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Baxter Black

Baxter Black is a cowboy poet, author, vaquero philosophizer, left-handed roper and former large animal veterinarian.

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Back in Timber’s youth he got a job helpin’ gather wild cattle out of the fields of an Arizona cotton farmer.

He and his pardner, Jessie, tried roping them but were unsuccessful. One, the cows only came into the field at night along with the native deer. Two, the horses were not nocturnally trained and wouldn’t get within a rope’s length of the stealthy beasts.

Plan Two involved the use of a tranquilizer gun. The second night our boys arrived ‘loaded for bear,’ as they say, and began stalking their prey.

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I was visiting with Bill in Alabama. He’s a cattleman, a bit of a philosopher and a constant worrier. I mentioned that one of my friends had sold a set of 520-pound feeder cattle for $1.99 a pound! That’s more than $1,000 a head!

“I know,” said Bill, “I’ve sold some myself but … ” then he paused and added, “I’m wondering if the price is getting too high?”

I cast a skeptical eye but he was serious. “Whattaya mean?” I asked.

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Normally when I get a letter or email from someone who has “seen themselves” in my column, I write back, apologize, swear I’ll try to do better and promise, as a penance, to bathe their Pekingese.

This does not include animal rights loonies, the Association for Political Correctness or the ACLU drum bangers.

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Just because some women have an occupation involving farming and livestock, it doesn’t mean they are not concerned about their appearance, hair, skin and body care. Kadie is one of them.

She’s on a family ranch in Montana. Both she and her husband share the calving duties in the spring, but cold windy weather plays havoc with her beauty regimen.

Last Christmas, she had clipped out an ad for a spa that included hot tubs, massage, pedicures, manicures and mud baths. She even posted a sample page from the ad on her bathroom mirror listing the services she might need.

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I’ve oft addressed the challenge of being true to the cowboy life. Remember, the cowboy’s dream is to be able to support himself throughout his life … without ever getting a job!

This stubborn independence weaves them through a series of vocations as they travel down life’s trail.

Vocations such as: team roper, cutting horse trainer, day-work wrangler, horse shoer, auctioneer, real estate broker, saddle maker, Heel-O-Matic rep, cowboy poet, stuntman, horse whisperer, even the ministry.

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Lassen County, California, is bigger than Rhode Island, but what isn’t? And it has less people than the average funeral in New Orleans.

It is famous for its volcano and Western tradition. Joy and her husband run cows, guide hunters and rent cabins at their ranch near Butte Creek.

It was nighttime, two days before hunting season, and two poachers were butchering a deer hangin’ in a tree down by the road.

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