About shorts and sheep

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A classic George Ostrom column, from December, 2004...

Several things had gone wrong during Wednesday the 22nd. Bad start was getting my shorts on backwards, hit my head on a cupboard door, . . . stuff like that. So as evening approached I was being cautious with all thoughts and movements. Was reading a good book around 5:30 p.m. when Iris said it was about time I started getting ready to go to KOFI’S annual Christmas Party and dinner. Said we should leave in about 20 minutes. She also said she’d told me three times before.

Zooming into the bathroom I discovered hair needed combing but it wouldn’t stay in place so I grabbed the hairspray to anchor things down. Shook it up a bit, pointed it at the top of my head and pressed the button.

You should never buy a new canister of shaving cream that is the same color as your hair spray can. Instantly, the silver locks were splattered with gobs of foam. Looked like I’d been bombed by a herd of seagulls with diarrhea.

Earlier in the day, I’d “sorta shaved” with an electric razor, which doesn’t do a really smooth job. Being a depression kid who hates to waste stuff, it was now decided to transfer the lather from my hair down to my face and do a real shave with a safety razor. After that came the matter of a getting in the shower and washing the remaining gook from the hair, etcetera.

So! We were a little late getting to the party. Jorgie and Scotty wanted to know why we were running behind schedule and Iris said, “George used shaving cream for hair spray.” Those guys laughed and implied absent-minded stuff like that was probably due to my advanced age. That’s when I set them straight, told them they didn’t know what they were talking about. “Hell,” I said, “I was barely in my fifties that time I brushed my teeth with Preparation-H.”

On a different subject, the Montana and U.S. Agriculture Departments have released the annual “Statistics Book.” Because so few of you folks ever spend time reading that book, I’m going to tell you about things you never knew, but should. Page 91 deals with “Sheep and Lambs, Death Loss by Cause.” Before we get into the meat of that subject, let me remind you that government control of predators is a multi- million dollar program in Montana and most western states.

In Montana, foxes don’t have much luck killing grown sheep, but in 2003 they managed to eat a thousand lambs, valued at $61,800. Dogs only got 600 sheep and 400 lambs. Bobcats nailed around 300 total. Eagles got 100 sheep and about 1,500 lambs. Bears ate 800 total but the Ag department doesn’t break that down by black bears or grizzlies. Mountain lions got 100 sheep and 300 lambs, while wolves devoured 300 grown sheep and only 200 lambs. (Don’t know why wolves got more grown sheep. Maybe they figure if they’re going to work up a sweat, it might as well be worth while) the champion sheep eaters are coyotes. In 2003 they got 2,100 big sheep and 9,700 lambs. You’ve all seen the bumper sticker, “Eat mutton, 50,000 coyotes can’t be wrong.”

The statistics book reports there were 400 sheep killed by “Other animals,” and 900 by “unknown predators.” Total estimated value of all these lost sheep was $1,309,100. You can see what some people are thinking, “If the predators eat a million three hundred thousand dollars worth of sheep and we are spending, say two and a half million to hunt the predators, why not just give that money to the sheep ranchers and let the lions, and coyotes, and bears eat all they want?”

It’s been tried. Doesn’t work.

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