Hat Tips

It’s not every day one of your favorite columns writes about one of your favorite kids! The article below was written by Dean Meyer and published in the Nation’s Center News last June.  I meant to share it then but time got away from me.  Thanks Dean for all the great articles you have written, but especially this one…

By Dean Meyer


Sometimes it is really disheartening to listen to the news. You see bad things. Good news just doesn’t seem to make headlines. And that’s too bad. You see and hear a lot of what is wrong with youth in this country. And that is worse than bad. But once in awhile you meet a young person that just brings a smile to your face and you realize that things are gonna be alright.

I met a kid like that this weekend. And wouldn’t you know it, it had to be a ranch kid in Harding Country.

I’ll start at the beginning. For twenty years or so, I have announced the state high school finals rodeo. In Bowman. Last year, I announced that I had to hang it up. It was time to start going to youth rodeos and watch my grandkids tie goats and run barrels. And the youth rodeo in Camp Crook always coincided with the finals.

We spent a lot of years producing rodeos. And I guess we saw about every trick there was to sneaking into a rodeo. From hiding kids in the camper to covering them with hay in a horse trailer. I’ve seen people steal contestant numbers and copy contestant passes. And thinking back to my youth, I can remember hiding people in the trunk to sneak into the outdoor theatre at Minot. Sometimes it wasn’t the money, it was the challenge.

And I have a lot of friends who will tell you that, “Today, kids just don’t want to work!” Well, I’m here to tell you that not all kids are like that.

Yesterday, we pulled into the Camp Crook rodeo grounds. The home of Tipperary (legendary bucking horse), great steer wrestlers, football players, and ranchers. They raise great cattle and great kids in Harding County.

As Grandma and I pulled up to the rodeo grounds we were met by the ticket taker. Now, I’m not the greatest judge of age, but I’m thinking this ticket taker must be around eight years old. He had one hand full of cash and another full of rodeo programs. He greeted us with a broad smile. Had most of his teeth so I figured he was over six, and they weren’t stained by Copenhagen so I figured he was under ten.

He quickly explained that tickets were five dollars for adults and contestants got into the youth rodeo free. I looked him in the eye and explained I was a contestant. He didn’t even blink. Just asked what event I was in. I hesitated, that was my mistake, and said, “Sheep riding”. He calmly stated they didn’t have sheep riding this year. I quickly told him I was mistaken, I was in the flag race. Well, that didn’t work. He looked at the program and said he was in the flag race, and he knew all the other racers, and I wasn’t one of them. I gave him five dollars. I told him Grandma was in the barrels. He stepped up on the running board, looked Grandma over, and declared, “I don’t think she looks old, but I think she looks like an adult!” I gave him another five.

Then I asked him if we could get stamped so we could leave the grounds to look at some hay, and I didn’t want to pay twice.

Brayden gave me that big smile, said we didn’t need stamped. Shook my hand and said he would remember us!

If he lived in Dickinson, he could manage McDonalds!

Later, Dean

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Spring Fire Season?

View of the Sheep Draw Fire from our house. Day 2.

On the afternoon of March 28, we got a call saying there may be a fire over in the short pines.  So Riley made some phone calls and couldn’t seem to reach anyone who knew anything about it.  Had it been September, rumor of even a hint of smoke would have sent everyone flying in the direction they thought it may be coming from.  But this was March… usually our main concern is when to expect the next spring blizzard.  Anyway, Riley went over to investigate and a few hours later emergency calls were being sent out asking anyone and everyone who was able to come fight fire in the short pines, just south of Terry and Laurie’s place.

With 70 mph winds blowing all through the night, volunteer firefighters somehow managed to keep the fire from crossing the Harding Road.  Riley said they didn’t know how they stopped it but the good news was they did, otherwise no one knows for sure what the fire could have escalated to.  Eventually the fire was upgraded to a Level 2 emergency and crews and heavy equipment were sent in to help, including two National Guard helicopters that scooped water out of nearby dams to dump on the fire, a slurry plane, and many hand crews.  The job of the hand crews was to hike up into the hills where equipment couldn’t drive and manually dig fire lines.

By the end of Day 2, the fire had burned 8000 acres and was only 20% contained.  Riley, and I’m sure most of the other volunteers, hadn’t been home since it started and there really was no way of getting in touch with them other than driving out to find them, as there was no cell phone service where the fire was.

Even though the wind had been blowing strong out of the north-northwest throughout most of the duration of the fire, it still managed to creep north due to a lot of old grass up in the hills and short pines that hadn’t been grazed in years.  By day 3 it was scarily close to Terry and Laurie’s place and still drifting north.  Friends and family came rushing in to help move cattle north and build fire lines.  You wouldn’t have thought there was any way the cattle could have known that a fire was coming there way, but they were waiting at the gate to be moved and when the gate was opened they ran north.  Once they got to where they were going and got settled in, they laid down and slept… like they had been stressed and now they knew they were safe.  Just another sign that animals probably know a lot more than we give them credit for.

The Sheep Draw Fire ended up burning to within 200 feet of the Goehring-Routier Ranch.  (So they say- to me the burned area looks a lot closer than 200 feet away!) At 6:00 pm on April 3, 6 days after it started, they announced that it was 100% contained and in mop up, patrol and rehab status.  Which was great news since a new fire erupted on April 1 over in the Slim Buttes just east of Buffalo.  The Moonshine Fire was also fought for several days by volunteers as well as state units who put in great efforts to keep damage to a minimum, but it still burned thousands of acres.  Thankfully, between the two fires, the only structure loss was a shed next to a gas well in the Sheep Draw Fire, and no one was injured.

On the positive side, we got a little moisture this week and things are starting to look green so that should reduce the risk of more fires for awhile.  It was an exciting end of March/beginning of April, but not the kind of excitement that you really look forward to!

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