Cattle Ranges of the Southwest Page: 13 of 32
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ten minutes he had been frequently interrupted, in a pleasant way, by
the others, his statements questioned, and his conclusions laughed at.
Others undertook to explain, but they, too, failed to impress the meeting
with the opinion that they understood the subject under consideration.
At last one stockman offered a resolution which was adopted without
a dissenting voice and with a shout. It was in words as follows:
"Resolved, That none of us know, or care to know, anything about
grasses, native or otherwise, outside of the fact that for the present
there are lots of them, the best on record, and we are after getting the
most out of them wllile they last."
The adoption of this resolution was followed by a good-natured discussion
of the subject, (luring which those present demonstrated that
they really did not know much about varieties, but became interested
and were willing to do all in their power to assist in the preparation of
a complete list of tlhe grasses and forage plants of the region. Later,
when as the result of less than one day's effort, nearly fifty distinct
varieties of native grasses were found on one ranch, embracing
less than 5 miles square, these men were prompt to admit their ignorance
of the natural resources of the ranges. They will perhaps now
take more interest in and better care of the grasses of their several
holdings; but the rule as to others is likely to be, in the future as it
has been in the past, to take things as they come and trust to the
ranges to take care of themselves.
Although central Texas is not often subject to long periods of
drought, such seasons have occurred, and may be expected again. If,
during such dry years the ranges could be rested, there would be no
serious lessening of their capacity for supporting stock. But judging
the future by the past, they are not going to be so rested, and since
during the droughty years they are more easily injured tlan at other
times, such years present another serious difficulty in the way of a
speedy renewal of the ranges. When there is little rain there is little
grass, and little stock water. That means that stock are compelled to
travel greater distances in search of food, and to and from water, from
which results the trampling out of the grasses for several miles around
each water hole. It is rarely if ever the case that even the close grazing
of grass injures it, so long as the roots are not disturbed, but during
the long doughts stock frequently pull up grass by the roots and
in that way permanently injure the range.
The prairie dogs and jack rabbits are great pests on the range.
People not familiar with them and their habits are apt to deride the
idea that they can do very serious injury, but all stockmen understand
that they can and do destroy a great deal of grass. One well-informed
stockman says that " ten dogs can destroy grass enough every year to
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Bentley, Henry Lewis. Cattle Ranges of the Southwest, book, 1898; Washington D.C.. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth2412/m1/13/: accessed July 8, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; .