Monthly Archives: June 2018


To some of my ancestors, June 21 was significant for being the summer solstice, the coming of the summer growing season!

It was celebrated with bonfires, singing, and dancing. Those people lived in a temperate climate. We have migrated to an IN-temperate climate, the edge of the chihuahua desert where we merely note the passing of the rainy season and look forward to four or five months of heat.

All outdoor activity now takes place in early morning or late evening.

The middle of the day is siesta.

Essentially we live in two twelve hour cycles. That is, unless you live in air conditioning, the salvation of the south, or it’s ruin depending on your point of view.

In my youth we had only shade, fans, and cool well water. My uncle Raymond wrapped up in a wet sheet to sleep.

To a small number of us ageing cowpokes there is a dim memory of beer, cigars, chili, and playing guitars and singing far into the starry night at the

“festival of the bandicoot, when the constellation of Chingas the duck rises in the West!”

Juneteenth For All!!

Today is the real Independence Day!

It is the day in 1865 when news of the emancipation proclamation finally reached Texas.

At that point, finally ALL men were free. Here in Texas we call it Juneteenth.

It is also my son’s birthday, though not in 1865. Thus we have extra cause to celebrate. Unfortunately it is raining here. That is unfortunate only because it makes our celebration and parade wet.  It is never unfortunate to have rain in central Texas!  Also I am at work, so I can’t ride in the parade. However I AM proud to be a citizen of a country that celebrates freedom for all, regardless of superficial differences like race, creed, gender, etc.

So, I raise my glass ( non-alcoholic, of course, since I am at work) to freedom for all people, and in celebration of the birth of one of my favorite people, my son!

The glass might contain fresh tomato gazpacho, since ours are finally ripening!

And, as Guy Clark said “there’s one thing money cain’t buy, and that’s true love and home grown tomatoes!”

Happy Juneteenth, Y’all!

The Pasture is our Lab

Recently I’ve been getting horses in for training, or retraining because they are found to be hard to handle out on trail rides.

As much as I hate to say it, I’ve produced my fair share of these horses as well. I believe the basic reason for this is the lack of exposure to “the world”.

I think we spend too much time in the artificial environment of the arena.

Those wet saddle blankets need to be produced out in the pasture, where “old pony” is faced with variety , instead of a wall or fence.

Once we get a handle on them so that we are pretty sure they’re not in a mood to buck, then we need to go outside. This is easier if you can arrange the first few rides to be with an older settled partner. We call those horses the Padrinos, or Godfathers.

These rides are at a walk, and at first short and sweet. We want to show the colt that there are a lot of “things” out there, but they aren’t harmful. They need reassurance.

With time the rides get longer, then as the colt builds confidence, the Padrino may not be there. Ultimately, we go check cows, and trot long stretches.

Eventually we cross water, negotiate steep creek banks, and lope across level ground.

By doing this the colt learns to have trust in his rider.

The next phase is the time when the colt goes along on a cattle gathering with a team of experienced horses. With time he gets to sort cattle in the pen, then maybe learn to handle a rope, open and close gates, and gallop down a fence to return a bunch quitter to the herd.

After that, not too much will bother our young recruit.

A friend who trained hunting dogs once told me that once you have taught a dog a certain lesson, you need to repeat it in four different locations. I believe this is true for horses as well. A horse that you plan to take to a show or to a parade, or other event needs to have seen different country, and learned that trust in the rider.

Of course this process can’t happen in just thirty days. That’s why it takes a couple of years to “finish” a ranch horse or a recreational horse. Multiply that times three or more for a dressage horse, or a reiner.

In all this phase of training which is known as the “campaign” or “outside” phase, safety is the watchword. Remember; it’s a long walk back to the house!

Or put another way, a cowboy who gets bucked off out in the pasture gets even by making the colt walk home by himself!

Your Number

When I was a teenage cowboy wannabe (instead of a middle age cowboy wannabe) the old rascals I used to hang out with would share their “wisdom” with me.

Picture a scrawny leather faced hossman sitting cross legged with one skinny leg dangling down with the pants cuff turned up being used for an ashtray. He tapped ash off his hand rolled Bull Durham into his cuff, and took a deep breath, and pontificated:

“ya cain’t kill a man til his number’s up! Hit don’t matter if’n yore a’ Layin’ up in yer bedroll, er forkin’ a green eyed owl headed bronc. When yer number’s up the Boss is gonna call you home!”

Well, now we hear about folk rushing the beat. One that passed from us this week was a man I admired much, Anthony Bourdain.

They say he took his own life. I was really sad to hear it. But I am also dumbfounded. Partly because I’m way too chicken to do myself in.

It’d probably fail, anyway. Then I’d be a cripple, even more than I am.

But, we’ve lost a guy who tried to stitch a torn world back together with food and drink.

His medium was TV and he was so genuine and straightforward. He went to “parts unknown” places we rarely hear about.

Some of his destinations were those that we call “enemies”. He ate their ethnic food, and drank with them, and recorded their stories.

He opened our minds, and our hearts. We saw ourselves in people we may not have otherwise known even existed.

I can see his smile and hear his narrative even now. Even though I never knew him personally, I felt like he was a friend. Warts and all, he just put himself out there like he was.

I feel like we need more of him. But he’s gone. His example can live on, however, because we can look at others the way he did.

Like my mamma said “we’re all just folks, more alike than different.” Anthony showed us that. Thanks pard, adios!