FIRE ALL THE CATTLE GUARDS

When I was going to college, we had an old Professor who was from New England - Doctor Little. "Doc" had some very strange ideas on how cattle should be raised. He had strange thoughts about cowboys, too. He was a good old man. He took a lot of kidding for being a Yankee but he took it in stride. He did say one thing that always made sense to me, as to what he called Washington D. C.

Doc always referred to the nation's capital as, " Foggy Bottom ." Then we all laughed at him and his funny way of talking. But really, what he was saying had more truth in it than we knew. His favorite class to teach us was Soils, and he was good at it. We all called it Dirt 101. If we did not make it through the first time around, Doc always had a comforting word for us. Don't worry, come on back next semester. The questions will be the same, just different answers. I guess that is kind of the way that Foggy Bottom is all the time.

Growing up at the ranch, I remember one radio news broadcaster on ABC. Paul Harvey. He was the best in the business. He gave the good news, the kind that you could laugh at, heart warming stories. Not all the crime, wrecks and the bad news that the rest of them did.

My Dad and I were eating lunch one day. Paul Harvey always came on at 12:15 for fifteen minutes. It was ritual with us, we just could not miss what he had to say. This particular broadcast, the state of New Mexico was in his news report. Well, this got our attention since that is where we were living.

It started something like this. Federal Transportation Department sent a memo to the state of New Mexico Transportation Department. In other words, one foggy bottom talking to a smaller foggy bottom. The Federal Foggy Bottom wanted to know how many cattle guards were on federally funded roads in the state of New Mexico. So I guess they sent out a group of cattle guard counters for the smaller foggy bottom. In a week or so, they fired back a memo to the larger foggy bottom with the number of cattle guards. I don't remember the exact number, but it was several thousand cattle guards on federally fund roads in the Land of Enchantment State.

Now for those of you that don't know what a cattle guard is. a short explanation. When a fence line crosses a road in cow country, there needs to be some sort of bridge there, so you won't have to open and shut a gate all the time. This bridge is made from five or six railroad rails spaced about a foot apart, and laid over a pit. There are iron wings on the outside to fit the fence wires to. Cattle cannot cross it, but cars can.
Within a matter of days, The Big Foggy Bottom wrote a memo back to the Santa Fe office with this demand. It was a demand, and if it was not met the state would loose their federal money. The memo read, You must fire half of the cattle guards. That is absolutely too many cattle guards for that number of miles. Now, how in the world do you fire a cattle guard?
A cattle guard is not a cow soldier, to guard the roads from cattle.
And these people manage our government? Don't you feel safe? This was some twenty-odd years ago. Just think how foggy is the bottom now?

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