Some Observations While Wandering Around Missouri

I’ve been cramming stuff into my brain for a lifetime  just like I’ve crammed stuff into our ranch salvage yard. Some of it worth saving, some of it just clutter, and then there are some real gems that never lose their Luster.

My problem is that if I don’t write this blog quickly all my observations might get lost in the recall part of my old brain that doesn’t work as well as it once did.  Zee and I started  our wandering in our mini van 6/29/2014.  As we criss crossed this state I never found one Pot Hole that made me want to question their road fixing ability. You cross all bridges and never know they were there, divided roads are everywhere and all secondary roads were smooth as silk. Cal Trans, the people that fix  our California roads could learn a lot if they would  send the head dog out to Missouri and observe how they build and repair their roads.

Missouri in the summertime is a beautiful green from top to bottom and I have taken notice that all the farmsteads have front yards and because it rains at least once a week,  they have grass and lots of it. The question becomes how do you control all this green growing mass? Why It’s the riding lawn mower to the rescue!

I truly believe that there are more riding lawn mowers per capita in Missouri and that goes for the rest of the Mid-West, than any other place on Earth. Each front yard owns It’s own Riding Lawn Mower and they look to be always at the ready to give their grass a Crew Cut. They come in all sizes shapes and colors. I saw one yesterday a big yellow beauty that I believe could go 20 M.P.H. on the highway.

That’s fast enough to take a break and a back road to the local Mini Mart, get a 6 pack of beer a cheeseburger, and then head for home to finish mowing the Green Jewel. However there is a price to pay for all this lawn mowing exuberance.

Its called FAT, because the lawn mower was the only one that got any exercise. The jockey got all the calories that are now on display around his Belly. Seems as though the more our jockey mows the lawn  (Burgers and Beer) the larger pant size becomes necessary. I Guess that’s the price to pay so our lovable jockey can continue to mount his steed  and keep the shaggy mass at bay and his standing in the community untarnished.

One more observation; in my travels I haven’t noticed one thin person riding a mower. I know that the more weight you put on the back of a pick up truck the better the traction. Makes me wonder if there is some law that precludes skinny guys from cutting the grass!  Can this be the reason Skinny guys in the Shoe Me State are scarce as Hen’s Teeth?
It about 5:30 this afternoon and my low tire pressure light has just come on and the town of Cassville is now in view. “How lucky would it be”,  I said to Zee,” if we found a tire shop open!” And in another moment there it was! Doors open and a friendly face working to finish the last tire change.

I pulled up to the tire changing area. “Could you fix a tire?” I asked. “Sure park it right over there”.  As the tire guy was working to get me back on the road I just had to ask him, How in the world does every lawn in this whole state get mowed every week or so?  And then he explained that most cut their grass because they like the look, but most all counties also have an ordinance that if you don’t cut your grass the county will cut it for you and send you a bill that will make you want to “cut the cheese”for not cutting the grass.
We’re staying in West Branson tonight and so far all we’ve seen is one giant strip mall that looks pretty ugly. The night has passed without incidence and we’re ready to visit downtown Branson. It’s touted to be the Mid-West’s answer to Las Vegas. Route 76 is the main entry and West Branson is 5 or 10 miles distance depending on which street sign you read. Well we had not traveled but a mile in easy traffic when the traffic leaving Branson was either stopped or doing the snail walk. I thought that at 10 A.M. in the morning all the action would be going to town.

This bumper to bumper pace we learned was a fact of life.  I think it rivals a real good Los Angelus traffic jam, made even worse because It’s vacation time and a person was supposed to have left this  kind of snarl at home. Zee and I both had the same idea. How do we get out of this poorly planned  place?

I could tell that the Peter Principal was alive and well, which says that any person or thing will rise to It’s level of  incompetence, was working. I think, that has happened to Branson  and with a fair number of For Sale signs along the way, tells me that others agree. For us  It’s time to say, “Adios!”  We headed out of town on a road that the sign read Arkansas.
We’re in Oklahoma City now and will spend the night. Going to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in the morning. But first I want to say good bye to Missouri, a very beautiful state to visit. The people are friendly and if you like to fish this is the place for you. Everywhere you go you’re  either crossing a creek or a river, or driving by a gigantic lake just waiting for you to bait your hook and do some fishing. For me the Agricultural wealth I.E. Corn, Grass, Cattle and Hardwood Forests were amazing to see. Zee and I looked at each other and agreed that our time was well spent in Missouri.
See Ya,

Jack

How to live in a cage

“I like living in a cage as long as the door is open.”

This quote came from Goldie Hawn. it fits perfectly with the way I lead my life. Close the door and my peaceful easy feelings disappear and thoughts of confinement take over. Living 37 miles from our shopping town Paso Robles, is just the right distance to separate me from turmoil. Any closer and a person could get a cluttered uneasy feeling.
Being somewhat claustrophobic causes me to ride in elevators with toes fully curled, sweaty palms and an ear bent toward any unusual sound. Finally, I reach my floor and it’s an eternity waiting for the doors to open. Then the doors begin to slide open to reveal elbow room and I breath a comfortable sigh of relief; something that people that ride with no fear never get to feel.

Another advantage of having elevator phobia, I get to use the stairs when I’m by myself. For riding the box solo is real scary. One option is to climb the stairs. But when my hotel room is above the 10th floor that’s when fear meets tired. So I will usually wait a few minutes in hopes that someone might happen along that wants to join me in a minute or two of high anxiety.

Now to all of you out there, who riding the box is no big deal to: Don’t be annoyed if I try to say a few words to you, as it helps ease my need to flee. But once the cage door is open life is good again.

See Ya,
Jack

What do politicians and earthworm have in common?

 Our mid term elections are now history. At the winner’s party all the champaign has been consumed, the balloons have been dropped and the newly elected official with microphone in hand is promising his or her constituency that a new day is ahead and the world will be a better place because the new Senator Snort has the reins.

Little does he or she know that the bureaucrats back at the capital are just waiting to re-mold him or her to fit their image. Now, to the losers gathering. After the customary concession speech words are hard to come by. Drinking Champaign and dropping balloons is going to have to wait for another day. Last one to leave turn out the lights.

But real politicians are like athletes. They just lost one game but the next one will be different. It will have winner written all over it. I think to be successful in politics a person needs to be like an earthworm. Now before you jump to any conclusions, here’s what Charles Darwin champion of the theory of evolution had to say about Earthworms:

“It can’t be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world as have these lowly creatures.”

 Did you know these lowly critters can eat their weight in organic matter everyday and turn it into a ready to use top soil for a grass plant to eat. The evening news is the territory where our Senator Snort will eat his weight in our national treasures on a daily basis, and poop out soil to fertilize the national debt. What I’m not sure of is whether the national debt will feed our populace as well as the earthworm feeds its hungry hordes.

And did you know that some fellow wanted to know how long an earthworm lives. So this chap observed a worm for 15 years before boredom over came him and the worm was alive and well still making top soil. Now to Senator Snort who lives by the use of Gerrymandering and Pork barreling to keep his political body alive . And much like the worm “Snort” is hail and hardy after 15 years and still spending with vigor for the publics welfare and his own.

One last ‘did you know’.  Our friend the worm multiples it’s kind by laying eggs and then they are spread about in the soil guaranteeing the earthworm’s survival. Our politician does it by following the money that leads to my wallet and has also been known to lay an egg every once in a while.

Now I don’t want you to think that I’m disparaging my brethren who chose politics for their life’s work. But who in their right mind would choose work with a form of government (democracy), that is such a messy way to govern but its still way ahead of whatever is second?

So to you, my civil minded citizens who’ve been elected to meet the needs of ‘we the people’, who by the way, want it all. And when ‘we the people’ feel threatened by some Wing Nut in another part of the world, you promised to keep us safe. This way we can continue to complain about what a lousy job you ‘Senator Snort’ are doing. You can’t win Senator Snort therefore, go ahead keep sprinkling my dollars around but please try to use a modicum of restraint. And you go earthworm, we can’t live without either of you.

See Ya,

 Jack

What Lights Your Fire?

Well my fire is just now beginning to die down as my son Greg, grandson Zack, and my right hand man Juan have just spent the last five days loading and hauling with ranch pickups and trailers, 18 loads of “every kind of imaginable stuff”.

Of late I’ve had an uneasy feeling as to the health of my salvage yard and I think those that live there were probably having worried thoughts that maybe the Salvage yard had lost its one of my favorite places to hang out’ status”

It was that, coming up empty handed more and more often  trying to find that special thing that you can’t explain to someone what it is, but you know it when you see it.

This was becoming a common occurrence . You could see the signs of neglect. There was lots of bare ground showing. Even a Rattle Snake was having a hard time finding a place to hide while waiting for Mr. Mouse to walk by. The Cottontail Rabbit that likes to eat dinner after dark, because during the daylight hours he’s  a very desirable target for a Redtail Hawk. But with many of his favorite dining spots now just bare ground he too had to venture out when the Sun was shining instead of when the moon was shining, just to eke out a meal.

I had to take action and move the “Museum” as some people like to call it, up the priority scale, so I could regain the respect of the many critters that live in this wonderful little neighborhood. I had to do something… But replacement stuff has been difficult to find.

I should have been looking during our recent ‘Past Recession’ that caused 2nd hand stuff to flood into the market. Now with better times at hand, lots of folks don’t have to part with their treasures.
Just when I thought I would have to look farther a field, the phone rang. An old friend was on the other end with news that a local contractor had passed away and his estate was selling a very large accumulation of, “My kind of goods”.

I couldn’t wait to give the party that was in charge of dispersing the goods a call. A man’s voice answered. I asked if I had the right person that would be in charge of selling the used portion of the estate and he said told me he was. I was to meet him at 9 am the next morning to look at what this now deceased gentleman had accumulated in his lifetime or part there of.

Well, the beginning paragraph aptly describes how to spend five days of bliss and I believe I could hear an “Atta boy!” cheer go up from all the residents when the first load was dumped and feelings of social security were felt when the 18th load of treasure found its proper place on the bare ground of a sparser time.

See Ya,
Jack

   Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child

As the curtain rang down on the final livestock sale at the Templeton  Livestock Auction,  a group of 6 little girls paraded through the crowd that was surrounding the auction ring. Each had a little Border Collie puppy that was for sale.

But for me, the idea of rearing a new puppy that would soon be a mature canine, when Zee and I already had 7 dogs of varying skills and obedience didn’t sound very appealing. And more dogs that don’t mind are a real pain.
Obedience for us, when we’re out gathering cattle is a must. I have just sent my

lead dog Bob to get ahead of about 30 cattle to stop them before they run down into a canyon where the brush and trees are  impenetrable, and cattle can just hide out till a person just has to say, “We’ll try again another day” (which is somewhat demoralizing to the old Ego).

Everything is going like its supposed to until a young dog of mine by the name of Spider runs to help Bob, but just like when a green cowboy is in the wrong place, he scatters  the  herd. All the while I’m screaming to,

” GET BACK! GET BACK! GET BACK! You son of a B#$%@!”

We’re headed home now. Empty handed. And I’m sure I could hear some of the cattle snickering to themselves about how ‘that Spider dog helped us get away, we certainly heard his name a lot’.

I said to Zee, “That Spider needs to have his ears cleaned or a swift kick”.  Zee replied,  “You know, neither will work. You need to take a lesson or two from your daughter-in-law Tricia”. Tricia just happens to be a very well respected dog trainer.

But just like two people that don’t have much in common, Spider and I are not going to become best friends. So the next gather he will most likely be staying at home. Unless he looks at me with those eyes that are saying:

“I promise this time I won’t screw up, just one more chance, please.”

The auction is over now, and as I walk to my pick-up and Gary, a friend of mine calls to me:

“Come here, I’ve got a puppy for you that your going to just love”.

 I reply, “I don’t know Gary I’ve already got a bunch that need some training.”

Gary answered, “This pup is so smart, just ask him what you want done and he will do it.”

There was something about Trigger. The young girl that carried him in her arms for most of the day had given him the name, and I liked it.  I was drawn to this rambunctious bundle of energy, and before I knew it Trigger was in my arms. All ready for a new life as a working Cow Dog.

My new pup Trigger
My new pup Trigger

By the time I got back to the ranch, Trigger was laying beside me fast asleep. No car sickness and no whining.

“Wake up Trigger were home, your going to be greeted by 7 big brothers and big sisters I hope they like you.”

Bob, as head of the house strode over, took a sniff and looked at me, took another sniff and then he and Trigger walked away together. And now their six week-long friendship has grown into mutual admiration.

Trigger and Bob
Trigger and Bob

As I brought Trigger into the house Zee said, “This will be his first and last inside the house visit. I want you to call Tricia right now and tell her you want some dog training lessons.”

It would be a week before Trigger and I could meet Tricia for an hour long lesson. Afterwards Tricia said to me ,

“If you do as I tell you, you and Trigger will be quite a pair. I can tell you that this pup is something special so listen carefully.”

Tricia said something to me that I wish I had heard years  earlier. Of course in those earlier years I probably didn’t have ears to hear her message. She said, “I’m going to teach you a method that will have Trigger wanting to please you, wanting to do as you say and not doing it out of fear but out of respect. To start with I’m going to give you this handful of  of Hotdog pieces.”

Then Tricia said, “Let me work with Trigger for 5 minutes.” She positioned him in a sitting position and gave him a piece of Hotdog. Well, in only 5 minutes Trigger was loving to sit down on command. And hearing the word ‘sit’ meant a tasty piece of Hotdog would be forth coming.

Next came the singular word ‘Trigger‘. Once she had his attention, then came, ‘Come Here Trigger’,Good Boy ‘, and as he approached the word ‘Sit ‘ was followed by a little pat on the head and a piece of Hotdog.

Amazing what a Hotdog can accomplish. But I was also wondering if I was going to have to carry Hotdog bits in my pocket  forever?

“No” Tricia replied, “Only for 2 weeks then we will progress to doing all sorts of things without the Hotdog because Trigger will be having fun and pleasing you will be his idea.”

“See you in 2 weeks.”
See Ya,

Jack

 From City Slicker to Cowboy

My hats off to Billy Crystal and cast for making such an enjoyable and enlightening movie. I want you all to know how important the time I spent watching  the movie ‘City Slickers’ was for me. As the movie was ending, Billy and friends were saying their goodbyes, each promising to have a ‘do over’  look at life because of their game changing Cattle Drive.

For me an ‘Ah Ha’ moment happened that would set the stage for an opportunity that pre City Slickers, I don’t think would have crossed my mind.

photo 1

I looked over at Zee and said,

“We can do this. We’ve got the ranch, the horses, the cattle and our family with all their ranch and people skills, we can do this.”

Zee replied, “I never thought that I would be going back to my roots. Remember, I was raised at my family’s riding stable in Culver City California? So matching a guest with a horse that fit his or her riding skills is something I can do.”

” YES”, Zee said, “Let’s try it, I know there are people in our cities that would love to go on a Cattle Drive.”

What did we want the Cattle Drive to look like? Zee and I both agreed that we would have our guests help us move our cattle when we would be doing it anyway, as a part of our grazing management program. We wanted everybody to camp out, and meals to be cooked over a wood fire on the back of our Chuck Wagon. Bathrooms would not be out houses. After our first drive with out houses,  in order for me to do drive number two, flush toilets were mandatory.

Winter months at the V6 are the time to build things that will be needed around the ranch. 1992 was a drought-ending year, and a feeling of prosperity permeated the air. So a lot of projects that had been put on hold during the drought years could now be built.
With the advent of the Goose Neck trailer, our Bobtail cattle/horse truck was no longer needed, and so it was put out to pasture in my Salvage/Museum/Garden/junk Yard, (take your choice) to wait for a possible recall to duty.

It was a hard decision to make, but there came that day when I only needed the cattle rack and not the truck. So now these many years later when I’m rummaging around in the Salvage Yard looking for that special something, I see my reliable old friend still waiting patiently for a chance to go down the road again. To feel the excitement of cattle, or some horses pressing his springs down and saying, “Let’s go!” But reality says that’s not going to happen. I’m sorry old friend.
But my trucks bull strong cattle rack has found a new life as a Bath House. It’s now a place to wash up before meals. It has two hot showers standing at the ready, to accommodate those that at the end of the day need to rub their skin with soap and water.  For me, I like to give my skin a three-day vacation away from mans quest for satisfaction, by using chemistry to create a dearth of deodorants, soaps, shaving creams, etc. But for me the most treasured part of this conglomeration of tires and steel are the two flushing toilets that will provide to all, a comfortable experience.
It’s time to gather some cattle. We take 25 guests on our drives, but we have lots of rangeland to get over so we break up into three groups  of eight guests and two wranglers. Pack yourself a lunch, tie it behind your saddle and you’re ready to head out. Sometimes cattle are moved from pasture to pasture and sometimes we’re moving the herd to our headquarters to sell their years work. But whatever we’re doing it’s always important, and nobody has ever told me they didn’t get enough horseback time.

photo

If a cattle drive is on your bucket list, or your thinking of a mid – life career change, or you want to feel a little pain and a lot of joy, then come join us for a magical experience.

See Ya,
Jack