Let me tell you a story first...
Ben Snipes headed west from Iowa in 1852 with a covered wagon train at the age of 17. The gold rush enticed him. He earned his keep as the right-hand man and was entrusted with the stock. which came through to Oregon in fine condition with little or no loss as compared to losses suffered by other trains making no better time.
There was news about the Fraser River’s big strike, in British Columbia. Ben acquired a horse and headed north but he had arrived too late. Every prospect spot was taken. Food was scarce, especially beef.
Being the young enthusiastic entrepreneur that he was, he thought why not supply the Fraser area with beef? His mind and his heart, told him that being a Cowboy was his destiny. Ben went back to Oregon, hitched up with a cattleman to drive cattle through the Columbia River, to the Fraser mines. While passing through Yakima country he realized it was a cattleman’s paradise, just “awaiting him to exploit and thereby realize upon his recently experienced dream" of living the life of a Cowboy and becoming a cattleman.
The grasses were plentiful he noticed on his return to sustain huge numbers of cattle and horses.
At the age of 19, Ben had found a market, found the lands to produce the almost limitless supply of cattle. With the help of an Oregon cattleman, and because of his reliability & earned respect, he set off on his venture of acquiring the stock and headed to the lands of “Horse Heaven”. His cattle thrived and fattened and in 1856, at age 21, he headed north through the Okanogan country into Kamloops to the Fraser camps. He and an Indian friend drove this herd through dangerous ice filled rivers and over mosquito infested terrain around Oysoyoos Lake, which drove the cattle crazy. Through the miles of hardship, Ben only lost a few cattle before arriving at the Cariboo Mines in Canada. He earned enough money from this trip to pay off his debt to the cattleman Jefferies who helped launch Ben’s dream.
In the following years, Ben acquired massive numbers of cattle and even horses. There was the brutally cruel winters 1861 - 1863 that wiped out tens of thousands of cattle. The smaller cattlemen collapsed and sold their remaining numbers to Ben Snipes.
He had dreams.
Ben acquired land in Seattle and built the first bank in Ellensburg. After a holocaust fire raged through the streets, leaving only rubble of where the bank had been standing, Ben set out to rebuild it[i] of stone, the first stone building there. Soon afterwards, Ben built another bank in Roslyn[ii] for the coal miners.
This bank was robbed in 1892 and Ben lost all of his holdings.
[i] (it still stands in Ellensburg)
[ii] (filming town of TV’s “Northern Exposure”)
Ben was a successful pioneer, who overcame the trials of life in danger's untold, hardships without number and heavy financial losses. With good judgment and persistency of his dreams, he had an unsullied reputation and enjoyed the respect and confidence of a large circle of friends and acquaintances. Ben prospered and gave back to the people, being mindful of the past when he needed help. He knew he had been blessed by having earned trust and respect to allow for the path his future took him.
Ben and his family lived a quiet, simple lifestyle, despite their finacial gains.
They too, had Trials, Tribulations and Tears.
Somehow...we will survive, as we always have.
It probably means having to start all over...in a totally different world to us.
At our age, after all our years of sweat, tears and struggles, it was not something we thought we would ever have to do.
Our end of the agricultural world may not rebound fast enough....