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The Two Sides of Colten Jesse



He’s always knew what he wanted to be. From as far back as he can recall, Colten Jesse planned to be a bull rider, spending days and months traveling across the country for an eight-second ride. The now 24-year-old cowboy purchased his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association permit shortly after his 18th birthday in 2015.

In 2016, he joined the Professional Bull Riders, and over the course of four years won more than $310,000, qualified for the World Finals three of those years, and became a household name in the world of professional bull riding.

While his talent with a bull has been on display, Colten had another gift he occasionally shared with family and close friends. He could sing, write songs, and a play a guitar.

Then, when a nagging hip injury forced a surgery and long recovery at the beginning of 2021, his focus pivoted to the music. The bull rider-turned-troubadour’s musical career is now on an upward trajectory.

The Bulls

Colten grew up in the south central Oklahoma town of Konawa. A third generation bull rider, Colten rose through the typical ranks, beginning with sheep riding around four years old. “I never really quit, after that. After sheep I went to calves, then steers, and then bulls,” he recalled. “No one ever forced me to do anything, but it was what I really wanted to do from an early age.”

He purchased his PRCA permit in 2015, dipping his toes in the professional arena. His career took off in 2016, and he finished the year with more than $46,000 in earnings and ranked 27th in the world standings. That year he qualified for and won the Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo in Duncan, Okla., and qualified for the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo.

He decided to make the switch to the PBR in 2017. “The PBR was just somewhere I always wanted to be. I had some good people who helped me make the best decisions for me. I was able to mature mentally during my time in the PRCA before making the switch and didn’t feel as much pressure to make the finals or anything like that,” he shared.

He made the switch to the PBR late in the season, but still managed to claim a couple good wins in the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour.

In 2018, he had one of his best years, pocketing more than $108,000, including a $41,300 payday for a third-place finish at the Music City Knockout and another $21,456 from a win at the Big Sky PBR in Montana. “It was a good year. I think it was the only healthy whole year I had the whole time. It was technically my rookie year in the PBR. I made my first world finals and set the tone and knew where I was supposed to be,” he shared.

Building off his success in 2018, Colten was eager to get out on the road. A few wins early in the year propelled him higher in the standings, but then disaster struck. “It had started off to be really good. I felt more mature and was having fun, and then wound up blowing my shoulder out that summer,” Colten explained. “I was high enough in the standings I still slid into the finals even though I didn’t go anywhere after that.”

Surgery soon followed. Luckily Colten, who was living in Texas at the time, had one of the best in the business in his corner. “Dr. Tandy Freeman did the surgery and kept an eye on me. I was able to go to physical therapy right down the road from his office,” he said. “I got back to feeling good, and he cleared me to compete at the finals.”

With only a short period of time to practice before the World Finals, the event wasn’t a success. “I was able to get on maybe two practice bulls before I went out there. I still feel like it was no excuse by any means,” he said. “I have never had an outstanding finals like I know I can. It’s definitely something that has haunted me.”

Colten came back in 2020 looking for redemption. “I was ready to rock and roll. I had a really good year. I started to get into my own head and had some hiccups towards the middle of the season, but came back and had a really good summer,” he said. Summer 2020 was highlighted by a win in Bismark, N.D., at the PBR Dakota Community Bank and Trust Invitational, worth $36,770.

Then COVID-19 struck, and Colten had to sit out the next event. Then an old injury in his hip flared up. “It was kind of a dog fight from that point in September through the finals,” he said.

The issue in his hip was one that has plagued him through his career. In 2017 he knew something was wrong, and visits with the doctors resulted in having his labrum in his hip repaired. He also had a bone spur on his femur which had given him fits from an early age. “We finally got that fixed and then it resurfaced in 2020. It was something, I guess it’s just something I’m going to have to deal with. I don’t really have a choice,” he said.

With Dr. Freeman’s help, Colten got a couple injections in his hip to help him make it through the finals. “It helped, but not the way I’d like it to. It was tough, trying to ride bulls with an injury like that. It was always in my mind. I’m not so sure if it wasn’t beating me, mentally,” he admitted. “I think I went to three of the last six events. I ended up going to the finals and I don’t think I rode anything at the finals. That year, 2020, just wound up being pretty tough on me.”

With the PBR World Finals in the books, Dr. Freeman set Colten up with Dr. Thomas Byrd, an orthopedic hip specialist in Nashville. “I went and had hip surgery in January, and have just been playing music since then,” he shared. “I haven’t been on a bull since the last one I got on in AT&T Stadium in November of 2020.”

Quietly, he added, “I do miss it.”

The Music

With a looming recovery period of at least six months, Colten crafted a new plan for 2021. “I ended up buying a house and land in Davis, and just had a lot of stuff going on. I knew I wouldn’t be cleared to ride until late in the season, so I decided to take the year off and work on my house and my land and my music,” he explained.

Colten’s musical career began – and was short-lived – in junior high. “I played in the band in junior high. It was more of a social thing then, because my friends were doing it, too. I did enjoy it, and tried really hard at it. I played the saxophone, and that was about it,” he shared with a quick laugh.

He quit the band in eighth grade, then purchased his first guitar at a pawn shop when he was 18 following an injury. “I had that injury, I don’t even remember what it was, but I was limited in what I could do, so I would just sit there and play and play and play on that guitar,” he remembered. “I had some other buddies that would play and they taught me a little bit, and then I taught myself as I went along.”

He kept his talent to himself, and didn’t really play much in front of people.

Then he began to write his own songs. The first, titled “Marlboro Man,” was about an old friend. “His name was Jim Burns, and he lived down the road and was a family friend. He meant a lot to a lot of us. I wrote it for a small group of people, talking about how he was, and people just kind of latched on to that song. They’ll write me and tell me that it makes them think of their grandpa, or brother, or dad, and I think that’s pretty cool,” he said.

Colten wound up sending some songs to friends, and one posted a video to social media. “I didn’t have it finished at the time, but it started to blow up on social media. It wasn’t finished at the time, but people were messaging me and it compelled me to finish it. I went out and bought some home audio equipment, and recorded it and another one right their in my kitchen,” he admitted.

One of those first songs was “Firewater,” which he’d written after a rough time at a PBR event. “I was in Billings at the PBR, and I thought something was going on with my hip. I went ahead and got on my first bull that night, and it wasn’t working. I wound up turning out the rest of the weekend, and I guess I was just down. I went out to the bar with my friends, and wound up writing that song,” he said. “I was feeling defeated but knew I had to keep going. The song might have been about whiskey, but it was more about dealing with life in general.”

Read more about Colten in the December 2021 issue of Oklahoma Farm & Ranch.

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Country Lifestyle

Poinsettia Partnerships Will Make Your Holidays Beautiful




Norman Winter

Horticulturist, Author and Speaker

National Poinsettia Day just passed, December 12 to be exact. While I am sure the powers to be wanted a celebratory type day, from what I have been seeing this year is this may have been a deadline day. This most likely applies to poinsettia partners too! If you are asking what a poinsettia partner is then put on your thinking cap and gather around.

Proven Winners got most of us to thinking partners when they introduced the concept of combining poinsettias with Diamond Frost euphorbias. This is one of the best ideas ever and we now actually have three choices, Diamond Frost, Diamond Snow with double flowers and Diamond Mountain that is the taller of the three.

To a horticulturist like myself this combination is so special because both the Poinsettia and the Diamond Frost are Euphorbias. That’s right, they are cousins. Just like Christmas, families visiting and long-lost cousins getting together. Of course, the main reason we like this idea is that the red, pink, or variegated poinsettia looks incredible, it’s as though it is sitting on a bed of snow or frost. I have found these to be more available at fine florists.

But if you are going to create your own and go plant shopping then keep in mind some other options you might want to-try. For instance, a couple of years ago Jenny Simpson of Creekside Nursery in Dallas North Carolina introduced us to not only using caladiums at Christmas but even in combinations with poinsettias. She used the Heart to Heart White Snowdrift caladiums which turned out to be a perfect partner with red poinsettias.

My time as Executive Director at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens in Savannah GA taught me there are opportunities for outside use with poinsettias, particularly if you are astute at long range weather forecasting. First consider that Savannah is technically zone 8B with a proclivity to lean into zone 9. We used poinsettias in large planters surrounded by Silver Bullet Dusty Miller or artemisia.

A similar application gave me the opportunity of photographing pink poinsettias mass planted in an atrium-like setting and surrounded by gray leaved Icicles helichrysum. But the most obvious and perhaps easiest if you are getting a late start is to combine your poinsettias with another Christmas plant like cyclamen. White cyclamen around a red poinsettia can be simply breathtaking.

This year I have also been watching what I call the professional garden club ladies walking out of both florists and floral departments with holly berries. We all think of hollies on swags above the fireplace or front door, but two or three preserved branches loaded with red berries stuck in a pot of white poinsettias is quick, easy and unbeatable.

Red berries for Christmas, landscape beauty, and of course feeding the birds is a prime reason to grow winterberry hollies like the compact Berry Poppins. Consider also growing Berry Heavy Gold winterberry holly. Cutting branches of the gold berries to be used with red poinsettias makes a stunning partnership. Go to Proven Winners site, Winterberry Holly: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Colorful Berries. If you don’t have poinsettias yet make today your shopping day! Follow me on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy for more photos and garden inspiration.

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Country Lifestyle

Homesteading Skills: The Essentials for Self-Sufficiency and Sustainable Living



Homesteading, once a way of life for our ancestors, is experiencing a resurgence in today’s world. As people seek greater self-sufficiency, a deeper connection with the land, and more sustainable lifestyles, homesteading skills have become not only practical but also deeply rewarding. In this article, we’ll explore the essential homesteading skills that can empower individuals and families to live more self-reliant and sustainable lives.

1. Gardening

At the heart of homesteading is the ability to grow your own food. Gardening is the foundation of self-sufficiency, and it’s a skill that can be cultivated no matter the size of your property. Key gardening skills include:

Soil preparation and composting

Seed starting and transplanting

Crop rotation and companion planting

Pest and weed management

Harvesting and food preservation techniques like canning, freezing, and drying

2. Animal Husbandry

Raising animals for food, fiber, and companionship is a fundamental aspect of homesteading. The skills related to animal husbandry include:

Care and feeding of livestock, such as chickens, goats, cows, or pigs

Breeding and reproduction management

Livestock housing and pasture management

Animal health and basic veterinary care

Dairy and meat processing if you’re raising animals for consumption

3. Food Preservation

To make the most of your garden’s bounty or the harvest from your livestock, knowing how to preserve food is essential. Food preservation skills include:

Canning fruits and vegetables

Fermentation for foods like sauerkraut and kimchi

Dehydrating fruits, vegetables, and herbs

Making homemade jams, jellies, and pickles

Smoking, curing, and other methods for meat preservation

4. Foraging and Wildcrafting

Homesteading often involves making the most of what nature provides. Learning to identify and use wild edibles and medicinals is a valuable skill:

Identifying edible wild plants and mushrooms

Harvesting herbs for teas, tinctures, and salves

Sustainable foraging practices to protect local ecosystems

Preserving wildcrafted items for later use

5. Beekeeping

Keeping bees not only provides a source of honey but also contributes to pollination on your property. Beekeeping skills include:

Setting up and maintaining beehives

Handling and managing bees safely

Harvesting and processing honey and beeswax

Identifying and addressing common bee health issues

6. Food Self-Sufficiency

Beyond gardening, you can work toward greater food self-sufficiency by learning skills like:

Seed saving to preserve heirloom and open-pollinated varieties

Raising and harvesting small livestock like rabbits or quail

Cultivating perennial food crops like fruit trees and berry bushes

Aquaponics or hydroponics for year-round food production

7. Basic Carpentry and DIY Skills

Homesteaders often find themselves needing to build and repair structures, tools, and equipment. Carpentry and DIY skills include:

Building raised beds, chicken coops, and animal shelters

Basic woodworking for constructing furniture and farm implements

Repairing and maintaining machinery like tractors and generators

Fencing and infrastructure construction for property management

8. Water Management

Managing water resources efficiently is crucial for sustainable living. Key skills include:

Rainwater harvesting and storage

Drip irrigation and water-saving techniques for gardening

Proper well maintenance and water testing

Building and maintaining ponds or water features for livestock and wildlife

9. Energy Independence

To live off the grid or reduce your environmental footprint, consider energy independence skills:

Solar panel installation and maintenance

Wind turbine installation and maintenance

Energy-efficient building design and retrofits

Off-grid living strategies for reduced reliance on public utilities

10. Soap and Candle Making

Homemade soaps and candles can reduce reliance on store-bought products. These skills include:

Making soap using cold or hot process methods

Crafting candles from beeswax, soy, or other materials

Adding scents and colors naturally

11. Herbal Medicine and Remedies

Homesteaders often turn to herbal medicine and remedies for self-sufficiency in healthcare:

Growing and harvesting medicinal herbs

Making tinctures, salves, and herbal teas

Natural remedies for common ailments

Basic first-aid and emergency care skills

12. Sewing and Textile Arts

Basic sewing skills are essential for making and repairing clothing, linens, and more. These skills include:

Hand and machine sewing techniques

Mending and darning clothing

Knitting, crocheting, and other textile arts

Crafting items like blankets, rugs, and quilts

Homesteading is not just a return to simpler times but a way to embrace self-sufficiency, sustainability, and a deeper connection with the land. While mastering all these skills may take time, the journey itself is a rich and rewarding experience. Homesteading is about learning, adapting, and continually improving your ability to live more independently and in harmony with the environment. Whether you have acres of land or a small urban plot, these essential homesteading skills can empower you to live a more self-reliant and sustainable life, fostering a sense of fulfillment and purpose in the process.

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Country Lifestyle

Raising Chickens for Beginners: A Step-by-Step Guide



Raising chickens can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, whether you’re a homesteader looking to become more self-sufficient or a backyard enthusiast seeking fresh eggs for your family. Chickens are relatively low-maintenance animals, making them an excellent choice for beginners in the world of poultry farming. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the essentials of raising chickens, from choosing the right breed to ensuring their health and happiness.

Selecting the Right Breed

Before diving into chicken-raising, it’s crucial to choose the right breed that suits your goals and environment. Different breeds have various characteristics, including egg-laying capacity, temperament, and adaptability. Here are some popular options for beginners:

Rhode Island Red: Known for their excellent egg production and hardiness.

Plymouth Rock: Friendly birds that lay brown eggs and adapt well to various climates.

Australorp: Record-holders for egg-laying, known for their docile nature.

Silkies: Unique and fluffy birds often kept as pets; they lay smaller eggs but are adorable companions.

Research the specific breeds available in your area and consider factors like climate and available space when making your selection.

Coop and Run Setup

Before bringing your chickens home, you’ll need to set up a safe and comfortable living space for them. A coop and run are essential components of your chicken-keeping setup:

Coop: The coop is where your chickens will sleep at night and lay their eggs. It should be well-insulated, predator-proof, and provide at least two to three square feet of space per chicken.

Run: The run is an outdoor area where your chickens can roam during the day. It should be fenced and covered to protect your birds from predators and provide shade.

Make sure to include roosting bars, nesting boxes, and adequate ventilation in your coop for a healthy environment.

Feeding Your Chickens

Chickens need a balanced diet to stay healthy and lay eggs regularly. You can feed them commercial chicken feed, which comes in various forms:

Starter Feed: For chicks up to six weeks old.

Grower Feed: For chicks aged six weeks to 20 weeks.

Layer Feed: For hens producing eggs.

Additionally, you can supplement their diet with kitchen scraps, vegetables, and grains. Ensure they have access to clean, fresh water at all times.

Care and Health

Regular care and monitoring are essential to keeping your chickens healthy. Here are some key aspects of chicken care:

Regular Health Checks: Inspect your chickens for signs of illness or injury daily. Common issues include mites, respiratory infections, and injuries from pecking.

Disease Prevention: Vaccinate your chickens against common diseases to keep your flock healthy.

Egg Collection: Collect eggs daily to ensure they remain clean and prevent hens from brooding.

Clean Coop: Regularly clean the coop to prevent the buildup of waste and odors, which can attract pests.

Handling and Socializing

Chickens can be friendly and enjoy human interaction when handled gently. Spend time with your chickens, hand-feeding them treats to build trust. Avoid sudden movements or loud noises, which can startle them.

Understanding Egg Production

Egg production varies by breed and age. Hens typically start laying eggs at around 5-6 months old. The amount of daylight, diet, and stress can affect egg production. You can use artificial lighting to simulate longer daylight hours, which can encourage consistent egg-laying.

Dealing with Challenges

Chickens, like any animal, come with their challenges. Here are a few common issues and how to address them:

Predators: Invest in a secure coop and run, and consider adding motion-activated lights or alarms to deter nighttime predators.

Broodiness: Some hens may become broody and stop laying eggs. You can break this behavior by isolating them in a separate enclosure or providing them with dummy eggs to sit on.

Feather Pecking: Chickens can sometimes develop a habit of pecking at each other’s feathers. Ensure they have enough space and distractions to prevent this behavior.

Raising chickens can be a delightful and educational journey. By selecting the right breed, setting up a proper coop and run, providing a balanced diet, and offering care and attention, you can enjoy the rewards of fresh eggs and the companionship of these feathered friends. Remember that every chicken has its unique personality, so get ready to be charmed by your new flock as you embark on this fulfilling adventure in poultry farming. Happy chicken-keeping!

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