To The Point

by Caren Cowan

My New Favorite Thing . . .

It may come as a surprise to some, after my column on the topic that I was invited back to help judge the Dutch oven cook-off at the Second Annual Peterson Memorial Cook-off & Ranch Rodeo. The lesson I learned this year is that I need to plan to be there for the whole event next year. The Peterson’s added a cowboy polo game and a dance on Saturday evening just to keep people entertained.

The experience was completely different this year. I had only to eat 10 bites instead of 50. There was a judges’ tent with a view of all the cooking camps. Food was brought to the judges’ tent . . . just like the Food Channel. The food quality was higher than last year – and that’s saying something because last year it was REALLY good. It took well under an hour for the judging . . . instead of two or three. And, I didn’t permit myself to be bribed by homemade wine or other beverage (not that the offers were not made). Finally, there was a sprinkling of rain and a soft breeze in place of blazing heat and dust.

The day was not without excitement, however. There was a dog tethered to a chair in the judges’ tent. When the son of two of the judges was asked to go find a rock to hold down the tent that was threatening to blow over, away went the dog and the chair. The faster the dog ran the more noise the folding metal chair made, all with the owners chasing behind. Then the dog turned off into a cooking area, threatening some real fireworks. Fortunately the dog was held up in the camp with no damage to anything but maybe the chair.

Even after a new, bigger rock was placed on the tent stay, it wasn’t long before up came the tent. After surveying the situation, the better part of valor was to stand pat and let it blow over. Then came a trusty, thundering herd of cowboys to set things right. Some bailing wire and a couple of fence posts were expertly strung all with a guarantee that the fix would hold at least until they made it back to their camps.

There was also a little trepidation when I was served the Road Kill Delight. I did have to insist on an ingredient list before I did my tasting. I hope they were telling the truth because the dish was the best. The beer gravy was a nice touch. If there was anything in that dish other than beef, pork and some wild game, please don’t tell me.

The Used To Be Favorite

Getting fired is tough, but being told that your volunteer services are not necessary is really bad. For the past 16 years I have taken great pleasure is helping with the Junior Beef Shows at the State Fair. There is nothing better than watching highly skilled, and those working toward becoming highly skilled, young people show their steers and heifers.

For just about that long the New Mexico Junior Cattle Growers’ and New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Committee has provided the crew to make sure youngsters and their animals had a smooth trip to and from the show ring.

Last year we closed both the NMCGA and New Mexico Stockman offices and brought in members from out of town to run the steer show. That won’t be happening this year. On July 29, we received the following very polite email from the Fair’s livestock manager:

“I have volunteers for all of the junior shows covered but wanted to see if you have your same volunteers to assist with the open shows? Please let me know.”

Michelle Frost and I have gone out on weekends for the open shows for the past several years to assist the open show superintendents. Since Michelle is in Maine, I will be there, but I do not have a cast of volunteers to provide.

Then on August 14 we received this email: “I wanted to confirm that you would be providing again this year the tack boxes for the Jr. Market Steer show. Please let me know. Thank you.”

The answer was in the negative. Not only was it past the date when boxes need to be ordered, but if our help wasn’t needed two weeks earlier, how were we to know that our money was still welcome? After the first email, the funds to purchase the boxes were repurposed for other youth activities.

The response to the inability to confirm the purchase of the boxes was: “. . . I did not realize that we needed to formerly request the sponsorship of the tack boxes as I believed you had done so since approximately 2002…”

I guess I was just reared differently, but whatever happened to “will you please?”

We got a similar message regarding the calf scramble on July 25: “We are in the process of getting all our sponsorship information together and I am writing to see who will be the Calf Scramble sponsors this year. Please let me know at your earliest convenience.”

For about the past 10 years NMCGA and the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau have undertaken the task of raising the funds for the heifer purchases for the scramble winners. That has been $7,500. It is $10,000 this year. The funds are being raised, but a “please” and “thank you” would be a nice touch.

Let’s Turn It Over To The Park Service . . .

That’s the plan for the Valles Caldera National Preserve (formerly the Baca Ranch) if some folks get their way. This option is wrong on soooo many levels.

The Preserve was created by an act of Congress due to the efforts of Senator Pete Domenici and Senator Jeff Bingaman over a decade ago. The enacting legislation was specific on how the property was to be managed and funded and what would happen if the experiment failed. The ranch was to remain in multiple use including recreation, hunting and fishing, grazing and timber production.

Since the multi million dollars purchase of the property it has been operated by a trust board and management staff working almost with one hand tied behind their backs. There was a seemingly endless National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance – processes that were prolonged over the fight to maintain livestock grazing on the preserve and at a level that provided stewardship for the land. There have been major fires on and around the Valles Caldera hampering access and management. There is no provision to obtain funding for enhanced operations and facilities to expand use by various sectors of the public.

Now the President of the United States has not found time to appoint members to the trust board to guide management in creating more opportunities for use.

Clearly there are some things that need to be changed to better the function of the Valles Caldera, but just turning it over to another federal agency won’t fix those problems. Indeed, we may not know how good we have it. One only has to watch the national news to see the effects of National Park Service (NPS) management. Both Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite National Park are blazing with catastrophic fire that will require generations to heal.

It wasn’t so long ago that New Mexico’s Bandelier National Monument was set ablaze with a fire that nearly destroyed Los Alamos and did destroy hundreds of homes. That fire was a “controlled burn” that was intentionally set by a NPS employee – An employee who had been warned of the consequences of his actions and was asked to postpone the burn.

Dozens of national sportsmen and hunting organizations including the National Rifle Association, Boone & Crockett and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation have spoken out against the proposed transfer. That position is supported by numerous groups in New Mexico including both chapters of the Safari Club, the Wild Sheep Foundation, the Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife, and the Council of Outfitters & Guides as well as agricultural groups including the NMCGA, NMFLB, New Mexico Wool Growers, Inc. and the New Mexico Federal Lands Council.

The New Mexico State Game Commission and the Department of Game & Fish have twice taken a stand against the proposal too. The Commission revisited the issue at their August meeting after they were accused of violation of the Open Meetings Act with their May position.

It has even been suggested that the State of New Mexico find a way to obtain management of the Preserve. Given the state of the economy, the federal deficit and the lack of management that is destroying western lands, the idea certainly has merit.

Global Cooling?

That’s right – the Earth may be entering a cooling phase rather than the world coming to an end as a result of global warming!

A quick search of “global cooling” on Google yielded the following headlines:

  • Freezing cold temperature from heavy frosts are estimated to have killed at least 4,000 head of cattle in landlocked Paraguay, according to the primary reports from the country’s National Animal Quality and Health service, Senasa
  • Summer of 2013 among coolest on record in Alabama, continues cooling trend, climatologist says
  • To The Horror Of Global Warming Alarmists, Global Cooling Is Here
  • Pacific Ocean cools, flattening global warming

It has been said that the Earth could go into an ice age in as little as 10 years. Better start looking for those heavy coats!

Wolves and other “endangered species”

Confusion reigns as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) or rather the courts continue to try to placate radical groups engaging in social engineering at best and rural cleansing at the worst via species like the Mexican wolf, lesser prairie chicken, dunes sagebrush lizard, jaguar, New Mexico meadow jumping mouse . . . the list goes on.

A comment period has reopened for the critical habitat designation for the jaguar. It remains confounding that these animals require a humid climate and natural waters – and that only males have been seen in the U.S. Doesn’t the government know it takes two to tango for these Central and South American animals?

Despite numerous requests for comment extension, the comment period for the meadow jumping mouse have closed. But we can expect a comment period for the designation of critical habitat in the next few months.

The wolf situation gets more confusing on a daily basis. As near as we can tell there are three documents out for comments with deadlines in September and October. Check the web at www.nmagriculture.org  for draft comments and deadlines.

Ranchers in the Southwest finally got some good news when the FWS found that a wolf shot on private land biting private property – cows and calves – was a legal kill. Now at least we know they can do it.

The rest of the story that the FWS hasn’t told is the fact that the agency sentenced that wolf to death two months earlier when they released her and a male that had supposedly “mated” with her. The male stayed hitched less than a month and was recaptured after killing a calf. The female was supposed to be bred but showed no signs of lactation when she was killed. The pair never should have been released in the first place.

Then we have the wolf that was strangled by the FWS in a “routine” capture in Arizona in early August. This brings a whole bunch of questions . . . especially after you learn that the FWS employees on site gave CPR to the animal.

If we are trying to create a “wild” population, why are we “routinely” capturing them? How can they ever be “wild?” Are these animals handled and harmed often enough that CPR is routine?