Thursday, January 21, 2010

Poisoning? Or just nothing to eat...

I had to check my calendar again. When was it that we looked across the fence and noticed the level soapweed plants? Soapweed yucca, (Yucca Glauca Nutt.) a perennial that has early spring blooms on a strong stem in the center of the long, narrow sharp leaves the reach upward 12"-24". After the blooms do their thing, the plant produces a 'pod'. The pod averages 3" in length and I suppose about 1-2" diameter, that's while it's still green. That's when it's candy. At least that is what our cows think. If we move cattle into a pasture that has all the green pods still on the stems, they will cover practically the entire pasture, just eating off the pods. Then they go back to grazing. Of course, if the cattle didn't have a chance to get into a pasture with pods that have now opened up and turned brown, they're just something I pick for decoration. When the pods are no longer green, the texture is that of wood, and the stem is now like a thick twig. Nothing eats it. This is actually leading up to something.....

May 9, 2008; a friend of mine came out from town. Our mission was to look at the land of 3 Strikes Ranch. It was during a nice day, and the snow had melted. Our curiosity was to see the condition of the land after the snowfall we'd had, and to see if there was any grass left, or hay being fed. Looking out over the hills, there wasn't an abundance of vegetation. The moisture was much needed, hopefully we were getting enough for these hills to heal up and keep producing.

One thing we noticed: when you looked out across the hills at the soapweed plants, it looked like someone had just come along with a measuring stick and evenly cut the plant to the same level, like you were trimming hedges. There were no 'sticks' coming out of the plant; the stem was gone. Our thought, "Oh my gosh, they ate whatever they could find sticking out of the snow. They had no feed." I am sure that is exactly what all of those horses did. We had never noticed hay being fed in the pastures. So those poor animals, during the snow storms, ate the stems and sharp-edged leaves of the soapweed plants as far as they could. As I'm writing this, I remember talking to someone that was there, of all the cuts and scabs by the eyes and on the face. Have you ever grabbed a soapweed plant, or yucca plant, with your bare hands? Those horses were probably trying to eat them for nourishment, and in the process they cut their face.

So that leads us to the land. Soon after I took pictures of the land, and sent them off to whoever I could think to send them; Jason Meduna claimed 'the neighbors' which would be my family, was poisoning the horses with cattle feed. So, I'll take you on a journey around the perimeter of his ranch. You decide. Does it look like the horses had enough to eat? I only wish we could have fed them.

To get to Jason's entrance, you had to drive through our land, which is where I am taking the picture. the 'Kids Pasture'. The following land pictures were taken in February and March of 2009.

This is the entrance to what was, 3 Strikes Ranch. Of course, when I refer '3 Strikes' or 'Meduna's land', happily it no longer is. The Kooper Ranch now belongs to the Greens. The picture journey will start here, and continue clockwise, covering the perimeter of the Meduna property. I saddled up my 4 wheeler, made sure I had extra batteries for my camera...and was off.

Jason's meadow ground is what you see here. There stands a few horses. I have another picture of this meadow with 1 horse carcass, and 1 live horse. That picture is being saved for that distant possibility of a book. This meadow joins ours to the north, and is east of Jason's house.

On the right side of the fence, is Meduna land. Notice that bare patch of land on the left? It is not too hard to see that posts are leaning to that side; they leaned over to eat the grass, thus causing erosion to start on our property also. The kids had just fixed this fence in January, and now, February 10, were fixing it again. Most of the posts in this line of fence were broken.

How sad for the horses. As I looked out across the hills on the 3 Strikes side, it looks bare as far as the eye can see. I visited a desert in Arizona once, this is pretty close to that memory. I imagine they do not show up on the above picture, but when I zoom in; there are horses in the background, horses that made it....or did not. The lake on the left belongs to Gilroys.

You know, I'm pretty sure I don't need to write anything to explain these pictures. Just imagine though, checking our own cattle and looking across the fence at this. And he accused us of poisoning his horses...

My heart sank when the kids called me on our business band radio, "Mom, you there? Grab your camera and come over by where we're fencing. There's another dead horse."

There are three different land owners in this picture. Our land is the bottom left corner, Gilroy's land is the top left corner, and Meduna's ground is the right side of the fence. The typical leaning posts, staples pushed out from horses leaning over fences, and wires down. At this corner, we leave our property, and will continue around Meduna's borders, (with permission from our good friends/neighbors).

Gilroy's land, as all of the surrounding neighbors; had to deal with staples out, wires down, posts broken. ONE of the things that made me laugh when I read the 3 Strikes web site, was Jason claiming how well/much he fenced, because 'good fences make good neighbors'. Geez. I didn't even know it existed until a friend told me about it. (His web site, not good fencing...that didn't exist for 3 Strikes Ranch)

A good example of how the horses had to lean over in search of grass. The left side of the fence is actually Gilroy's land. He is another that Meduna accused of different things. The grass should come up to the fence line, as it is-there is about a 3' wide, eaten-to-the-ground path. I guess I don't need to repeat my self about staples out, wires down, and posts broken. Just ditto that for the rest of the tour.

How can things get this far out of hand? This ground didn't just appear like this over night. My husband watched it rapidly decline for 2 years. Why didn't we say something to Meduna about it? As I said in court, we did talk to him when he first moved in. He actually waved me over when I was in the hay field, he said he noticed we were haying the meadow, and since it runs into his meadow, it must be time to put it up! (good thinking, Mudna) Then Don talked to him, and HE ASKED DON about the fencing.... Don told him a few tips on where he would fence it and how if it were his. But, Meduna never did anything with the knowledge....(and I think Don has some, since he's lived here all his life, which would be over 50 years, you would hope one sort of knows what to do by then).

Anybody see anything to eat out there??????? Oh yes, what you probably cannot see in this picture, more bones up the hill.

In the center of this picture, you cannot see it very well, but there is another carcass on the ground. I took the liberty to zoom it in for you in the next picture.

A lot of the horses found on the place, were in low ground. That would be where the most vegetation would be. At least the horses knew that, but there was nothing there.

Meadow ground.
Pretty sure the average person can figure out there's no poisoning of feed, no poisoning of water....Hey, maybe there IS NO FEED, and there IS NO WATER. In grade school, we were taught that is what is needed to survive; or maybe our human instincts just knew that. this close up and the next close up; here is what I think happened. (No, I do not claim to be a vet, or have a fraction of their knowledge.) When I zoomed in on this horse, I think she went down, probably began labor, and had two things against her: 1. she was too weak to push and 2. she was laying downhill, which didn't help matters at all.

Yes, this poor horse could just be bloated from death. I stick to my thoughts:
There is dirt upturned behind her; this is either from her struggle to get up, have her colt, or a coyote has already come visiting. I prefer to hope it's one of the first two. It looks to me like her tail is high and behind her, this is what cows look like when they are calving. I personally have never watched a horse have a baby, but I'm pretty sure it's likely about the same. To me, it would appear she has a 'bag' - it looks like it is developed for a baby to suck, but could also be from death. I think she was with milk, ready to nurture her baby. And I'm hoping I'm wrong, but I think the white 'spot' you see between her bag and her tail, is possibly a hoof. A baby hoof that never had a chance to be born into this world.

In our world of calving, we check our cows every couple hours. If one is calving, we check her more often until the calf is on the ground. The risk of the dying from even the sack on it's face is there, so we are there. We may not save all of them, but we are out there trying.

This horse breeder was not. And how many died that we'll never know of? How long has he been breeding?

I can only hope death was fast. But death from starvation is not...

This photo is from the south/eastern side of 3 Strikes Ranch.

Guess which side belonged to Meduna?

Obviously, the right side of the fence was Meduna's. The hills in the far, far distance were Meduna's.

Words are not needed.

The erosion on the left side of the fence, is caused by the fact there is no ground cover on Meduna's side, so when the wind does the sand. It covers the grass on the opposite side, although most of it directly on the opposite side, had been eaten down to the ground also. Can you imagine why?

Some say, 'he just got in over his head.' I say, 'No.'

This 'tour' consists of only half our border with Meduna, and one other neighbor. There are three more that border him. This is the first set. This is the east area that he told everyone he had to get the horses in from, to be able to watch them and protect them from the neighbors, and to keep them from any more poison.

Now look at this land. What do you think? Someone (we) poisoned his horses? Or did they just not have anything to eat?


  1. I love your blog so far but I do have one problem with it. Only about half of the images show up when I open the page. If I do a refresh, then some of the missing images show up but images that were previously there are missing!

    I am so far from knowing anything about computers but I wonder if perhaps the number of images you're putting in each blog post is more than blogspot can easily handle.

    I'm really enjoying your comments and stories, particularly about the Koopers and about your every day life stuff. I live in a rural area, too, and I fear that the rural lifestyle is dying. I have no idea where people will get their food if farmers and ranchers can't make a living but as things are in the economy, it's almost impossible to make a living at farming or ranching. I see the young folks leaving farming, more of them every year.

    Please write down what you know, even things you don't think are important, because some day, a young rancher or a historian will thank you.

  2. Thank you for your time and dedication for documenting this. Thank you for outing him, thank you for keeping at it until enough people listened and took action. Thank you!

  3. Hi Vicki, truthfully, when I first read on ABR about the poisoning, I thought no way, something is wrong there, I'm sure I'm not the only one that thought this. I was floored when I found out it was hundreds of horses that he starved. I think he has been doing it since day one, leaving out there to fend for themselves. Those of us who have the ones that survived know what happend. starved, worm bellies and parasites. I can't wait till he's behind bars.