I grew up on a farm for 18 years, and I have been back quite a few times since then. One thing that I loved to do was work with and show cattle. I have grown a fondness for my Herefords, and if I had the chance, time and money I would raise them.
Attending the 38th Annual Medora Beef Day brought back a lot of memories – talking with other breeders, looking at other cattle and driving through the country-side while the cows and bulls graze on the brown grass (winter).
Dr. Michelle Mostrom definately caught my ear when she talked about oil affecting livestock. She spoke of calves wondering around and exploring the pasture, only to come across a water pond contaminated with oil and chemicals or pipes with no fence. The thought of my white-faced babies drinking crude oil until they died made me sick to my stomach.
Dr. Mostrom said one way to prevent this was to fence off those areas, even if it meant doing it yourself. She said the oil industry and the livestock industry needs to be separate.
I admire Dr. Mostrom as she has been studying these affects for years in Alberta, Canada, and she most definitely knows what she is talking about. However, while livestock and oil need to have a fence between them, the industries should not and cannot be separated. The Bakken has brought many companies to the area. Driving west of Medora, I came across at least 9 oil well and tank sites in a ten mile stretch, and God knows how many are hidden in the badlands. And in the badlands there is plenty of open range, with cattle guards, of course. I noticed a lot of places cattle could find there way into an open grave.
It’s plain and simple. Oil is here, and we cannot avoid it. Ranchers need to work with the oil companies, and the oil companies need to be willing to work with ranchers. No one wants to see anything destroyed, whether it be cattle or jobs. Ranchers, keep logs of what happens in the fields. Oil companies, tell your workers to be sensitive to the environment, including domestic animals.
I hope fences go up and fast. But let’s remember that we share the same air, water, soil and resources. Don’t be afraid to extend a hand over the fence in goodwill. Let’s all work together to keep each other safe.