A bridge in Yellowstone National Park, a National Historic Landmark built in 1918, was recently washed away by flood waters that swept down the Yellowstone River. Further South in Benson, AZ, time, dementia, and blood cancer took another bridge.
The death of Baxter Black, internationally known cowboy poet, author, and large animal vet, has deprived agriculture of one of the most effective bridges to the non-farm public that we have ever had. Baxter could reach people using humor and common-sense insights and get them to understand and appreciate farming, ranching, and rural and western culture.
His books, newspaper columns, long running NPR radio show, and personal appearances stood out from the general noise of our world with a different perspective and commentary on everything from Presidential politics to livestock testicles.
He was a master wordsmith both poignant and poetic. He found the human in both farm and city life without poking fun at or belittling either. He connected producer and consumer at a level far above petty squabbles over GMOs and organic food. His firsthand, science-based knowledge of animal husbandry allowed him to expose and discredit the empty claims of the radical animal rights movement.
Always sporting his bigger than life mustache and cowboy hat, he was a kind, warm, and genuine individual, rare in the entertainment industry. I had the chance to interview him several times and was honored to call him a friend.
Agriculture will miss Baxter Black.
I hope his works will continue to provide a bridge of understanding between two groups that need to understand one another better. I also hope his example will inspire a new generation of bridge builders who will find new ways to bring rural and city folks closer together.
That’s how I see it.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Michigan Ag Today, its employees, advertisers, or affiliated radio stations.