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The next day I was sitting at one of those metal tables in the day room, trying to catch up on the news, when Cliven came over and sat down. “I’ve got a problem, maybe you can help me,” he says. “Okay, shoot,” I reply, thinking, here it comes, his whack-a-doo story.
Almost everyone in the detention center is in the midst of fighting their court case, so it’s natural to see them struggling mentally and emotionally with what is happening to them, their families, their career, and their future. Some are in deep depression, while others are fighting mad as they try to get their mind wrapped around their disastrous circumstances. Why would Cliven be any different? Even more so, his case is by far the most publicly publicized I’ve ever seen. If the government gets its way, he’ll never see the light of day, but will be in prison for years and years. That kind of thing weighs on a man.
So, as I was thinking this, he began …
“You know, I got these F1 cattle on my ranch, and I can’t get the pregnancy rates with ’em I want ... I’m wonderin’ if you can give me some idees? I’ve never been to Ag school, maybe I’m miss’n sumpin’? A few years ago, I rented some Hereford cows and bred ’em back to this big Brahma Bull, which gave me some nice brindle heifers. Then, I bought some nice Red Angus Bulls and bred ’em F1 heifers, which gave me the nicest baby calves you’d ever seen. The kind the buyers want.”
Cliven laid this out with so true and plain a curiosity and concern that I had to try very hard to keep my neck from snapping as my brain shifted gears to keep up. So now I’m thinking, he’s been here in prison 14 months, and now he wants to talk about ranching!? Oh boy, this is worse than I’d thought ... he’s living at the ranch in his head. (By the way, the F1 tigerstripe female is a superior cow for the Southwest. ‘Tigerstripe’ is a term used to describe the F1 cross 32 of Hereford and Brahman because of the animal’s tiger-like striped brindle hair).
He went on. “But you know, I graze ’em on the open range down here in southern Nevada and it’s wild, arid, harsh land, where the water is spread out. In the spring, the grass grows up nice and tall, ’em cows will graze right around the water, but in time they need to move further and further away from the water. ’Cuz, they have that Brahma in ’em, they get to traveling, maybe 10 or more miles away from the water. Then at night, they’ll bed down ’em calves and head back to the water. You know, they’ll even leave a babysitter with ’em babies, to protect ’em. I’ve rode out a daybreak many a time to see one lone cow brooding over as many as ten calves. They seem to be just right for my ranch.”
“So, what do you think the problem is?” I asked, finally catching back up with him.
“Well, those darn Red bulls can’t keep up. They just hang around the water trough and cover those cows when they come in for water. My cows, they’re more like wild animals than domesticated beeves (cattle), more like an elk. The Red Angus bulls are too domesticated and all that walking wears their feet sore. I just don’t get the pregnancy rate I should. I’d like to breed some of my cows for fall calving; but, that means that they need a breedin’ in the middle of winter when the cows are furthest out.”
“Can you feed lot them?” I inquired further.
“Nah. These cows are uniquely acclimated to my ranch and know how to survive in that unique environment. I spent years breedin’ ’em to thrive there. If I bring ’em off the range they’ll get lazy and end up not traveling like they should. Besides, they’re so wild they’d just jump out.”
For the next few hours, we discussed all kinds of ideas, various options and methods to approach the issues, including other ranching 33 philosophies used in different parts of the country. In the end, to be honest, my experience and book learning didn’t much help to him at all.
To be continued…
But there is much more to tell about the story of Cliven Bundy challenging the government’s authority over federal land … so, stay tuned.
Learn more about Cliven Bundy: American Terrorist Patriot or get your book copy here.
About Michael Stickler
Mike is an author, radio host, ex-felon, and a highly sought after conference speaker. His best-selling book, A Journey to Generosity, is widely acclaimed throughout the Christian community. He is the publisher of Generous Living Magazine and writes for the Christian Post, 'A Generous Life' column (MikeStickler.com)