Soul and conscience


 Reader responses to Linda Hasselstrom’s awfully honest poem about her father’s command to take care of the kittens reveal how little some of those readers understood her words, and how little they know about ranch life (“Heard Around the West,” HCN, 10/30/17). All too often it is urbanites, beleaguered by kittens they are too lazy to deal with, who cause the very issue Hasselstrom must deal with. Ranchers don’t have the time or resources to round up each batch of bewildered, abandoned cats and kittens that have sought refuge in their barnyard. One batch of fixed cats gets followed by a fresh new batch of unfixed cats, and then come yet more kittens, an endless cycle. Ranchers can and do deal with livestock fertility, but they do not have the means for taking care of cat fertility on the farm. Trips to the vet are expensive and time-consuming. The poem expresses the hard choices that are required in an unforgiving landscape — not just regarding kittens, but with livestock injured by predators, poisonous plants, careless hunters, and the myriad other maladies that afflict them. The poem drips with Hasselstrom’s soul and conscience.

Linda Paul
Boise, Idaho

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