Soapweed's Ranch Ramblings
The writings of a Nebraska Sandhills cattle rancher!

Letter to Paul Harvey, May 3, 1998
July 11, 2002

May 3, 1998

Paul Harvey News
333 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60601

Dear Paul Harvey,

Greetings, Mr. Harvey, from the good ol' Nebraska Sandhills.
It's pretty tame country now but was "founded" with wild cows and moonshine stills.
We love these old grass-covered sand dunes with valleys in between.
Soapweeds, hay bales, cattle and horses put "polka dots" on the scene.
And standing sentinel above it all, like lighthouses along the ocean,
Are the windmills pumping water, that all-powerful magic potion
That turns grass and cattle and Sandhills air into something of mighty good taste.
BEEF can feed a lot of hungry people--otherwise all this grass would go to waste.

We in the cattle ranching industry consider our chosen profession an honorable one. Our
duty is to oversee and manage the naturally growing grasses, harvesting some of it for
winter hay to feed, and allowing the rest to be grazed in a timely fashion by our herds
of cattle. The cattle are later converted into a high-protein good-tasting food product fit
for human consumption. Our cowboying way of life consists of about five percent glamour
and ninety-five percent pure hard work, with a liberal portion of book-keeping and tangled-
up red tape thrown in for good measure. We operate in a backwards fashion because
everything we buy is at retail price and our final product is sold wholesale. We live off
the land, and have done so for several generations. We consider ourselves the ultimate
environmentalists, having learned that if we take care of the land and cattle, they will take
care of us. A rancher's horses and cowdogs become like members of the family and we
are out at all hours of the day and night caring for the cattle, especially during winter storms
that occur during the calving season. But sometimes it seems like our whole occupation and
way of life is at stake because pseudo-environmentalists and pseudo-animal rights activists
are trying to interfere with our business.

Mr. Harvey, I am concerned with your liberal views on animal rights. Just the other day,
you and several other newscasters made a big production of the astronaut who bandaged
the rat and kept him alive for the remainder of the shuttle mission. How noble! Common
sense would dictate that the rat staying alive would stink less than he would in that small
cubicle dead and decaying. After all, one can't just roll down the window and toss him
out into space. One report said the rat would be humanely destroyed later, anyway. Since
when have rats deserved such a high position on the pedestal of life. During the Bubonic
Plague from 1347 to 1352 A.D., when one fourth of Europeans died from disease transmitted
by fleas from infected rats biting humans, the rats were not held in such high esteem.

Just today on the news, a great break-through in the treatment of cancer was reported. New
drugs have been developed that have the ability to wipe out malignant tumors in laboratory
rats. That is great news for 99.99 percent of all people everywhere. But there will be a
small handful of animal rights advocates who will scream and holler for RATS' RIGHTS.

In some of your newscasts you have made reference to the "dumbing down" of America.
People seem to have lost their common sense. A good motto is: "All things in moderation."
Sure, we should all be kind to animals. We do brand, vaccinate, and castrate our calves. It is
for their own good, and it bothers them just for a moment like the military vaccinations bothered
me just for a moment. I had a nice saddle horse break a leg from sticking it in a cattle guard this
winter. The only sensible and humane thing for me to do was to put him down.

In the past the National Cattleman's Association has paid you big money to advertise
BEEF. You did a good job and helped us sell our product.

Recently you mentioned that at your Reveille Ranch you no longer raised livestock, but
instead grew only grain. Does that make you more of an honorable agriculturalist than
ranchers like myself who produce cattle? For one thing our whole ranch would otherwise be
wasted because it is not even suited to farming. Besides, we know cattle and believe in
the great tasting end product.

Let us all keep our priorities straight. Mosquitoes are for swatting, and snakes, mice, rats and prairie dogs need to be treated as rodents. They are like thorns, thistles and weeds. Dogs and cats are to be petted. Wolves look good in documentaries about the Arctic and in zoos. Instead of spending multi-millions of dollars on their "re-introduction" into the West so they can kill cattle and sheep, let's spend the money instead on feeding hungry children. Horses are for riding. Cattle are to be eventually eaten. Each and every living thing will die sometime. May we all be useful and productive in our own special way.

Respectfully yours,






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