Back in 2013, James Galvin wrote a well-received western novel called Fencing the Sky. This post has only a slight connection to it–a writing prompt from a Zoom-hosted small group of local writers in southwestern New Mexico.
This will likely be the extent of it, but who can say.
Big Sky Country—where the well-off buy land to get away from it all. And to have great views. Views of mountain peaks and more. One would never think anyone would be concerned with air rights, the ability to add on stories to a house or have unobstructed views without interference from neighbors. Neighbors are mostly far away in Montana. Still, some folks might want to ensure they had unrestricted rights of that big sky over their acreage. That’s what popped into the head of one entrepreneur. Thus, was born BS Fencing.
“Look, Jane, there’s our fence—20,000 miles up in the sky over our ranch,” Bill was thrilled when he saw the gossamer fibers glistening in the morning sun.
“Seriously, you can see the wires from here?” she shared his enthusiasm, though she doubted the reality of a nanoparticle-formed fence.
“Yes, right here on the screen. They have a feed from a ground station for all the landowners, tuned to each geolocation. Shows up shiny when the Sun’s overhead and little different at night, when the fence is illuminated through the optical fiber.”
“Wow, cool. Hard to believe they can put that orbital fence up from that space elevator transport station!”
“Well, that’s technology for you. For just $25 a month we can see our fence anytime. Anybody messing with our view, they’ll let them know it’s our space they’re violating. Course, it’s us that must take action on it. They don’t enforce the rights for us.”
“Yeah, I guess that could run some serious money with lawyers and all. But a warning should be enough.”
“That’s what I figured.”
The fence package was an addon that came with the Big Sky Country land package. Fifty-thousand acres subdivided into 50-acre parcels, with water, solar and satellite internet available for a reasonable fee. The agent said she didn’t make any commission on the fence package—it was just a special that the owner was offering. All she knew was the name of the company—BS Fencing. She passed along the brochure—got a lot of takers too.
The landowner assembled the acreage for himself, planning on a combo preservation deal where he could have an easement to graze cattle where that worked and ski chalets on the mountain sections. After the people got tired of cow pies everywhere and rutty roads he gave up on that plan. The ski slopes were nothing like Vail or Aspen either. That’s when he broke the acreage back down and put the whole thing on the market. He planned on moving to Alaska—a bigger frontier.
BS Fencing—one might assume it stood for Big Sky. Not really. The entrepreneur that came up with it was a software engineer with a larcenous streak. Started out as a hacker but the Feds and the White Hats were always after him. Cybersecurity was a hassle even for hackers. That’s when he heard about the land package. He had an inspiration one night smoking some good stuff from neighboring Colorado. Knowing what he did about satellite tech, he knew he could produce the content. All he had to do is sell it.
No problem creating the feed. He made a deal with an orbiting communication satellite. Just like all the content providers, they could shoot his fence images to subscribers for a small piece of the monthly fee. All he needed was a good brochure and a small, really small, sales staff.
It all went well until some retired engineer bought a parcel. He wasn’t taking the addon. He was calling them up though. He saw through the name right away—this is all a bunch of Bull he told the guy on the phone. He knew there was no way they could be doing what they said they were. BS Fencing soon was no more. Off to another scam somewhere else.