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A Cowboy’s Faith: Snake unappreciated rancho visitor

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“There’s a snake eating the sliced apple on the kitchen cabinet.”

Don’t think that doesn’t make hair on the neck cringe. Charging toward the varmint not really knowing what was going to happen, it almost instantly slithered behind the refrigerator.

Snakes are friends of very few, yet not that uncommon on ranches. Still it’s the first time in half-century one came into the home.

Actually a day earlier, the three-quarter-inch diameter, more-less 18-inches long reptile showed up in the mudroom. As show halter with shank was hung on the doorknob, that scaly creature appeared similar to the leather lead. Attempted stomp at the swishing-tongued head missed as bright-eyed serpent squirmed under the storage shelf. Closely watching for reappearance nothing was seen again with hopeful assumption basement was invisibly-moved destination.

Then vermin reappeared the next day in the kitchen only to disappear, despite flashlight and yardstick prods to locate. Hardware store snake deterrent was spread around outside perimeter of the ranch house.

Restless sleep visions were that the snake might wiggle into bed for coziness. That didn’t happen unless curling was unnoticeable. Next midday, the snake slinked from the office down the hallway to “demise” from the mate’s hard striking barn stick. It was thrown outside the back step, so rainfall washed away smashed head blood while barn cats kept their distance. Better there than crawling inside a wannabe cowboy’s jean leg when doing office work.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Scammers attempt taxing ‘gift’

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“You are the winner of the Publisher’s Clearing House $150,000 prize.”

That was the emphatic but difficult to understand announcement in a phone message from a stranger with a distant dialect.

“This is Mr. Frank, right?” the caller continued. Answer was distinct and loud: “No.”

With obvious background sounds, perhaps a baby’s cry and ringing phones, seeming agitated the voice persisted. “Mr. Frank, you are the winner. We will come deliver your award. Where do you live?”

Insisting it was Frank Buchman, sometimes Frank, or even Mr. Buchman, it was not Mr. Frank. “Oh, Mr. Frank Bushman, Mr. Frank, we want to deliver your prize.”

OK. Come on over, anytime somebody wants to giveaway money, it’ll be readily accepted.

“Now you realize there are always taxes on prizes like this,” the phone caller clarified.

Yes. Taxes are add-on to all purchases and cost of owning property. The Internal Revenue Service gets plenty of money every year.

“You must buy a $500 cash card at a ‘major box store’ for us when we deliver your prize.”

No way. Its 25 miles to a store, and there isn’t time. Besides, that requires funds, and none are available.

A Cowboy’s Faith: More than heartfelt cowboy

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“This cowboy was certainly one of a kind.”

While riding, studying, breeding, producing, and merchandizing horses brought lifetime enjoyment, Rick Johnson was much more.

Now 35 percent of 100 students Class of ’69 into the Great Beyond, this all-around cowboy’s passing tugged heartstrings hardest. Defining Rick as an “all-around cowboy” has such a profound significance. He was unquestionably a cowboy at heart with definite broad successes therein.

Yet it’s impossible to adequately define the unique, versatile, talented, outgoing, congenial, fun-loving yet sentimental gentleman. Undeniable orneriness revealed in his always widespread grin, Rick was an “all-around nice guy,” everybody’s friend.

Sadly, one’s real worth in life can sometimes only be realized completely at time of passing. Cowboys, family and friends from near and far paid sorrowful respects at his church yard memorial services. Tied to nearby tree, the bay Quarter Horse carrying Rick’s saddle sensed the feeling, nickering precisely upon emotional reflections.

A local horseshow nearly six decades ago, Rick came riding in on his bay mare. Start of a lifetime cowboy friendship continuing and diversifying through passing years.

Inheriting love for cowboy life and horses from both sides of his Flint Hills families, Rick proudly touted that heritage. Classmates even through college days, infrequent time shared immediately turned to horse talk.

Quite intelligent, ambitious and determined, Rick, frugal too, made short order of university days graduating earlier than most. Following boot steps of his endeared father, horseman and lawyer, Rick became an attorney at Valley Falls.

Marrying his high school sweetheart, Bonnie, the greatly-admired, community-serving couple of apparent strong faith raised three daughters.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Memorable days on ballfields

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Baseball is America’s favorite pastime.”

While a certain cowboy doesn’t agree, it’s true for many others in this country. Conversations heard in recent days have often centered on the baseball season at hand.

Decades ago, renowned rodeo contractor Emmett Roberts called about getting a horse trained, but stopped conversation to hear baseball scores. Now there remain reflections of youthful days playing baseball.

Town kids walked home from school for dinner while country kids who rode the bus to school ate from lunchboxes. They’d finish before classes were to resume and played workup softball for fun. Other students upon return for afternoon school classes were allowed to join the game.

Rules were lax but typically there were no outfielders just those playing the bases, pitcher and catcher. When there was an out, players got to move from base positions to become batters. Latecomers to the field might even workup to bat at least once.

Sometimes there were a dozen on the field and anybody who caught a fly ball automatically went to bat. Throughout grade school a wannabe cowboy got to bat a few times, had a couple hits, and scored maybe once.

One controversial rule involved the signboard at the north edge of the ballfield. Sometimes hitting the ball over the signboard was a homerun. Other times it’d be an out because the softball often went into Harry Blim’s coon dog pen causing howling disgust.

A Cowboy’s Faith: ‘Mortgage lifters’ back breakers

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Cowboys really aren’t supposed to be in the hog business.”

Still for decades it was frequently quoted “hogs are mortgage lifters,” often producing farm profit when nothing else did.

Recent newsprint stories about high demand for local livestock processing brought reflections of a wannabe cowboy in the hog business.

Where’s the relationship, many instantly scratch their heads? However, in order for the little wannabe to have a horse, Mom demanded, “You have to pay for it with hogs.”

After begging long enough, eventually two acres in the city limits were acquired “to keep a horse.” Still, hogs had to come first.

The bred Hampshire gilt was acquired from local breeder Jake Jackson. Picked up in the grocery delivery station wagon, Susie Q, the belted hog’s cute moniker, wasn’t a big bill payer. She had twins. Still, one gilt was retained for operation expansion.

Finally, Dad bought a grade mare called Spot so the wannabe became a “real cowboy.” Of course, Mom kept demanding the importance of raising hogs to pay increasing bills.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Locks cannot deter necessities

“Locks are meant to keep others away from something that doesn’t belong to them.”

Problem arises when those owning the property lock themselves out and they can’t get what’s needed.

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Yes, many locking systems are not fool proof. All it takes sometimes is a bolt cutter, sledgehammer, pry bar, or even a big rock to break into private ownership. Nowadays most people lock just about everything they own – from their home to the barn to their car to the pasture gate. That’s a wide contrast to a half century ago when nobody ever locked anything.

As a grocery store carryout boy back in the ’60s, the backdoor to every home was unlocked. Without thought of a knock or warning of any kind, groceries were delivered right into the kitchen.

People didn’t lock their cars, usually leaving the keys in the ignition wherever it was parked. There were never any break-ins or stolen property that was ever heard about.

Nowadays is a far different story. Everybody’s told to “make sure you lock it.”  Most people adhere to the warning, yet there are seemingly constantly increasing numbers of thefts.

A key is typically required to open locks, whether the home, car or pasture gate. Keeping track of a dozen or more keys isn’t that easy for those who are very forgetful.

As possible solution, some locks have combinations to get them open. That’s okay too, if the combination can be remembered, or if it’s recorded for only personal access.

Can Help House help you? Reach out to find out

By Ted Hazelton, Help House

Do you or someone you know need food assistance? Help House, at 131 W. 15th Street in Lyndon, provided food or other services to 1,252 Osage County residents from 479 different households in 2020. Many of these received assistance monthly. Through generous donations and grants, and the work of our volunteers, we have the resources to assist many more. But only if they contact us!

Help House has a food pantry, is a distributor for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and can assist in completing SNAP applications in our computer lab. If you are an Osage County resident with household income below certain amounts, you could be eligible for the above food assistance programs. All food programs are by appointment only, and masks must be worn. Consult our website,, or call 785-828-4888 or 785-828-4889 for more information or to make an appointment.

Online food ordering

A new program at Help House is the online food ordering. You fill out your order at, choose a time you want to pick it up, and the food is brought to your car. No indoor shopping, no waiting, no need for babysitters, and no need to worry about social distancing! And it helps us serve more families.

Mobile pantries

Another option for food assistance is the Harvester’s Mobile Food Pantry held throughout the county with no income restrictions to receive food. You should be in line 15 minutes prior to the start time to be registered, and it goes until the food is gone. Mobile dates are: Carbondale, 12 p.m. second Tuesday; Osage City, 9 a.m. third Thursday; Burlingame, 10 a.m. third Thursday; Melvern, 12:30 p.m. third Thursday; and Lyndon, 12 p.m. third Friday.

Local churches win Souper Bowl

The winner of the 2021 Souper Bowl contest was the Overbrook United Methodist Church, with Lyndon First Baptist Church in second place, and Lyndon UMC in third place. In all, seven churches donated a total of 772 cans of soup or boxes of crackers to be given out at our food pantry.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Rain has always come

“It’s sure hard to grow anything in the dust.”

The one getting his haircut in the barber’s chair made that evaluation as the waiting room conversation continued about weather. Nodding heads and grunts were in consensus as latest heard forecasts were shared with personal opinions aired as well.

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Certainly there’s dire need for ample rainfall in some locales, where even those promised showers have passed by. Still drought maps indicate much of the Midwest is shy on moisture with downpours in every county a necessary solution.

Such dry conditions and record wind gusts brought fire danger warnings which have sadly come to reality. There have been a number of local pasture fires consuming large acreages plus some facility loss. Truly heartwarming how friends, neighbors and firefighting crews will come together seemingly instantly and diligently work as a team. Of all the dangerous jobs, battling blazes in very dry conditions with unrelenting record speed winds is the most hazardous.

Additional issue is probability of a controlled fire restarting after firefighters have left the scene. On several occasions fires have been considered out and hours later come calls they’re furiously aflame again.

Weathermen have been partially accurate with forecasts for widespread relief of moisture distress. Still early on there’s been great inconsistency with one farm receiving nice rainfall and neighboring counties getting zilch.

Before rains began already negativists were complaining how mud would increase work difficulties. Exclamations expanded when there were just a few scattered showers around.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Consumer scams continue increasing

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“If you don’t trust somebody, you don’t trust anybody.”

Sometimes it seems safest to not trust anyone, but it’s essential to have certain senses of confidence. Yet with all of the crooked doings going rampant nowadays it sure is hard to know exactly what to believe.

Evidently many face the same situation, at least the truly honest folks, because stories about scams are reported daily. Even if correspondence appears to be from a known acquaintance, it still may not be honest.

Emails coming with friends’ names on them yet having a peculiarity are typically not too hard to identify. But last Friday, an email came up with a colleague’s name on it. Wording didn’t seem quite the norm, but response was made without much thought.

Sure enough, the almost immediate return verified another scam. There was a request to buy something without funds to pay for it or reason for the purchase. Immediately the emails were deleted.

Impossible to figure out exactly how all scams work and how there can be profit from those doing the soliciting. Whatever, they are making a dishonest buck doing nothing but cheating.

Daily media of every kind promotes handfuls of dishonest opportunities such the attorney general’s office can’t keep up with them. Most prolific phone calls are offers to renew car warranties on 30-year-old vehicles. Even a poor money manager ought to be able to figure that crooked deal out, but obviously not all people do.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Hay wrap necessary nuisance

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Bundles of big round hay bale plastic net wrap are up and down the highway and country roads.”

Not a day goes by that somewhere there isn’t big bale net wrap which has blown off a stockman’s pickup. Large piles of the stuff are in most rural yards or burn piles ready for a match when winter wind calms.

Net wrap does protect big round bales from certain spoilage certainly, compared to traditional twine wrap. However, when a dozen big round hay bales are fed every morning that leaves lots of net wrap to dispose of.

Various methods of storing big round bales definitely affect how much spoilage there is too. Seemingly everybody has a different philosophy of what is the right way.

Of course it’s best when big bales are stacked in the barn, but few operations have sufficient space to get many bales inside. Stacking the big bales outside is not uncommon and probably reduces wastage compared to lineup in the field.

Likewise which way the bales are lined up and distance between each bale also has an impact on loss.

Nowadays certain stockmen are going a step further to protect big round bales storing them in large long plastic sacks.

When big round balers came on the scene in the late ’60s, sisal twine wrapped the hay like small round bales. Before unrolling apparatuses were developed, big bales were often just dropped in the field for livestock.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Cows need motherly impulse

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“That heifer has no maternal instinct, no common sense whatsoever.”

The herdsman made similar comments numerous times during recent calving situations.

There’s ample timber protection in the draws completely out of the subzero storms. Yet when a cow starts birthing on a barren hill in a strong north wind it’s completely illogical. Chances of calf survival are immediately sharply reduced in such severe conditions. Problems increase more when a heifer drops her calf and immediately turns away eating hay.

A newborn coming out of momma’s warm inside to the frigid cold pasture must be cared for or it’ll freeze. Even calves with highly maternal mothers providing the utmost attention had frozen ears, tails and feet last week.

Certain cattle bloodlines are promoted for their maternal instincts. Naturally the cows are supposed to know how and want to care for their babies in the best ways possible. Still when the time comes, Mother Nature plays havoc on brainpower of certain young bovine females. Giving birth is an entirely new experience they’ve never had before and first timers often just don’t know what to do.

Continuing days of very cold temperatures, limited access to open water and consuming enough warming feedstuff add to the predicament. In such bad weather, a cow with mothering ability finds a warm place as possible to calve with protection from the elements.

Upon giving birth hopefully without problems, the cow must do her best to warm the newborn. That’s nuzzling, licking, encouraging the baby to stand and get warm colostrum in the first milk mother has to offer. With such a start, chances of calve survival are greatly enhanced.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Cold increases ranch issues

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Everything gets tested when temperatures stay below freezing for more than a week.”

Most all in production agriculture and many urbanites as well have found that to become hauntingly true in recent days.

It was only about the third day of the below freezing tantrum when one of three feed trucks started smoking.

The big bale hauling, unrolling contraption had been giving serious problems and was being taken to the mechanic for repairs. Due to those hydraulic mechanism issues that truck had not been used feeding the cows for several days.

Despite near zero temperatures, the pickup started with only a couple of cranks. Warmed up and given visual engine inspection, that old truck seemed to be running smoothly as possible at such maturity.

Headed to the fixit shop at highway speed, all of a sudden smoke started rolling from under the hood. Ranch manager pulled the smoking machine onto a side road, turned it off and started inspection. Cool down took some time, but it was decided that the new antifreeze hadn’t been mixed stringently.

Nothing appeared damaged so two gallons of straight antifreeze were added to the radiator and again given warmup time. Believe it or not, the red bent up pickup made it to the mechanic’s shop without further issues.

Seemingly living right for a while, the next morning all went awry again with a much more serious problem. There wasn’t any water when the faucet was turned on to make coffee. Without home water is bad, but real concern was the 50 head of first calf heifers in the barnyard corral.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Calves appetizing for coyotes

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Six coyotes no more than 30 feet away surrounded the cow with her two-day-old calf at side.”

Fortunately, the varmints didn’t come any closer to the potential breakfast as the ranch manager made his morning herd inspection. There was no loss to the cattle operation this time. However, had the calf just been born to a less-protective two-year-old heifer, the story could have been different.

While coyotes can be a serious problem for cow-calf operators, they are just looking for their own nourishment. Nature’s system of livelihood is designed for wild animals to prey on other species. When coyote populations become too large in certain locales, it does sometimes become necessary for ranchers to become involved. There are occasionally situations when ranchers hire hunters to help keep coyote numbers down to prevent calf losses.

A half century ago, the county paid bounties for killing coyotes. Each pair of coyote ears brought into the courthouse was worth $2. As now, there were a number of hunters who kept dogs strictly for the purpose of catching and killing coyotes. Childhood memories are of going with Uncle Don hunting coyotes in his little short bed Jeep with six staghounds.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Employment makes good life

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“I have too much to do, so the customer will have to wait.”

That comment was heard twice last week sending cringes up the back both times.

Many people so wish they had a job of any kind, yet others complain because there’s too much to do.

It just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. When one is hired for a job, then do it and be appreciative for being employed.

Admittedly sometimes the work load seems like there is no end in sight. Experience proves one must continue working and the task will eventually be completed.

Certain folks have never had a high work ethic – honestly being just plain “lazy.” Coronavirus issues accompanied by incomprehensible government stimulus payments have made the situation much worse.

Uncertain the statistics but several times it’s been heard that people make more on unemployment than working a regular job. It makes sense to take whatever the government wants to give.

Advertisements on an expanding basis promote so many things are “free.” Daily several times the telephone rings with an offer “no interest,” “no payments,” “everything’s free.”

A Cowboy’s Faith: Muddy waterholes become ponds

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Now all we need is a nice steady four-inch rain.”

Rainfall in that amount, even when coming down so there’s soil utilization and runoff, still makes muddy conditions. With moisture shortage in many locales most in agriculture would welcome the water to help replenishment.

Undoubtedly there’ll be some complaining about such rainfall this time of the year. When it’s muddy, native pastures are readily eroded by cattle feeding equipment. Likewise, pastures with waterholes in lowlands make it difficult for cows to birth new babies. Still many ranchers and of course farmers are hoping for rain regardless of problems that come with it.

A number of farmers around the Midwest have had mud and slime cleaned out of nearly dry ponds. No better time to clean ponds than when they’re about dry and then pray for refilling rains come spring. Rainfall is just as important in order to have ample grass to graze.

Heifers to start calving in a few days were moved out of two pastures where the ponds were nearly dry. Shorelines were completely black slime that would readily bog down a cow and her calf trying to get a drink.

Trenches were cut in the old pond dams and what little water remaining was drained out to the draws below. Long armed heavy bucket equipment scooped the thick gooey black mud out down to bedrock.

A bulldozer reshaped the dams higher, longer and stronger than before. Excavating continued to smooth out the big holes so there should be two usable stock water ponds after spring rains.

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