Drought-driven water thieves and Brahma bulls | SummitDaily.com
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Drought-driven water thieves and Brahma bulls

Betsy Marston
Heard Around the West

WYOMING

What animal is the size of a car and notorious for tossing cowboys through the air? A 2,000-pound Brahma bull, of course.

Though, at a recent Cody, Wyoming, rodeo, the only way Mongo startled anybody was by sucking on a lollypop. Mongo is just “a big puppy” who doesn’t even know he’s a bull, reports the Cody Enterprise. That makes him unfit to buck and twirl in a rodeo for eight seconds but ideal for standing motionless while as many as three large people sit on his back and pose for a $10 photo.

Mongo’s predecessor, Hollywood, was fired as a photo-op prop last year because his temperament was — to put it mildly — unsuitable: “He hooked a lot of people,” said handler Justin Josey. Mongo never minds posing, as long as he gets to tongue up some treats along with his daily six-gallon dinner of grain.

His favorites? Skittles and Tootsie Roll Pops. Some might see Mongo’s job as boring: “He eats, he sleeps, he stands for an hour, he eats and he sleeps,” said handler Nikki Tate. On the other hand: “His life is not hard.”

CALIFORNIA

Freelance reporter Rob Kuznia came up with a devilish story idea for The Washington Post: He’d ask the residents of Southern California’s super-wealthy Rancho Santa Fe what they thought about the state’s awful drought and the need to conserve water.

Righteous indignation seems the primary response because in its 92-year history, the community has never — ever — faced water rationing. As Steve Yuhas put it, “We’re not all equal when it comes to water. We pay significant property taxes based on where we live.” And Gay Butler, an interior decorator whose water bill averages about $800 a month, demanded: “What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?”

Rancho Santa Fe is nothing if not a bastion of privilege: The median income is $189,000, houses resemble mansions and it’s said that PGA legend Phil Mickelson once requested a separate water meter for his chipping greens. In fact, after Gov. Jerry Brown called on all Californians to reduce water consumption by 25 percent — water use “in Rancho Santa Fe went up by 9 percent.”

But if residents resist this time, the enclave’s water supplier “reserves the right to install flow restrictors,” one of the toughest sanctions available. The crackdown has already caused hardships for homeowners who invested in exotic and thirsty plantings. As one man complained, he’s seen the value of his nine-acre plot “plummet from $30 million to $22 million.”


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