically arrived from the wholesale warehouse in cardboard boxes with wide variation of sizes and shapes. The boxes were stored away several packed together with another and worked especially well for carrying out large heavy items.

OSU mascot honors frontier lawman, sharpshooter, former Kansas resident

“Pistol Pete” is the widely recognized Oklahoma State University mascot named after early day lawman Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton.

By Frank J. Buchman

Oklahoma State University’s “Pistol Pete” mascot is named after a real Wild West lawman cowboy. Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton was born October 26, 1860, in Hartford, Conn.

At the age of eight, Frank moved with his family to Twin Mound, Kan. Twin Mound is now a ghost town in western Douglas County. It was named for two natural mounds that rise gently from the landscape.

The famous scout, sheriff, gunman, working cowboy, passed away April 8, 1958, age 97,  at Perkins, Okla., with burial in Perkins Cemetery.

According to Frank’s youngest daughter, Elizabeth Wise, “[Frank’s] dad, my grandpa, was shot in cold blood by six former confederates. They had served during the war with the Quantrill Raiders.”

The six men, from the Campsey and the Ferber clans, rode with the vigilante Southerners. After the war, they called themselves “Regulators.”

In 1868, Mose Beaman, his father’s friend, said to Frank, “My boy, may an old man’s curse rest upon you if you do not try to avenge your father.” Beaman then taught Frank how to handle a gun, Wise said.

At the age of 15, Frank Eaton visited Fort Gibson, Okla., to learn more about shooting guns. Although too young to join the Army, Frank outshot everyone at the fort.

“He competed with the cavalry’s best marksmen, beating them every time,” Wise said.

The fort’s commanding officer, Colonel John Coppinger, gave Frank a marksmanship badge and a new nickname, “Pistol Pete.”

A Cowboy’s Faith: Knack to livestock handling

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Most people don’t know much about working around livestock.”

It becomes most apparent when a townsperson visits a farm, or a newcomer gets in the livestock business.

Livestock are not pets like a dog or cat, and can be very dangerous animals. Yes, many farm animals are very gentle, friendly, nice to be around and work with, but others are not.

Stockmanship is defined as the art and science of properly handling farm animals. In reality, stockmanship is probably a God-given trait. Some people who have had livestock for a lifetime and been quite financially successful have very poor stockmanship skills.

Those with that natural ability advise: “Stay calm, quiet, and avoid quick movements while handling livestock.”

By using good stockmanship practices, “Farm operators can improve animal comfort and provide safety for people and animals. That will help improve the agriculture operation’s bottom line.”

Television shows must be partly to blame for rambunctious loud handling of livestock. Cattle and horses are always going across the screen at a run with loud hollering cowboys.

That’s not the way cattle are handled in the Flint Hills. They are generally moved at a slow, calm pace with only softly spoken conversation. Sometimes, speed and heightened expression are required to keep the herd going while preventing a runaway stampede.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Old ways were best

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“We have to get another load of grain today.”

The statement is now heard at least once a week and will be made more often in the months ahead.

Actually, “grain” is a generic term, which in this case means “a ration of ground corn and milo with molasses.” There are different rations being fed now, with one having more added supplemental protein for replacement heifers and first-calf pairs.

Riding horses don’t need that extra protein, although they sometimes get special additives to enhance performance during show season.

Getting a load of grain has become a major ordeal. Half a century ago, every community had at least one grain elevator, and small towns often had several.

Now, there is only one elevator in the county that can grind and mix grain rations to specification for livestock.

Some operations have on-site elevators and can make feed rations by pushing buttons. Grain goes from the storage bin, into the grinder, with all supplements mixed in.

An auger often distributes the ration right into the livestock feeders and bunks. Or into a large bulk bin truck used to proportion feed around the ranch.

Six decades ago, milo was purchased by the pickup load at the nearby elevator and fed whole grain without grinding. Nutritionists claim livestock is unable to efficiently consume whole grains for maximum dietary value.

However, getting grain “rolled,” the same as grinding in certain older days’ elevators, always cost additional money. So, trying to be conservative, a small, handfed grain grinder was attached to the tractor power take-off. Supplements could be mixed in, although that was generally considered too costly.

A Cowboy’s Faith:Toast to coffee drinkers

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

“How about having a cup of coffee?”

The comment is heard often every day around the world with high percentage of responses: “That sounds good.”

Coming from a long lineage of coffee drinkers, a cup of coffee has been personal enjoyment ever since very young. Easily and far surpassing a glass of water, tea, soda pop, lemonade, energy drinks, and certainly liquor, never appealing.

Seemingly odd to lifetime dedicated coffee drinkers, there are some who do not like coffee. They’ll even refuse a cup when offered, such a loss to those never wanting to waste a drop.

Blacker and stronger the better as personal preference. But, for some there must be sugar, milk or cream, and even other additives which cover the good coffee taste.

Many people insist coffee must be brewed in a pot, but instant coffee is just fine for others. No question, instant coffee is easier and doesn’t really cost much more.

There are many brands of coffee that each have their own following. But in reality, the beans all come from the same field, with slightly different processing and widely varied appealing packaging.

Coffee is not hazardous to personal health, according to personal doctor. When told about daily coffee consumption in preference over water, he said, “It’s the same thing.”

Of course, other physicians and certain people will argue with that, but the response was appreciated by this coffee drinker.

A Cowboy’s Faith:Ranching not always romantic

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“He had to pull it.”

The opened backdoor announcement has been repeated more than once in the past week. Most folks require a thorough deciphering to understand what the five-word comment means.

It’s already spring calving time for many cow-calf operators in the Flint Hills. Extra effort is required to make sure every cow, or first calf heifer in this situation, gives birth to a live calf.

Mother Nature works in her own often peculiar way regarding birthing of young whether human or animal. While giving birth is the God-planned continuation of generations, difficult issues frequently arise.

All cows can have problems calving whether baby is backwards, too big, or other issues, and sometimes require man’s assistance. After a female bovine has had a calf or two, she generally doesn’t have issues, although there are exceptions.

However, two-year-old heifers more often have difficult birthing situations that require help to assure a live baby.

Sometimes more of an issue with first-time mothers is that they don’t understand how to care for their newborns. The heifers are still immature themselves, becoming confused following birthing trauma and ignore their first calves.

Mature cows remain in native pastures year around and most of the time do fine with once-a-day inspection.

A Cowboy’s Faith:Don’t break the eggs

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Eggs are getting too high priced to eat.”

That’s been heard several times in recent weeks, but with farm groups threatening investigation there has been some price softening.

Not official, but seemingly most people like to eat eggs. That might be good because scientifically there apparently are many health benefits in eggs. They’re nutrient dense, low calories, high protein, ample vitamin D, help prevent strokes, and heart healthy, among other positives. It used to be said, “They’re affordable,” but that’s not been the latest opinion.

Growing up in a grocery store, eggs were purchased in 30-dozen egg cases from farmers. Dad candled the eggs for quality, weighed, packaged, applied government-grade seal, and sold to the public by the single dozen.

Regular price six decades ago was about 39 cents a dozen, more, less. Recently, some stores had eggs advertised for $7 a dozen.

Personally, eggs were never appetizing, regardless how prepared, even when forced to eat so could go fishing. However, there’ve been plenty of “egg” experiences.

Eggs were gathered out of Grandma’s chicken house hen nests. Cardboard egg cases were carried into the grocery store cooler.

Of course, Dad was assisted candling, packaging, price stamping, selling, and carrying packaged eggs in grocery sacks to customer cars. Even won five district poultry judging contests with egg candling-grading divisions.

A Cowboy’s Faith: ‘Cows Don’t Give Milk’

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Lifelong a slow learner, after three people, the last being Richard Strachan, sent the “Greatest Story Ever Told,” now sharing it.

A father used to say to his children when they were young: “When you all reach the age of 12, I will tell you the secret of life.”

One day when the oldest turned 12 years old, he anxiously asked his father what is the secret of life?

The father replied that he was going to tell him, but that he should not reveal it to his brothers.

The secret of life is this: “The cow does not give milk.”

“What are you saying?” asked the boy incredulously.

As you hear it, son: The cow does not give milk, you have to milk her. You have to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning, go to the field, drive the cow through the manure-filled corral. Tie the tail up, hobble her legs, sit on the stool, place the bucket under her, and do the work yourself.

That is the secret of life, the cow does not give milk. You milk her or you don’t get milk.

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