I missed an opportunity last week. I
was not more than a few miles from a monument and didnt even now it. This isnt the kind of monument that the Chamber of Commerce
commissions but rather one created by a sons love for his father. Next time you pass through Mandan, North Dakota youll know
more than I did and see what I didnt see.
Buddy Kahl was a rancher all his life. He worked hard for his family that
included six boys and six girls. He farmed because it helped pay bills but he raised cattle and horses because he loved it.
He started out with Hereford cattle then transitioned to Simmental and finally Gelbvieh in the later years. I spoke with his
second oldest son, Larry recently. Larry spent his life getting to know his dad in the best way, side by side and working
at something they both loved.
Buddy died last March. The love he showed those around him did not go to the grave with
him and his son Larry wanted to return the favor. Larry created a huge sculpture to show us what his memory sees each day.
The sculpture is one of a rider on a horse leading cattle to fresh pasture. Larry and friend Darryl Billick used a plasma
cutter to make six by seventeen foot sheets of 3/16 sheet steel into the best kind of art. The sculpture sits on top of a
hill one-quarter mile west of Mandan on top of a hill and is easily seen from Highway 10.
The sculpture is approximately
twelve hundred feet long. It depicts a rider on a horse leading a riderless horse, which is a common practice at cowboy funerals.
Next follows a chuck wagon pulled by a team of horses with Buddys Flying K brand on the side. A herd of cow/calf pairs follows
with horses and riders interspersed among the group. A huge memorial sign ends the first portion of sculpture. The next portion
features a nine-foot tall stallion watching over five mares. This is a lucky stallion as Larry plans to build more mares and
trees to provide a little shade for them and a few new deer he plans to cut out. This is truly a labor of love that Larry
wanted up before frost set in this past winter. He and friend Darryl had to work hard to make it happen and Larry sometimes
woke up at odd hours after his fathers death to work on this project. I wonder what woke him up and about what he was thinking?
When I spoke to Larry he seemed less concerned with the size of this sculpture and the work he put into it than with
his father,Buddy and how he touched so many people. He said he thought of dedicating it to all fathers everywhere but in the
end decided make it exclusive to his father. Maybe if we know the story behind this great piece of art we can understand what
our fathers mean to us and see the sculpture as our own. You know what, Larry; you did it just right. We all get it.