Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “Livermore”

Parable of the Puppy

Once upon a time, there was a grampa who got a puppy.  He loved the puppy and he loved his grandsons, who lived right next door and spent much of their time playing with the puppy.  They loved the puppy too.  They loved it so much that they did not want another dog of their own.  As far as they were concerned, the puppy was theirs too.  They shared it with Grampa.  They all agreed to a name for the puppy.  They called him Buddy.

Buddy grew older and so did Grampa.  As Grampa contemplated his own death, he told his wife, “Gramma, promise that when I am gone you will take good care of Buddy.  The grandsons will help you.  They know that Buddy is their dog too.”

When Grampa died, everyone was sad.  They all missed him.  They all wanted to honor his wishes about Buddy.  The boys continued to play with Buddy and help Gramma take care of him.  Gramma told them that when she joined Grampa in Heaven, she wanted the boys to have Buddy for their own.  They wanted to please Gramma and even started buying dog food for Buddy so she would not have to get it.  They wanted to help pay for feeding their shared dog, Buddy.

One day, they came home from school and went next door to play with Buddy, but he was not there.  They called him and looked for him but could not find him.  As they were searching for Buddy, Gramma arrived at home.  She told them, “Buddy is not your dog.  He was Grampa’s dog.  Now he is my dog.  I decided to give him to the children at the orphanage.  They will really enjoy playing with such a nice dog.  Don’t you think that was nice of me?”

The boys did not think it was nice of her.  They thought it was mean of her to give away the dog they loved, the dog they were raised with, the dog they shared with Grampa, and the dog that Gramma had told them would be all theirs after she died.

The newspaper wrote an article about Gramma giving the nice dog Buddy to the children at the orphanage.  Many people praised her for helping the children that she did not even know.  Those people did not know what she did to her grandsons.  Those people did not know that Buddy was the dog they had always had with their Grampa.  Those people did not know what Grampa and Gramma had promised.  So when they asked the administrators at the orphanage to please tell their Gramma that it would be better for the dog to be with them again, many called them selfish.  How could they deprive the orphans of Buddy?

Their father knew the whole story.  He knew of the promises.  He knew the boys loved Buddy.  He said, “Buddy is their dog and should not live at the orphanage.”

Who do you think should have Buddy?  Who would take better care of him?

Background

     Roberts Ranch was homesteaded 138 years ago by ancestors of D.L.(David Lee)Roberts and his sons, Burke and Ben, all three of whom were raised on the ranch.  D.L. and Ben still live on the ranch and desire to run the ranch operations.  These three men are the only descendants of the founders of the ranch.

  1.     Catherine Roberts married D.L.’s father, Evan Roberts, after WWII and    moved from South Carolina to live on the ranch with Evan.  Thus, she is the stepmother of D.L. and step-grandmother of Burke and Ben, as well as widow of Evan.
  2.      D.L. separately owned part of the ranch, on which his house sits. His sons grew up in the house on that parcel.
  3.       During his lifetime, Evan made clear that his wishes were for the ranch to stay in the family.
  4.      His will left part (1/2?) of the ranch to his wife, Catherine, and the rest to his grandsons, Burke and Ben, via a generation-skipping trust.  He could have gifted it to an entity such as The Nature Conservancy, CSU, or the county, but did not because he wanted it to stay in the family.
  5.     After Evan’s death, Catherine entered into negotiations with The Nature Conservancy which resulted in TNC purchasing a conservation easement.  I have heard through the local grapevine that, as part of those discussions, it was represented to Catherine that TNC required her to own the entire ranch, so she purchased from D.L. his house and acreage, but he retained a life estate.  Similarly she purchased from Burke and Ben the acres that they owned in trust.  However, the purchase money also remains in trust, as the land was, and the income from the money in trust is used to pay for Catherine’s living expenses.  D.L., Burke and Ben, cooperated in this arrangement because they relied on the representation made by TNC that it could only buy the conservation easement from one person (which I do not see as a legal requirement) and because they desired to follow the wishes of Evan.  I have also heard that the price paid by Catherine was a fraction of the appraised value because the grandsons were assured that it would stay in the family upon Catherine’s death.  Their only motivation to sell for a token price was to cooperate in fulfilling Evan’s wishes that the ranch continue as an operating ranch and keeping it in one piece.
  6.      Catherine recently offered to make a gift to Larimer County on the understanding that Roberts Ranch will remain a working ranch.
  7.     The Coloradoan newspaper reported that there would be limited fishing and hunting on the ranch, as well as occasional (presumably supervised) tours, and a museum in one of the houses on the ranch.  
  8.      Since the story of the potential gift was published, many people have trespassed on the ranch, including 4-wheelers leaving ruts, dirt bikes leaving trails, and people parking horse trailers and taking their horses on rides on this land despite the fact that it is still private property.
  9.  The paper has quoted a grandson of Evan Roberts suggesting litigation to stop “this land grab.”

Questions

  1.         If Catherine’s motive is to honor the wishes of her late husband, Evan Roberts, why make a gift to the county (or any public or private entity) when his wishes were to have Roberts Ranch remain in the family, and the family consists of his son and grandsons?
  2.        With the conservation easement already in place, how does a gift to the county preserve the agricultural use any more than does the conservation easement?
  3.       Isn’t the premature trespassing as described above contrary to the expressed wishes of Catherine Roberts that the ranch should continue to operate as a working ranch and not as county open space used for recreation by the public?
  4.      If the ranch is not to be public open space, why is the Open Lands Board involved in the decision about accepting the offered gift?
  5.       What will it cost Larimer County to operate the ranch, including, but not limited to, caring for the cattle herd, irrigating the hay meadows, maintaining the equipment and buildings, hiring a ranch manager and other workers, plus keeping the public off the property other than for approved tours?
  6.         If a county-run ranching operation is not profitable, is it a proper use of county funds to subsidize a loss?
  7.        Even if Larimer County does run the ranch at a profit, is it improper for the county to use its resources for competing with private ranchers?
  8.        If the gift is accepted, won’t the land be taken off the tax rolls and therefore cost the county that revenue?
  9.      Would the gift put the county in a Catch 22 that it cannot use it for open space without violating the strings attached by Catherine Roberts and, if it is not for open space, what business does Larimer County have operating a ranch?
  10.     Knowing that the gift might be contested in litigation, is it a good use of taxpayers’ money to pay legal fees for defending a gift that carries the baggage pointed out above?

Where the Deer and the Antelope Play

Above is pictured the rare double-headed antelope photographed by Miss Sugar. 

The past two posts I have written about buffaloes and where they used to roam. Now we’re going to continue with the Home on the Range theme. Miss Sugar and I live where the deer and the antelope play.

I am not sure what the songwriter meant, but in my experience the deer and antelope do not play together, but they do kinda play.within their respective species.  While on the subject of species, I have been told that what the songwriter labeled as antelopes are technically pronghorns.  Miss Sugar has studied up on all this and corrects me when I say antelope instead of pronghorn.  I might have this wrong, but I think she said pronghorns are the fastest land animals in North America.  Actual antelopes live in Africa or someplace outside of the Greater Livermore Metropolitan Area. 

We see antelopes, I mean pronghorns, pretty much daily.  They have a territory within which they migrate around.  Our dogs like to alert us to the approach of pronghorns.  Miss Sugar has taken lots of photos of them, but she must do that when the dogs have not noticed the presence of these shy creatures. 

The deer are less predictable in their appearances.  They stay in the trees more, it seems like, but sometimes they show up in the big hay meadow below our house.  We have also seen elk there but this post is not about elk or moose neither because they are not mentioned in the song.  Ask me sometime to tell y’all about our moose sighting and about the elk rack on our wall.  I use antlers in all of my decorating — my what a guy. 

Back to pronghorns playing, we have a horse that might be the fastest land animal in North America.  I got Old Woody as a yearling with the idea that he’d make a good stud.  We abandoned that idea when we started riding him as a two-year old.  He makes a nice gelding.  As a stallion, he had trouble keeping his mind off the girls, so the vet performed what some call brain surgery in order to get his mind right.

One day Miss Sugar told me to look out the window.  Which I did.  What to our wondering eyes did we see but Woody sneaking up on some pronghorns.    The other horses did not seem to care whether pronghorns trespass in their personal pasture, but Woody decided to do something about it.  What he done required some critical thinking and problem solving, as well as athletic ability.

The pronghorned creatures were on a plateau grazing when Woody noticed them and Miss Sugar noticed him noticing them.  As the scene unfolded, Woody went out an open gate to get from the barn area out to the pasture.  He snuck up around the plateau without the prongs noticing.  Then he popped up on the top where they were, which startled them, so they took off. 

As I hinted at above, pronghorns are pretty darn fast.  Well, so is Woody.  He hooked on to the herd and ran wherever they ran.  They sorta curve around as they run, like a wave.  The bunch don’t go in a straight line.  Woody kept up like he was part of the group until the pronghorns reached a barb wire fence. 

Some folks might expect such graceful creatures to jump the fence.  However, when I’m watching, they usually go under.  There are places along our fences where you can see little paths where pronghorns duck through.  Woody lacks that ability but at least he is smart enough to know it so he stopped at the fence.  Then he trotted back to the other horses, kinda lookin proud. 

Where the Buffalo(es) Roam

For those of you who did not read my blog yesterday, Bison Bob, please do so as a prerequisite for reading this.  I’d hate to have anyone fall behind the rest of the class.

First, the well-known song, Home, Home on the Range, includes the phrase “where the buffalo roam.”  I need some help here.  Is the plural of buffalo buffaloes?  Or is it plain old buffalo?  Maybe we should use bison because I believe the answer to that is bison, not bisons.  Nevertheless, since whoever, I mean whomever wrote the song said “where the buffalo roam” in the plural sense, I should shut up, as was frequently suggested to me by my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Platz, who assigned me a special desk in the hall.  (I like to think that I was allowed the privilege of leaving the classroom to sit in my special desk in the hall so the other children would not bother me as I diligently prepared my schoolwork.)  It was Mrs. Platz who pointed out to me with exquisite sensitivity that I don’t know much about proper grammar or many other things.   So I’m probably wrong about saying buffaloes, but I don’t plan to change.

It was Mrs. Platz who picked my career for me.  I felt compelled to stick up for the downtrodden.  When she was picking on one of my classmates, which was often, I would advocate for the student.  For example, if she said, “Gary, didn’t I tell you to stay in your seat?”  I might chime in, “Mrs. Platz, you didn’t say we couldn’t sharpen our pencils and Gary here was fixin to sharpen his so he could do his work better and you could read it more easily.”  Then she would say, “Look you little smart aleck, go out in the hall to your desk and stay out of this classroom.”  In that way, Gary was off the hook and grateful to me.  So when it came time to elect president of the class, yours truly was picked for the job by those indebted to me for protecting them from old Fat Platz.  Well, like I said, Mrs. P picked my career.  Actually, she just predicted it.  I went to her retirement reception at Minne Lusa Elementary School and she politely feigned interest in what I was doing at that point.  I told her that I was in law school.  She was not surprised.  “I figgered you for a lawyer,” she said.  She said it in a way that I didn’t feel proud.  It was an accusation.  Still, she seemed real sincere.  She said she knew that would happen and she was right.

So let’s get back to buffalo(es).   Where my trophy wife, Miss Sugar, and I live, the pasture is full of Buffalo Grass.  I believe it has been there since God put it there.  We don’t have buffalo(es), but other livestock eats it too.  However, this is an area where buffalo(es) used to roam and Indians, now known as Native Americans, used to hunt them.  There are teepee rings about two miles from our place because, back in them days, Indians set up their summer encampment right in our neighborhood.  The teepee rings are rocks arranged in a circle to hold down the bottom edges of the teepees.  Some folks spell it tipi, but I doubt them buffalo hunting Indians spelled it at all.  

There are other signs left from those encampments.  There are old fire pits ringed with rocks.  Fortunately, here in the Rocky Mountains there are plenty of rocks readily available for such purposes.

Back to buffalo(es), I can tell you another interesting historical fact about them.  There is a “buffalo jump” on the Roberts Ranch.  The buffalo jump is a cliff over which the Indians stampeded a herd.  Don’t tell PETA or the Humane Society, but the buffalo(es) were killed in that manner.  There are old bones at the bottom of the cliff.  Mr. Roberts gives a good tour for the school kids at Livermore Elementary School. 

The buffalo do not roam freely anymore, but at Park Creek Ranch, they have those heifers fenced in.  I like looking at them.  Still, I hesitate to herd them and I sure would not want to run them off a cliff.

That’s about all I’m gonna write today.  Tomorrow I plan to write about “Where the Deer and the Antelope Play.”

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