When the Texas Legislature is in session, nothing is safe, according to Texas legend. One of the bills passed in this last session of the Legislature was total nonsense. And our esteemed Governor Abbot signed the bill into law. So henceforth you can travel in a hot air balloon, with high powered firearms at your side, and shoot feral hogs. Goodness gracious, what about the errant shooter who puts a hole in the gas filled carriage rather than in a feral hog?  The elected officials who voted to the pass the bill condoning the balloon-hog deal forgot to consider that trees in the eastern third of Texas will pretty well put the quietus on balloon hunting.

No more straight party voting in Texas politics! It’s about time that the Lone Star State joins the majority of other states that prohibit a straight party vote. Rice University political science professor Mark Jones says the new law has plenty of admirers — and detractors. Manny Garcia, officer of the Texas Democratic Party, says his group may challenge the loss of one-party voting in court. Several leaders in the opposing Republican Party also have indicated they may appeal the new law in court. In the elections of 2012, 2014 and 2016 three fifths of voters cast straight-ticket votes. Professor Jones said that in many Texas counties — including Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Fort Bend and Montgomery — two thirds of voters went the straight ticket route. At the very least, voters in 2018 will have to vote for individuals for office rather than just a party affiliation.  That means they might have to study up on the candidates!

Lots of farmers are ready to holler “calf rope” because of the rainy spells. Those lucky folks got their hay baled and into storage without more moisture. Others not so lucky! With the wet season we have been blessed with, a barn or other cover for that expensive hay makes more and more dollar sense. If a hay barn can pay for itself in four years or less by saving more hay, that’s a real deal!

When it comes to Angus cattle, the leader of the pack in East Texas — and Texas — was Bill Clark. Bill started an automobile business in Houston after his service in World War II. Just a few years later, he started raising Angus cattle.    

For many years Clark operated his ranches at Crockett and Huntsville. He sold more Angus bulls over the years than anyone I know — and never did I hear a discouraging word from customers. His peers in the Angus business elected Clark to both the presidency of the Texas Angus Association and the American Angus Association. Clark passed away at his East Texas ranch last week at the age of 96.

On another personal note, the journalism profession lost one of our own last week. Good friend and newspaperman Weldon Kerby was a passionate believer in a free press — and proved it with the “Grapeland Messenger.”

Weldon and wife Sandra owned the newspaper and kept it as the voice of small town rural America. Every issue featured columns written by folks in most every little community near Grapeland. Weldon let the “big city” papers carry the news about state, national and world matters — he kept the “Messenger” on track just for local readers.

Horace@valornet.com