Drive along Foothill Road offers pristine view of Valley
April 26, 2005
by JoEtta Brown
My Foothill View
We were driving along Foothill on our way to Carson City to attend an alternative source of energy meeting. Foothill is what I consider one of the most beautiful roads, early morning is especially pleasant.
When we came near the Genoa Post Office, we could see a cattle round up within the pasture. “Cowboys” on horses, along with modern day off road vehicles, were working the cattle. The cattle were making lots of noise and seemed to be annoyed. One frisky calf almost escaped, but was gently encouraged to join the herd.
Maybe the cattle were being herded to have their vaccinations, branding or tagging, or whatever happens to cattle at this time. We had noticed earlier this month that there were a lot of new calves in the pastures. They were either little mounds of black, or brown on the ground, or some older ones walking near their mothers, an altogether peaceful scene. You could see that a lot of work had been done to clear fields. The ranchers of Carson Valley keep beautiful pasture land. They give a lot of time and energy to maintenance, which adds to the pristine look of this valley.
Since our meeting was to be about alternative sources of energy, cows brought to mind the main source our group would be using. Bio-mass that could be converted into energy, after a chemical process. Would it not be nice to expand our choices for energy? Lose our dependency on foreign and fossil fuel. Stop the gas price war and pay reasonable rates at the gas pump.
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History tells us that in ancient times cattle were regarded both as a source of wealth and as sacred animals. Cattle were sacrificed on altars to gods, given as gifts to kings, and traded for food by the poor. As civilizations developed, man discovered that he could raise and keep some animals.
As we know these animals became known as livestock and include cattle, swine, sheep and goats.
None of the domesticated livestock was native to the New World. They had to be imported. Columbus took cattle, pigs, sheep and goats to the West Indies in 1493. English breeds of cattle were introduced to the American continent about 1623.
In the Western United States there was large areas of range land. There were already some cattle there the descendants of the Andalusian cattle brought into Mexico by the Spanish in the 16th century.
Settlers coming into the west brought their cattle with them. The crossing of these cattle with cattle already there produced the Texas Longhorn breed.
The cattle rancher of today faces many problems in their business. One of the big problems is the weather.
Much of the cattle country in the West has long periods of dry weather. Without rain, the grass dries up, the cattle cannot eat, and they could lose weight. Hay and grain must be stored in barns or silos to feed the cattle during winter.
Water in the Carson Valley is a rather large issue for everyone including cattle ranchers, farmers and private residents. Working together we can find the right solutions.
Livestock raising today is mechanized, scientific, and very little like the one the cowboys knew. Feed lots, where thousands of cattle are fed by machines are becoming common in the western and midwestern states.
You do not see this kind of operation in the Carson Valley.
Allowing cattle to roam and graze freely produces the best beef. Vaccines and antibiotics save thousands of animals from disease.
Long cattle drives are now the thing of the past. During the last years of the 19th century, railroad branch lines were built into every part of the cattle country, so that no ranch was more than a few days journey from a railroad track. Unlike cowboy movies, cattle ranching is hard work that requires personal dedication.
Imagine trying to load stubborn, heavy, and sort of stinky cattle onto cattle trucks, there is some danger in this job.
Carson Valley has several women who own large cattle ranches. They operate their cattle ranches as effectively as large corporations and I applaud them.
There is a rich history of women who own and have owned cattle ranches in the Carson Valley.
What Ðwomen as cattle ranchers! “What is a woman? I assure you, I do not know…I do not believe that anybody can know until she has expressed herself in all the arts and professions open to human skill.”
It is estimated that about one quarter of the average American diet is made up of livestock products.
A good steak appeals to most of us and when I treat myself to one, I wonder is it from Carson Valley beef. If at all possible I would like to see a label on beef in the grocery story that reads Carson Valley beef.
— JoEtta Brown can be reached at JoetBro@aol.com.