Ideas Spark New Income Sources
By Gary Cutrer
Sometimes an idea is as good as gold. At least, if the idea is feasible, there is always the potential to make a little gold. That’s why new ideas and new ways of doing things continue to hold our interest. New income streams make it possible for us to keep our ranch and farm operations or even our small acreage homesteads profitable and give us the means to preserve and improve the land, its wildlife and natural features. In other words, a healthy income from the land supports good land stewardship.
It amazes me that remote places and ranching pasttimes that I take for granted could be so attractive to some folks that they would pay a lot of money to view the same vistas or take part in the same endeavors. But, people will pay for a ticket to the wilderness, so to speak. Thus was born nature tourism. Sometimes it works for the entrepreneur, sometimes it doesn’t.
Successful nature tourism enterprises include Dan and Cathy Brown’s Hummer House hummingbird sanctuary and observatory near Christoval, Texas, where for a small fee visitors can view rare hummingbirds as they flit from flower to flower.
The Pursuit of Happiness
By Joan R. Neubauer
What a lovely phrase: the pursuit of Happiness. Mr. Jefferson originally wrote “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Property,” but when he brought it to committee, Benjamin Franklin thought they should change it to make it flow better. After all, back in the day, everyone knew the phrase meant property. Courts have upheld that interpretation ever since, and we Americans who took our founders at their word, continue to enjoy private property ownership as a right without a second thought. But we can no longer afford that luxury. Instead, we must carefully and vigilantly protect this right as zealously as every one of our other freedoms.
‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’
—The Declaration of Independence
Private property doesn’t refer exclusively to large tracts of land owned by farmers and ranchers, but includes everything we own: our cars, our homes, our land, our money, our clothes-any item that we lay claim to. Private property means that if we own it, we should have the right to manage and dispose of it as we see fit without interference from government. Yet, each day we learn of a new law, a new regulation, that places new restrictions on our property and its management and disposal. Yet, we stand by and do nothing.
Little by little, we find ourselves losing another little bit of our rights to life, liberty and property. Unless we do something about it now, we’ll all wake up one day in our government provided shelter, dependent upon government for every other necessity of life, from food and water, to medical care and transportation, and totally devoid of every freedom.
Pop Culture Power Base
By Gary Cutrer
It used to be that America’s values, our moral anchors—the ideas and concepts about life and living that we consider correct and good—came from tradition, from what our parents taught us, from our school teachers and from our religious life. Some of our values came from books and some from movies. Some came from role models, whether they were historical or political figures, heroes in books or movies, or our family members we looked up to.
These days, for a whole lot of Americans, values come from the popular culture and only from the popular culture. Even if a young person is grounded in family and religion, is well educated and well read, there is some amount of influence on the way they see things and what they consider moral and correct and good that comes from the constant barrage of messages from TV, movies, newspapers and magazines and sources on the Internet.
I say all this not to be preachy nor to condemn anyone for what they view, read or listen to, but to suggest that there is a power base in this country that is often overlooked as a power base. Whoever holds the most power in the popular culture, shapes the culture of the country. And because many, many young people are raised without much of a moral compass, the popular culture, mass media and entertainment, becomes their reference point for developing a set of values.
Kelton Rides on Up the Trail
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 September 2010 16:33
By Gary Cutrer
While completing the September 2009 magazine I received a note from Ross McSwain saying that Elmer Kelton had passed. Though I barely knew him, I was, and remain, a fan.
In the 1980s I read every Lois L’Amour novel ever written, I think, and I thoroughly enjoyed them all. I’d never heard of Elmer Kelton at the time. Then, at a civil court hearing in Rankin, Texas, I met and befriended Paul Patterson of Crane. I had read Paul’s book, “Crazy Women in the Rafters,” about growing up on a ranch near Upland, original county seat of Upton County, and I complimented him on it.
He refused my praise and told me I ought to read a book or two by his former student, Elmer Kelton.
“Elmer who?” I asked.
Paul went on to tell me that he had been Elmer’s school teacher in Crane and that after serving in World War II and attending the University of Texas, Elmer had gone on to become one of the best agriculture writers there is and all along during his career had written a lot of novels—mostly Western novels. It was obvious Paul was proud of his student and admired his work.
I took Paul’s advice. The first Kelton novel I read was “The Wolf and the Buffalo,” a story about the interaction of the Comanches and the buffalo soldiers on the post-Civil War frontier. I expected a Western adventure yarn. I got that and much more.
Kelton gave heft and depth to his characters I’ve rarely seen in the work of other Western writers.