Lee Pitts: The Rumor Ranch
I’m not one of those greenies who believes that humans are a cancerous growth destroying the planet, but I’ll admit it’s getting a little too crowded in my neck of the woods. The old sale yard is gone that had been there so long it became an archeological dig when they tore it down. There’s houses there now where I took a lot of bids and walked lots of alleys. We’ve been invaded by a horde of rich tech gazillionaires who are buying ranches, kicking off the cows and planting grape vines and olive trees. The sale yard was our church and our social hall and now that it’s gone all us ancient geezers hardly see each other any more. And I seriously doubt a bunch of crippled old cowboys are all gonna start going to wine tastings.
I’m told that the techies like our lifestyle because, “it’s stress-free.” HA! Evidently they have never had a calving season where the neighbor’s 3,000 pound, double muscled, full French exotic bull broke in and shacked up with the six-weight heifers for two months. Or lived through a seven year drouth, have a banker breathing down their neck and have to sell cows at hamburger prices that they paid $3,000 apiece for last April.
Nah, there’s no stress.
Some of the newbies are friendly and we welcome them to the neighborhood. They come to our brandings, we go to theirs and we like them because they buy great range bulls that breed our cows because no one has fixed any fence around here since The Great Trich Epidemic of 1973. We are more than happy to continue this arrangement but eventually they end up fixing the fence. Either way, we win because they pay for it. And we’re grateful that they’ve driven up the value of ranch real estate to the point any 20 acre rundown ranchette is worth a million bucks.
Some of the newbies are rich snobs who move in and build 20,000 square foot fortresses so we can’t snoop on them. Because they’re so secretive we don’t know much about them and this we cannot tolerate. There’s a law in physics that states that any vacuum of information will be filled with scandalous scuttlebutt. I know from experience that all you have to do is tell someone in a normal tone of voice in the coffee shop that you have hemorrhoids and by nightfall everyone in town knows you have brain cancer.
A filthy rich mysterious heiress who moved in a few years ago is a good example of how rumors get started. I heard it from Bill who heard it from Frank that the source of her money is either from drugs, Microsoft, automobiles, Apple, tires or oil. Although we may not know exactly where she got her money we do know she’s got a lot of it because she’s buying up ranches like cattle feeders are buying jars of Tums.
I’ve heard the heiress has some strange ideas about how to run a cow ranch. She doesn’t brand because it might hurt the calves and doesn’t put an ear tag in their ear because it’s dehumanizing. Rumor has it the heiress thinks it’s wrong to enslave a horse by riding one and that she gives no vaccinations, which would explain how she’s able to hog all the buzzards in the general vicinity. About the only people not spreading rumors about the heiress are ranchers who might want to sell their 60 head cow ranch to her for twenty million bucks and don’t want to be caught speaking ill of her. But they’re no fun.
We all assume the heiress must run some cows because at the last bull sale ever held at the old sale yard she left a very generous order for an Angus bull. A month later that same bull showed up in the slaughter run at the last weekly auction ever held at the market. A couple different explanations are heard on the street as to why she got rid of the bull so fast. One is that the bull shockingly deflowered an innocent young heifer in the presence of the heiress, and the other rumor is that the bull got snuffy and put her over a fence.
Normally, I wouldn’t believe such scandalous gossip if I hadn’t started both rumors myself.