By Baxter Black
Dear Dr. Black,
I have a question. I live in an area prone to guerrilla grazing. It’s private land but New Mexico is a fence-out state, so it is legal for people to put cattle on other people’s land.
This is unregulated, so unfenced land gets overgrazed. Then cows resort to busting fences and eating people’s trees, windshield wipers and Wal-Mart bags. I would like to grow Arizona Cypress for a windbreak — I live on the Llano and am curious if my hungry visitors will eat them.
An excellent question. As you pointed out, cows will eat car parts and baler twine, not to mention nails, staples, wire, tennis balls, bones, prickly pear, lug bolts, the Western Horseman magazine, windmill leathers, stirrups, moldy hay, quilts, diapers, the flag of Honduras, snow cones and apple pie.
So eating Arizona Cypress, which sounds like it should be related to the juniper or eucalyptus, would be expected.
But, if by some chance I am wrong and cows are allergic to Arizona Cypress, you could be susceptible to a koala attack!
Regardless of what you plant, something will eat it. Where you live, everything is hungry!
Logically you should plant your windbreak with something inedible. I’ve never seen antelope eat a steel post or jackrabbits eat bed springs.
There should be enough abandoned cars between your ranch and Belen to build a nice windbreak. Granted, it would not be safe from goats or backyard mechanics, but you could tie your barking dog to one end of it to scare them off.
One of the best natural windbreaks I’ve ever seen is a 12-foot high stretch of elk fence. Just string it and let it collect tumbleweeds for a couple of years. People on the Plains have been planting scraggly elms and Lombardy Poplar since they started west from St. Louie.
They are tough trees but are constantly battered by drought, wind, blizzards and blight. They usually look ratty and don’t offer much protection, but they fit the country (the trees, I mean, not the people.)
One of the more useful windbreaks that can serve a double purpose is a billboard. Or you could start a mink farm and pour a permanent slab along the west side of the house for protesters to stand on.
How ’bout mounting 10 football goal posts side by side and hang up blue plastic tarps? If you have patience you could build one out of Lego’s. Advertise it, have a gift shop.
Well, I’m beginning to run out of suggestions, but my first thought upon receiving your note was the essence of simplicity … just dig a hole and bury your house!
Baxter Black is a self-described cowboy poet, ex-veterinarian and sorry team roper. He can be contacted at 1-800-654-2550 or by e-mail at: