Cattle Ranges of the Southwest Page: 12 of 32
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heels of the general business depression that has prevailed during the
last few years all over the United States, has had a marked ten(lency
toward the revival of the wild passion for speculation that obtained in
the early eighties. One would naturally suppose that the old-time
cowman, who went "through the fire" in those days, would be very
conservative now, but such does not appear to be the case. He seems
to feel that as he "played in bad luck" then, now that lie has the chance
again, he must win back his losses. Hence it is that these men are
again in the market as buyers, and now many of them are as reckless
in their speculations as they were when everybody was a speculator.
ONE INSTANCE OF SUCCESS AND FAILURE.
" A burnt child ought to dread the fire," but when this and that man
are known to have cleared large sums in the cattle trade, others
with the feverish desire to become suddenly rich have no doubt of
tleir ability to make equally large profits. As an example, there is
a Southern cowman who, in 1883, was reputed to be a millionaire. In
1885 he was rated at not above $50,000; later he came to be recognized
as practically inlsolvent. During the past ten years he has been "hard
pressed," until recently. Since the first of January, 1897, he has been
in the market again, purchasing "every thing in sight," and paying,
or agreeing to pay, top prices for all classes of cattle. Things "have
come his way" and again.he is a rich man. He could retire now
and have enough property in hand to satisfy the desires of most men.
But he aspires to be once more a millionaire, and will doubtless risk
everything he has or shall have, over and over again, to gain his point.
Such instances are not rare in the Southwest, and the tendency has
been and will be to encourage other and less experienced men to take
like risks. This situation means, and will continue to mean for a while,
a still further overstocking of the ranges in order that the ranchmen
may be able, for the time being, to make the most out of their holdings.
The new men who are rushing into the cattle and sheep business
know nothing practically of their danger and hence can not be
expected to be conservative. They expect to make fortunes in a short
time, like the older and more experienced stockmen have, and may be
safely depended on to abuse their ranges just as their predecessors did.
LACK OF INTEREST IN RANGE IMPROVEMENT.
Another serious difficulty in the way of a renewal of the ranges is
the fact that not one stockman in ten has any scientific knowledge of
grasses. He knows all about cows or sheep, but has never realized
the necessity of studying the native grasses and their habits, and
does not seem to care to know anything more about them than he now
knows. At a meeting of stockmen recently held those present were
questioned about the native grasses growing on their respective ranges.
One of the best informed undertook to describe the habitat and the
characteristics of certain varieties that were especially mentioned. In
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Bentley, Henry Lewis. Cattle Ranges of the Southwest, book, 1898; Washington. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth2412/m1/12/: accessed May 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .