Current Progressive Cattle digital edition


Read online content from popular Progressive Cattle columnists including Paul Marchant (Irons in the fire), Baxter Black (On the edge of common sense) and Yevet Tenney (Just dropping by), plus comments from Progressive Cattle editors.


You’ve been there, trying not to make your eyerolls too terribly obvious, as the guy who always, always has to make dang sure everyone knows just how much of a cowboy he is asserts control of the situation.

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I just heard the news: Baxter Black passed away. By the time this goes to print, the news will have spread. I never had the chance to meet the man personally, but I valued him and his work.

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Summer was upon us. I was sure of it. There were several telltale signs: the sweat running into my eyes from under my hat, the worn-out little roan gelding under my saddle and the cantankerous, uncooperative cows that were now very much under my skin.

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“Your sadness pains me deeply
and I know you’ll miss this man.
But, it’s true what you’ve been hearing, Heaven is a real place.”
The Lord spoke to the heavy hearts
that stood with hats in hand.
“Your sadness pains me deeply
and I know you’ll miss this man.
But, it’s true what you’ve been hearing, Heaven is a real place.
That’s no small consolation.
You should use that fact to face

The emptiness his parting left
that seeps into your bones.
And draw on it to ease your pain.
For he is not alone.
You see, all his friends are up here
and all his loved ones, too.
’Cause it wouldn’t be a heaven
without each one of you.

And heaven for a cowboy
is just what you might expect.
It’s horses that need tunin’ up
and heifers that need checked.
It’s long rides with a purpose
and a code that lights the way.
And a satisfying reason
to get up every day.

It’s the ranch he’s always dreamed of
and never knew he’d find.
And if you think about it,
you can see it in your mind.
Him, leanin’ in the saddle
with his ol’ hat on his head.
Contentment set upon his face
like blankets on a bed.

The leather creaks a little
as he shifts there in the seat.
The bit chains give a jingle
when his pony switches feet.
And you somehow get the feelin’
that he’s sittin’ on a throne.
A-gazin’ out on paradise
just like it was his own.

I can promise you he’s happy,
though I know you can’t pretend
you’re glad he made the journey.
It’s too hard to comprehend.
The earthly way you look
at things can never satisfy
your lack of understanding
for the answer to the ‘Why?’

So, I offer this small comfort
to put your grief to rest,
I only take the top hands
’cause my crew’s the very best.
And I know it might seem selfish
to friends and next of kin,
but I needed one more cowboy
and Baxter fit right in.”   end mark

They call them the dog days of summer. I always figured it was because a person felt like lying in the shade all day and barking at folks that bothered him, like an old cow dog. National Geographic tells me it has something to do with the Dog Star the Romans would see in July. I didn’t realize it was so hot there that even the stars want to lie around all day too.

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Some years ago, I was in Dallas for one of the charity events we support, and a guy asked me what I “do.” I gave my usual, “I’m in agriculture,” which always seems to lead to the inquiry of whether we have a ranch and then to the rather personal follow up question of, “How big is it?” But he caught me off-guard with, “That’s the life. Outside whenever you want, nature all around. No crowds, no traffic, no pollution or crime. I want something like that.”

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