Buck Howdy is a singing cowboy, specializing in kid-friendly tunes. You may have seen his Hayride videos on Noggin. He’s also a genuine, tractor-driving, turkey farmer.
But is he also a Geek?
Maybe so. After all, he has mashed up Roy Rogers with the Rolling Stones: “Hey! You! Get off of my cow!”
And his latest album – Aaaaah! Spooky, Scary Stories & Songs — features the legendary urban legend of the Mexican Hairless Dog. (You can listen to any of these for free.)
And wait until you find out who his GeekDad was…
Buck Howdy: “I inherited my geek DNA from my dad [Jim Vaus Jr.]. As a kid my dad helped me build a ham radio and then I got my broadcast license WN2FEZ was my call sign.
He was a HUGE geek – he invented wiretapping and tracing phone calls – and then employed his skills at the same time for the L.A. Syndicate (mob), the police and Hollywood movie stars all at the same time!
He also invented the machine that they patterned the big sting in the movie “The Sting” after – where they were supposedly intercepting horse race results on the wire service – and then delaying those results just long enough to place bets on the horses.”
(Jim Vaus cleaned up his act, by the way. You can find out more in his book, “Why I Quit Syndicated Crime,” the basis of the 1955 movie Wiretapper.)
So, Buck Howdy has some pretty good geek credentials, but not he sure looks natural in the cowboy hat. I asked him about being a geek cowboy — or cowboy geek.
Q: Is it possible to be both?
Pretty much every cowboy (and farmer) I know is a geek – we all obsess about gadgets and gear – whether it be the latest farm implement, or gps or satellite guidance for the tractor – or horse gear – shucks, a horse is the ultimate gadget – you gotta figure out how to make it go, and get it to go where you wanna go, and then how to make it stop – just like I always tried to do with the erector sets , Heathkit radios and balsa wood airplanes I built and played with as a kid. A turkey operation like ours (typically 40,000 hens at a time) is geek heaven. Computerized watering, computerized feeding, computerized climate control . . .
Q: Isn’t there a slight odor associated with that?
There is one heckuva an odor that goes with raising turkeys – especially because most turkey farmers use turkey litter (translation turkey poop) to fertilize their fields. Awful stink that the neighbors don’t much like if a breeze gets to blowing – which is pretty much every day.
Q: What are some good farm-type activities for a kid to try in their backyard?
My ultimate backyard geek craft project was making a s’mores rotisserie (to cook 30+ at a time). It’s in one of my videos and I get tons of emails and requests asking if I sell a kit (I probably should). The rotisserie is at the 1:35 mark (eat your heart out GeekDads one and all).
Another thing we do all the time is camp out, sometimes just in the yard, sometimes down by the river, and then tell scary stories – we often have been known to scare ourselves right back into the house. That’s what inspired the new cd.
I’ve done a series of videos “Buck Howdy’s Hayride” on the topic of country activities that kids most anywhere can try [such as] fishing or crawdaddin’ with just a stick, some line and some hot dog.
And I asked Buck Howdy to put together a play list for us:
I’ve Got Spurs, that Jingle Jangle Jingle;
I Ride an Old Paint;
Get Along Little Doggies;
Don’t Fence Me In (even though it was written by a city-slicker, Cole Porter)
Want to throw in a Buck Howdy original?
Try Baked Beans.