Africans & whites
By C.J. Hadley
Iwent to a holistic management workshop run by Allan Savory in
Austin, Nev., back in 1991. I was worse than naive, couldnt tell
needle and thread from Great Basin wild rye or understand why
insects were important for a healthy range. Savory insisted I
sit with BLM guys, forest rangers and enviros instead of ranchers,
so that I could get out of my comfort zone and get ready for some
new ideas. (No one wanted to sit with me, either.)
Ive never forgotten those three days out on the range. I learned
a little, was confused a lot, and even though Ive intended to
write about this innovative African biologist since that time,
I didnt know what to say. His level of intensity is not sustainable
in other people. Where most people look for a solution to a problem,
Savory always sees more to be done. He was out of my league, my
paradigms were set too tight, and I realize now I was as bad as
the British Navy.
Over the past nine years weve used many stories in RANGE that
talk about holistic management. Savory might not be mentioned,
but much of the credit for ranching successes is due to his decades
of trial and error. One quote I remember particularly is how natural
it is to have cattle on public lands and how unfair some of the
criticism of bovines is.
Fat and chemicals in cattle shows only from studies done in feedlots
and pastures, and they are totally unnatural environments for
cattle, he said. If I stood you ankle deep in your own dung
and urine and force-fed you, you too would give off a hell of
a lot of gas. As soon as we can get cattle back on the land where
they belong and where we desperately need them, the sooner we
can start to heal the land, cultures, societies, villages, etc.
(See story, p.44.)
* * *
Charlies gone. Died because of bone cancer. Buried in the shade
of a silver birch and listening to the howling wind from the Sierra
Nevada. He cant be replaced but there has been an onslaught to
make an attempt to fill the gaping and agonizing hole that Great
Dane left in my heart.
Ann McReynolds was a Great Dane breeder. One of her champions
was Charlie and Billies father. When she read my editorial in
Summer 99 she called and asked me to visit. I arrived at her
mansion in Reno to a crescendo of sound that could blow apart
cheap windows. Three harlequin Danestwo with cropped ears, one
floppydidnt think much of my presence. Ann and I talked. The
dogs finally quieted. They smelled everything I have. They slimed
me. They were living in an apartment in her basement, in the lap
of luxury. They had their own television, wet bar and raised feeders
(which are necessary for large canines). They were fine looking
creatures, fresh and clean. I called them the noisy aggressive
||Within 24 hours Ann called her lawyer and willed her favorite
dogs to me (I hadnt said yes). She was dying of cancer and wanted
her loves to stay together. She chose me for the job, because
she knew Id understand.
Shortly thereafter, Ann went into intensive care at the local
hospital and her friend Jay brought out the dogsunwilling, relentless,
obnoxious, disoriented and afraid. They came with four garbage
cans full of dry food and a couple of cases of canned dog food,
two boxes of treats, an enormous cage for the floppy eared male
puppy, and numerous lounging pillows for the ladies, Glitter,
7, and her lovely but aggressive daughter, Harlot, 3.
||CJ, Billie and the white people. Clockwise from the human: Seven-month
old Bones (the male), Harlot, her mother Glitter, and the pretty
merle, Lady Day "Billie" Holiday.
It was chaos. Billie was traumatized. Jake Ranger the cat was
in hiding, for days. The white people fought each other, furiously.
Ann died, after she approved my five acres of dirt.
I worked at home, afraid to leave, coddling the newcomers, trying
to make them act like Charlie. After three weeks things calmed
down a little. They dont bark much any more. They play hard but
there isnt much blood. Billie can tolerate them now and is willing
to share the truck. Shes forgiven Charlie for leaving her.
Im showing you the picture of the mob just so we can close this
case. I got so many letters about Charlie I wanted to thank you.
I cherish your sentiments. I even appreciated the letter from
Mother Earth News founder John Shuttleworth, who said, CJ, you
need a smaller dog!