A Year in the Life of a Wilderness Ranch
Oregon State University Press, Paperback, 9780870715228, 288pp.
Publication Date: October 1, 1996
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Yamsi, a six-thousand-acre working cattle ranch at the headwaters of the Williamson River in Oregon's Klamath Basin, is the setting for Dayton Hyde's lively meditation on what it means to be a rancher in the West in the late twentieth century. In Yamsi, Hyde records a year on the ranch as the seasons change and the ranch work changes with them. Informed by a sense of responsibility toward those who lived and worked on the land before him - including the Klamath Indians who first called the land home - and those who might one day follow, Hyde struggles to run a family-owned cattle business in an age of corporate agriculture. Hard work and hardships at Yamsi coexist with a dedication to principles of conservation and sound ecology. Hyde describes his efforts to preserve the pine forests and marshes on his privately owned land - and to protect the owl, osprey, eagle, kingfisher, and sandhill crane that these environments support. For Hyde, extensive road building, timber harvests, and fire suppression on the public lands that surround his ranch demonstrate the increasingly important role of private agricultural land to conservation and wildlife. Ranch foreclosures and attacks on the environment have not disappeared in the 25 years since Yamsi was first published. Hyde's book was ahead of its time then; today its message is even more urgent.