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Category Archives: Faith

A Cowboy’s Faith: Reprieving historical tree’s demise

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“It must have been a hundred years old, by the diameter, but it’s impossible to count the growth rings.”

The tree cutter made that estimation after downing the giant mulberry tree just a few feet outside the back door.

Removing such a long lived historical piece of ranch history was sentimentally saddening. It had been there much longer than the present ranch residents who’ve seen it continue thriving half-a-century.

Oh the true stories that tree would have told if could have remembered them and talked about each one.

Before the present ranch home was constructed near the already old tree there’d been a chicken house beside it. Hogs and rodents inhabited that structure in ample numbers at certain times as well.

For years, the tree was quite the fruit bearer. Mulberries are fun to pick and eat while even better yet when made into a pie. However, those yummy fruits sure do make a mess dropping onto anything around at their ripest maturity.

Neither a forestry major nor studier of tree growth, evidently certain mulberry trees quit bearing fruit in old age. At least that tree hadn’t produced mulberries for a long time; such its years of prolific yield were almost forgotten.

Wind and bolts of lightning damaged the tree sometimes through the decades so it was quite rotted in places. When blowing storms came the tree shook all over creating rancher fright. At any time the weakened tree could have come crashing on the nearby home or indoor arena.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Best supper at home

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“In most cases the world would be much better off if everybody would eat their meals at home.”

That’s in preference to the seemingly increasingly popular enjoyment of “going out to eat.” Now this is speaking from experience, because there aren’t too many people who’ve spent more youthful days “eating out.”

One thing certain the kid never was hungry growing up. First off being son of grocery store operators, there was always plenty to eat, apple, grapes, candy bar, wiener, whatever.

Secondly, Mom, who’d once owned a café, always made sure her carryout boy never went anywhere on an empty stomach. Often there was an evening activity to attend and Mom would grab a dollar bill from the cash register. “Go get your supper” at the café.

Well, everybody whatever age has usually liked the idea of picking out restaurant food from the menu. More often than not, the grocery store boy’s supper was at the Hays Tavern, or Café as sometimes known. Today completely restored, that’s the apparently world-renowned Hays House.

Hamburgers were a quarter, cheeseburgers 30 cents; French fries another quarter, and iced tea a dime. Typically splurging for the “richer” burger, supper with tax, seems it was 3-percent those days, cost a total of 67 cents. That left change in the kid’s jeans pocket, which generally wasn’t returned to Mom.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Another driver crashes fence

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“A vehicle has gone through your pasture fence and the wires are down so livestock can get out.”

It was the sheriff’s dispatcher just after daylight informing of what this time was already known. Minutes before looking out the window, three law enforcement vehicles with patriotic flashing lights were at the north corner. There was a fourth vehicle with yellow caution lights blinking.

Fairly certain of what had occurred, decision was made to drive up the road to find out more details. Upon arrival, only one county sheriff car was still at the scene. That lawman was busy measuring tire marks and whatever else from one side of the road to the other.

Obviously the other two counties’ sheriff offices decided to let the remaining officer do the paperwork. That caution-vehicle must have also concluded its service was no longer needed.

Through the broken fence to the southwest 150-yards in the brome field was a white economy car, frontend bashed in.

Slowly driving past commenting out the window, the working lawman was queried: “Another fatality this time?”

Congenial as likely possible for a dedicated deputy: “No the driver was disillusioned, didn’t know where he was.” Further details on the reckless motorist aren’t known but fortunately evidently he wasn’t injured.

Such incidences are actually common as there’ve been similar situations a handful of times in the past half century. Two major highways intersect on the three-county-line.

Drivers from the east are going too fast, half asleep, or not paying attention. They run the stop sign, cross the other north south highway, through the fence, and out into the pasture.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Weather has own mind

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“It really is dry.” “Sure is wet.” “It’d be good if the rain would stop.” “Sure be nice to get some of that rain.”

Those comments were all heard within just a few minutes of each other last Friday morning.

Conversations all depended on location sometimes just a few miles down the road and others from the state’s borders.

While areas pleaded for raindrops out of all the crashing thunder, lightning, fierce winds, very little came from the sky. Meanwhile with identical weather predictions, neighboring counties were being warned about flash flooding.

Weather forecasters are certainly the most popular airwaves stars. Well at least the best known, anticipated, listened to, talked about. When right they’re patted on the back, but more often remarks aren’t very nice because predictions are frequently wrong.

Credit given when due, the forecasters are just human doing the very best they can. Despite all historical records and technical modern-day devices, only the Supreme Power knows what the weather’s going to be. And He keeps changing his mind all of the time

One thing for certain: “It always has rained.” Sometimes too late, sometimes too early, but in all of history moisture has arrived at some time.

Interesting how dry winter and spring were with prayers for moisture to fill ponds, get creeks running, and make plants grow. Then some received the rainfall, while many were still quite shy.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Ornery Shorty was talented

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Best known as Shorty, or Short, grinning ornery Marven Brabb towered above most with diverse abilities.”

Last week Shorty, a New Year’s Day baby in 1928, passed away at 93 years of age. Until a few months ago, Shorty had continued daily care of his straight Hereford cow herd. Time had taken toll, but Shorty with walking canes remained himself, jovial, mischievous, knowing, heartfelt concerned.

Then serious health incapacitated Shorty, forcing him off his beloved farm into a care home. For a while, Shorty would visit briefly when called, but lost interest in what was happening “back home.”

His cattle were dispersed and then machinery, a large assortment of tools and household were sold at auction. Uncertain if Shorty was even aware, but difficult time for friends watching his life’s toil going under the gavel.

It must be 45 years since first meeting Shorty, who enjoyed off farm work for the lumberyard. Anything needing built or repaired; he had the ability and always seemed eager to do the task.

At a purebred Hereford sale, Shorty with his big smile bought a top bull. Sadly the ring man who he’d done a number of jobs for didn’t even know his name. It’d always just been “Shorty,” but Marven Brabb was never forgotten after that.

The old barn had two grain bins, milk cow stanchions, three workhorse stalls and a lean-to. Shorty renovated them into nine riding horse stalls with his uniquely-designed two-by-six gates inside Dutch doors.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Grass turned into hay

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“At least livestock will have some feed next winter.”

Certainly lots of swathers and hay balers were moving at fast pace in recent days.

Pleased having what appeared to be a bumper crop, it was urgent getting dried brome grass wrapped before rains came.

Not a top student in crops and soils classes, lessons are learned best when it dips into the pocketbook. Tame grass production is most dependent on two things: fertilizer and weather.

Considerable less expense when brome isn’t fertilized, but experience has proven there’s very low yield without added nitrogen.

Yet even when all soil testing and fertilizer recommendations are followed, Mother Nature still has overriding power.

Agronomists may have a different philosophy, but seemingly weather can also be a double edged sword. Ample rainfall at the precise time needed is quite important coupled with spring temperatures not too hot too soon. Earthlings have absolutely no control over those influential factors, despite numerous ill-fated scientific attempts through the ages.

Oh there are other problems which can often reduce brome grass yields with something new showing up quite regularly. Diseases have tried to create havoc, and other vegetation like bluegrass and wild bluestem attempt overpowering.

High yields require heavy foliage, not just long stems with seed heads on them. However, tall thick grass can be readily flattened by wind and rain, creating additional hard work for harvesters.

When brome grass is crushed down and doesn’t have time to straighten back up, a windrower will frequently become clogged. With temperatures higher than 100 degrees and record humidity, that’s a major job to clear out.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Parades are fun time

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Everyone loves a parade.”

It’s fact whether participating on horseback, in the band, riding a float or watching from the sideline. Missing a parade when there’s one in town or even on television leaves a certain feeling of disappointment.

While impossible to be everywhere at the same time, a horseshow conflicted with this year’s rodeo parade. However fond memories from decades of parades gone by kept returning throughout the day.

Marching with the grade school band in the centennial parade six decades ago came to mind as a frustration. Waiting in Durland Park for when to move into the Main Street lineup gave time to watch the horses. Oh, to just be riding a horse instead of with the “dumb band” was the little boy’s aspiration.

Dream came true a year later when wannabe cowboy finally had his own horse and got that chance. An old local cowboy could sense the other’s desire to ride in the big rodeo parade. He was taking his horse and asked the kid to bring his horse and come along.

Rain was pouring down almost impossible to see loading the flatbed pickup with stock racks at the old railroad stockyards. Parade lineup at Swope Park started not long after dinner as downpour continued.

No letup in cloudburst yet when the Fort Riley Band marched out of the fairgrounds gate followed by several hundred horses. From Cottonwood Falls to Strong City and into the rodeo grounds, everybody was drenched through and through.

Help House reopens for shopping and donations, no appointments needed

Summer 2021 is here and there are several events going on at Help House: First, you no longer need an appointment to donate items. Just be certain to drop them off during our business hours. You can find our hours and more information on our website

Beginning last week, Help House has discontinued appointment scheduling on Monday nights and Wednesdays. Shopping the floor and getting food will be on a first come first serve basis. Help House reserves the right to restrict the amount of people on the inside of the building, if necessary.

On June 18-19, Help House will hold its annual big tent sale. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days. The proceeds assist in funding the food programs at Help House.

With the beginning of summer, kids will want to be outside more. If your child doesn’t have a bicycle, come in and apply to see if you might qualify for a free refurbished bike. Applications are at Help House.

Help House has been serving Osage County for the past 17 years. If you would like an opportunity to serve your community in a fun, positive environment, volunteer! Just three hours a week is all the commitment asked for. For more information or to apply, contact Help House at 131 W. 15th St., Lyndon, Kan., or contact Help House director Scott Perkins at 785-828-4888.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Increasing length of life

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Time of death has been predetermined the day one is born.”

Aunt Freda made that comment six decades ago during breakfast at her house before heading out to hunt pheasants. It rang a bell of sorts that morning and has been remembered and recalled ever since, especially on Memorial Day.

With no proven reasoning behind people’s longevity “many die before their time.” Some pass suddenly very young, others middle-aged from accident or heath intrusions, and many simply die from old age. Everybody dies, and there’s no way getting around it.

Nobody knows when their final day living as a body on Earth will be. Yet certain lifestyles seem to bring an earlier death.

Centenarians and others not quite as mature usually have similar philosophies about living to be old, although without medical substantiation.

Three biggies taking young lives are tobacco, liquor and food, yet there are vast exceptions in every case.

Majority of the population used tobacco of some form in earlier years, and many suffered from it, going early to their graves. Several friends over consumed liquor and passed away years ago, while limited alcohol intake has been proclaimed advantageous.

Everybody must have food, and generally enjoys eating, but overconsumption or malnutrition, either may lead to early fatality.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Remembering one special rider

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Mary White was a heroine then and has been ever since.”

Certain childhood readings leave a lifetime impression and Mary White’s story in the third-grade primer did that.

Author of the writing didn’t mean anything then, but renowned editor William Allen White, Mary’s dad, has become a mentor.

A century ago, in the Emporia Gazette, May 17, 1921, Mr. White printed his 16-year-old daughter’s editorialized obituary.

“The Associated Press reporting of news about Mary White’s death declared that it came as the result of a fall from a horse. How she would have hooted at that! Mary never fell from a horse in her life.

“Horses have fallen on her and with her. ‘I’m always trying to hold ’em in my lap,’ Mary used to say. Mary was proud of few things, one that she could ride anything with four legs and hair.

“Mary’s death resulted not from a fall but from a blow on the head which fractured her skull. The blow came from the limb of an overhanging tree on the parking.”

A present-day editorialist surmised: “The accident did not surprise anyone who knew her. Mary was a rambunctious girl who rode horses and drove cars with the same reckless intensity.

“On that Tuesday afternoon, Mary was riding a skittish mare named Hardtack. Having changed to her riding khakis, Mary aimed as usual for country roads north of Emporia.

“But about where the Emporia State University Library parking lot is now, Mary was distracted. A school friend delivering the Emporia Gazette rode by on his bicycle.

“Mary turned to wave with her bridle hand. This caused Hardtack to dart from the road and plunge beneath a catalpa tree. Still turned to wave, Mary may not have seen or could not avoid collision with the fatal branch.”

A Cowboy’s Faith: Cowboy friends for lifetime

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Grade school kids with matching cowboy dreams grow old fulfilling youthful inclinations.”

Living in a rural community, students in the olden days walked to and from school, including going home for dinner. Dennis is a couple years younger, yet friendship quickly bonded during the daily joint jaunts nearly a mile each direction.

Neither had horses, but cowboy boots and snap-yoked shirts revealed certain commonness. Without perfect attendance shared Sunday school class further enhanced camaraderie of Western life.

Wednesday was afternoon off for grocery store carryout boy, frequently joining another cowboy dreamer fishing the nearby river. Then aspirations began to materialize.

Two acres with a barn in the city limits allowed for the older horse fascinator to get his own Spot. Dennis went to work as exercise rider for the trainer at a racetrack the community had just built. Saddle club’s arena infield the oval track became evening get together for the young horsemen.

Cowboy bond strengthened during high school in youth agriculture organizations with both envisioning rodeo successes. Saturday nights on the town began when stopping to get Dennis at home playing his electric guitar singing cowboy songs.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Time for bovine romancing

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“The bull is the most important part of a profitable cow-calf operation.”

Cowmen have various opinions about that statement, first analyzing a bull’s conformation, structure, bloodlines, performance data, etc. Yes, those factors can and generally do have an impact on cowherd profit.

Yet they are not the most critical element of making money with cows. First and foremost essential is a bull that does what he’s supposed to do: breed cows.

Cows will not have a calf unless there is a bull with them. That bull must romance every cow for her to have a calf. Those calves are what pay the bills.

Regardless of the color, looks, weight, disposition of their dad, a calf must be born and go to market.

A small, light muscled, mixed breed, poorly structured, ugly bull that gets every cow in calf has definite value. While the “best bred,” highest priced, superior performance, “perfect” phenotype bull can have little worth. If cows do not get with calf during mating season that “great bull” becomes a money loser. He’d be much more valuable as a steer.

Bull fertility, breeding ability, and desire to do their job outweigh every “highly promoted” aspect of bull selection and ownership.

The point has come to realization in recent days. Bulls that are ready to breed cows need to be out with cows in early May. Then calves should come at the first part of next February and be ready for market as weanlings in mid-October.

A Cowboy’s Faith: Stalled vehicles major ordeal

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“It won’t start.”

When the rodeo clown says that about his funny car he can’t get out of the arena, everybody laughs.

Yet when somebody’s own vehicle “won’t start,” it’s far from a funny matter.

Just about everybody has been in such a predicament and typically there’s quite an ordeal getting the vehicle going again.

Likely the most common issue is a dead battery. More than once long years ago, the pickup battery went dead in the hayfield waiting for bales to load. It was the young hay handler‘s fault because he was listening to the radio when the truck wasn’t running.

Without more than a scowl the first time, Dad pulled the tractor with square baler alongside the pickup. It was an easy task to jumpstart the truck so the boy could get the hay loaded. There was more than a frown the second time it happened.

Jump starting from another vehicle when there’s a dead battery is very common and generally works well. Yet, it’s not always safe. That lesson was learned a half century ago, when the old pickup was hooked to the 1939 John Deere B tractor. Uncertain the reasoning behind it, but the tractor battery exploded.

Of course, sparks fly when the positive cable is hooked to the negative but whenever there’s fire it’s best to try another method.

Sometimes, the car dies and won’t start because it’s out of gas. That’s not too much of a problem, even when one must walk a couple miles to get the gas can filled.

But when driving to judge a horseshow 300 miles from home and the fuel goes dry, it’s a more serious issue. Fortunately that nearby farmer was nice, kindly providing gasoline out of his farm tank.

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.

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