Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Shared Sins

Ranch ducks!
This morning I got robospammed by a cute little algorithm who calls herself lorraine. She represents the Society of Professional Journalists.

Before I dig in, let me try to make a couple of things clear. I am, technically, a journalist. Got credentials and ayythang. I write for a weekly ag publication called The Business Farmer, based out of Scottsbluff, Neb., a short 45 miles north of the ranch.

I also worked for several years as writer/reporter/photographer -- and finally -- editor, of Kimball's once hometown newspaper, the Western Nebraska Observer.

Before that I worked on the ol' kollidge newspaper while taking quite a few journalism classes at a nearly-local school of lowish higher learning.

On the first day of newsjay-101 I learned that the purpose of journalism, and therefore the purpose of journalists, is to inform, educate and entertain the public. I was also made aware of the Code of Ethics of the profession, promulgated right there in lorraine's office.

This morning's missive from lorraine referenced a 2012 blog post of mine in which I cited the code and rather took the profession to task. She noted that since I'd done so, she "figured that free press is a subject you care for."

She wanted me to link a blog post which teaches journalists how to do their work in complete secrecy and without transparency. Here's the text of the lovely lorraine's message.
Hello there !
I saw that you mentioned the Society of Professional Journalists on your page so I figured that free press is a subject you care for.
This is not an easy time for journalists all over the world, with the discoveries of surveillance on citizens, which includes journalists and their sources.
I’d like to ask you to share a guide, written by one journalist to his colleagues all over the world. The guide can help them protect their work and fulfil their mission.
If you can add it to your page, as well as share it over social networks, it would be a tremendous help to the free press.
Thanks in advance,

Now here's my suggestion. I suggest you chase the links and read at least a bit of what is on offer. I suggest you look at the code of ethics first. I suggest you note the fact that the code isn't really a standard (should rather than shall), and also think about whether those notions seem appropriate for the exercise of the rights and responsibilities of a free press in this nation -- given the history and reality of the founding of America and her Constitution and Bill of Rights and all that jazz.

And then ask yourself what your responsibility is as a sovereign citizen of the land and as a consumer and user of journalism.

That is all.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Life's like that

In the end, the little calf who couldn't get up couldn't pull it off. She died about 3 p.m. today.

She seemed to be fine this morning, seemed to be continuing to gain strength and coordination. She was trying hard to figure out how to get up on her own, and looked as if she'd figure it out in a day or two.

But at lunchtime she was flat out, unresponsive, and had developed cheyne-stokes breathing. She was clearly on her way out. Thankfully she was unconscious and in no pain.

I posted her and found that her lungs were completely congested. Interestingly, she also had free blood in her pericardium. I could find no other defect in the heart, so that pericardial blood is a puzzle.

The proximate cause of death was fulminant pneumonia, long known as the friend of the dying.

She had a short life with a lot of challenges but she never suffered as far as I could tell. Sometimes that's just the way it goes.

Life's like that.

Monday, May 29, 2017

I'm Grouchy!

And no, I'm not channeling the famous Emmanuel de Grouchy, Marshal and Peer of France.

Despite the fact that it's a beautiful day here on Nebraska, and despite the fact that nature and my fellow humans keep shoving my face into beautiful and enchanting things...

...I'm irritable and irascible and find myself in a tizzy whenever things don't go exactly to my master plan.

In other words, I'm grouchy.


Two of the last three cows due to calve had new babies at their sides this morning. That's a great thing. One of the cows was quite possessive and prevented me from tagging, banding and vaccinating her calf, which is really no big deal at all as I can get that chore done later today or even tomorrow. Nevertheless, instead of appreciating a pair of healthy new calves I'm grouchy because I couldn't do things exactly my way.

I think part of the problem is that I'm a bit task saturated, trying to close out calving, nurture the calf that can't get up, plan and execute a long road trip, continue planning the ranch guest house project, get ahead on newspaper stories, and work on my maggie-opie.

But it's mostly that I'm being particularly self-centered.

At least I can abuse my blog readers to make myself feel better! :)

How about something lighthearted and amusing? Ever see a jackrabbit staring down a tractor?

And here is a bit of winter wheat which is headed out and on the verge of flowering.

And this is jointed goatgrass. Boo! Hiss!

Jointed goatgrass is, like wheat, a winter annual grass. So it loves to grow in the same place wheat grows. Unfortunately, it's a weed which steals water and nutrients from wheat and also produces a grain which contaminates the wheat crop and costs the farmer money. But since it's a winter annual grass herbicides that will kill it will also kill wheat. So it's a tough problem for farmers.

Fortunately for me, I'm far too lazy to be a farmer.

Hope you are all having a wonderful holiday!  :)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Calf update

I'm working on a magnum opus about being an American. I'm going to split it up into a number of posts because, well, common sense and sanity. It's a work in progress and it'll debut here in extremely rough and nearly unreadable form. Because it's a process. And also because I'm unfairly placing the burden of shooting holes in my high and mighty proclamations on you, dear readers.

Just a warning. There's still time to block the web address of this blog!


Big thunderstorm night before last.

Lots of rain and hail but not a lot of wind. The moisture was welcome but a lot of it ran downhill as the soil is still fairly saturated from our last rainfall and snow.

The next morning a pair of daredevil Pronghorns very nearly collided with me as I drove through the pasture. I didn't see them coming until the leader blasted across my nose with only 20 feet of separation. Dash Two crossed with about 10 feet of clearance. Assholes.


Day before yesterday the calf who couldn't get up was able to stand on her own and nurse. This was a wonderful thing and made me very happy.

She still couldn't get up on her own, and as of today she still can't, but she's getting stronger and I think she'll get it figured out. So I'm feeling good about her. This is a copy of my video message to my farmer friends in Herefordshire.

In the video above I mentioned the Sea Vixen crash at NAS Yeovilton on Saturday (May 21). I really cringed to see that Sea Vixen land gear up, but it did land on the wing tanks, so I doubt the damage was too severe.

When I first posted this up, I did a terrible thing by just throwing the above pic and commentary in the middle of a report on calf 768. Talk about an abrupt transition! You couldn't tell what I was talking about, calf or wrecked airplane. SMH.

Okay, back to the calf.

She's getting better it seems, but it's a process. She's recovering from a very serious and life threatening malady, and it's to be expected that her recovery won't be instantaneous or trouble free.

Yesterday (Saturday, May 27) she had a bit of a setback. Nothing terrible, but a bump on the road to recovery.

In a nutshell, she ate too much on that first day back at the udder, so yesterday she had a pretty severe tummy ache, as well as some of the "after" affects (if you take my meaning) of overindulging. She's still a bit droopy today but seems to be feeling better and also seems to be much stronger in the legs and with improved balance and locomotion.

You might wonder why and how she overate, and I only have a theory to offer up. First of all, she was hungry. Second of all the cow was very attentive and stood quite still while the calf nursed. This is a bit unusual, because cows usually only stand still for a minute, or maybe two, while their calf nurses. Then they move on, grazing as they go, and require that the calf figure it out. I suspect (but cannot know) that 768's mama understood at some level that her baby wasn't going to be able to move around and nurse. Finally, the cow had a full udder, and it had to be a relief to let the calf nurse the fullness away.

At the moment, that's about all I've got. Hope you're all having a great day!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Here's what veterans owe the fallen

Yesterday I told you what I believe you owe to America's Fallen. The "you" I referenced is a generic you, and in general, that means "all" of you (including me) Americans.

If you really haven't thought about those things before, may I suggest it's time to do so? If you felt a sting from my words, let me assure you that it wasn't my intent to sting you. If you felt a sting, it might be because a part of you recognizes that there is more you could and should be doing to serve our Nation -- and in particular -- the principles and ideals that are America's heart and soul.

If you have thought about those things and you work very hard to be the best American you can be, GREAT!

Now do more.

Don't go change the world, just try to do more and better. None of us are perfect, least of all me. And if you don't stay ahead of me I might catch up! Think how firetrucked up that would be!

Having said all that, and having spouted yesterday's long didactic line about the debt we all owe the Fallen, I planned to write something along the same lines today, aimed not at a generic "you" but rather at veterans.

The reason I planned to do this is because I run into a lot of veterans who behave exactly like SJW's and professional victims, as if they are a special breed of human being, better, more pure, and more worthy than any slimy civilian.

Oh, that bothers me! It's the kind of self-serving bullshit that really brings out the dickhead in me. You know, the guy who doesn't want to reason at all, just wants to start punching.

Hey, I told you I wasn't perfect, right?

I'll put something together when I figure out how to do it with my big boy pants on. In the mean time, John Burk says it far better than I can.

IMO, #VETFLAKES is perhaps the most useful hashtag of all time.

This one from last year is great too.

Maybe I'll be evolved enough to write something of my own next year.

In the meantime, America, enjoy yourselves this weekend! Grab your life with both hands and live it! #forthefallen

Friday, May 26, 2017

Here's what you owe the fallen

And so it begins. Memorial Day coincides with the beginning of summer. Here in Kimball the kids have been released from scholastic durance vile and they're diving headlong into the warmth of sunlight and freedom. I remember what that felt like, and as I look at the clusters of running, biking, adventuring boys and girls I can't help but smile and feel good.


I can turn on a picture show in my head and review each and every one of the fallen men and women who I actually laid my hands on. There are so many of them!

The weight of those lost lives has been a hard, hard burden to bear. I'm very fortunate, though, for I have lived long enough now to have worked through my often self-centered grief and emerge with clear eyes and what I believe to be the proper perspective for a sovereign citizen of these United States. Perhaps I am on the cusp of attaining wisdom.


Here’s what you owe to the fallen.

Memorial Day will be observed on Monday, May 29. This is a day set aside to honor those Americans who have fallen in service to their country. To date, more than 1,196,541 have fallen during war time, and some tens of thousands during peacetime.

What do you owe these men and women?

First of all, you must recognize that the debt you owe is a debt which can only be settled in kind. Those men and women gave every single thing they had, and every single thing they could ever have, to their nation. Only those who also fall in service can fully retire their debt.

You owe them that understanding.

Secondly, you need to understand what they fell in service of. No American service member has ever fought for a king, or for the government, or for congress. No American serviceman has ever fought for their state or their town or their friends and neighbors or even for their family. A sincere desire to serve and protect these things -- with the exception of a king, obviously -- was certainly a major factor in every service member's decision to serve. But those things are not what they served.

What all American service members have always formally and officially served are the principles and ideas and ideals that define our nation. American service members have always sworn an oath of service, and it has never been to our geographical or political nation. The oath has always been to something much larger than population and geography.

The first American oath of service was part of the act which created the Continental Army on June 14, 1775 (exactly two years before the US Flag was adopted -- a bit of off-topic historical trivia).

In this first oath a soldier swore to "bind myself" to the rules and regulations "as are, or shall be, established for the government of the said Army." Though not explicitly stated in the oath, these men were aligning themselves with the effort to overthrow the rule of a tyrant monarch and establish a nation based on the principle that all men are created equal and endowed with unalienable rights which transcend human governance.

These principles were formally established and published for the world to know on July 4, 1776.

The original oath was replaced by Section 3, Article 1, of the Articles of War approved by Congress on 20 September 1776:

"I _____ swear (or affirm as the case may be) to be trued to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies opposers whatsoever; and to observe and obey the orders of the Continental Congress, and the orders of the Generals and officers set over me by them."

In swearing to be "trued to the United States of America" these men were swearing allegiance to to the principles enumerated in the Declaration of Independence.

Since 1789 each service member has sworn an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States, which enumerates and codifies the principles and ideas upon which our nation is formed. The first oath under the Constitution was approved by Act of Congress on September 29, 1789. This oath applied to all commissioned officers, non-commissioned officers and privates in the service of the United States.

"I, _____, do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the constitution of the United States. I, _____, do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) to bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully, against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and to observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States of America, and the orders of the officers appointed over me."

Although the wording has changed somewhat over the years, the core of the oath remains the same; support and defense of the Constitution of the United States, true faith and allegiance to the principles and ideas of the nation, and to obey the lawful orders of the President and military superiors.

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

"I, _____, having been appointed an solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God."

This then is the reality. America’s fighting men and women have not and do not fight for you as an individual. They have not and do not fight for your freedom or to keep you safe. Those things are for each individual sovereign American citizen to preserve. America’s fighting men and women fight to support and defend the Constitution, which codifies the heart of our nation -- her principles and her ideals.

Therefore, to America’s fallen, you owe the responsibility to understand what they actually fell in service of.

You owe them that.

You must also understand that no American service member has ever fallen in vain, nor were any their deaths meaningless. They fell in defense of the Constitution, the codified embodiment of this nation’s principles and ideals, which a fallen Commander In Chief (can you figure out which one?) called the last, best hope of Earth. You owe them that understanding.

You owe them that.

You owe them the effort of understanding and thinking deeply about what America is in fact and in reality. You owe them to be the best and most principled American you can be. You owe them to do what another fallen Commander In Chief once famously suggested, to ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

You owe them that.

You also owe the fallen this. You must do your best to practice the First Principle of our Nation in all of your affairs. You must embrace and practice the self-evident truth that all men are created equal and endowed with unalienable natural rights. You must understand that the fallen were men and women just like you, not better human beings, not worse human beings, but equal to you as you are equal to them. Only in this way can you gain a bit of understanding as to the magnitude of their sacrifice.

You owe them that.

You must understand that the sacrifice of the fallen is part of the price paid to give you title, free and clear, to the blessings of Liberty. You must understand that this gift is above any mortal gift bestowed by any tribe or government throughout the long history of mankind. You must understand that the government of the United States does not give you this gift either, that the government is formally constrained from interfering with or usurping your unalienable natural rights. You must understand that no, you don't have a special deal, and no, you don't deserve anything above and beyond the blessing you already own. This understanding you owe to the fallen.

Finally, you must live your life. You must embrace the joys and sorrows, triumphs and tragedies, of the life you have. You must do this because the fallen cannot, because they sacrificed every single thing they had to preserve and protect and support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

These things you owe the fallen.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Coming up roses

Yesterday it was primroses...

Today wild prairie roses.

Most prairie roses, which are quite common shrubs out in the prairie, have pink blossoms.

This one has buttery yellow blossoms.

The lore is that my great-grandmother Maude

No slouch of a gardener

Transplanted this one, which started out pink-blossomed but became yellow-blossomed.

Whether this sis true or not I have no idea. It's always a pretty plant though, and it reliably produces abundant flowers at or around Memorial Day.


This morning the calf who couldn't get up was bright and perky. When I appeared with her bottle she began to lick her lips, and as I stood close to her she tried to suckle my pants leg. It's always such an endearing feeling to see that spark of recognition. You know the calf is only interested in milk but you can't help but feel that it "likes" you.

I put her in her sling and fed her the bottle, which she took with great enthusiasm. She also seemed to be stronger in her legs, and seemed to be trying to figure out how to walk. Furthermore, as she looked around she seemed to recognize her mama and seemed to be trying to figure out how to walk over and nurse.

Of course those are just my impressions, flavored with anthropomorphization and wishes.

I left her in the sling and went to check cows. When I returned the rope holding the left front of the sling had come untied, leaving the calf unsupported up front.

Nevertheless, she was standing up.

That was a very good sign. I was quite sure that the only thing holding her up was the back of the sling, but I decided to see if my certainty would be supported by evidence. If I loosened the back of the sling and she tumbled to the ground, my hypothesis would be proved. If, on the other hand, she was able to stand, my hypothesis would be falsified.

Ever so slowly and quietly I loosened the remaining ropes and let the sling fall to the ground.

And little 768 remained standing.

Hard to describe how good that felt.

She still can't walk without falling down, and I don't think she can get up by herself yet. But I'm starting to think she'll be able to do those things on her own, and perhaps sooner than I'd like to hope.

I think her "fan club" and their thoughts and prayers have been an important factor.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sling load

We used to do sling loads in the Sea King. Mostly drones, but occasionally cargo. It was usually fun, always tricky, and occasionally a bit, er, risky.

But that was a long time ago.

This week I've been slinging the calf who can't get up on her own.

Today she seems to be working harder to get up on her own, and she seems to be trying to stand and even walk a bit when she's in the sling. But she doesn't have it figured out yet.

I think we may be making progress but it's hard to tell.

I'm beginning to think she's got more of a left-side deficit and a back end deficit, but again, it's hard to tell.

After a week of cool, wet weather it's sunshiny and warm today. The cool and wet are forecast to return tomorrow through Sunday, with perhaps a return to pleasant weather on Memorial Day.

The cold and wet may have prompted a dove to nest on the tractor. I think she gave up on that idea as the nest seems abandoned.

Starting to see a lot of primroses.

And some gooses!

Hope you all are having a fine day.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It ain't all moo-cows and mansions

Mostly, sure.

But there are other things too.

The little calf who can't get up continues to hold her own. When I finished giving her her bottle this morning she tried really hard to get up and have some more, which is a good sign. She seems to be a bit stronger and a bit more coordinated today, but that might just be wishful thinking on my part. We'll keep on keepin' on.

The other calves were enjoying breakfast in the pasture this morning. They like salads and milkshakes.

Work on the plan for the mansion continues apace. I'm reliably informed that I am acting as my own general contractor, which is allegedly a deucedly hard job. Should save myself some coin in the end, and I expect to see a large kickback!

Now then, on with the show.

There was a Twin Bonanza on the ramp at Joint Base Kimball/NAS PrairieAdventure this morning.

I've always been a sucker for the Beech 50, particularly the B50. They just do it for me.

This one came off the line at Wichita in March, 1954.

It's a very pretty airplane and seems to be well used and well cared for.

It's a big airplane for a light twin, sits tall on trike undercarriage and weighs in at 4,000 lbs empty and 6,500 gross.

It's powered by a pair of Lycoming GO-435 air cooled, horizontally opposed six bangers making about 240 hp a side and driving three-bladed Hartzell props.

Not a speed demon, doesn't carry a huge load, fairly short legs, but a robust and reliable steed.

Now what's that makeup mirror for?

Yeah, that one.

Oh yeah...

Have a great Beechcraft day!