THOUGHTS ABOUT A BORDER WALL
By Steve Moreland, January 9, 2019
Back in the days of the open range, cattle ran more or less unrestricted. Cowboys on round-ups in the spring and fall gathered these herds, calves were branded, and cattle designated to be sold as beef were sorted and trailed to the railroads. Though ranches were unfenced, “gentleman agreements” allocated certain geographical features such as rivers, creeks, mountain ranges, or natural walls as boundaries of land grazed by the livestock of different owners. Many ranches employed cowboys to be “line riders,” with the responsibility of keeping cattle from wandering too far away from designated grazing areas. No matter how diligent the line riders were, cattle were always crossing the imaginary boundaries into regions where they weren’t supposed to be.
Then along came the invention of barbed wire. The first patent in the United States for this ingenious method of fencing was issued in 1867 to Lucien B. Smith of Kent, Ohio, who is regarded to be the inventor of barbed wire. In 1874 Joseph F. Glidden of DeKalb, Illinois received a patent for a superior version that was more easily and efficiently produced. Barbed wire fencing requires only fence posts, the wire, and something to attach the wire to the posts, such as staples. It is simple and quick to erect, even by relatively unskilled labor. Barbed wire fences were very effective in keeping livestock confined, and were used for both ranch boundaries and for cross-fencing large pastures for more efficient use of available grass.
Having been a cattle rancher in the Sandhills of Nebraska for all of my life, a few personal observations can be shared. Can cattle get through barbed wire fences? Yes, they can and occasionally do. However this is the exception rather than the rule. If cattle do get through a fence, there is a usually a good reason. If bulls are on one side and heifers on the other, the smell of romance in the air can be a cause. If bulls are on each side and come together to determine which one has the most testosterone, the fence will not deter them. If a pasture is severely overgrazed on one side, with abundant forage on the other, a simple wire fence may not keep cattle from going through. Is a fence expensive? Yes, but the reasons to spend the necessary money to build one far outweigh reasons not to erect them in certain circumstances.
All things considered, a fence is a very good barrier. The cowboy line riders of the past are no longer needed. If livestock does get through a fence, it is easy to spot where the outbreak occurred, and tracks can be followed to eventually locate and recapture the errant bovines. Without fences, keeping livestock in designated areas would be nearly impossible.
Fences or similar barriers are used for any number of purposes. The local lumber yards and ranch supply businesses have fences to keep their saleable materials from “walking away.” Schools maintain fences around playgrounds to keep children from running out into busy streets. County and state road departments have fence-type enclosures around their facilities for security. Sports stadiums, music shows, and rodeo arenas maintain barriers to separate paying spectators from those who try to get in for free.
Now to the issue of a fence at our southern border. We need the wall. Federal border agents are doing the best that they can to keep illegal immigrants from entering the country. The United States has always welcomed immigrants, but there is a LEGAL way for these people to enter our country. Illegals getting through by unscrupulous means make it completely unfair to those who enter legally. Anything that can be done to make the system efficient and workable should be done. We need the wall.
Most of the Democrats fighting against the Border Wall now were on video record just a very few years ago thinking a wall was extremely necessary. Now, since this is the main issue that won the election for President Donald Trump, all the Democrats are suddenly and vehemently against the wall. This is hypocrisy at its finest. They claim it is too expensive. All the politicians seem to throw money around like it was dust anyway, and much more money is spent every day for a whole lot less. What is a few billion here and a few billion there in these times? We need the wall.
Many years ago, my dad explained a scenario. He used as an example a rancher having a well-balanced ranch that could run a thousand cows on the grass and hay it produced, with calves selling each fall to pay operating expenses, and with new replacement heifers coming into the herd as older cows were culled. This could work satisfactorily year after year with very little tweaking. Then a neighboring rancher had a similar place that would also run a thousand cows comfortably, but that neighbor was very much overstocked with two thousand cows, and was not buying additional feed. The pastures were over-grazed, the cows were thin and malnourished, and everything in general were not in desirable condition. Dad went on to say, that even if the efficient rancher felt sorry for the hungry cows on the over-stocked ranch, it was in nobody’s best interest if the efficient rancher brought many of the hungry cattle onto his own ranch. Soon that ranch would be over-stocked also, and all of the cattle on both ranches would be hungry.
This scenario is like that of our own United States. It has been a prosperous and well-run country for almost two-and-a-half centuries. Nearly four centuries ago, the early settlers of the Plymouth Colony started with a form of socialism/communism, and they nearly starved to death. When capitalism and free-enterprise was put into use, the colonists prospered, the United States came into being, and the country has flourished very well ever since. We need to run the government in this country as a business, and not as a haven for illegals and those who don’t want to comply with our free-enterprise system that has worked so well for so long. We need the wall. It’s a simple but effective solution for many of the problems of today. WE NEED THE WALL!