Greetings from Germany! Because of lack of internet on our trip I’ve not been able to post every day.
“The Captain took off his hat and leaned forward towards Dodge. “Nice place you have here. How many head of cattle do you have?”
“About six thousand,”
“And how big a range do you have?”
“It runs about fifty miles long and wide.”
“That is big–twenty-five hundred square miles! That’s over a million acres! How much land do you need to graze six thousand beef?”
“What do you mean? All of it, of course.”
“Cody, what do you think about that. You’ve been a cow puncher for quite a while.”
“Well, it depends on the kind of land it is, what kind of grass there is, and how many watering holes there are.”
“So, what about here?” the Captain asked Cody.
“I’ve seen much of this land. Dodge told me himself he has over a dozen watering places. With the grassland I’ve seen, I’d say that about a third of what he’s got would be more than sufficient for six thousand head.”
Dodge started up, “Just a minute now, who are you to tell me my business!!!”
“Really I’m nobody,” replied Cody gently, “But I have been around cattle since I was able to walk. I’ve had lots of experience working on ranches and driving large herds to market. What I’ve said is from that experience.”
Dodge sat back down, a scowl on his face, but he knew he couldn’t argue with Cody’s experience.
After a moment of silence, the Captain leaned forward again. “Mr. Dodge, our goal in this conversation is for you to win and for John to win, too, and we think that is possible.” Dodge snorted.
The Captain continued, “You know, the sod busters are coming. You may be able to run off a few of them, but others will come, stake their claims and have a right to that land.
I’d like to suggest that you stake claim legally to the best third of the land you’ve been running. Put it legally in your name and then no one could take it from you. There would then also be land enough for new comers.”
“I don’t like it!” Dodge said. “It’s always been this way since the day I came here twenty years ago. You got no right now to upset the cart and neither do they.”
“No matter what you’d like, Mr. Dodge, you cannot stop progress. People are coming by the thousands. Times are changing. We are now a state with a governor and legislature. Laws are being passed and we must obey them. We, the army, are here to enforce them.” Dodge glowered more.
“In this new situation, you can still run your cattle if you take precautions and are willing to pare down to what you need. Select your most important watering holes and the best land around them. Then you can basically continue your way of life and give others a chance at theirs.
“I don’t like it,” he grunted again. He looked out at the soldiers camped in his yard, “But give me some time to think on it.”
“You do that Mr. Dodge. Take time until tomorrow morning. And along with that, remember that we, the army, are here. Any attempt to use violence against the settlers will be met with force and justice. So, let us move forward together with wisdom, Heavenly Wisdom.”
Dodge got up and went into the house, leaving Cody and the Captain alone. Inside he found Amy standing right by the door.
“You heard?” he asked.
“Yes, I did, father. I hate to admit it, but what the Captain said makes sense. We are not going to be able to hold off the world in the same way as you did in the past. I think you should listen to them.”
“You are just like your mama,” said Dodge. “She was a good, peace-loving woman who stood with me through thick and thin. She was wise. I wish she were here now.”
“So do I, father, so let’s think about what she would advise.”
“We both know what, she’d say,” said Dodge.
“Yes, ‘Be reasonable!’” Amy smiled.
picture: Western Girl from 1800s like Amy (from internet)