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.
A cattle guard is not a cow soldier, to guard the
roads from cattle.
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?
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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