Dedication to speaking in rhyming verse

“Hey Cowboy, Wanna Get Lucky” was the very first book on tape that I ever listened to. Back in the early ’90s, anyone who had a true appreciation for the Western culture certainly had an appreciation for the one and only Baxter Black.

He appeared on everything from Johnny Carson to National Public Radio and countless agricultural broadcasts, bringing a degree of humor to the everyday grind of cowboying. As an interesting side note, through the years I have met a few individuals who knew Baxter as a practicing veterinarian, and they were typically quite happy that he gave up practicing animal medicine because they said he was so busy telling stories that the daywork never got done.

I was fortunate to finally meet Baxter Black in June 2000 at the annual Beef Improvement Federation meeting in Wichita, Kansas. “An evening with Baxter” was entertaining as well as inspiring for me. I remember telling my wife, Kelli, that night that we really needed to meet him.

When the crowd around him finally shook loose, I walked in front of him just as he was walking off. His first words to me were, “Well, Trent, it is a pleasure to meet you but if I don’t answer this call from nature it won’t be good for either of us.” When he returned, I told him what I hoped to do in terms of “telling the story of production agriculture.” He encouraged me and gave me his card as he said, “Give me a call,” and so I did.

On the phone a week later, he was so congenial and helpful and gave me the exact advice I needed to start promoting and charging for my services. Through the years, we actually worked at four of the same events but it was that first time we crossed paths as speakers that really made the difference. It was Madison, Wisconsin, at the Dairy Business Association meeting and I was the after lunch speaker. To say that I was a bit nervous when Black walked in and sat down just to listen to me would be a huge understatement. However, what he said to me after that experience most likely had the biggest impact on my abilities from that day forward.

A couple years later we ended up in Nashville, Tennessee, together and he sat on the balcony of his hotel room listening to me, only to tell me later, “There is no reason, while speaking in Nashville, that the folks in Memphis need to hear you as well.” I actually think this was the best advice he gave me in 20 years.

Years later in Billings, we spoke at the Montana Association of Conservation Districts’ annual meeting and he took me to lunch. He told me several things that stick with me every single day in this career. Honestly, this brings to mind that I can remember nearly word for word every single discussion we have exchanged in our relationship.

While it is probably because I choose to wear a rag, a hat and fluffy mustache, I cannot begin to tell you how many times folks have come up to me, telling me how much they absolutely love my work, and then call me Baxter. But that leads me to the best Baxter Black story ever. I was walking through the Minneapolis-Saint Paul airport and this cattleman walked up to me, so very happy to get to meet “Baxter Black.” Yes, I had to tell him that he confused me for a guy that is nearly 15 years older than I am. The worst part was that when I burst his bubble he was so embarrassed.

While I was talking to the very kind gentleman, my phone was dinging in my pocket. When we parted company, I looked at the message that had come from my wife who was sending me a picture of herself and Baxter Black. He was performing at the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Convention back home and she presented him with a Nebraska Beef t-shirt from the Nebraska Cattlewomen.

My last conversation with him was a tough one. He told me that he was no longer going on the road to do live performances. We visited for a full 30 minutes as I was driving and it was a great, genuine conversation. The man truly created paths of communication about the farm and ranch way of life for all of those who came behind him. I’m not sure any of us fully appreciate how much easier it is to share the story of agriculture because we followed an American hero named Baxter Black.

Because he was willing to give me some of his time, in the height of his career, he truly made an impact on me. I will always have that as my motivation and incentive to help folks who ask me about starting their own speaking careers. By sharing his wisdom, he enhanced the reach of our agricultural message to urban audiences by multiplying the messengers.

In honor of a great mentor, role model and human being, I will close with this. You may or may not choose to tell your stories in rhyming verse, but what really matters is that you find your best way to converse. Thanks, Baxter!

Editor’s note: The views expressed here are the author’s own and do not represent the views of High Plains Journal. Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at, or email Trent at [email protected].