Over our weeks together we would return to the subject and hash it over again and again. In these talks it became quite obvious that Cliven’s ranching methods were unique. In response to the harsh climate, extreme environment, specific water-source layout, land contours, and foliage cycles, Cliven and his neighboring Southern Nevada ranches must adjust procedures to meet and succeed under these severe conditions. The goal for the herds that graze this land is not just to succeed but thrive. As far as I know, this distinctive area has not been researched, taught, or even footnoted. As a result, the area is at best misunderstood. But it is more likely simply unknown, because ranching methods are distinctive to this small region’s specific conditions.
And they sure aren’t at all like the better-known, more widely practiced, ranching styles that simply don’t work here and may not work at all except in the climates, environments, and water-source layout, land contours, and foliage cycle conditions where they were developed.
It would be just as inappropriate – just as foolish – perhaps even just as dangerous – as the tragic ‘Dust Bowl’ period of failed dry-farming policies of the 1930s – to extend any regional resource management policy that is based on the more widely practiced and academically understood ranching (or agricultural) conditions to this or any other unique situation that may be not so widely understood. It is perhaps just as foolish – and – just as dangerous – to formulate permanent water management policy during an extended wet-year period of the climate cycle. The policy-makers are simply trapped in ‘what we know is the way it is, so this must be the way it will always be’!
Federal government resource management policies don’t exactly get a passing grade on much of its ‘service to the nation and its citizens’ across the West – or here, in Southern Nevada.
Sadly, but predictably, policies fail when applied to where their makers have never been, because … they don’t know what they don’t know.
In glaring contrast, Cliven learned well from the generations of his family’s practical ranching and breeding experience – gained the hard way – in Northern Arizona and Southern Nevada’s desert climate. In our discussions, Cliven clearly knew far more than I did and I learned far more than he did.
During those weeks we were together, he also taught me about his techniques on farming melons and alfalfa with half the water use of conventional techniques I had come to know. This interested me greatly, because I had just spent two years learning about modern, main-stream sustainable farming, which had helped update my views from what I’d known before or had been taught way back in Ag school. But now, Cliven was refining my understanding in even this – along with so many different areas that I’d ever considered before.
This region is indeed unique. It demands unique responses across the whole agricultural and ranching spectrum. It demands resource management policies that are equally sensitive and appropriate to its uniqueness. During this time, I was privileged to see Cliven open up and hear him share his life story with me. His story goes a long way in explaining his character, honesty, values, and credibility; for me, at least. For you too? Judge for yourself. As I recall, it went something like this: Cliven grew up on the farm. As a boy, he often struggled with health issues. “I had bad kidneys, the tubes were too small, which made my white blood count high,” he mumbled one day, as a commercial ran on the day room TV.
During this time, I was privileged to see Cliven open up and hear him share his life story with me. His story goes a long way in explaining his character, honesty, values, and credibility; for me, at least. For you too? Judge for yourself. As I recall, it went something like this:
Cliven grew up on the farm. As a boy, he often struggled with health issues. “I had bad kidneys, the tubes were too small, which made my white blood count high,” he mumbled one day, as a commercial ran on the day room TV.
I couldn’t tell if it was something he saw on the TV screen that reminded him of his youth or he was just in a mood to share. In lockup, emotional swings and seemingly-random conversational triggers are fairly common. Sometimes you can be affected by news from home, or maybe some nonsense with your bunkie (your upper or lower bunk occupant). Cliven seldom watched TV, but I often did. Maybe he just wanted to connect. It’s hard to say.
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)