KIMBALL – As the fireworks began banging in town Sunday, I was busy tearing out and rebuilding corrals. This is the kind of taxing, physical work that is good for my body and leaves plenty of time for my mind to puzzle at and worry over ideas and principles.
The corral project has been hovering near the top of the list for at least a dozen years but has always previously been shuffled into the “next year” stack.
Part of the reason is the corral is so seldom used. It’s really only at branding and weaning that we ask it to hold cattle, and then only for a couple of hours at most. It’s been patched with steel posts and wire so often that essentially none of the original corral remains. It’s become nothing but scar tissue.
It’s been doing its job well enough -- which is to say just barely -- for the last few years, serving less as a holding pen and more as a (partially) fenced passageway. I decided to change all that by erasing the whole thing and starting over.
The first chore was to remove and sort the hodgepodge of barbed wire, which has grown to most resemble the Peleliu Airfield perimeter on Sept. 15, 1944. Untangling, sorting, re-rolling the good wire and discarding the bad -- that’s been a delightful chore. And I say that like I mean it.
That first part of a fencing renovation is long on work, sucks up a lot of hours, and doesn’t show much progress. But it’s done now.
As I move forward on the chore I’ll lay out locations for new posts, get the holes bored, and get the posts tamped into the ground. That’ll just leave panel and new wire installation. I’ll re-use panels I already have, as well as several giant rolls of “sheep wire” which I collected during a previous fencing renovation some 20 years ago.
In a fit of orderliness, I very nearly threw all that sheep wire away back then. It was only a flat tire on a trailer that prevented me from doing so. “I’ll never have use for that,” I told myself.
‘Time to ponder . . .’
As I toil away at the reconstruction job, my mind has a lot of time to ponder “big issues” and to try to puzzle out a best course forward. As I work, when the wind is right, I can hear the distance-muffled blasts of fireworks.
Traditionally in America, fireworks have been used to celebrate the birthday of our nation. As I listen to the banging -- particularly the racket of big, expensive fireworks in the evening -- I can’t help but wonder how many folks give the tiniest thought to July 4, 1776.
As Americans, we’re surrounded by political and ideological polarization. A great many of the people who live here would be happy to destroy the nation in order to get what they want, and most of what those folks want is other people’s stuff, along with the right to punish people who don’t look or think exactly as they do.
A larger number of the people who live here really don’t care what happens, so long as they can continue their daily routine of consumption and complaining.
Quite often people exclaim that the country is heading down the wrong path, that things didn’t used to be this bad. Plaintively, they wonder who will fix things for them, and make everything wonderful and nice again. Hope and Change didn’t work, and Make America Great Again doesn’t seem to be faring any better.
I think a lot of folks have forgotten that it’s not up to the President of the government to fix America.
For those who really want to make things better, I’d suggest forgetting about greatness and concentrating on making America America again. With July 4 just around the corner, perhaps a review of America’s very first official document is in order.
Let me just give you a hint.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...
I’d suggest reading the whole thing, and discussing it with friends and family.
But what do I know? I’m not a lettered expert, nor am I “from the government.”