Sunday, June 11, 2017


We are One
We are Few
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Thursday was Joe Delk’s final day as Chairman of the Dona Ana Soil and Water Conservation District board.
            The scheduled monthly meeting was the event and it brought to a close a nine year personal commitment to maintain a voice for rural citizenry. His orchestrated ouster at the hands of the progressive machine in the recent election was completed and the stage was set to allow the environmental left to claim rights to the direction of “natural resources” that are the key to maintaining an agricultural presence in southern New Mexico.
            The event bypassed any celebratory antics. It was as subdued as it was remorseful. Joe will be missed and his dedication to this industry and its culture will be hard to replace.
            We are One
            I watched with fascination the clip of Judith Durham and her mates from years ago. There she was, her tiny frame, amidst her Seeker men singing to a jam packed arena. I had forgotten how big her voice was. My goodness how powerful it was as she rose to the tips of her toes and raising her arms to reach the high notes only to hold captive a crashing crescendo. With that constant hint of a smile, she not only swept her group to stardom she captured the imagination of the world.
            Many of their songs were ours when we knew them best in ‘60s. We were young then, too, and a clip of us from that time would leave us gasping at the changes. Yes, we were one from that time. Our eyes were bright. Our hair was not yet streaked with gray but carried the luster of youth.
             Of all the Seeker songs, it was We are Australian that captures the best of Judith’s talents. She told us not only about herself, but about her heritage. From the lyrics, she described the parallels of her nation to ours. Some came in irons to find a home on those dusty red plains. Another was a farmer’s wife. Some were convicts while others were freemen. Together, they created a culture that today they know as home.
            Isn’t that our story as well?
            My own surname is purported to be from indentured servants who remained bound somewhere in Georgia before they escaped to arrive in Texas. In Bell County they settled only to find life as difficult as what they had escaped. It was so difficult they eventually migrated westward to enter New Mexico before statehood. Among their numbers, too, was a farmer’s wife. Like the Australians, they found ways to become freemen.
            Joe’s family came from Switzerland. They had come to American and cross country with the intent to find a new world counterpart to that European backdrop. Sometime in 1879, they arrived in what we know today as the Mesilla Valley in a covered wagon. They had stayed long enough to restock some necessaries and left Picacho headed to Ft. Mason. At Ft. Mason, they spent a night in security behind locked gates. Sunup found them headed west on the Butterfield Trail toward the community of San Vicente which is now Silver City in Grant County. Nearing Magdalena Gap, a frantic rider literally galloped by them calling to them to turn and run to Ft. Mason.
            “Apaches are on the warpath,” he shouted. “Run to the fort to save yourselves!”
            Soon, the family could see the dust from the approaching Indians. Their world quickly changed from one of a challenge of the immense desert crossing to the challenge for their lives. Before it was all over a horse had been shot down in the traces, Mr. Flurry had cut the horse loose, and he and the other horse pulled the wagon, their earthly possessions and the family through the open gates at Fort Mason.
            The gates were slammed shut and safety was at hand. The rest is history. The family created a culture that would result as home under the Kneeling Nun on the Delk Ranch.
            Indeed, we are one.
            We are Few
            We are one, but we are many … we are Australian the lyrics continued.
            The difference in their song and ours is not just 12,000 miles of earth’s surface. We are no longer many. From known demographics, less than two percent of our nation’s population is engaged directly in agriculture. We are few. We find ourselves in a more precarious position than the small states at the time of our founding. There are no safeguards. There are no vested firewalls to protect our existence. The democracy of the progressive mobs is nearly complete. We are being consumed in increasing swaths by masses that crush our voices and our votes. There are no remedies and even the only ostensible protections for small states, two senators, are no longer aligned with what is best for our rights. The 17th Amendment freed them from any state obligation and allowed loyalties to be redirected to the highest bidder. Currently, that is the environmental movement.
            The problem is even greater within the rural communities within our states. The dominion by urban centers is leaving rural communities in ruins. We don’t have the votes and we don’t have the strength and security of private property and rights to fend from the tide. It is a fundamental problem that has fewer and fewer solutions.
            I’ll miss Joe’s leadership. The whole state will miss Joe Delk’s leadership. It was he who envisioned the most recent lawful coordination process to be implemented to make government agencies engage with local government in land management decisions. That was blasphemous to the progressives and their agenda. Joe was as much a threat to them as he was a modern day visionary for the agricultural and rural community.
            We are one, but … we are few.

            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Thank you, Joe.”

 And even among the few, there are fewer still who will step forward and spend the time and effort it takes to provide leadership.

My former boss, Secretary of Interior Jim Watt, was fond of the following quote from a Theodore Roosevelt speech, often dubbed his Man In The Arena quote:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Joe will certainly not join those "cold and timid souls", as he has been a leader in various livestock and ag organizations. He made some tough choices as a member of the NM Livestock Board, and most recently as Chairman of the Dona Ana Soil & Water Conservation District. In each instance he has represented the ranching industry accurately and completely, and sometimes at great personal sacrifice. But at the end of the day, he should be celebrating "the triumph of high achievement."

Our rural and ranching traditions are passed down through several avenues and one of the most important is music. Of course, Joe's activities in that arena have spanned six decades. First with his father, Forrest Delk's band (which you can explore here) and most recently with his sons in The Delk Band (which you can explore here).

And it doesn't stop there. Check out these grand kids.

If that's not leaving a legacy I don't know what is.

And on a more personal level, I'll always remember Joe's helping hand in kicking off the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship and the NMSU Rodeo Hall of Fame.

I'll close by letting you in on a secret. You haven't heard the last from Jose Delk. We all await his next


---Frank DuBois

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great article Frank - and "We are few" hits the nail on the head - sounded like you were describing California.

And when the "masses that crush our voices and our votes" - finally crush our last voice, the next sound the 'masses' will hear is their stomachs growling.