Montanans: Dependence or Independence?

Montana IS the last best place. “The trailhead to the West”… we are actually the bulk of the remaining Old West in America. Montanans are known to be self-regulating, trailblazing, get-your-laws-off-me sort of people. They prefer to do it themselves, as befits the progeny of the pioneers and cattlemen who first settled this area.

Montana likewise draws those sort of people from other states, much to native Montanans chagrin I’m sure, but those of us who weren’t blessed enough to be born here got here as quickly as we could. We are proud of the Montana heritage and appreciate our adoptive state.

This very independent-minded pioneer spirit is why I find it so confusing that Billings, Montana has a few residents (and a few elected officials) who are so adamant against giving us the right to raise a few hens in our own backyards. Seriously? They find it somehow better and more admirable to trundle up to the grocery or big box store to fork over greenbacks for eggs, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce. Ignoring entirely the sheer and scientifically provable inferiority of those store-bought versions of what we can actually produce ourselves, the fact that they are willing to be told what they can eat by the grocery store chain (probably home-based in New Jersey) is just absolutely confusing.

The whole thing just strikes me as, well, laziness. Sure, it’s easier to go buy something ready-made, even if it is of known lesser quality. But does “easier” make it right? Is it right to be willing to sit back and accept the horrific and inhumane living conditions of battery-cage hens, to pay good money for chemical-laden produce shipped from thousands of miles away, or to prevent ourselves and our neighbors from having the ability to produce some of our own foods in an urban setting, simply because it is easier?

There is a whole Chicken Little “the sky is falling! The sky is falling!” mentality with these folks. From worst-possible-case-scenarios to just blatant disdain to the point of hatred, they are willing to use any excuse to try to browbeat others into submission. “Line up and take your handout like the rest of us, quit trying to do something better with your life!” This is not our heritage, Montana.

I guarantee that when our forefathers started packing the wagons and saddling the horses to head out to Montana, they heard a lot of their neighbors squawking about how much easier it is to stay in “civilization” where there are grocery stores and butcher shops. And as we can see from looking at any current census map, there are many more folks in our United States who decided against trying their own hand at providing for themselves and their families, and chose to stay with the crowd where they could be safe. But for the million-or-so there are of us in this great state, being told where to live and what to eat and what we can do with our own property wasn’t acceptable when it was the 1800’s, and it isn’t acceptable now. You don’t want to get a pair of gloves on and grow your own vegetables or raise a few hens? Fine. You’ll keep Walmart in business. But for those of us who do… keep your laws off our hens!

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