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Jim Hicks: Hosting Wyoming Tour Sure Reminds Us Of Our Blessings

in Column/Jim Hicks

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By Sagebrush Sven (interpreted by Jim Hicks)

This past week Sven had the opportunity to take some friends from South Dakota on a little mountain tour. They had driven over our Bighorn Mountains in past years, but never had the opportunity to see much of the area.

As we headed up Crazy Woman Canyon, Wes and Cathy were amazed at the rugged natural beauty of the stream and rock formations. 

It seemed nearly every possible camping site in the canyon was being used. This makes us wonder how people get some of those larger campers into those spots.

After the compulsory photos by the elevation sign at Powder River Pass, we doubled back to Sheep Mountain Lookout.

A summer rain shower hit as we climbed toward the lookout, and turned to hail as soon as we reached the end of the road. 

As usual, a 15-minute wait was all it took for the sun to come back out and the vistas to re-appear as the clouds rolled southeast.

Noticed a “dirt bike” parked with no rider in sight.  When the hail stopped he emerged from the outhouse. It might have been a long wait in there unless someone had left a magazine.He seemed glad to get going in that clear fresh air again.

Although the lookout can be rented out by those seeking adventure, it was empty the day we visited. Again, it appeared every possible camping spot along that road was filled.

The next stop was Tiehack Reservoir where nearly a dozen people were fishing from the dam. It was hard to estimate how many people were using the camping and picnic spots, but it’s obvious this has become one of the most popular recreation areas on the Bighorn National Forest.

It was interesting to see the City of Buffalo is drawing considerable water from the reservoir right now. And it will refill next spring with ample water tumbling down over the spillway.

The little tour proved once again we often forget how fortunate we are to live at the foot of the Bighorns. Even with a proliferation of camper trailers on the mountain, our guests kept talking about the vast expanse of scenery.

Every once in a while, it’s a good idea to get an “out-of-town opinion.” And the day was a great reminder of a major blessing we take for granted too often.

In other news, the 2020 Johnson County Fair and Rodeo is now in the history books, and considering concerns about Covid-19, fire danger, hot weather and a few other things . . . it was a great one again.

The Saturday morning parade may not have drawn as big a crowd as in the past, but over 50 entries made it a good one.

One of the Bench Sitters said he was a little late that morning, and coming west on Hart Street he noticed all the tourists were being diverted north on Lobban Ave.

He was following two out-of-state cars and wondered what the conversations might have been as they traffic moved north at about 3 miles per hour. Just out of interest he kept following the two cars.

When they finally ended up on the truck-bypass at the north end of town, he said it was easy to tell they were completely lost.

Interesting traffic plan, and a lot like navigating an endless circular series of security instructions on an internet site.

That’s about all this week except the observance on one of the older members of the Bench Sitters group.

As he struggled to get up out of his chair he said, “A horse gets up with his front feet first, a cow gets up with its hind feet first, and elephant can use all four to rise . . . and I need both legs, two arms and . . . give me a hand will you?”

Hope you are bouncing out of your chair these days. Stay cool and we’ll drop a line again next week.

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Jim Hicks: Getting So Dry In Wyoming, The Rain Gauges Are For Sale

in Column/Jim Hicks

BUFFALO — You can tell when things get to be to hot and dry in this part of the country.  That’s when the Bench Sitters stop talking about politics, virus and local rumors. Instead they are talking about hot days, dry winds and fire danger.

A lot of ranchers get a worried look anytime there is a lightning strike or a puff of smoke over the ridge. 

Most will point out this is pretty early in the season to have such a drought underway.  The word down at the feed store is about people already looking for extra hay.

Hard to believe it was eight years ago we had some fun with a Kaycee area rancher over weather conditions like this.  

Sagebrush Sven’s column in July of 2012 might be worth re-reading just for fun. 

It read (in part) as follows:

Those “brown spots” in lawns testify to hot dry winds sucking the moisture out of the land. We see hay bailing machines nearly following directly behind the swathers. 

Speaking of dry conditions, one of the Bench Sitters noticed a small classified advertisement in the Wyoming Livestock Reporter a while back.  That ad said:

 FOR SALE: RAIN GAUGE, ALMOST NEW. ONLY USED ONCE, NEVER BEEN EMPTIED!! BEST OFFER. IT’S NAMED “LUCKY.” BOB HARLAN, 307-267-9571. Bob Harlan ranches down Barnum way. Sven just had to drop him a note:

Dear Mr. Harlan:

We live in the northern part of Johnson County, east of Buffalo, and nobody here has ever seen a “rain gauge” up close.

Is there any way to drain “Lucky” other than turning it upside down?  Is there any kind of drain valve on it?

How many moving parts are on this rain gauge you call “Lucky?”  Would we have to grease this thing every spring?  

Before making an offer we really need to know how many feet of rain “Lucky” will measure.

By the way— do you happen to have a smoke gauge, hopper counter or a copy of the book called “Raising Cattle and Sheep on Dust and Ashes?”  

We are headed for Wheatland to pick up a load of wind next week and will call you when we come through Kaycee.

Meanwhile back down on the Main Drag we found out local members of the Procrastinator’s Club were rushing around this week trying to get their annual Income Tax reports done and in the mail. Even with the deadline extended from April 15 . . .

Some of us just never learn. 

And the rest of us are apt to learn the “hard way.”

It’s important to concentrate on what you are doing. Letting your mind wonder when you are doing a task (even a dull one) can have bad results

Many years ago Maudie was cookin’ supper and I noticed her right ear was all red and swollen.

She wouldn’t tell me the reason for quite a while.  But I kept on the subject and by the time we were eating dessert she finally looked a little embarrassed, looked down and said . . . “Well, I was ironing and the phone rang . . .”

And that’s the same reason I don’t swat mosquitoes when I’m sharpening a knife anymore.

Stop and think about this for a minute.  You probably have more than one similar experience.  We know of more than one local who learned about nail guns the hard way.

We hope you stay out of trouble and get a chance to make someone grin a little if you can. In the meantime we’ll keep a safe distance and write again soon.

Clouds Of Cotton, A Billion Moths, Plus Covid Curtail Buffalo Activities

in Column/Jim Hicks

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Column by Jim Hicks

BUFFALO – After mom finished cleaning up the mess the kids made in the kitchen while they “fixed breakfast” for Dad last Sunday, she had to get busy cooking that special “Father’s Day” dinner.

A lot of moms noticed that Father’s Day just happened to be the longest day of the year too.

Summer has officially arrived, but 2020’s version may be different than usual because of the threat of the pandemic that can even touch a remote place like Johnson County.

Some days most of the people shopping in the grocery stores are wearing masks, and other days almost no one. Perhaps most of us feel it’s really not much of a threat, but in the back of our minds a lot of doubt remains.

The shut-down of the most popular “coffee spots” has sure done some serious damage to the local “rumor mill” for many people in this community who are not tied to their computers or smart phones.

We used to think there were some things which could only be passed along by leaning over and whispering to the guy across the table. But now that kind of stuff shows up on the internet and social media and nobody seems to think anything about it.

One of the Bench Sitters says Will Rogers must have been thinking about all that when he wrote: “There are some men who learn by reading, a few learn by observation and the rest of them have to pee on the electric fence.”

He also remarked “people say there is nothing that will get your mind off of everything like golf. “But I’ve never been depressed enough to take up the game. They say it will make you so mad at yourself you will forget to hate your enemies.”

We suspect that’s why the last several Presidents have played so much golf.
Another Will Rogers idea that sure fits today: “Last year we said things couldn’t go on like this, and they didn’t . . . they got worse.”

Understand not everyone has the miller-month problem, but those pesky critters continue to “bug” our place. A pan of soapy water by the kitchen window will “harvest” at least two dozen every night. They are supposed to move to the mountains for cooler temperatures.

Summers in Wyoming are great, but this one looks like a “cotton year” for certain.
Clouds of cotton are starting to blow down the streets and seem to stick to everything imaginable.

The stuff plugs up coolers, air cleaners on lawn mowers, window and door screens and causes many people to sneeze and wheeze.

Those “grape –like clusters of cotton seem to be hanging from every branch of the old cottonwoods around Buffalo. This may be one of those years when a little hail might help the situation.

And finally, this week we heard a story that just might be true. An older lady was in a long line of cars at a local drive-in restaurant. She was reading a message on her cell phone when the car behind her started honking.

She had not seen to line move forward one car-space. She looked back,
and the young girl in the car behind also gave her the “one-finger” signal.

So, when she got to the “pay window” she said she wanted to pay for her meal and also for the order for the car behind her. She took both receipts and when she got to the “food window” she collected her order and the one for the car behind hers.

Smiling as she drove away, she knew the girl behind was going to have to go through the line again to order and get her food. Don’t mess with old people!

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