Artful Communications – White Trash Repairs 3

That’s my telephone line running horizontally across the pre-dawn.  It used to didn’t look precisely as it does now.  For a while, maybe a couple of years that piece of plastic electrical tape wasn’t hanging down from it, giving it a tidier, more professional appearance.

Before that, even, it had the standard non-innovative, regular stretched-across-to-the-house look you find in other, less interesting, living places.

When I moved into this cabin several years ago that phone line was one boring piece of wire with plastic insulation.  All over this planet unimaginative people are gazing at telephone lines going to their houses, probably wondering what they could do to add some savoir faire, something with flair, to the scene.

Luckily, mine was the result of careful planning and artful inspiration.

The first few years I lived here this land was plagued with cows the owner of the place didn’t own, but didn’t want to put the money into fencing out.  Fencing this place well enough to keep cows out would run in the neighborhood of $10,000, maybe higher.

But Texas, being the forward-thinking place it is, doesn’t require a person who wants to run cows to provide fences to keep them inside grazing on his own land.  Texas figures if someone doesn’t want livestock belonging to someone else running all over him eating his grass, tearing things up, knocking things over, Texas, I was going to say, figures a narrow-minded person of that sort needs to put his money where his mouth is and build a fence.

The default position is that a cow’s gotta do what a cow’s gotta do and the onliest way a cow can be kept from doing it is for someone who doesn’t like it to belly up to the bar and pay to keep her from doing it.  Beef prices being what they are you sure as hell can’t expect the man running the herd to pay for fencing them in.  He’d be robbing himself of graze surrounding his own holdings.  He’d be cutting into his own profit, lifestyle, devil-take-the-hindmost image, and he’d be eroding the tradition ranchers all over the west have worked hard for generations to maintain of being lowlife, cheap, greedy, penny-pinching scum who would do anything for a buck.

But I’ve digressed.  I wanted to tell you about my phone line, how it came to pass that it needed to change from a regular piece of unbroken wire into the work of art you see before you in that pic.

There were cows running all over this place when I got here.  They weren’t scared of anyone, nor anything, because they’d had it demonstrated nobody was going to shoot them and go to jail for it.  The man who owned them lived a long way off somewhere, never checked on them, never fed them, and the drought going on here had left them some of the poorest, scrawniest, lousiest cows a person could want.  There wasn’t a blade of grass on this, on any of the several other unfenced properties where they ran, more than an inch high.

But cows get lonely, even when they aren’t wanted.  Out in the woods spending the night they can’t find water hoses to chew to pieces, things to knock over, break, buildings to rub up against to get rid to the fleas and ticks plaguing them.  So, when those cows were here they loved to gather up around Gale’s house up on the hill, and around this cabin.  We tried everything short of building an expensive bunch of fences to keep them out.

But I need to get to the telephone and quit this rambling.

One night when I’d had a bellyful of cows already I heard them outside the window.  Things were falling and the sounds of them rubbing against other things told me to get the spotlight and have a look-see.  Might have been 20-30 cows out there, a few feet from the window.

I grabbed the 12 gauge from behind the door, ran outside in my birthday suit, lifted that shotgun to my shoulder and carefully shot my telephone line in two.  It was dark, but I heard it fall, knew something was amiss, but I could hear the fridge running, so I knew I still had electricity.
Next morning I looked around for something I could use to splice it back together, then twist around to get it back up sky-level instead of hanging around low for someone to forever be tripping on or cows chewing to pieces.

Art is function.  Art is simplicity.  Art conveys emotion, the human condition, the need of humans to communicate with other humans.

When you’re driving along and you see this sign it means you are in a free-ranging area and that the man running cows without having to fence them off the public right-of-way will get a prize-breeding-stock price for his beef from your insurance company if he can arrange a way for you to run one over.

That’s the reason you see straw scattered on the blacktop and in the grader ditch.

Old Jules

Afterthought:  One positive thing about having those cows around was that Shiva the Cowcat and I used to spend a lot of quality time together running around the hills chasing those cows off with a slingshot.  It kept me in shape and provided Shiva the Cowcat with cheap thrills of having something big run from her. Shiva misses those cows something awful.

Eddy Arnold – The Lonesome Cattle Call

12 responses to “Artful Communications – White Trash Repairs 3

  1. Here in Colorado they call that the “Fence Law” which is pure cow shit. There’s one sneaking in at the ranch raising hell at night. If it’s still hanging out when I get moved it will get a bit of 8 shot from a distance just because.

    Have another cup of coffee.

  2. Morning One Fly: Thanks for the visit. Yeah, all over the western US the cattlemen associations lobby hard to make sure nobody messes with their right to run their stock on anyone who doesn’t want to fence them out. 21st Century will be 22nd Century and they’ll still be doing it if we haven’t shipped all our cow operations to China with everything else, I reckons.

    Thankee for the visit. Come back when you can stay longer. J

  3. I would Jules but work is calling. I can’t get out of here fast enough. I’m so ready to do other things even though there is little funds. Put your feet up friend.

  4. Sounds like a good place for a few big beef eating dogs and a high voltage electric fence around the house.

    • Hi oldfool: The guy who owned the cows died and they ceased to be. Beef eating dogs haven’t worked well with chickens running around loose or I’d have one scaring all the hungry deer away. Tried the electric fences back in the earlies, though. Cows tended to get hung up in them as they went through them, dragged them from hell to breakfast.

      Thanks for the visit. J

  5. I keep thinking I need to put a water trough and a feeder out back by the dry creek to attract deer, but know all to well that it will also attract the longhorns, wild burros, Javelin and no telling what else. I read about the damage the longhorns cause at JW’s place and would have a real hard time not shooting them. Matter of fact I have heard of some guy around here that does that and then calls the rancher and tells him to come get his damn dead cow off his property. Don’t know if that’s a myth or the truth though. I figure a person can only store so much jerky and I have no place for storing beef otherwise. Maybe one of the solar HF electric fences would help??? Doubt it though.

  6. “Art conveys emotion, the human condition. the need of humans to communicate with other humans.” Seems to me there are some uppity art galleries that could use your way with words. I’m thinkin’ installation art, somewhere in the Railyard, the newest contemporary art destination in Santa Fe.

    Hold out for the fir$t mill and I’ll just take my usual 10% consulting fee. 🙂

    How’s Shiva with a lasso?

  7. Morning tffnguy: Electric fence works for a lot of people, a lot of cows. It didn’t work here for these. Luckily the man who owned them died and the cows followed him whereever he went.
    Thanks for the visit.

    Teresa Evangeline: Guten Morgen. Thanks for another visit. I’m pretty much an art expert, naturally. People come from all over wanting to know what I think about art so they can say it to other people. I’m pretty sure of that. Fairly sure, anyway.

    I like that cow picture at the end. Lots of prints of it have been made.


  8. Got to say it, love your stories. My husband too. Having lived in northern New Mexico once upon a time and having had a herd of Navajo sheep and their bells wake us up one morning – they were amassed in our front yard – well, I can only imagine.

    And now here in Hawaii we have cows for neighbors. One morning my husband was out shouting and gesturing wildly (both alien to his nature) and I moseyed out to him trying to chase off one big red Angus as it simply folded over our hogwire fence to feast on giant spider lilies. Never mind they call them ‘poison bulb.’ They were rapidly chewed down to stubble as the massive creature, undaunted but oddly obedient, backed away into his pasture.

  9. Pingback: Cat houses and such | So Far From Heaven

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