For years, the optimist has maintained that in every difficulty there is an equal or greater opportunity, for every trial there is a reward and for every downbeat there is an upbeat. I happen to belong to that school of thought.
Our movies and TV screens have familiarized us with the fact that sheep-herders and cattle-tenders are not exactly "bosom buddies." For years, range wars were fought, and since the cattle barons arrived first, they frequently made life very difficult for sheep-herders.
However, according to The Washington Post's Tom Kenworthy, an interesting phenomena is taking place in our West. A highly destructive, noxious European weed, which is compared to the South's kudzu, is now running amok on more than 3 million acres. Cattle and horses can't eat the foliage, and with no natural predator to contain the leafy spurge, the weed is taking over and the ranchers are suffering. Mowing simply doesn't work. Chemical defoliants cost too much or come under attack from environmentalists. Neither fire not flood will eradicate the milky-sap plant.
Fortunately, the little lamb and the friendly kid have come to big cattle's rescue. Sheep and goats find the tough leaves of this leafy spurge edible, even nourishing. A flock of sheep started eating the weed on 14,000 acres of a wildlife preserve in Colorado. These gentle creatures found a way to triumph over a yard-high enemy that had roots sunk 15 feet underground. One land-management official told Kenworthy that 240 goats had been let loose on 2,000 spurge-ridden acres with stunning results. "It was like inviting the high-school football team to a pizza parlor. They just demolished it!"
It's my conviction that some of those cattle-owners are going to end up being sheep-owners. There's something about taking advantage of opportunity that the American businessman cannot resist. See you at the top!
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