The Porch

Lost Balloons

I was doing chores on the ranch one day last week and as I closed the corral gate a spot of color caught my eye in the far back pasture.  I headed out to investigate and realized that it was one of those balloon bouquets that had caught on the fence. This is not the first time nor will it I imagine be the last time I’ve rescued our calves from chewing and swallowing the remains of these bouquets. One other time at our pastures we arrived on the scene as the calves were just starting to swallow the balloon remains, what ensued was a very awkward dash to grab the ribbons tied to the balloons still hanging from the calves’ mouths.   If you managed to grab a ribbon, you just hung on for dear life and hoped you pulled the balloon out of their throats. We successfully managed to get all those we could see, but were unsure how many were already gone before we arrived.
Getting back to the balloon find from last week, it took a bit to untangle the entire bouquet from the barb wire as there had to be over twelve balloons.  As I was walking back to the barns I realized that attached to the balloons were several cards that on the outside said, “Happy Birthday Andrew”, that was pretty normal until I turned the cards over and began reading the messages written on each card.  The first one was “Happy B-Day Baby Boy Mama Loves & Misses you Bunches!!  RIP You will be in my heart forever and always until we meet again Love you my son”, I quickly scanned the other cards and these were the same sentiment from aunts, uncles and a Grandma. You can only imagine how that broke my heart and I continued to examine the card and each was printed with a paw print.  This has led me to believe that these beautiful sentiments were sent from a family that dearly loved their lost friend. It is still a mystery and one that I will never solve, although I would surely love to meet this group of people who took the time out of their lives to remember their dearly beloved pet. I know that the dog lover in me was moved to a few tears standing in the pasture that day for a dog named Andrew that I will never know.  I’ve kept those cards with their heart felt messages, for the odd reason it just doesn’t seem right to just throw them away.

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Just Own It!

I’m usually the person who picks up the office mail and I sort it there to be sure that I don’t need to pick up something from the post office desk. So when I get those envelopes addressed to Western Cowman with Editor underlined and no return address in sight, I can already guess that this isn’t going to be good. Most letters to the Editor don’t come in plain envelopes and always have a return address if they have something positive or at least intelligent to say. Those letters in “no return address” envelopes are always the worse, because over the last 17 years I’ve only gotten a handful of them and each one verged on being sketchy as heck. Well today’s was no different; inside the envelope was an index card with a hand written rant on how Western Cowman should be called the Heather Smith-Thomas magazine. Wow really, because she is the main writer for this publication? The author also went on to say that it was nice she (Heather) let me have my picture included. If your thinking this all sounds a bit third grade; you’re so right. The writer then went on to say, “Seriously is there not another writer in the western states”? I’m quite sure there are a lot of writers in the western states, and I’m sure some very good ones. The reason we use Heather so much has a lot to do with the type of deadlines we run. With three publications our deadlines are numerous and we have to make sure that the writers we use can make them. Heather is extremely professional and has never missed a deadline in all of the years she has done stories for Western Cowman. She is always on top of whatever story we give her and she is capable of bringing article ideas to the table. Do we use her a lot, yes we do because she does an amazing job and in seventeen years, this may be the first anyone has issued a complaint. So the bottom line here is that this BS on an index card, unsigned carries no weight with me concerning Heather. What does concern me is if the person felt that they had a justifiable complaint, or just wanted to state that we should use other writers; there was a better format to put it in. Nothing gets under my skin more than something as snarky and sarcastic as the piece I just received, if your not a strong enough person to say what you need to say and sign your name to it, keep it to yourself. Then I start to wonder are you someone that maybe Heather has offended somewhere along the line, though considering she is one of the nicest people around, I doubt that. Are you possibly a frustrated writer and your just lashing out? The one thing I do know about you is that you’re a coward; if you can’t own what you write, then spare the rest of us. I would have responded to you and had an adult discussion about your concerns. Also to the writer, when lashing out in such a snarky manner at least try and work it up above the third grade level, at least for some entertainment value. Each time I set down to my key-board and write anything from this blog to the editorial’s that appear each month I own every word. Do people sometimes disagree with me, of course they do and I’m capable of having a conversation about their thoughts. Often times I see their point of view clearly. I’ve even gotten myself in the dog house on more then one occasion and I still have to own it. So mystery writer if you can’t sign your name keep it to yourself.


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Animal Overload

There are just some weeks that living in the country can take it’s toll and I’m talking about the creatures that reside with and around us. Take for instance one night this past week while chatting on the phone at about 8:30 in the evening a single mouse tears around the corner into the kitchen where I’m sitting and runs directly into the head of my sleeping dog. I scream, the dog leaps up in hot pursuit of mouse and of course she is not as fast and the mouse disappears into the house not to be found. The crazy thing is mice don’t bother me out in the barns, but sharing the house, that’s another thing altogether. The same evening I head out to lock up the chicken pen as I let them out each afternoon for their walkabout and find the calves have pushed their gate shut. Two made it into the roost before the gate shut, one is hunkered down by the gate and the rest are MIA. I easily get the one by the gate into the pen although she’s acting a bit chickentonic and then start searching for the others. Thankfully we have a big corral light and the barns light up the area quite a bit, so I found the next one cowering in the corner of the goat’s pen, but getting her out of there becomes quite a chore. Chickens act really weird at night, which is why they most likely take to the roost, but those who don’t get in on time sort of become “chicken zombies”. I’ve got this zombie chicken to get out of the goat’s pen and the two obnoxious goats act like this was the party they’ve been waiting on; they’re running circles around the chicken and myself, thwarting any progress I make. Just when I’m about to strangle a goat the chicken dives through the gate into the corral, running headlong into the dark pasture. With broom in hand I head out and wrangle her back to the chicken pen and through the gate; I then head out now to find the others. I finally find them tucked into a corner of the corral and with my newly developed chicken broom herding skills, I get them through the gate and into the chicken house. With the chickens safe and sound and the goats still running around in circles, I get the lights all turned off and head to the house. Safely back in side with the mouse still somewhere in residence, my husband comes out of his man cave to inquire where I’ve been all this this time; he just might of tried finding me, oh well! It’s really been that kind of week, like how I really like the Lowline cattle that we have acquired; they’re easy to work. They go in the chute and out it easily and to moving them just requires opening a gate; they will instantly go through any open gate. This is all really fine unless it’s a gate you’ve mistakenly left open a crack. Just last night we were working some cows up to the chutes for breeding purposes and yes it was me who left the corral gate open just a bit. So when we got done working the group of cows and were heading them back to the pasture, there grazing in my front yard is the Lowline and whoever was brave enough to follow. Once again a round-up is in action. Just love the divots in the lawn, but that was the only damage thank goodness. All the same I’ll take the animals here in the country to those urban creatures any day.

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Coming Clean!

Just got my first e-mail today regarding the grazing articles in the July-August issue and the writer thought we did a good job with both pieces and didn’t distort the big picture, but what he called me on was the disclaimer I made in my “Trails” editorial. He thought I was just trying to be politically correct by saying “we do not have a political persuasion either way in regard to these pieces”, and he was half right. What I was doing was trying to protect this magazine from having advertisers drop us, because of a difference in political opinions. Magazines continue to struggle in this age of tech-media and losing just one advertiser can make a tremendous difference to the bottom line, and this is the reason for the statement. Today on this blog I will tell you that my personal opinion is that I stand with the ranchers who oppose the actions of the BLM; to be honest like anyone with an opinion I really do believe mine is the “right” one. To be honest it is very difficult to decide what kind of editorial you’re going to fill your magazine with. I try very hard to keep the Western Cowman magazine editorial content current with what is going on in our industry and I also want that reading material to be something that you can apply to your own lives. What I try very hard not to do is fluff out the pages with things that truly have no real meaning to our readership, but let me tell you that fluff is the type of stuff that costs magazines very little. I just can’t bring myself to run press releases about folks that most of you won’t know and have no reason to care about. The press releases for all the drugs in the industry just take up space unless their truly revolutionary and are going to make a huge difference to us all. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that every article that I’ve ran in the past sixteen years has thrilled me; that wouldn’t be the case. Some times you need to do what you have to, but what I will never do is sell advertising with a promise of editorial content and no one will ever find in our media kit a spot where you can purchase editorial coverage. This is my first blog and I look forward to writing many more through the weeks. In short, I guess what I’m trying to say is if you can’t stand for something, you shouldn’t stand for anything at all. That pretty much sums it up. I’m glad you ventured onto our porch…a place for discussion, a little drama, and always a bit of fun. Happy Trails.

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