Saturday, July 21, 2018
Bars and Chains
The reconstruction of The Wall is underway.
Granted, the monsoonal surge of last week interrupted the process in fits of suggestive joy, but the demand didn’t go away. We were back at it by midweek having to navigate stretches of muddy, bottomless roads and enough washouts to make the trek to the job site a slow process.
Any narration of that trip and its subsequent counterparts should include the smell and the color of the predawn landscape sharpened by the lingering moisture, but, unfortunately, that gets lost in the smell of diesel and black exhaust from making those turbos whine trying to navigate yet another wet spot while pulling a load of tractor, T posts, wire, clips, water, and all the other instruments of torture that go into building fence.
In four wheel drive the last two miles, simply reminded us of the stack of demands that should be added to our “to do” lists. Certainly, all the things we know need to be done are important, but, even if we could make it all happen, the regulatory juggernaut of getting them approved would just dampen our enthusiasm.
We don’t have years to wait to get something done. Most of our lives are predicated on the tasks that face us each and every day. We have no alternative.
We have to make it happen now!
Bars and Chains
Our day on the fence began with a mandatory safety meeting.
Oh, yes, we know about safety meetings. It was brought to order by passing a water jug around. Ours aren’t designer jugs or Tahiti water filled for that matter. They are a mix of containers that Picasso might find interesting. The water was from our headquarters well, one of the same wells we share with the horses. Everybody drank deep, wiped their mouth, and passed the open lidded container on. That was followed by making sure everything important was loaded in the bucket of the Little Cowboy. A trip off the mountain to the trucks to retrieve something would be no fun.
The next agenda item was speculation of actually finding a rock up there where the fence doglegs around the point. The answer, of course, was not whether we would find rocks, but whether we would we find the perfect rock. Not one of us could answer that deep question.
It was then time to go.
We pulled our hats down, took a deep breath, and started climbing. At the same time, BJ put the Little Cowboy in gear and started up the incline (akin to Mt. Rushmore) with us. There just wasn’t enough room anywhere for us to hitch a ride, but, likewise, we didn’t like the idea of rolling off the hill with that little orange wonder, either.
At the top, I was reminded there is good reason not to look fondly toward birthdays. That was only made worse by remembering we had to drop off the point the other direction to retrieve some posts and staves we had left there from a previous day. I am sure each of us cussed one another as to why we hadn’t taken the time to haul them to the crest of the hill, but civility was maintained, and, after 2½ hours of chores, drive time, and thinking, we commenced our day’s work. Nearly every tool we brought was used.
That included the bars and chains.
Our ranch, like America, may be an entity made up of immigrants, but, unlike America, we aren’t going to debate the outcome of illegal immigration. The illegal version has the potential to strangle us, and we have made the decision to put a stop to it.
We are rebuilding our own version of The Wall. We plan to make it as high and secure as necessary to halt the flow of illegal, unwanted, and unaccounted for cattle.
Our conclusion has been predicated on the realization that, when the migration of cattle back and forth through 80 to 100-year-old fences was occasional and largely unobjectionable, the absence of a comprehensive program to reconstruct our administrative boundaries was tolerable. The impact was normally incidental, and no value or substantive change affected us. When the impact changed to the matter of biosecurity with the threat of economic loss with large value concerns, though, the whole matter changed.
We are just a microcosm of a much grander scale.
Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution reminds us that it is incumbent on the part of the federal government to protect us from invasion. That responsibility is not conditional, and it doesn’t suggest any limit. It clearly states that we are to be protected and, if it takes a wall, a military presence, the full force of our resources, or a midnight call to the next and only living survivor of a Mexican national election, it needs to be done.
What we get is symbolism.
Living in sight of the border long ago convinced most of us that swearing to any oath by an elected leader is simply a demonstration of formality before the cigars and champagne are opened for celebration. Nothing is really meant by the action. It simply must be done before the party starts and the next campaign is contemplated.
So, our Wall, our reconstructed fence, is being approached on the basis of what little suggestive power our states have. That comes from Article I, Section 10  which forbids states to go to war UNLESS we are in the throes of invasion and can’t count on the federal government to get off its duff and actually act.
So, we are going to reconstruct our beautiful Wall, and we will keep building until … it works.
Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “I bemoan the fact we no longer have a canvas water bag. Remember those? Water permeated the canvas and evaporation kept the water cool and so refreshing!”THE WESTERNER remembers. Ours was usually tied to the cattle racks.