Ranch Diaries: How to coexist with wild animals

 When your livelihood depends on the boundaries you set with the natural world.

A Handbook for Ranch Managers Many (if not most) of us have done most of the things that Laura Jean talks about as a matter of routine for all of our lives.

For example, rattlesnakes: I do not kill rattlers in the pasture. But around the house, the barn, the Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manualcorrals, etc. well, that is a whole different story.

Then there are rabbits. It used to be said that it only takes about 20 Jackrabbits to eat as much forage as a cow. Then came the studies that showed rabbits are coyotes’ primary diet. I no Environmental & Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian Viewlonger shoot rabbits as I would rather have the coyotes eating them than eating my lambs and kid goats (every carnivore on earth, including me, loves Cabrito–Spanish word for BBQ Kid Goat).

But the “wild horses” are another story. Remember, those herds also include stallions. This really puts horseback children in danger. Hence, I recommend you always carry a rifle on your saddle if you live in such an area.

It is telling of the effectiveness of radical environmentalist propaganda that we now have to write about them in self-defense. — jtl

Ranch Diaries is an hcn.org series highlighting the experiences of Laura Jean Schneider, who gives us a peek into daily life during the first year of Triangle P Cattle Company, a new LLC in southcentral New Mexico. Installments are every other Tuesday.

Sam told me yesterday that the spine of a rattlesnake I killed and hauled to the old dump down by the arroyo has been picked bare and clean, bleached white by the sun. In one month, it went from a four-foot long snake to a string of bones. And I’m the one responsible.

Combat Shooter's Handbook Reconnaissance Marine MCI 03.32f: Marine Corps Institute The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other MisfitsIn her book Landscapes of the New West, Krista Comer writes, “humans have always The Essence of Liberty: Volume I: Liberty and History: The Rise and Fall of the Noble Experiment with Constitutionally Limited Government (Liberty and ... Limited Government) (Volume 1)  The Essence of Liberty: Volume II: The Economics of Liberty (Volume 2) The Essence of Liberty: Volume III: A Universal Philosophy of Political Economy (Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic) (Volume 3)altered nature in order to survive.” She believes, “nature is not ‘natural’ at all,” since it’s constantly being shaped by both humans and animals. Sam and I are confronted with this idea daily, and must often choose whose rights, territory, and boundaries will take priority as we navigate our current ecosystem. In the case of two large spiders hiding in the wind-tattered fabric of our porch awning, we’re happy to share fly season with these ambitious arachnids. At dusk they spin webs spanning several feet, anchoring their strong strands from the canopy, wrapping up beetles, flies, and other airborne insects with efficiency.

  • Evidence of domestic livestock from times past.

    Laura Jean Schneider
  • Sandhill cranes fly over.

    Laura Jean Schneider
  • A brave meadowlark in winter.

    Laura Jean Schneider
  • A fossil in a nearby arroyo.

    Laura Jean Schneider
  • The Triangle P cattle and these wild horses get along harmoniously.

    Laura Jean Schneider
  • The tail end of a badger, digging away from Sam.

    Laura Jean Schneider
  • This thistle is a weed to us, a haven to this tiny beetle.

    Laura Jean Schneider
  • Coconut thinks she’s a human, not an elk, after being raised by people.

    Laura Jean Schneider

 Ditto with the sluggish and enormous bull snake I almost stepped on some afternoons ago, who was making his or her way across the sunny driveway. We like bull snakes: they help our two cats keep rodents out of our hay and grain storage. But the same predatory nature we desire in the cats doesn’t discriminate. Perhaps loosened by the recent heavy rains, a barn swallow’s nest on the east side of the old house collapsed last week. The young swallows were too small to fly on their own, and their parents circled and swooped, calling, frantic. Later, I found a spray of feathers and tiny wings in the soft mud.

A Bewick’s wren has a nest in the old windmill tower next to the salt shed, and a curve-billed thrasher, with her striking yellow eyes, has just built a nest in a thicket of nearby cholla cactus. Two small white eggs sit abandoned in a nest tucked in a cholla plant twelve feet from our camper, eggs that didn’t hatch with the rest of the brood of finches that grew to maturity beneath the protective spines of the cactus thorns. Under the neck of our parked horse trailer, a Say’s phoebe has a nest, perhaps making meals from the active ant mound beneath it.

We’re a part of this landscape now. We have settled in and brought our priorities along with us. When a rattlesnake’s telltale buzz sounded from right underneath our camper a month ago, I knew I had to kill it. Yet I was sad to take the life of something more native to this landscape than I. For many years, this snake had thrived, and I cut its life short. But even in self-defense – for I, or one of our valuable working cattle dogs or ranch horses could have been fatally bitten – there’s a cost to that trade, a sobering reminder that while we often meld peacefully with our surroundings, sometimes we butt up against the wild and are forced to make difficult, unsettling choices.


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A Handbook for Ranch ManagersA Handbook for Ranch Managers.  In keeping with the “holistic” idea that the land, the livestock, the people and the money should be viewed as a single integrated whole: Part I deals with the management of the natural resources. Part II covers livestock production and Part III deals with the people and the money. Not only would this book make an excellent basic text for a university program in Ranch Management, no professional ranch manager’s reference bookshelf should be without it. It is a comprehensive reference manual for managing the working ranch. The information in the appendices and extensive bibliography alone is worth the price of the book.

You might be interested in this books supplement: Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual.

About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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