Friday, June 29, 2012


     I attended a memorial service yesterday at the Prairie Rose near Benton.  For a long time fan of Western Music and a cowboy who lived the code.  Right to the end he lived with dignity and took what came his way with good attitude and endurance.  Of course with most of those I have lost the culprit was cancer.  A name I can hardly bear to mention.
     A wise man once said that you know your are aging when you attend more funerals than weddings.  I have to think hard for the last wedding.  Even though the young is told time and again to savor their youth it is only fully appriciated when it is lost.
     It seems like yesterday that I reached my big 30.  Then a little while back we had a big party for my 50th.  I turn around and I am 57 and next year will be 40 years out of high school.  I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up!
     I turn around and remember the turbulant 60's and Vietnam.  How we all watched the draft lottery in 1973.  Ready to join the Air Force if the number was too low.  I did not want to pound the ground in the jungles.
     I remember Nixon who ended the war and stopped my class from being the next to take our 'senior trip' to the war.  I don't care how big a crook he was I will alway be grateful.
     Joining the fire department was the biggest thing in my life and being forced to retire was the worst.  Ups and downs, here and there, finding new interests and a lot of friends.
     Then something started to happen when I reached 40.  My best friends started to die, mostly from cancer.  To deal with the very personal losses I found out that cowboys do cry and writing helped.  So my venture into cowboy and country poetry and returning to my music took me on another path.
     The friends that have come my way thru music have been a blessing that I never foresaw.  And so I turn around and start losing friends again.  The memorial service with my friends singing tribute brings again the fact that life is fragile.  I have known how fragile from an early age.  Running a rescue squad, ambulance, and fire truck I got an education earlier than most on how fragile life is.
     It surprises me how much I loved to dance and I have not danced now for 20 years.  I can fall off a horse as good as I used to but getting up is not.  Remembering when I rode hay trailers all day, flew down stairs, worked in many manual fields, and loved it.  And turn around now and the best I can do is run my golf cart, set on a stool and sing about life, and attend memorial services.
     It is getting so I am afraid to turn around again.  Boy am I going to feel old by November.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


     This is the time of year that chores are done in the mornings and I hibernate during the day.  It is summer in Kansas.  We had an unusually early spring and our sand plums have been on in full force for three weeks now.  We have made batches of jelly and put away at least two years supply of berries in the freezer.  It seems that something happens like late freezes or hail so we have a bumper crop every other year.  Sand Plum Jelly is the best that there is.  Most everyone from Kansas will tell you this.  And before I start a firestorm I love strawberry and others (not muskidine, ech) that when you compare jellies, sand plum comes out on top.  It is a favorite of our guests here at Wildfire Ranch.
     The comparison to last years temps is that we have had a really mild year.  We even have had some rain so we can put a few more head on grass than last year, at least so far.  We are not out of the woods on our drought yet.
     The one thing you can count on is now that we are reaching 100 + degrees is Global Warming will be a hot topic again.  Once again I remind the chicken littles of the world and those with less than honerable intentions towards our country, it is SUMMER!
     It seems that there is enough baloney coming out of Washington and all the campaigns are putting Mr. Gore on a back stage for now.  But you can be sure that the back stage is busy with all kinds of doomsday prophacies.
     In the mean time our oil companies are producing so much crude now that refining is defining the cost of fuel.  Is it no surprise that right now the price is dropping.  Washington is more focused on controlling other parts of our lives, so the drills are doing what they are supposed to do.
      I see that the Farm Bill has been passed.  I have not seen the details (but that does not stop the critics) but I bet that the 75% of the budget, which is food stamps, has not been cut.  Amazing how people who don't know a plow from a manure spreader make policy. 
      The main reason there is a farm bill at all is the years of official "cheap food" policies that have manipulated the markets so farmers don't get the full value of their production.  Now that markets are up and people are paying a little more what they should, the old farm programs can be modified.  Just keep yer mitts off what makes real prosperity, a free market system.  Government planning never works.  Yet they want to plan your life.
     I read where the cost of sending a student to college is over $125,000.00.  So the policies of pushing attendence, yet lowering educational requirements, are making it tough to go to college.  Maybe it is time that self initiative and alternatives to the prescribed and decreed standards that are set down by those in authority be changed.  And maybe it is time to increase a little higher expectations from the parents.  Funny that the highest scores are coming from home schooled students.  One professor has even kept track of all the students he has taught over his career and his advice to parents is get them out of the Public Schools.
     Many, if not the most, of the richest and most successful people in the world were not inhibited by a higher education.  Many of the people we look up to today started with an idea and a business in the garage.  We stop kids from working and learning, let them set around texting and playing electronic violent and sexually expicit games.  Then we watch TV where they advertise telling kids to playing at least one hour a day.  We have to use pro athletes to persuade them to do that.
     Is it time to stop and reflect on how you run your affairs.  A wise man once said, "If each person would clean up their own backyard the world would not be at war".

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


    I spent last weekend doing something that I have never done before.  I went to Stafford Kansas to the Henderson House Bed and Breakfast, as a guest of a group from Kansas City, for a murder mystery party.  It was different and fun.  The group of friends that organized the event are from the Kansas City region.  I was the only man in the group of eight women so it was not like getting together with the guys.  It was great to do something totally different.
     I journeyed to Stafford and had a great hamburger at the Curtis Cafe.  The Cafe is famous for it's decor, walls covered by jigsaw puzzles.  There were newspaper articles about the original owner and her passion for puzzles. 
     I have always liked Stafford.  There is a very real sense of history here and the efforts to remember the past continue to grow.  There are some great old homes in this town that have been restored and many more that need a loving owner to fix up.  One huge house caught my eye because of not only it's size but the unusual features that we call 'Ginger Bread'.  The other reason is it is literally starting to rot away.  It needs a person with vision and deep pockets.  I later found out that it was originally a hospital and the family living there just cannot afford to do all the work.
     The Henderson House B&B is a collection of big Victorian homes that have been restored and attract visitors from all over the country.  Clare Moore and His wife Nancy have gone the extra mile to create a special place to enjoy small town Kansas.
     There is a renovated movie theater downtown in Stafford and a great place called the SEED Center.  The SEED Center is a part of the Stafford School system whic is a Entrepenuer center for it's students.  Students write a business plan and have to seel the concept to the teacher, school board, and their parents.  If approved the school district buys the needed equipment and materials and provides the space.  The rest is up to the motivation of the students.  The variety and sophistication of businesses leaves you thinking that these have to be older than high school students.  So far there has been 100% of the students go on to higher education.
     We toured two of the several buildings of the Stafford County Museum.  The amount of information contained in this museum would rival larger towns.  The various buildings containing the museum are all historical.
     There is also a bitter history of what Stafford could have been and how a small mind and bitter feelings prevented the town from growing into a larger city.  This is a story for another time.  Leave it said that one person with a small following can affect the long term prospects of any community.  There are some towns following the same path while others are looking to the future and growing.
      On the following day there was a tour of Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.  The efforts to return the salt water marsh to it's original state are coming along well.  A recent tornado inadvertantly helped remove a lot of invasive trees and the marsh needs only the return of the regular rains to return to it's full state.
     The last thing was noontime Sunday Dinner at the Wheatland Cafe in Hudson.  Fried chicken, Ham and homade ice cream.  The cafe is opne only on sunday and the line was huge.  Homade bread using Hudson Cream Flour was also served.  Hudson is hometown to Stafford County Mills that produce the highest quality flour in the world.  The cafe is in the shadow of the mill.
     It was a great weekend and another chance to explore small town America.
     To contact the Henderson House for a wonderful B&B stay call 800-888-1417.  Look at their web site on the website.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


     There is a perfect storm brewing that it may be too late to stop.  The western areas of the country especially the national parks, forests, and monuments as well as all that surrounds them, are poised for a fire that will surpass anything seen before.  The reasons are varied but the remedies are being stopped by the obsessive belief in Global Warming.
     Even thought the statistics were admitted to be false and the premise exposed that it was a big game to control countries and economies, especially the US.  We have been experiencing a long over due but periodic drought that has created tinder dry conditions all over the country.
     The use of science and scientific research has been scewed with political and emotional issues.  For one hundred years there has been a policy of stopping every fire that happens.  Yet it is proven that fire is a basic cycle in both forest and prairie.  The Bambi syndrome and the classic Smokey the Bear promotion injected emotionalism into the management of our resources.
     The environmental extremist organizations and even some mainline groups have bought into the politically correctness that has hamstrung the people who live by the resources and manage them.
     The logging industry that brought prosperity to not only the forest areas but the entire country have been mostly put out of business.  Very few people do not like the clear cutting that used to take place yet see where the fires stop and are controlled in many instances.  Fire is natures clear cut.  Some species of trees cannot sprout and grow without naturally occurring fire that splits the seed hulls and allows them to grow.
      The canopy of a mature forest does not let new trees grow and is not ideal for wildlife.  The mandated multiple use of our forest lands controlled by the government have had all the management taken from them and placed in the hands of lawyers and judges.  And as the experienced managers retire or are fired, they are replaced with new people trained in the new agenda with little real experience.
     Another part of the puzzle is an aging fleet of air tankers.  The planes are stressed past any point of logical life and are frequently grounded as well as crash.  This all costs lives.
     The new generation of fire tanker created to replace the smaller worn out models are not allowed to go into service.  Yet the Evergreen Airlines 747 replaces 12 smaller bombers and can operate from a higher altitude than the old ones.  It is a proven technology.  But it will not be deployed because the government will not sign the contract or certification of the plane.
     The next is the pine beetle killed forests that are spreading at a rapid pace.  Due to lawsuits and the loggers going out of business there is not a fast enough salvage and clean up of the dead trees.  This will be the source of the big one.
     Add in the fact that over 40% of the Federal firefighters will be retiring in the next few years.  There are already many units not being staffed for lack of qualified captains to head the crews.
     Plus the latest intelligence from Alqueda is the encouragement for would be terrorists in the US to go out and start fires in these areas.
     If you think it is bad now wait until the season is advanced and all this comes together into a perfect storm.  As I say it may be to late to stop the perfect storm from happening, but, we can always count on congress to do nothing, the federal bureaucracy to do nothing, and the courts to not stop the obvious frivolous suits that stop any action from being taken.
     How many funerals will it take for you and others to raise a voice and put an end to this travesty?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


     When ever the federal government gets involved with regulation and eliminates the free market system we end up with things like this.  I am talking about the FCC and a radio group that is obviously running stations as a tax dodge rather than a public service.
     The practices of radio and television have been supposedly governed by the FCC for the good of the public.  MY FOOT!  Radio stations that are started up are supposed to have the licensing put up for public bid in order to create a fair market place.  Radio and TV have been treated as a vital service for informed citizens.  There are rules and regulations on how much public service time and how a radio company should conduct itself to the benefit of the viewer or listener.
     If you have ever triend to go to the FCC website for information or even to ask questions you find yourself in a site that is designed to confuse and never give the answers you are looking for.  The few corporations that control 90% of the airwaves have the inside track on all new releases of licensing for new areas.
     Of course as in all government matters this has gone so far off base that there is no real fairness left in either.  In our area radio reception is sketchy at best.  Until the last few years the choices were very limited and there was no local news or real participation in the community as the larger population areas enjoy.
     The electronic media caters to a few growing conglomerates that are there to put on what they 'deem' is what the public wants and needs.  Yet the standard practice is now doing things that a few years ago people went to jail over.  And the larger music industry dicates what is going to be served up for local listeners.  It is a cozy set up.
      I have written before about Journal Broadcast group and the destruction of the old 1070 KFTI radio ranch.  But there are other groups just as caloused to the audience in our own state.
      The group that owns a 100,000 watt station here has tried to leave our community and go to the very limit of what the FCC license will allow.  It is no surprise since none of the programing or personalities are run from the local studio.  The businesses that have spent a lot of money in the area will be doing business, again with a company that has no concern for the area.
      How the station has been run is about as contrary to good business as can be.  So it is obvious that the managing partner and the silent partner are simply buying stations to take advantage of tax breaks.
      It is so sad to watch something that was so exciting to the area be pulled out as many things have been in the past.  Any suggestions from outside the organization have been in large part ignored.
      To add salt to the wound this coming weekend they are leaving town and hoping no one will notice.  There is one way to deal with callous companies who do not have the best intrest of their listeners at heart.  This is with the pocket book.
     Maybe at some point the running of the station at a loss will be enough for the owners and they sell it to owners who care.  I do feel sorry for all the other areas that this group keeps buying stations or starting new ones and pull the same thing on them.
     Given the track record of these media deals they will be spun off to an even larger company for a huge amount and the results will be the same.  There is a monopoly of the media that is blessed by the  federal agencies who are charged with fairness and standards.
     Wonder when all is bought by Chinese interests?

Monday, June 4, 2012


     You know the only thing that stays the same is change.  A common saying but so true.  I don't like getting older and not being able to do the things I used to.  I hate to see good things come to an end.  But regardless how you feel things always change.
     I had the privelage to do a talk at the Hillsboro Kansas Senior Center last week.  I left so I could add a few extra miles of driving in the Flint Hills.  As I passed one of the most historic ranches in Kansas that has really been kept up I saw the auction sign.  OH NO!
     The historic Clover Cliff Ranch is selling all the personal property and furnishings.  The owners have been famous for their wonderful collection of antiques and used them to furnish all the houses and cabins as a wonderful Bed and Breakfast.  I so hope that that is not coming to an end.  I do not know the story other than she has passed on and he is getting older.
     Besides the wonderful setting and the way the whole place has been kept up as a show place, there is one historic fact.  The Clover Cliff was the first ranch in the state to plant alfalfa for hay.  This founded an industry and supported another.  Setting the example of supplementing livestocks diet in the winter time instead of getting by on grazing dormat grass.
     I would dearly love to attend this auction because I have fallen in love with several things just on the sale bill.  Plus the fact that I am an auctioneer and love attending quality auctions.  The Griffen agency has gotten a plum by being selected to auction all these items.
     I wanted to stop and just cry when I saw the sign.  But that never changes anything.  We have so many in our state that are letting the historic buildings fall down and go into disrepair because they don't fit the way agriculture is today.  Although many have converted and saved structures and make them have another life.
     It is no wonder that the Europeans consider us so wasteful.  Buildings over there are preserved and stay in use for hundreds of years.  It has also been proven that it is more 'Green' to refit a building than building something new.
     The modern outbuilding made of steel is no attractive alternative to the buildings of yesterday that made a statement of the design and the times.  Putting these boring buildings in historic settings is just a travesty.
     Lets hope what ever happens to the Clover Cliff, it will continue the legacy of caring for the legacy of those who created it.