I’m wrapping up a visit to Phoenix, Ariz., this week. My wife and I came to see our youngest son, who moved here in November, and to see if the Southwest might be a place we’d like to live someday, at least during the winter.
The jury’s out on our future home, but I am sure about one thing – I wouldn’t want to operate a ranch here.
The news here is filled with the story of Rob Krentz, 58, who operated a 35,000-acre cattle ranch south of Douglas, Arizona, on the Mexican border. He recently was shot and killed while out on his land. Authorities suspect an illegal immigrant, possibly one involved in the drug trade, murdered him. No one has been arrested.
Krentz sounded like a lot of Dakota ranchers I’ve met. Press reports said he was soft spoken and well liked in his community. A third-generation rancher with a wife of 33 years and three grown children, Krentz had a reputation for caring for people, including the immigrants crossing his ranch to jobs in Tucson and Phoenix. He only called the Border Patrol when it looked like someone needed medical help. He went everywhere with his dog.
But the similarities with Dakota ranchers stop there. This is clearly different country than the Dakotas, and I’m not talking about the terrain and the weather.
The Associated Press reported that when Krentz went missing his neighbors assumed he had been robbed and was stranded someplace in the desert.
When authorities found Krentz, they saw he had been shot. But apparently he had driven his vehicle a ways before collapsing. His gun was still in his holster. His slayer even killed his dog.
We may have challenges ranching in the Dakotas. The winters can be brutal. Spring storms can take a good part of the calf crop. But at least Dakota ranchers don’t have to strap on a holster before going out to check the cows.
There’s something to be said for a peaceful border. I hope it remains that way.