To The Point

Bailin’ Wire & Duck Tape.

Daddy could fix almost anything with bailing wire and duct (I used to think it was “duck” . . . never did figure out what happened to the feathers) tape. It was perhaps fortunate that he was near the end of his ranching life when most hay started coming with bailing twine.

He still found uses for the twine like tying up gates, but it just wasn’t ever as versatile as the old wire.

In that vein, there was never a good enough excuse for not getting a job done. If you didn’t complete an assigned task, it was highly likely that you would be sent to do it again . . . and again until it was done and done right.

 

With that getter’ done training, we have worked diligently, along with New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association’s (NMCGA) leaders, our attorneys and other groups to make the resources of and available to the Association go absolutely as far as possible. While this is not intended as a complaint, I have to admit that approaching every issue with a lick and prayer is frustrating.

It appears that there may really be a turn in the view of the American public as we look at a simple little lizard that has the potential to shut down industries, kill jobs and drive up the price of fuel that is already out of control. We are faced with a tremendous opportunity to join arms with the oil and gas industry, local governments, hunters, recreationists, local businesses and many others to create a campaign to educate our nation while driving Congress to finally take action on an Endangered Species Act (ESA) that is clearly not operating as it was intended nearly 40 years ago and should have never been extended continually in its current form.

The kind of campaign I am talking about takes real dollars and professionals who are not only familiar with New Mexico and Texas, but who have a track record of winning in this kind of forum. This is not a bailing wire and duct tape project.

As I visited with a friend on the issue she made an analogy that is the best yet. We don’t go look for someone who might be able to figure out how to perform brain surgery; we don’t take the time to shop for the least cost-surgeon. We attack the problem with the best resources as quickly as we can.

Are we going to seize this moment?

Can’t back up

I stopped listening to country music some time ago because it makes me sad. There is an old joke that if you play country music backwards, you get your house back, your dog back, your truck back and so on. I have lived enough to know and accept that Betsy or Daddy, Uncle Bill, Aunt Florence or the rest of their generation that we have lost in the past six years are not coming back. We won’t get the ranch back and now the concept of “home” has truly become New Mexico.

But looking at what is going on in the state and federal regulatory arenas today, I would rather listen to country music than listen to the news. With that said, we cannot back up and we ARE making a difference.

While the barrage of new regulations is coming about as fast as the fires are burning across Arizona and New Mexico at this writing, there was some good news. Clearly a more conservative U.S. House of Representatives is already helping us push back. The Christmas present from the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) was an executive order giving itself the power to create “wildlands” even though the surveys for Wilderness Areas under the Wilderness act were concluded about 30 years ago. The unified livestock industry opposition to this new policy coupled with the help of congressional representatives from across the West caused the Secretary of the Interior to announce in early June that he would be withdrawing the executive order.

Things may look grim, but we cannot back up or give up.

Obscene & heard

No, I am not going to address the issue of former New York Congressman Weiner’s social media mishaps. I got to spend another day with the New Mexico Game Commission in early June. Although I may not always agree with this august body, you have to thank them for taking the abuse and nonsense that comes with the job.

In what has to be the umpteenth discussion on the Mexican wolf, comments would be laughable if there wasn’t so much at stake. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) noted with great pride that wolves had not been removed from the landscape for livestock depredation since 2008 yet depredation complaints had declined over that time, surely demonstrating that leaving depredating wolves in the “wild” was a positive action for livestock owners. The CBD spokesman is no dummy. He knows as well as anyone that for the past eight years, the deck has been stacked against ranchers and private property owners. He knows that depredation reports are down because no one does anything about them. He might also have some idea that times they are a changing.

After it was pointed out to the Commission that a large portion of the wolf habitat – and probably the wolves – have gone up in smoke in the Wallow Fire, that as of this writing is burning in two states, the Southwest Environmental Center’s response that “in a couple of years all of that burned area will make great undulant grazing.” Surely he knows that fires of this magnitude and heat carbonize the soil, creating huge erosion and water quality issues for years to come. If not, he needs to rename his organization.

Then there were those women who shook their fingers at and reprimanded the Commissioners for each not keeping constant eye contact with every one of the nearly 30 speakers for the entire duration of their three- to five-minute speeches. One went so far as to suggest that if the Commissioners didn’t have a 100 percent attention span to each and everything going on after an eight-hour meeting, they should resign. At the very least these females need a course in “how to win friends and influence people” not to mention a session in lady-like manners.

At long last the outcome of this riveting afternoon was that the Commission voted UNAMIOUSLY to suspend the participation of the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish in the Mexican wolf recovery program.

Another battle won for the good guys!

Then there are the traps . . .

For as long as I have been involved in New Mexico range livestock, the trappers have been under siege . . . worse than the livestock industry itself. Some of the first meetings I attended when I moved to New Mexico were with trappers. Over the past two decades there have been some changes in public perception about wearing fur as well as changes made in the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish (NMDGF) regulations, but the trapping industry has survived.

There is yet another run going to be made at them in July at the Game Commission meeting. While the NMDGF has proposed regulatory changes that are for the most part reasonable, they felt compelled to propose an alternative that would eliminate trapping on federal and state lands. That was a bow to the WildEarth (ScortchedEarth?) Guardians, Animal Protection of New Mexico and the Sierra Club, who not only want to call the shots in wildlife management without contributing one thin dime to aide in that management. AND they want to dictate where Commission meetings are held so that they will be convenient to all those people who want to tell other people how to manage wildlife and land without ever getting their hands dirty. I bet the Clayton Chamber of Commerce and Union County are pleased to know that they are deemed “inaccessible” by those who claim to have the greatest concern for the environment.

Thankfully there is a good size contingent of true hunters and fishermen who clearly understand that this is just the first shot across the bow (in the nautical sense) in eliminating all hunting and fishing. Bow (as in arrows) hunters beware; it might not be long before some think nailing big eyed does with a lethally sharp pointy thing is cruel and inhuman.

Another item on the agenda is the ban on trapping in the Gila due to potential harm to wolves. The Department has had seven (7) months to study the issue via a literature review. Apparently they cannot find anything that supports this mandate ordered as one of many fine parting gifts by Governor Bill Richardson. Let’s stop managing wildlife through politics and ideology.

If you haven’t contacted the Game Commission on these issues already, please visit www.nmagriculture.org to get their contact information and give them a call to support trapping and common sense wildlife management by the people who live and work with them every day.

Empty Saddles

Nothing teaches us better than livestock production that life is a cycle and that it is the normal course of life for our loved ones to live and to pass on. For the past many weeks, that cycle has been in overdrive in New Mexico. I would begin to question the master plan of our Maker in His decisions lately, but at the same time it is hard to understand His need to gather so many of our flock around Him in such a short time. His reach has been across the ages, selecting from the young with seemingly lots of life to live to those who have given so much over countless decades.

To each of those who have suffered a loss recently or in the past, or those who are facing a loss, know that there are lots of us out here who hold you and your loved ones in our thoughts and prayers every day.

In that vein, I will take some privilege to recognize the contributions of a great lady in my life, my Aunt Cordy, who left us in early June. I was blessed that most of my family was well within driving distance much of the time. Most holidays were spent as an extended family. The “neighboring” we did to get branding and shipping done was mostly the family coming together in a common goal. In other words, we saw each other at our best and our worst.

Aunt Cordy did so many things so well that often I didn’t even realize what I was learning from her. There are the obvious things like making her tacos and enchiladas. I don’t remember when she taught me those things and maybe it was that she taught my mother and it was passed down that way.

There are the funny things, like if you find wearing apparel that fits and you like it, you should buy it in every color because it might be a long time before you get to town again or find anything you like as well. I have learned that in the case of shoes, you must apply this principle with care — you might end up far away from home with two left shoes.

If you were going to have a party or a fight, it is always best to surround yourself with family and friends. I was bitterly disappointed that my parents would never take me to the famous Cloverdale Picnics, the two- or three-day picnic and dances, that Uncle Bill and Aunt Cordy, held annually on a slab under some big old trees on the road into the Cloverdale headquarters. I was always told that when I got “old enough” I could go. When I was about 10 the tradition played out.

It seemed ironic that my first meal at the picnic site was in about the year 2000 when Aunt Cordy invited friends and family to take on the U.S. Forest Service about reducing grazing on the Cloverdale allotments as well as many of those across New Mexico and Arizona. During that same time frame Uncle Bill and Aunt Cordy spent two days in T or C and Hillsboro backing up Jimmy and Brent Bason on the same issue.

I could go on, but suffice it to say that Aunt Cordy loved life, loved to dance, loved to laugh and did it all in at least a high trot. I am blessed that I was able to spend time with her in recent months and I know that she was at peace and ready to go home. She loved and knew she was loved and we cannot ask for much more than that out of life.