The Hundredth Meridian

The Home of the Brave

Vague and acrid as the ocherous smoke drifting in scarves and shoals from fires burning across the West, the specter of Range Reform pervaded the Rocky Mountain states last summer, the driest on record since 1932. In drought years ranchers must move their cattle rapidly off one pasture and onto the next in order to prevent them from biting down the sparse short grasses. Over on the Thoman Ranch on the Green River several miles south of Fontenelle Dam, they were shorthanded during the season as the youngest daughter, Laurie, completing her reign as Miss Rodeo Wyoming, appeared in rodeos and parades around the Western states, while in town, 30 miles away, I was sunk in an armchair scribbling notes for a book. When may a gentleman refuse a lady in distress? I think of Jeeves' answer to Bertie Wooster, who had inquired on what occasion a gentleman may appear without a necktie. There is no occasion, Jeeves replied, when a gentleman may not wear a necktie.

Being a friend of Mary Thoman is hard work. Back in Kemmerer, my study was filling up with documents pertaining to the Cumberland/Uinta Grazing Allotment Steering Committee; down here on the Green River I had been in the saddle since 7:30 A.M., and it was getting on to six in the evening now. Mary sat the bay thoroughbred, barking orders from under the rolled brim of her purple felt hat at the cows, and at me. We had pushed the 30-odd head of cattle out of the Seedskadee Allotment...

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