Nader? In our last issue you might have noticed a Letter to the Editor that called me "The Ralph Nader of Ranching." In this issue, some coward wrote a hate letter but refused to take credit for it. He/she/it told me to "[Expletive deleted] off! I voted for Ralph Nader." Which is it? Am I Ralph Nader or not Ralph Nader?

    Kit Laney. Another name that begs to be heard, a name that will be synonymous with out-of-control federales and bad-mannered enviros who think they know best. A travesty. A nightmare. Action that's just flat wrong. Check Susan Christy's story, "Nightmare on the Diamond Bar."

    Wolves. Critters wanted only by people who don't have to contend with their hefty appetite and vicious behavior. People with a vote. People who lack consideration for the ones who live and work on the land. See Tim Findley's story, "Wolves of Gooseberry Creek."

    Horses. I bought an unshod horse a few weeks ago. Mack. A chocolate brown gelding of indeterminate age ("somewhere between 12 and 20"), he's handsome and tall, with a kind nature. I need the latter because my riding ability is definitely low range.

    I tested him before I bought. I helped sort several dozen calves for shipping. A real beauty, Mack belonged to an octogenarian rancher in northern Nevada who died last December. I felt comfortable on that horse. I felt good about the fact he'd come from a good old cowboy and a good high-desert place.

    Mack was perfect. But the first time I saddled him back home, he started to limp. Every step he took, the front right foot got worse. He stumbled. He seemed to silently groan.

    What happened? Some say his hoof was accidentally trimmed too short. Others think he might have a bruised frog from a rock or nail. Opinions vary but most think Mack will a few months. My knowledge of horses is slight and there was nothing I could do about his limp so I looked into his mouth and found what I'm told is a bonus in the horse-trading world. Mack still has teeth.

    Friends. I've temporarily lost the talents of my good friend, J. Zane Walley, due to a frightening stroke last winter.

    Jay's coming back, slowly. He's walking, his beautiful laugh remains intact, but speech is difficult. For years, he has been chief warrior in the field: fighting for private property rights; carefully explaining the hazards of conservation easements; helping people who couldn't help themselves.

    Jay, a stalwart for RANGE, was an enormous asset to food producers in Ohio when they fought to stop a "taking" by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy. These groups wanted to make a duck refuge out of 700 farms left by George Washington "in perpetuity" to soldiers of the Revolutionary War. Jay also helped food producers in Pennsylvania, Florida, Alabama, and all states from the Dakotas to California.

    Jay's a passionate writer, great speaker, and  tremendous organizer. He was always able to gather support in the roughest resource spots in the nation. He succeeded in beating back some formidable foes against the good people in ranching.

    Nader? The saddest thing of all is that Jay was just about to take on some of my RANGE pressures and responsibilities. While Jay's healing, maybe I should ask Ralph Nader to help. He'll have plenty of free time after November.

Summer 2004 Contents

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