Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Iraq 120 billion, Home 0

by Don Henry Ford Jr. From: http://www.agonist.org/story/2006/2/6/15189/21213

Here in South Texas, a dry spell has morphed into a full-fledged drought. Hay is so scarce that I've seen it advertised as high as $8 for a small square bale (actually they're rectangular), I had enough put up to make it through the winter, and even a little excess, but have been hesitant to sell any until it rains. At some point, if it doesn't, we'll all be left with little choice but selling our cattle. They can't eat dirt. That day has already arrived for some of my neighbors.

Cattle are best suited for utilizing marginal pasture and feed. It doesn't make sense to feed them expensive grain and hay products. In relatively short order they can eat their value during times like this. Why feed corn to cattle when corn itself is good human food?
I planted winter oats. A few fields germinated and came up, but not uniformly. We've had just enough rain to keep the oats alive, but not enough to make them grow. If we don't get moisture soon, they will die or fail to grow enough to harvest. Normally we'd have been grazing cattle on them for a couple of months now.

So we're left sitting and watching the weather. Some pray for rain, others pray for whatever it takes to survive the lack of it, still others have given up on praying at all.

I've read about depression years and the dust bowl. Somehow, I didn't think I'd live to see times like that. But as days go by and signs continue to indicate more of the same...

I constantly ask myself. Am I being pessimistic? Or is this reality outside my door? Is it really this bad?

My cousin Phil lost his mother a couple of days ago. Leah and I drove to Gouldbusk, a tiny dying farm and ranch community south of Coleman, Texas to attend her funeral. It had been some time since I'd been there.

Places that once had been stocked with cattle now are fenced with eight-foot high game barriers. A local rancher told me hunting is the only thing keeping them alive. People come from the city and pay exorbitant prices to slaughter wildlife. A lot of the ranchers gave up on ranching. The deer are worth more than cattle.

Dead fuel sits, left over from last year when it did rain, the one year of the last ten it rained, waiting for a spark. Winds blow, ready to turn that spark into a wall of flame. The lack of cattle causes this condition.

Residents come in and out of the local Dairy Queen at Coleman, a town that brags of 22 churches on the billboard at the edge of town. They wear camouflage clothing and drive massive four-wheel drive pickups. I wonder how they'll survive if this false economy in which we live collapses. They seem to be doing OK. But I can't help but think they have no clue how precarious life can be. There's not much meat on a deer.

Do they know how unforgiving that parched earth outside their door can be? I know the old ones do. I do. I've struggled with it most of my life. But few my age have.

The walls are plastered with old photos of huge herds of cattle and gatherings of people. Times were tough in those days but the town seemed to be hustling and the people optimistic about the future. I don't sense optimism now. It's as though the town is in a state of decay. Lots of houses have for sale signs posted. Most who are young flee to a city at the first available opportunity. Many are gone, fighting in a foreign war. Faces of the local football team stare from the wall, waiting their turn to leave.

The churches and the funeral home do good business.

We're addicted to Imperialism, from sea to shining sea.

This country no longer works from the bottom up, but from the top down. Even those producing something wait for the government to bale them out. Can a correction fix this? Or has it gone beyond that?

I don't know. Guess we can pray it can. Or pray we'll survive when it doesn't. I can't give up on praying but there are those that have. Lots of them.

Then there are those that aren't even aware just how bad it can be in this world. And that is most of us in these United States.

Here's the forecast. Sunny, dry, windy...


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