Jackson describes his work as a livestock inspector in New Mexico from 1960-1970.
Tape 1, Side A
Jackson's grandparents moved from Indiana to Julesburg, Colorado in 1896. The trip took four months by wagon. His grandfather moved to the Maxwell, N.M. area to help his brother with his livestock business. Land was better and more accessible in New Mexico than land in Colorado. His grandfather purchased additional homesteaded land that had been abandoned by previous owners along the Little Canadian River. Arrowheads found on the ranch were evidence of past occupation by Native Americans.
Jackson's grandfather ran Hereford cattle on the ranch. Gramma grass provided the cattle with protein in their diet. In the years between 1929 and 1934 a grasshopper infestation cleaned out all the gramma grass in the area. The government supplied poison to kill the grasshoppers but the poison also killed the alfalfa roots and fruit trees in the area. Water came from a small reservoir on the ranch, enough to keep the field crop and fruit trees watered, but the stock was watered from the Little Canadian River when the reservoir was low or dried up completely.
At age fifteen, Jackson was working on a neighboring ranch until he married his wife, Ruth. He discusses his ranching career, time spent in the military, drought, and his school years. He describes his brand, where extra ranch labor came from, and the government job his parents had building stock ponds.
Tape 1, Side B
Booms and bust cycles, market fluctuations, and federal programs to aid ranchers during tough times are discussed. Jackson's grandmother sold milk, and he recalls delivering milk before school or in the evenings. Work always came first, and if the work was done then you had time for school. Hogs were raised on the ranch, and he recalls the sugar cured hams that hung in the earth cellar where potatoes, onions and canned goods were stored.
Tape 2, Side A
Jackson tells the story of a rancher who was murdered over a fence dispute. As drought conditions worsened many people abandoned their homesteads to work in factories connected to the war effort. It was a way for them to make more money than they could if they were ranching. He believes that the greatest impact on the ranch industry in the past has been when ranchers could not repay their loans and simply abandoned the land. He states that the industry has changed a lot over the years, and feels that ranchers are more highly educated now than in the past. This fact does not make the life of a rancher easier though, because they still have to deal with new laws and environmental issues.
Tape 2, Side B
The importance of checking brands as a way to control cattle rustling requires a lot of "man hours." Roadblocks are often set up to check for brands and proper certifications. The New Mexico brand laws are "the best in the country" and many other states look to our system as a model for their own brand laws. The computer age has made it easier for the inspector to do his job. In our state, all brands must be recorded and registered with the Livestock Board.
Tape 3, Side A
How to dispose of unwanted wild horses and the closing of slaughter houses in the state is briefly discussed. The only way that ranchers will survive is to keep working on the efforts to improve the industry today. Jackson believes that ranchers need to "keep doing what they are doing now." Fuel and feed costs, and environmentalists are pushing ranchers away from something that feeds the generations, he says. "The younger generation is going to hurt in the future."