Opinions

Fri
21
Sep

IRISH COLONIZERS END UP ON OPPOSING SIDES

By Bartee Haile

A pair of ambitious Irishmen applied for a giant land grant in sparsely settled Texas on Sep. 20, 1826. They did not want much, just the entire coastal plain between the Sabine and the Nueces!

James Power was 21 years old, when he left the Emerald Isle for the New World in 1809. The shrewd merchant landed in New Orleans and over the next dozen years carved out a comfortable niche for himself.

 

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Fri
21
Sep

That Time Again

It’s fall on the cow outfit. Time to get out the WD 40 and grease up the handles on the squeeze chute. Maybe find the three or four syringes that work, buy some new gaskets and barrels along with a box of needles. Time to look for the ear tagger, nose tongs and dehorning saw. You could stock up on hot shot batteries and plastic whips and shovel out the chute floor before it freezes.

That’ll be the easy part of workin’ your cows this fall, the mechanical tasks associated with good management. Yet, laying in wait like the hangover after the night before, is that ominous responsibility that all good cowmen dread… that’s right, boys… the open cow.

 

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Fri
07
Sep

Labor Day on the Farm

Labor Day was created by Unions to recognize the American Worker. It did not include ranching and farming; if they did it would destroy the ability of a farmer to get a loan. If a farmer included the cost of his daily labor on a financial statement, no banker could find a way to show a profit. But things have changed. ‘Haying’ used to be a full time job for teens in the summer. Tossing bales onto a flat-bed, stacking them on the truck, hauling them back to the hay yard or the barn, throwing bales off and restacking them. It was always hot, sticky, scratchy, sweaty and hard. But if you were on the football team in high school you’d finish the last cutting with money in the bank and muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger! Oh, and the suntan was free.

Fri
07
Sep

HOUSTON LOCKS NAVY SECRETARY OUT OF OFFICE

By Bartee Haile

Returning to work on Sep. 5, 1837, Samuel Rhoads Fisher, secretary of the Texas Navy, was stunned to discover that President Sam Houston had changed the locks on him.

When the Independence appeared off the port of Velasco in the spring of 1837, the whole town went down to the docks. No one wanted to miss the triumphant return of William H. Wharton, who singlehandedly had talked the United States into recognizing the new nation of Texas.

Among the host of dignitaries on hand to greet the diplomat was naval secretary Fisher. But instead of embracing his old friend, he watched helplessly as Wharton and the Lone Star sailors were taken prisoner by the Mexican navy.

 

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Fri
31
Aug

A DOUBLE LIFE ENDS IN DOUBLE MURDER

By Bartee Haile

The afternoon editions of Houston newspapers sold out in minutes on Aug. 31, 1931 as readers hungry for the facts behind the whispered rumors of a shocking double murder bought up every copy. Early that morning, frightened tenants in an upscale apartment building reported hearing the sound of gunshots to the landlord. He in turn called police, who rushed to the Montrose address southwest of downtown.

With a pass key provided by the property owner, officers gained access to the blood stained premises. Chester Jones, 35, and his 25 year old wife Jane were still in their pajamas, when unknown intruders surprised them at the breakfast table. The husband was shot where he sat – once in the head, four times in the chest and once in the hip. The missus must have tried to run but was knocked to the floor by a second shooter, who finished the helpless woman off with four bullets from a pistol of a different caliber.

 

Fri
31
Aug

Predator Friendly

A concept in protecting coyotes has been introduced by a group of Montana animal rights disciples; Predator Friendly Wool. They proposed to develop a market for wool raised on ranches where sheep are not protected from predators. The sheep raisers who do not practice predator control are to be paid a bonus on their wool. They propose to sell Predator Friendly Wool products through boutiques.

Well, all I can say is HALLELUJAH! When was the last time anybody wanted to help sheep people? The government took away wool subsidies, eco-freaks wear petrochemical derivatives and cowboys won’t eat sheep. Suddenly, from out of left field we have concerned citizens with expendable income willing to buy and wear wool items.

 

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Fri
24
Aug

FAMOUS RANGER GETS INTO BIG TROUBLE IN BROWNSVILLE

By Bartee Haile

A Congressman, the political boss of the Rio Grande Valley and the mayor of Brownsville all told Capt. Bill McDonald of the Texas Rangers on Aug. 24, 1906 that he had made a big mistake by arresting military personnel on federal property.

After losing his father to a Yankee sniper and the family plantation to carpetbaggers, the young Mississippian and his mother took refuge with relatives in East Texas. Handicapped by a poor education, a lack of wage-earning skills and a giant chip on his shoulder, the newcomer faced a bleak future.

 

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Fri
24
Aug

She Does The Books

This is my wife. She does the books. I do the important stuff

Like mend the fence and check the cows, She makes sure the income’s enough

To cover the cost of farmin’. She’s tight as a new hat band. I need to buy a new baler, she figgers out if we can.

I spend all day in the pickup, she’s in the office all day Just talkin’ with the SCS or checkin’ the price of hay Or dealin’ with the accountants and keepin’ the banker straight.

 

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Fri
17
Aug

THE VALDEZ

Lately there has been dissension at the rancho. I have overheard murmurings in the barnyard, in particular regarding my stock trailer. The grumbling animals enlisted my teenage daughter to present their complaints.

In my defense let me describe my trailer. I felt like it was a real bargain when I bought it. Let’s see, in 2000. It’s an eighteen foot Hale, ‘92 model with a bumper hitch. Upon purchasing it from a reputable Hereford breeder who guaranteed it would haul up to eight full grown cows, I made a few minor repairs.

Three of the wheel bearings needed replacing but the left front still spun good. We welded a jack on the tongue, built a new wooden panel for the end gate, put plywood over the rotting floor and bought inner tubes for the two new recaps that didn’t have any tread left.

 

Fri
17
Aug

PROMOTERS LURE LAND-HUNGRY SETTLERS TO PANHANDLE

By Bartee Haile

The Texas legislature created four and a half dozen counties in the Panhandle and South Plains on Aug. 21, 1876, but it took more than drawing lines on a map to populate the last frontier in the Lone Star State. The region was still cattle country well into the 1890’s with only a scattering of villages like Clarendon and Tascosa. But the coming of the railroad, improvements in agriculture and a steep drop in beef prices, that made the ranchers’ range more valuable as farmland, set the stage for a turn-of-the-century land boom. The willingness of the XIT and other cow kingdoms to sell off huge chunks of pasture attracted the interest of heartland sodbusters. Land prices across the Midwest had soared from $20 an acre in the 1880’s to as high as $125 by 1908, and the lure of dirt-cheap real estate was irresistible.

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