Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bear bite probably killed man; both species may have been on remains

A bear bite probably killed a Virgin, Utah, man whose remains were found Friday in the Teton Wilderness but investigators aren’t yet certain what species of bear might be responsible. A preliminary pathology report indicates the victim died from blunt force trauma, “probably a bear bite” to the head, Wyoming Game and Fish Lander Regional Wildlife Supervisor Jason Hunter told WyoFile on Monday. Hunter has worked closely with Fremont County officials in the ongoing investigation into the death of Adam Stewart, 31. Stewart was visiting a plot to monitor vegetation under a contract with the U.S. Forest Service, Sheriff’s office records state. Volunteers and others launched a 5-day search for him in the Cub Creek drainage north of Togwotee Pass in the roadless Teton Wilderness of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Investigators didn’t know Monday what species might have killed Stewart. Officials have found “nothing that indicates from our investigation what type of bear it was,” Hunter said. Tracks from both species – black and grizzly — were at the scene, he said. There also were clues on the remains that could show what species were on the victim’s body. “Just looking at the hairs we could have two different species,” Hunter said...more

Is this a wolf track?

Photo taken this weekend on a ranch in the San Antonio, NM. area.

Otero County commissioners terminate 3 contracts with Lincoln National Forest

Otero County Commissioners have terminated three contracts with the Lincoln National Forest and opted out of scheduling a town hall meeting to discuss the termination of the contracts with forest officials. During Thursday's commission meeting, District 3 Commissioner Ronny Rardin said he was opposed to holding a town hall meeting with the USFS. "I have no desire to meet with the Forest Service any further than I already have," Rardin said." Otero County Commissioners have terminated three contracts with the Lincoln National Forest and opted out of scheduling a town hall meeting to discuss the termination of the contracts with forest officials. During Thursday's commission meeting, District 3 Commissioner Ronny Rardin said he was opposed to holding a town hall meeting with the USFS. "I have no desire to meet with the Forest Service any further than I already have," Rardin said. During July's commission meeting the commissioners had considered severing all working contracts with the USFS. The commission voted against severing all contracts with the Forest Service but agreed to take some contracts into consideration for possible termination. After the July meeting, the commission selected a few contracts to terminate with the USFS. Otero County Manager Pamela Helter said the commissioners decided to terminate three contracts with the Forest Service. The three contracts that are being terminated are: the Master Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) contract which was established Oct. 17, 2012; Two Goats Project established April 3, 2013 and Dale Resler Boys Scout Camp established July 24, 2013. Heltner sent a 30 day notice to Lincoln National Forest officials on July 30, 2014 that stated the county's intent to terminate the three contracts. The termination letter to the Lincoln National Forest Supervisor Travis Mosley states, "Otero County has tried diligently to work with the Forest Service on multiple issues and the Forest Service has not responded in a manner that we feel benefits the constituents of Otero County." Lincoln National Forest Sacramento District Ranger James Duran said the Forest Service is willing to work with the commission in the future to try and arrange a meeting. Rardin said meeting with the Forest Service in the past hasn't paid off and he doesn't expect it will be any different in the future. Rardin said prior meetings about issues the county has had with the Lincoln National Forest regarding water property rights were futile...more

Colorado ranchers’ Pinon Canyon victory earns magazine cover story

“In 2005, the entire agricultural community in Southeast Colorado faced losing their ranches to an aggressive land grab by the U.S. Army. By combining biological evidence, cultural heritage, intense document research, the political process, and when necessary, legal action, these ranchers smartly, legally, and collectively saved their land.” Thus begins, in big type over a two-page southeastern Colorado landscape, an eight-page feature in the October/November issue of American Cowboy written by the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Bob Welch. Reaching subscribers last week and newsstands now, Welch goes back to 1983 to tell of what’s become known among area ranching families as The Taking, when the Army created the quarter-million-acre Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS) by using eminent domain to take the land from families unwilling to sell. Welch then jumps to 2005 when a map leaked to the La Junta Tribune-Democrat revealed an almost-unimaginably huge new land grab by the Army, which had secretly developed an elaborate plan to expand PCMS to seven million acres—roughly ten percent of Colorado’s land, bound by Interstate 25 to the west, New Mexico and Oklahoma to the south, and the Arkansas River to the north. More than 17,000 people would be removed from their vacated land. “This time, though, the Army lost the element of surprise,” Welch writes. “The ranchers and their allies would fight. They formed the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition (PCEOC) and two offshoots, Grasslands Trust and Not One More Acre!, and began drawing up a battle plan.” Welch proceeds to tell the story through interviews with many of the opposition leaders, all of them longtime residents of southeastern Colorado. None had experience as political organizers. Most were ranchers, and most of their families had been on the same land for generations.

Mont. wolf  hunt begins; activists shadow hunters

Montana’s six-month general hunting season for gray wolves began Monday as outside activists sought to highlight the killing of wolves that leave Yellowstone National Park. It’s the fourth annual hunt since Congress revoked endangered species protections in 2011 for the animals, and the fifth since 2009, when gray wolves briefly lost their protected status before it was temporarily restored by a federal judge. There was no hunt in 2010. Yet the hunt continues to stir debate. For this year’s opening, a small group of activists said they were shadowing two groups of backcountry hunting outfitters in a wilderness area next to Yellowstone. Rod Coronado with the recently formed Yellowstone Wolf Patrol said he and eight other volunteers planned to use a video camera to document the killing of any wolves. Coronado said they would not directly interfere with hunting, which would be illegal. “We’re hoping our presence here and taking video of it and photographing evidence can persuade Montana citizens to ask their governor to shut down the hunt outside the park,” Coronado said. In 1995, a federal judge sentenced Coronado to more than four years in prison for his role in an arson attack on an animal research facility in Michigan. He said Monday that he no longer considers illegal actions effective and has no intention of breaking any Montana laws...more

Another Washington wolf pack targets livestock

A northeastern Washington wolf pack so new it hasn't been formally recognized has been confirmed in a livestock attack in Ferry County, state wildlife officials announced today. The Profanity Pack, which apparently was documented sometime this year by a biologist working with the Colville Confederated Tribes, has been related to a wolf attack on cattle reported Sept. 12 on a Colville National Forest  grazing allotment. The pack, which doesn't yet show on state wolf recovery maps, was named for its proximity to Profanity Peak, elevation 6,428 feet, along the crest of the Kettle River Range east of Curlew, and north of Sherman Pass. “Remote cameras show the pack includes at least three adults and three pups,” said Nate Pamplin, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department wildlife program director. “WDFW is coordinating with the Colville Confederated Tribe on camera monitoring and future trapping efforts to place a radio collar on members of the pack.” The Diamond M livestock operation, grazing on a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) allotment, reported finding a wolf-killed cow and calf in the vicinity of the Profanity Peak pack, Pamplin said. Diamond M Ranch also had problems with wolf attacks mostly on private land in northern Stevens County in 2012. Those attacks affecting 17 cattle, led the state to put helicopter gunners in the air and kill eight members of the Wedge Pack. “WDFW staff and deputies from the Stevens County and Ferry County sheriff’s offices responded and went to the site on Friday,” Pamplin said. “The area was remote, about four miles by trail from the nearest road.  WDFW staff confirmed that the cattle had been killed by wolves approximately a week before the necropsy.”...more

Oregon wolves move closer to delisting

Oregon could have enough breeding pairs of wolves in 2015 to reach a minimum threshold for delisting wolves under the state Endangered Species Act. “We were told in the beginning that when wolves first came to the county, we were waiting for that day,” said Todd Nash, wolf committee chairman for the Oregon Cattleman Association. “We fully expect to reach that threshold this year.” The threshold is met when the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife verifies that the state hosts at least four breeding pairs of wolves in Eastern Oregon for three years. In 2012, biologists documented six breeding pairs, and they found four pairs in 2013 spread across Baker, Union, Umatilla and Wallowa counties. In the Western region, only one breeding pair is known to exist. The count for 2014 won’t be complete until January or even February of 2015, said Russ Morgan, who coordinates ODFW’s wolf program. However, early reports show more than four breeding pairs. “Oregon wolves are increasing, not just in abundance but in distribution as well,” Morgan said. That’s bittersweet news for Nash and his fellow ranchers because more wolves mean more potential problems for their animals, but it also means they would be allowed to use lethal force in more situations...more

Tribe protests plans to raise dam

A local tribe showed its displeasure with a proposal to raise Shasta Dam here by holding a four-day fast and ceremonial war dance beginning at dusk Sept. 11. Members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe contend the proposal, which the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation could unveil by the end of this year, would cause more of their historical lands along the McCloud River to be flooded. “We’re a traditional tribe — we believe in our ceremonies and we believe in the sacred,” said Caleen Sisk, chief of the tribe based in Redding, Calif. “We’re telling the sacred places and the river that we’re doing everything we can to bring the salmon back and help the waters.” The Winnemem say they lost much of their homeland and their salmon when the dam was first constructed, and any raising would threaten to submerge many of their sacred sites and village areas. “We’re hoping the people of California will wake up to some of the water issues,” Sisk said. “California should be a salmon state … Before we started farming in the desert, we had every run of salmon. We should do that again because that’s what’s good for California.” While raising the dam has long been discussed as a way to add water storage, Reclamation officials are studying a series of alternative ranging from taking no action to raising it by 18 feet, project spokesman Louis Moore said...more

They Followed the Grass - Pages of history from Canadian Cattlemen, Sept. 1948

‘The ranching industry is almost as old as the hills – and so are the ranchers problems. When Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees for the land of Canaan he drove the herds before him. Isaac had some trouble with his neighbors over water rights: and his son quarreled with Laban over their spotted and freckled cattle. In fact Agriculture first was, “following the grass”, its original products four-legged animals which flourished on the uplands of Mongolia, in Asia, in Turkestan, on the steppes of eastern Russia and in Arabia. The Mongol Invasion under Genghis Khan and the Hun advance into Western Europe were mainly search for fresh pasture. People from the higher lands swept down on fertile valleys all through the pages of Ancient History.’...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1294

"Just Cuz I Like'em Week" continues with Mollie O'Brien & Rich Moore performing Sunday Street.  The tune is on their 2014 CD titled Love Runner.  Mom, I can see your foot tappin' right now.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Bundy says land not owned by Feds

Controversial figure Cliven Bundy said Thursday a transfer of public land from federal to state control was unnecessary, on grounds that Nevada already has a right to most of the land. Many local officials advocate for such a transfer, but Bundy said you can’t ask for something you already own. The Southern Nevada rancher was met by a welcoming crowd in Elko Thursday evening at a tea party-sponsored gathering. Attendees were told by organizers they would have the opportunity to hear his side of the story. Bundy gained notoriety during a rangeland dispute last spring and made national headlines. But he disputed owing more than $1 million in grazing fees, as reported. “I don’t run my cows on United States government land, I run my cows in the state of Nevada and Clark County,” he said. “And besides, if the federal government says I owe, why don’t they give me a bill? And why don’t they collect that bill?” In Bundy’s eyes, the U.S. Constitution prevents the federal government from having a legal claim to the majority of land in the state. More than 84 percent of land in Nevada is managed by the federal government. Bundy told attendees about how 100 federal officers, armed with guns and gear, first arrived to his ranch in April. He said officers abused his family during the first few days of the roundup, including an instance when his son was hit with a Taser gun, then hauled off in handcuffs for trying to take a photograph of captured cattle. Bundy’s talk was infused with religious overtones, such as crediting his “Heavenly Father” for helping him in the struggle. According to The Associated Press, the government reduced grazing on the Bunkerville allotment to 150 cows due to concern over the welfare of the threatened desert tortoise. Bundy continued to run cattle on the range but stopped paying fees. About a year later, his permit was revoked. Bundy continued to graze, however, without paying grazing fees, and the BLM calculated a $1.1 million debt owned by the rancher. Two federal judge rulings sided with the BLM, however, and the government organized a cattle gathering that began in early April. In addition to disagreeing with the BLM’s legal arguments and arguing that his family had grazed in the area since the 1870s, the rancher said the government’s decision to send armed agents for the roundup was an overreaction. Furthermore, “free speech zones” set up by the BLM incensed supporters, who considered it a form of censorship and a trampling of their First Amendment rights. Within days, people rallied to back the rancher, who had vowed to “do whatever it takes” to keep the BLM from gathering his cows, according to the AP. At Thursday’s event, Bundy disputed claims that militia pointed firearms at federal officers. Politicians began weighing in on the showdown between armed militia members and federal officers. Neil Kornze, BLM director and former Elko resident, called off the roundup on April 12, due to growing concerns for the safety of those involved. Impounded cattle were released. According to Bundy, “three old ladies,” not the BLM, unlatched the pen holding his cows. Many people who attended the event sympathized with Bundy’s sentiments. “I don’t support the military coming in,” Steve Dennin said before the event. Mike Katsonis agreed that military force was unnecessary, and said he would like to see a change in how the lands are managed. “We need to have the BLM lands taken out of federal hands and given to the states,” he said. John Viergutz compared the federal overreach to Soviet-era Russia...more

Checks in Cobell Settlement case to be mailed this week

A judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has approved an order to issue payments to members of the trust administration class in the Cobell Settlement case. On Thursday, Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan approved the distribution of checks by the claims administrator, the Garden City Group Inc., to the class membership. According to the Indian Trust Settlement website, the Garden City Group will mail checks to the current addresses it has on file for class members. The Garden City Group anticipates the first set of checks to be sent on Monday, and they could take from five to seven days to arrive, according to the update posted on the website. The settlement is from the 1996 class action lawsuit filed by the late Elouise Cobell of the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana. Cobell was an Individual Indian Money account holder and uncovered years of neglect by the federal government when it came to keeping accurate records of Indian trust accounts. For years, the federal government collected payments for these accounts from activities such as farming and grazing leases, timber sales, mining, and oil and gas production on trust land. The settlement, which was about $3.4 billion, was reached between the Interior and Treasury Departments and the individual Indian plaintiffs in December 2009 in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C...more

Subsidies turn Emigrant Wilderness into grazing nightmare

By Spencer Lennard

Several friends and I recently embarked on what we hoped would be a wilderness adventure in California’s high country. What we found was nothing like that.

When we picked up the wilderness permit for our hike in the Emigrant Wilderness in the Stanislaus National Forest, we envisioned the Sierra high country to be wonderful fish and wildlife habitat lined with huge, picturesque ponderosa pines and white granite cliffs. The otherwise helpful rangers made no mention of the ecosystem wreckage we were about to encounter.

Instead of the pristine trout creek we expected, the otherwise spectacular Kennedy Creek was lined with thousands of steaming piles of cow dung, swarms of black flies, cow-trampled banks and waterways and green algae-filled water. Instead of what should have been lush, wildflower-strewn meadows at Kennedy Lake, we sunk into a green quagmire of muck created by a steady stream of cows cooling themselves in the shallows.

As we scurried to get above the algae-clogged Kennedy Lake, we encountered several fly fishers, horse packers, photographers and hikers – all aghast and expressing the same sense of disappointment as we were. Why would the National Forest Service and the California legislative delegation continue the taxpayer-subsidized damage to some of the state’s best sub-alpine habitat, especially here, in this increasingly popular recreational area?

As we swatted flies and stepped over the excrement, we were struck by the notion that this hiker’s paradise should not be a taxpayer-subsidized feedlot. We understood that grazing allotments were grandfathered into many wilderness bills – obviously including the Emigrant Wilderness – when they were designated as such. We know that policy change is slower than molasses, especially when ranching culture and environmental issues are being discussed. But we could not understand how the U.S. Forest Service and California’s blue congressional delegation could let such taxpayer-subsidized harm continue to degrade one of our most preciously beautiful places, especially when species and habitat loss are also at stake.

Holding our noses from the stench of urine and feces, we asked ourselves, “Why is this occurring in our diminishing wilderness, some of the best fish and wildlife habitat left in the Sierra?”

... It is clear that the true cost of this archaic land mismanagement is also risking harm to the human communities below. The federal grazing program actually harms the local economy in favor of a few ranchers. Recreationists like us will NOT return to the Kennedy Lake drainage till the cows are removed. We’ll warn our friends and they’ll tell theirs. The depressed foothill towns of Sonora, Twain Harte and Columbia will receive far less revenue from hikers, horse packers and fishers if no effort is made to reclaim our public wilderness from the cows.

For a peak into the mind of those who are influencing our agencies, read the whole diatribe published in the Sacramento Bee.

Shooting the bull about Cowpens

For those of you who don’t remember much about your American history, Cowpens was a decisive battle in the American Revolution fought in January 1781 in South Carolina. This epic victory by the Continental Army was the turning point in the Southern Campaign, and was fought north of the town of Cowpens, an area known for extensive grazing of livestock.

While a few facts about the Revolutionary War are nice to know, I’d like to talk about Texas cowpens. Texas is a state renown for really extensive livestock grazing, producing almost twice as many beef cattle as the next competitor, Nebraska. With this many cattle, not to mention all the horses, goats, sheep and others, it takes a lot of pens to keep all these critters corralled.

The first cowpen I heard about on the “pore farm” was the log corral in which my great grandfather kept his horses, mules and cattle. Grandpa Jones told me many times of how his father had fired upon a band of marauding Comanches as they tried to take down the poles of his corral to steal his horses and mules. The rail fence was adequate to hold the livestock, and the Indians fled when he fired.

When I was a youngster, I recall that we had what was probably the sorriest excuse for a cow lot imaginable. Yet, it was a perfect match for our adjacent “corn crib.” Both structures were constructed out of whatever scrap materials were available. The pen had about four or five strands of rusty barbed wire strung between four trees forming an irregular quadrilateral shaped pen. In addition, it had a few pieces of old sheet metal and a couple of old rusty car doors woven into the structure. It was good enough to generally hold the milk cow and her calf, and little more.

While taking vocational agriculture in high school, we boys were given the opportunity for receiving “hands-on” instruction in working cattle and hogs for farmers and ranchers throughout the community. In doing so, we witnessed quite an assortment of cowpens, varying greatly in design and construction.

Book - Tragedy, coincidence and patterns, Review of “Downwind: A People’s History of the Nuclear West”

Sarah Alisabeth Fox
328 pages, hardcover: $29.95.
University of Nebraska Press, 2014.

Downwind: A People’s History of the Nuclear West constitutes an unofficial history of the atmospheric testing era (1951-1992) — the human stories that were never part of the record. Sarah Alisabeth Fox, a folklorist, spent eight years talking to people from the Four Corners region of the West. Their accounts bear witness to a series of personal tragedies: lung disease, late-term miscarriage, children with rare leukemia. Though government-collected data found clear links with radiation exposure, the findings were buried to reassure citizens of the safety of nuclear development. The scientists succeeded in splitting the atom; in turn, the downwinders’ stories split apart the “official fictions” created to hide the consequences.

In St. George, Utah, for instance, 5-year-old Claudia, playing on her swing set, watched a “big red ball come up over the horizon.” Decades later, her father and sister succumbed to cancer, her own toddler to monoblastic leukemia. Animals were affected, too: In 1953, sheep and lambs in Cedar City died en masse. Over time, these individual tragedies morphed from possible coincidences into discernable patterns. “As modern-day observers, our first question … is invariably… of scope: How many bombs? How much uranium? How much sickness?” Fox delivers a seminar in Nuclear History 101 with intelligent clarity, drawing from “declassified federal documents, archival records, journalistic coverage, and epidemiological studies,” and merging the results with downwinders’ stories.
Officials condescendingly dismissed the downwinders’ experiences, Fox notes. Regarding the sheep die-off, she writes, “Raising sheep is not something one does on a lark while sitting atop a horse, contemplating wide-open western spaces.” Outsiders might have a “preconceived notion of rural ignorance,” but the ranchers themselves rely on “a cultural system of common sense drawn from local, experiential knowledge of forage conditions, weather patterns, plant characteristics, diagnosis and treatment of a variety of diseases, predator management, breeding, and lambing.”

Little Montauk – Big History Lives On - Deep Hollow Ranch

Montauk has an interesting and long history beyond its status as a summer playground.
Native Americans, including the Algonquin-speaking Montaukett of the East End, have lived on Long Island for more than 4,000 years. The Montaukett tribe was closely related to tribes on the rest of Long Island, as well as to Massachusetts and Connecticut tribes. The Montaukett were dependent on the sea for their livelihood, and became experts at hunting whales. They became wealthy from the abundance of wampum, sacred beads made from shells found on Long Island, which prompted aggression from other jealous tribes. After Europeans first came to the area in the early 1600s, the Montauketts were coerced into giving up their land. In the late 17th century, Chief Wyandanch signed over much of the territory of Long Island to English settler Lion Gardiner. Warfare and new diseases contributed to drastic population declines among the tribe. By 1879, the last of their land was sold to land developer Arthur Benson. One of the most notable Montauketts was Stephen Talkhouse, who was famed for walking the 30–50 mile trip between Montauk and East Hampton or Sag Harbor and back every day. About 500 people are currently registered as part of the tribe, and native ruins are still visible today at the Montauk County Park. East Hampton settlers used Montauk as a summer pasture for cattle and horses. Established in 1658, Deep Hollow Ranch near Montauk Point is the oldest cattle ranch in the U.S. The ranchers laid out Old Montauk Highway in the 1700s, and the annual cattle drives became big local events. Three houses were built for the herders while they were in Montauk: First House burned down in 1774, Second House (1797) is now a museum maintained by the Montauk Historical Society and Third House (1806) is now the headquarters for the County Park. Because of its geographical location, Montauk also has an important maritime history. Since the town was extremely important for foreign trade, George Washington commissioned the Montauk Point Lighthouse, which was built in 1796. The Coast Guard was stationed there for many years, and the army used it during World War II. The still-active lighthouse is now a symbol and icon of Montauk. The schooner Amistad provides another chapter in Montauk’s storied history. The Amistad landed in Montauk in 1839 after slaves on board revolted. The white crew tricked them into thinking that they had returned to Africa, and they were captured when they arrived. This sparked a widely publicized court case in which the slaves were ultimately freed. There are also legends of pirate booty buried in Montauk, and it’s not uncommon to find liquor buried in the sand dunes from the rum runners who smuggled it in during prohibition. Another famous moment in Montauk history came when Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders were quarantined in the area for yellow fever after the Spanish-American War. They spent their time at Camp Wikoff in 1898. Montauk was a force in World War II as well. The Point, including Camp Hero, became a strategic military base...more

Cattle prices hit record highs, but industry doesn't see expansion

Due to high demand and limited supply, cattle prices are the highest they’ve ever been. Montana’s livestock production industry, with roughly 1.5 million cows and 1.2 million calves statewide, is expected to bring in more than $1 billion in gross receipts this year, accounting for 40 percent of all agricultural sales. Accordingly, the price of beef has skyrocketed in just the last few years. For example, at the Missoula Livestock Exchange, 900-pound feeder Herefords — relatively young animals that will be sent to feedlots to fatten up before they are turned into hamburger — will sell for $2 to $2.50 per pound, meaning each animal will bring in about $500 more per head than they did a year ago. However, the boom in prices isn’t leading to a boom in the industry. Due to the high costs of labor, equipment and land, most experts don’t expect a sudden influx of new cattle ranchers to flood the inventory anytime soon. “Ranchers are taking in substantially more money, but everything on the ranch is higher — the costs of tractors, the costs of insurance,” explained Missoula Livestock Exchange manager Craig Britton. “No matter what, sure, the rancher is doing better and he isn’t in the squeeze that he was, but it’s no home run yet. Say some kid wants to be a rancher and wants to be in the cattle business. You want to go spend $1 million on a ranch? It’s just hard.” During the busy season from the beginning of September to the end of March, 1,000 head of cattle are sold every week at the Missoula exchange. Ranchers from all over western Montana and eastern Idaho and Washington bring their animals in, and Britton and his staff sort them and sell them to buyers — usually feedlot representatives from places like Missouri and Iowa...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1293

A "Just Cuz I Like'em" Week is in order.  Who knows what I'll come up with.  Never thought I'd enjoy a song titled BFD but I sure like this one by the duo Berkley Hart. The tune is on their 2005 CD "Twelve".


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Telling your story

By Julie Carter

For whatever reason, this cooling off curing season always makes me nostalgic. I find my thoughts often wander to memories of fall in place far away and a time long ago on a high mountain ranch where summer ended abruptly, usually just after Labor Day.

It was a big outfit by mountain-ranch standards that pastured 4,000 yearling cattle from spring until fall. The yearlings arrived small and waspy and left fat and sassy. 

Mental images remain of long lines of cattle trucks waiting their turn at the loading chute, dust boiling high above the pens as the cattle milled. Clear in my mind is the profile of a cowboy horseback with the rising sun behind him and the dust forming a hazy filter of light around him.

The sounds of a banging scale gate as each bunch passed through to be weighed for the final tally, a cowboy hollering as he drove them down the alley and the deafening sound of cattle bawling that never stopped until the last truck pulled away.

It wasn’t history at the time. It was life lived in a different era.

Like the period of time remembered in stories from my dad and my granddad. An era when they still rode horses to a one-room school house, an era when babies were birthed at home and maybe the country doctor got there, but usually not.

It was a time when owning pair of shoes was almost a sign of wealth and a dime might mean the difference between eating or not.

Back then, a cowboy wasn’t an icon but just a man doing a job.

We in the West have a history that is a chapter about the immigration and emancipation of this country and yet it is a story unto itself for there is nothing else like it.

The best tell-it like-it-was stories are from the old guy sitting under the shade of his hat watching what he can no longer do. He will tell you about cowherds so big you couldn’t recognize the cowboy on the other side. He will recall horses that bucked and what each was named, horses that could run the wind and horses that died in the line of duty.

He will detail cattle markets of that day and speak of a day’s wages that wouldn’t buy a cup of coffee in today’s world. He will recall droughts, floods, and winters of record breaking cold and snow. He will share stories about great friends, fine men of character and heartbreaking losses.

He remembers the time before there were fences and cattle that ran on ranges the size of three counties.  He watched the West surveyed with a wheel that delivered an accuracy that still astounds men today. He was entertained with music and song by the campfire or better yet, at the good-eats of an ice cream social.

Now when I write the stories of my childhood, my daughter tells me, “Mom I have learned more about your life from those stories than I ever knew before.” 

It is important to listen to the stories from those that went before us. It is equally as important to take the time to tell those stories. They are part of a history that for most of us won’t be written in a book.

Save a piece of history and tell your story to someone.

Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com.

Land of our Fathers - The New Mexico model

American Gun Culture presentation
Land of our Fathers
The New Mexico model
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

The fact is we never really studied the Constitution in school. It was likely our teachers were never taught in detail, either. It was given lip service, and, today, most of us are woefully unprepared to defend anything on the basis of the Constitution. That wasn’t always the case.
A number of Europeans were astounded when they observed common Americans quote chapter and verse from their Constitution as well as their Bibles in the first quarter of the 19th Century. Those Americans didn’t have much, but they had expansive knowledge of those two guiding documents.
They were also responsible for the emergence of the greatest revolutions in the history of mankind … the agricultural and the industrial revolutions. Those two documents served them well and perhaps we had better start rekindling that same foundation or … we are doomed.
The Genesis
The Constitution references land as what we must now describe as an inadequate proviso rather than a non-negotiable term. That looms as a historical shortfall in the “law of our land”. As a result, we have to argue the point of private property as opposed to setting that immoveable pillar aside as fundamental protection.
The Founders knew what the ownership of land meant. I have used the terms shield and armor when it is combined with the non-negotiable cornerstone of our entire system … the sovereign American citizen.
In our system, the two are not mutually exclusive. If one or the other is removed, King George returns in force each and every time. The matter is so simplistic its genius was revolutionary.
The federal government now holds title to 640,000,000 acres of lands administered by land agencies and 173,790,000 more acres of Indian and military reservations. That combined land mass is huge, It is bigger than France, Germany, the low countries, and the British Isles combined.
Another measure of it would be to combine the states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Illinois, Hawaii, parts of Louisiana, and all of the island territories of the United States. Nothing like that was remotely fathomed. In fact, such hoarding and control by the Crown was a major reason the Revolutionary War was fought.
Aside from the implication of freedom, there were two reasons public lands were slated for disposal. The disposal was intended to reduce federal debt and accelerate the economy by empowering the private citizenry. The Framers knew what debt meant as much as they knew what tyranny was on the backs of the producing citizenry.
Subsequent generation legislators failed to grasp and maintain the promise, and, as a result … our Union is weaker.
New Mexico Model
New Mexico is an interesting model to study in order to understand the scope of Constitutional drift.
First, a point must be made. Government ownership has become synonymous with federal ownership, but it isn’t just the federal government that poses a threat. We must recognize the growing menace of the state government usurping its own authority to hold lands.
New Mexico’s Enabling Act granted sections 2, 16, 32, and 36 from each township as a mechanism to support the educational system. As such, the state was not founded on equal footing with the eastern states. We all have been taught to assume that the deeding of state trust lands for education is a good thing. We can all swoon and swear that we must fund the school systems, but I’ll submit it has always been an administrative nightmare for private land ownership and a platform of dependence that has grown the welfare state. It has no bounds. In fact, it was used as a tool to recently designate 575,000 acres of this county as national monument.
Even if we agree setting aside 11% of each county for educational funding is okay, the county burden is not shared. Almost half of the counties are over subscribed and must give away tax receipts because of the absence of tax payments on those lands. Because so many counties had claims on lands that precluded the full transfer of title to those four sections, the state claimed title to other lands to make up the difference. The counties of Catron, Chaves, De Baca, Eddy, Grant, Harding, Hidalgo, Lea, Luna, Quay, Roosevelt, Sierra, Socorro, Torrance, and Union have carried unequal burdens of higher percentage state holdings.
Moreover, many counties like Dona Ana and Otero didn’t come up with their prescribed share because the federal government either increased its holding of lands or failed to dispose of properties that allowed the full measure of state trust holdings to be accrued. Only 9% of Dona Ana lands are state trust lands, but only 13% of the lands are private. A total of 87% are held by government. Otero suffers from 89%.
For that matter, 56% of the state is held by government in one form or the other and New Mexico enjoys a relative higher rate of private land ownership than many of the other western states!
It all adds up to a debacle of private land ownership … unequal footing relative to all states east of the 100th Meridian … a travesty in terms of the protective armor to the American citizenry, and … the unavoidable reliance on government … all of which add to permanent dependency. There is little wonder that New Mexico’s rainbow trajectory of citizens on welfare rolls will outnumber those citizens gainfully employed.
The Tale of Two States
New Mexico is a sizeable chunk of real estate. It covers 77,819,520 acres of creation that rancher Don Thompson reverently reminds his land steward colleagues, “There is no land on earth that gives more, and … expects less than New Mexico.”
It is also a real life tale of two states. One state is the model that most resembles the neighbor to the east, Texas. It is there, east of the Rio Grande, private property ownership exceeds government ownership. It is also there that the majority of the state’s tax and revenue harvests occur. Oil and gas are the major providers, but that is not the entire story. It can be argued that it is there the genesis of entrepreneurial innovation still exists in abundance. The major impetus is the dominion of private ownership in the face of government.
The western side of the state, the area where county boundaries generally touch or lie west of the Rio Grande, is where the largest subsidy and welfare sink has been created. It is there 75% of the land ownership is government. Of course, the federal government is the major player and they dominate the landscape and the land planning.
If population was greater, the western half of New Mexico would dominate the list of the nation’s counties at highest risk. Only Luna County in the southwest makes the list because it reaches the population cutoff. If large counties such Catron, McKinley, and Rio Arriba reached the census criteria, they would dwarf the poverty scales in the selection process. They struggle to keep youth, they suffer from high and debilitating rates of alcoholism, and it is there welfare recipients easily exceed employed citizens. The counties are examples of the expanding collapse of societal structure.
With such poverty, the assumption would be that the area is void of resources. On the contrary, western New Mexico is rich with rare earth minerals, timber, uranium, copper, silver, gold, coal, and, to the north in San Juan County, oil and gas is the salvation of local economy. The area is a natural resource giant mired in a bureaucratic induced welfare coma. It is becoming an extractive resource and agricultural wasteland. It is also a model of supreme and growing environmental despair.
It has become an under achieving society, but we can make the argument it is an underachieving society on the basis of forced dependency by the overpowering presence of the Crown … combined governments.
Economic Reality
The state’s budget is running about $6.0 billion per year. Of that total the state contributes about $750 million per year from collected fees and royalties. The federal government transfers something over $2 billion into the state, and the private sector contributes the margin, about $3.1 billion. Remember, the feds take money from taxpayers across the country to support 36% of New Mexico’s budget.
What happens to us when the Feds finally face the fact we are belly up and cannot transfer our annual check? We are in trouble. We are also woefully vulnerable and unprepared for the fallout.
Although the state is not as efficient in generating revenues as the private sector, they certainly do a better job than the Feds capturing money on government owned lands. In fact, we know the State consistently collects about $75 per state trust acre annually. That compares to the loss of $29 per acre for each federal acre managed by federal land agencies across the country. The point becomes if the State Land Office was charged with the management of all federal lands exclusive of Indian Reservations by simply applying state performance metrics to those lands an additional $2 billion would be generated. That would erase the federal transfer and save the feds an additional $2.2 billion or a net swing of $4.2 billion for going home to Washington and allowing New Mexico to fend for itself.
You say that can’t be done?  Thirty nine other states do it.
The problem is the politics of New Mexico will fight such a dismantling of the federal welfare juggernaut. What an absolute travesty that has become.
Remember the magnitude of the federal holdings … additional lands that should have be placed in the hands of American citizens … a new country within a country … to have and to hold, to cherish, and to extend to the next generation of Americans to create wealth, reduce debt, and accelerate the economy.
Our Constitution was an amazing document. In fact, it is more amazing each and every time it is studied. It is timeless. It was created by study, by debate, by application of natural law, and by our Founders who, through constant prayer and respect for our Deity, knew what tyranny was. The fix is as simplistic as the genius of its creation, but, first, you have to study it and you must learn to quote it by chapter and verse in the manner you should also quote your Bible.
Then … you must pledge your life to the outcome.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “The metrics for Arizona would equate to $2.5 billion for the management of New Mexico’s federal lands. If New Mexico is timid about managing those lands … contract with Arizona!”  This column is based upon a presentation given this week to the American Gun Culture Club

Below are some quotes and excerpts that relate to this important column:

"The political institutions of America, its various soils and climates, opened a certain resource to the unfortunate and to the enterprising of every country and insured to them the acquisition and free possession of property." --Thomas Jefferson: Declaration

"The first foundations of the social compact would be broken up were we definitely to refuse to its members the protection of their persons and property while in their lawful pursuits." --Thomas Jefferson

"Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions."  –James Madison

"If the United States mean to obtain or deserve the full praise due to wise and just governments, they will equally respect the rights of property, and the property in rights: they will rival the government that most sacredly guards the former; and by repelling its example in violating the latter, will make themselves a pattern to that and all other governments."  –James Madison

"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.  If `Thou shalt not covet' and `Thou shalt not steal' were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free."  –John Adams

And from The Primacy of Property Rights and the American Founding we have:

If property rights were understood to be as important as other rights, how are we to account for the failure of the Declaration of Independence to mention the word and its conspicuous substitution of the phrase “pursuit of happiness,” thus altering the traditional Lockean formula, “life, liberty, and property”? Does this not suggest at least a subordination of property rights to other rights? Indeed, some contemporary scholars have argued that the language of the Declaration manifests the Founders’ intention to subordinate private property to happiness, understood as public happiness. Yet the founding documents make abundantly clear that their authors understood the right to property to be an integral part of the unalienable right to liberty. The authors of the Virginia Bill of Rights, the immediate antecedent to the Declaration, made this explicit. The first article of that charter states that all men “have certain inherent rights . . . namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety”.


The second reason that property rights were viewed as primary was that they served as a practical guarantee for other rights. In effect, not only were property rights the most vulnerable, they were also the first line of defense for the other rights. According to the Founders, property was not only a right in itself, but also a means to the preservation of other rights. Economic freedom was understood to serve the other personal freedoms in two ways. First, property meant practical power. An economically independent people were best able to maintain their political independence. Indeed, the ownership of property was of immense importance to the practical independence not only of the people as a whole, but also of the individual citizen. As Edmund Morgan wrote in The Birth of the Republic, the “widespread ownership of property is perhaps the most important single fact about Americans of the Revolutionary period. . .

Baxter Black - The Trusty Toyota

by Baxter Black

Gerrall Wayne does his best to keep his old Toyota quarter-ton irrigator pickup in presentable condition. But he’s not afraid to put his ol’ truck to the test.

One of his heifers lost her calf. Gerrall went down to Clifford’s dairy to pick up a baby Holstein to graft on. He hog-tied the calf and headed out into the pasture to catch the heifer. Gerrall is usually accompanied on his daily rounds with a herd of dogs — five blue heelers and two pugs, one of which has only one eye. They are formidable truck guards when Gerrall needs to leave the truck unattended in town. And, on rare occasions they (the heelers) can be useful when handling cattle.

Gerrall’s cows were tame enough for him to get within a few feet of them. Taking advantage of this, he slid up to the heifer and threw a rope around her neck. She had a personality conversion and threw a four-letter fit! Looking for a place to dally, Gerrall caught a coil on his bumper and snagged her. He couldn’t drag her closer so, with baby calf in hand he started down the taut line thinking, somehow that the heifer would stand still? Cowboy logic, I guess.

The Blue Heelers wanted to help. The heifer took off around the truck! Gerrall had the graft calf under one arm and a grip on the rope. He was nearly jerked off his feet when all five Heelers started heeling! The calf, the heifer and Gerrall were swept up in the tsunami, as they raced around the truck.

The Silent Coup - What Udall & Reid Are Really Up To

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