Tag Archives: Texas Agriculture

Today in Texas History – May 29

Image result for texas state soil conservation board

From the Annals of the Dust Bowl – In 1939, the State Soil Conservation Board came into existence.  The SSCB was created in response to the horrific losses of cropland topsoil during the Dust Bowl drought of the 1930’s which drove many small farmers and ranchers from their land.  The SSCB’s mission was to oversee and implement state conservation laws and organize and assist soil-conservation districts across the state.   The SSCB’s headquarters were in Temple.  The Governor appointed five board members to establish policies to prevent further loss of topsoil including construction of terraces and inmplementation of modern farming practices to prevent erosion.

In 1965, the agency was renamed as the State Soil and Water Conservation Board. Over the years the board has coordinated a variety of programs.  There are now 216 local soil and water conservation districts in Texas.

Today in Texas History – October 27

Image result for joseph glidden

From the Annals of the Plains – In 1873, Joseph Glidden of DeKalb, IL submitted an application to the U.S. Patent Office for barbed wire.  Glidden’s was not the first barbed wire.  His design was inspired by seeing an exhibit of Henry Rose’s single-stranded barbed wire at the De Kalb county fair. Glidden’s design significantly improved on Rose’s by using two strands of wire twisted together to hold the barbed spur wires firmly in place.  The design was also easily mass-produced. By 1880 more than 80 million pounds of inexpensive Glidden-style barbed wire was sold, making it the most popular wire in the nation. Ranchers and farmers quickly discovered that Glidden’s wire was the cheapest, strongest, and most durable way to fence their property.

Today in Texas History – October 3

From the Annals of the Pests –   In 1984, Charles W. DeRyee, a druggist in Corpus Christi, mentioned in a letter that the boll weevil was in Texas. This was the first known reference to the pest being in Texas.  The tiny insect was one of the most devastating pests ever to effect American agriculture.  By the 1920’s, the BW was present in ever cotton producing region of the state.  Eradication programs have been somewhat successful, but the BW remains a problem to this day.

Maybe Sid Will Get Story on Mississippi Trip Straight

Ah, who is Red kidding?  The Texas Tribune reports that Texas Agricultural Commissioner Sid “Cupcake” Miller has come up with yet a third explanation for why his trip to participate in the Dixie National Rodeo in Mississippi was billed to the taxpayers.  First, we were told that Miller decided to set up a work meeting with Mississippi agriculture officials when he wasn’t roping calves, but those meetings fell through. Then, we were told the trip was intended to be personal in nature and was it was but a mere mistake to book it as a business trip.  Red knows you can hardly wait for the next iteration of the explanation for the perambulations of the good commissioner.

Miller has told the Tribune there was “absolutely no validity” to the complaints from liberal advocacy group Progress Texas that led to the Rangers investigation, calling them “harassment.” 

“There’s nothing absolutely illegal or wrong with either of those trips,” he said.

But on Thursday, Miller’s political consultant told the Tribune a new version of the Mississippi trip. He said it was always supposed to be a business trip to meet with Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith and that those meetings did occur, contrary to what his boss has previously said.

“I think there was some discrepancy about whether or not he had a meeting with her on that trip,” Smith said. “He met with her multiple times. He went to the rodeo with her.”

Tribune attempts to confirm whether Mississippi officials met with Miller have been unsuccessful.

As for Miller’s rodeo-ing while on a state-paid trip, Smith said there was nothing wrong with it and compared it to buying souvenirs while on a business trip.

“He can’t flip a switch and say, ‘I’m no longer the agriculture commissioner here, and I’m the agricultural commissioner now,’” Smith said.

Miller, who had hip surgery this week in Fort Worth, was not available for an interview. Last week, his staff said he was on medical leave. And the week before that, the Tribune was told the commissioner’s schedule was too full to allow one.

Red guesses that “Jesus Shot” thing didn’t work out exactly as planned if Miller needs hip surgery.  And if Red ever finds that switch, he damn sure is going to flip it.




Sid Miller Uses Tax Dollars to Promote – Wait for It – Sid Miller

Texas Politician Rips On Lawmakers With Passive-Aggressive Gas Pump Label

Red knows that many elected office holders will attempt to use their office to keep their name in front of the voters as much as possible and gratify their all-consuming egos.  You can’t go anywhere in Texas without finding a County Commissioner’s name on a sign within a half-mile.  But Agricultural Commissioner Sid “Cupcake” Miller is taking it to a higher level with his new stickers that every Texas gas station must place on fuel pumps.

The sticker is topped by Miller’s name in large print and then after a friendly “Howdy Neighbors!” (Red admires proper use of an exclamation point!), Sid goes on to disclaim responsibility for motor fuel taxes and make sure the driver knows that the dastardly U.S. Congress and Texas Legislature are to blame.

When asked why Miller’s name was so prominent on the new stickers, the Texas Agriculture deputy commissioner’s response was: “The individuals involved in the design are not currently in the office.”  If only the same could be said for Sid.


Texas Rangers Investigating Sid Miller

The Texas Tribune reports that the Texas Rangers are now investigating Texas Agriculture Commissioner and Tea Party Hero Sid Miller of Stephenville.  The Rangers are investigating two trips Miller took to Oklahoma and Mississippi that were charged to the State but appear to have been for personal reasons.  Miller traveled to Oklahoma for a “Jesus Shot” from a discredited doctor and claimed he was traveling to meet Oklahoma officials.  The Oklahomans have repeatedly stated they knew nothing about Miller’s trip.  Miller also traveled to Mississippi to take part in the National Dixie Rodeo and did very well by all accounts.  Miller claimed that he intended to meet with “agricultural officials” there but when the meeting fell through he reimbursed the State.  Miller’s claim was contradicted by his communications director Lucy Nashed who claimed the trip was always personal and mistakenly booked as being for State business.  Nashed resigned this week saying there “was a tremendous lack of communiction” at the Agriculture Department.

Sid, a word of advice from Red, when your communications director is complaining about a lack of communication, you have a problem.  And Sid, you’re making it way too easy.

Photo of Sid “Cupcake” Miller from http://www.mysanantonio.com


Today in Texas History – March 31

From the Annals of the Cowboys –  In 1883, a large group of Texas cowboys went on strike.  The cowboys were complaining about new working rules that were coming with the closing of the open range.  The large ranchers were imposing new conditions on their workers.  Cowboys would no longer be able to brand mavericks, keep small herds of their own, or receive part of their pay in calves.  Some ranches even forbade the cowboy from keeping his own horse which meant that if he quit he was afoot in the vast ranges of the Panhandle.  At its peak, the strikers numbered about 300 cowboys. The cowboys were unprepared for the big moneyed ranches response and plenty of men were seeking work.  It didn’t help that the big ranchers had paid off local judges and politicians.  The strike was broken within a couple of months.  The cowboys’ strike was the inspiration for Elmer Kelton’s novel The Day the Cowboys Quit.     Red recommends almost anything written by Kelton.

Sid Miller, Liar or Merely Easily Duped Moron?

Texas Agriculture Commissioner and Tea Party darling Sid Miller posted a photo on his Facebook page of President Barack Obama smiling, holding up a blue T-shirt with the face of Che Guevara.  Miller claimed that Obama was holding the shirt during his trip to Cuba this week.  The indignant Miller wrote:

President Obama refuses to return to the United States in order to meet with European leaders to discuss a response to today’s terror attacks in Brussels–attacks that severely injured a number of Americans. Instead, he remains in Cuba holding a shirt depicting the image of Che Guevara–one of the most reviled terrorists of the modern age–a murdering thug who was responsible for thousands of innocent deaths. President Obama is laughing at us. He understands the symbolism of this picture and yet he doesn’t care. I believe his actions are disgraceful. Do you agree?

Apparently, Miller is easily duped as the photo is from Obama’s 2009 visit to an MIT research lab and the image of Guevara was photo-shopped in.   Sid might have figured out that this shot probably wasn’t from the Cuba trip by looking at the English language sign in the background.  But that would have required some actual thought.

Sid needs to stop posting stupid crap on Facebook and consider doing the job he was elected to do.

Today in Texas History – December 10

From the Annals of the Big Ranches – In 1879, the New York and Texas Land Company was formed.  New Yorkers, John S. Kennedy, Samuel Thorne, and William Walter Phelps purchased all of the land owned by the consolidated International-Great Northern Railroad Company to form the NYTLC.   The company ultimately owned over  5.5 million acres – one of the largest privately financed land companies to operate in post-Civil War Texas. The holdings extended into fifty-one counties in the Panhandle. Under the guidance of T. D. Hobart, the NYTLC began an extensive development program of fencing, well drilling, windmill building, and water impoundment. By 1900 most of the Panhandle lands had been developed and sold.  Many of the largest ranches in Texas were carved out from the NYTLC holdings. The company was dissolved in 1918.

Today in Texas History – November 2

From the Annals of Cattle Ranching –  In 1912,  the XIT Ranch of Texas sold its last head of cattle.  The XIT was once one of the largest cattle ranches in Texas, and the land was received in exchange for financing the construction of the state capitol building in Austin.   Thus, the XIT it was not owned by the iconic independent cattle ranching pioneer popular in Western mythology.  In fact, many of the biggest cow operations in the 1800’s were owned by big-city capitalists and stockholders. The Chicago capitalists behind the XIT—also known as the Capitol Syndicate Ranch—were leveraging their capital and banking on the growing American appetite for fresh beef.

The CSR determined that ranching would be the only profitable use for their new land. The built a a large and highly efficient cattle-raising operation that stretched over parts of nine Texas counties. At its peak, the XIT had more than 160,000 head of cattle, employed 150 cowboys, and operated on 3 million acres of the Texas panhandle.

Increasing land prices and declining beef prices, convinced the CSR that they could make more money by selling their land. By 1912, the XIT abandoned ranching altogether with the sale of its last herd of cattle.  As the land was sold off the XIT holdings shrunk.  By 1950, the XIT consisted of less than 20,000 acres.

Map from the XIT Museum.