Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

Baxter Black

Baxter Black tackles ag issues with a strong funny bone. Black is an American cowboy, poet, philosopher and former veterinarian.


My mechanic has a lot in common with my mother’s doctor. When the steering wheel locked up on my 3/4-ton, 4-speed 1969 Ford F-250 with split rims and a manual choke, we cajoled it down to George’s garage in town. On my truck’s last visit to George’s, he replaced the power steering pump, so I figured I was good for a while but not so! I left it over the weekend with instructions to please fix it.

My sweet mother has had a long relationship with her doctors. They have kept her ticking through the Great Depression, World War II, four children and two husbands, as more than her share of afflictions struck away at her health. She still has an ongoing schedule of doctor’s appointments. Sometimes she has a complaint, or the visit is just for a checkup. But no matter the purpose of the visit, it seems the doctor can always find something that’s not quite right which requires an additional test or pill.

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She came in the shadow of her big sister, Katrina, and wreaked havoc on the Cajun gulf coast of Louisiana. Her name was Rita. It was September 24, 2005. Whereas Katrina was like pouring water on a city in the bottom of a bucket, Hurricane Rita was her own 100-mile-wide tsunami.

Livestock producers across the country have been ravaged by fire and blizzard and drought; the backside of Louisiana was not spared. A massive wall of seawater forged its way up the canals and bayous into the lowlands along the coast across the southern belly of Louisiana, sweeping megatons of natural and man-made refuse inland for miles. It picked up houses, boats, cars, barns, fences, horses, cows, goats and wildlife as far as it could reach, then turned on its head and returned seaward, a monstrous backhand that was a thumb in the eye to man’s meager attempt to control the waters.

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Sammi is one of those children for which parents have great expectations but a healthy dose of apprehension. In other words, her self-confidence was bound to get her into trouble now and then.

As a 13-year-old ranch kid, she could rope and ride, do the chores, cook, read, shoot and take care of herself like most kids reared up in a country raisin’.

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As a Phoenix who rises from the ashes to rebirth, so Jack, the bull terrier, was the symbol of hope that rose from the cook shack conflagration.

Jack was past his prime; though hard of hearing and losing his sight, he still continued to make the winter trip to Walker’s camp in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. In spite of the cold, he slept outside near the cooking fire in his own dog bed.

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I wrote a book titled Blazin’ Bloats and Cows on Fire! It referred to the flammability of rumen gasses and the spectacular, but rarely harmful, occasions when they are ignited.

I assumed that the predilection for ignition was confined to ruminants but, as is often the case, I was thinking too small. Dr. Charlie broadened my horizons.

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My friend Steve is in the avocado business, which I think makes him an avocadonist or an avocodinarian. He has many distributors (avocodlers) who count on him to keep them supplied. The freeze that hit southern California this winter wiped out the crop.

I called him after I heard him being interviewed on national radio. When he answered, he was in Chile! Turns out he was down there, and in Mexico (home of the guacamole), arranging to import Spanish-speaking avocados to fill the gap for the avocadophiles in the United States of Avocado.

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