The jury, as they say, is still out. I'm not completely certain whether I can claim to be a Texan or am mostly considered a Texas resident from “Back East.” Reaction has been varied.

For instance, one reader suggested that I might get “used to Texas in about 70 years.” That would occur around my 125th birthday, at which time I hope to have been retired for at least two or three years, considering the current state of my investments.

Another reader suggested that I defy my good wife, drive to the nearest Western wear store and find a nice cowboy hat and buy it. He did suggest taking a friend to get a second opinion on how it looked atop my noggin. I'll think about it.

Pat Jones, a good friend from around Lubbock, said they might could adopt me and allowed as she'd like me to stay in Texas for as long as possible. That was extremely nice and I am indeed grateful. I'm especially pleased because I have interviewed Pat, written a story or two about her work with WIFE and also worked with her husband David on an irrigation article and they still talk to me. I love satisfied customers.

Finally, my very good friend and fellow Farm Press employee Harry Cline, a native Texan who slipped off to edit Western Farm Press way out in Fresno, Calif., offered some sage advice. Harry once took bull-riding lessons and actually rode a real live rodeo bull (I think in a real live rodeo but this may be my imagination) so one takes his suggestions with a bag of salt.

Harry says: “Five years! It's the first 100 years that are the toughest in becoming a Texan.”

Anyway, Harry suggested I scrap the cowboy boots that hurt my feet and replace them with a pair of ropers, without pointy toes. “The only reason for pointy toed cowboy boots,” he says, “is to kill cockroaches that slip into corners.” See what I mean about riding bulls?

He says a good pair of ropers would provide comfort and offer a certain Texas look that might allow me to get by. He also suggested buying a good pair, so I assume buying the last pair at the Goodwill store probably was not a good idea. Seemed like a bargain at the time.

As for the hat, Harry suggests I: “need to get a palm leaf straw: Just toss it in horse trough to reshape the brim. Best straw I ever owned. I hear they are real popular in Texas. Rodeo crowd says you can spot a Texan by his palm leaf.” There's that rodeo thing again.

“When you are in Texas, wear it straight up; don't tilt it to either side or to the back.”

Harry sees hope. “I take everything back about you not being a Texan. Anyone who strains an Achilles tendon to the point of needing crutches by operating a trolling motor all day definitely qualifies as a redneck Texan (his words not mine).”

That fishing injury tale, by the way, is a basically a true story and I may actually tell it when I get through making it up.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com