Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Zoning out

Today is the kind of day that is enjoyable while it is happening, yet frustrating when reflected upon. I was amazed at how much more time was free today because two groups of cows are no longer being fed hay. I should have used that time in a better manner but I think the stress and physical outlay of last week finally caught up with me. I spent a large part of today discussing life with my sister Angie. I have three younger sisters and Angie is the oldest of them. I enjoyed our time today Ange and my guilt about not getting more work done will fade eventually. Thanks for your time today and thanks for always being solid.

There was really nothing too exciting happened today. I was glad to see one of six cows I bought this past December finally calved. I was mostly excited because she had a black hided calf. Whenever you buy bred cows they are almost always represented as being bred to a black bull but sometimes the calf color will manifest the truth. I often call this situation the “little white lie about a black bull syndrome”. It is more important that the calf be healthy and of good quality but a uniform set of black hided calves is the most sought after at this time. Not saying this is right or wrong to you Red Angus, Charolais or other hide colored breeders, I am just sayin.

Since I had nothing exciting today I decided to post something I ran through my mind today. I have said that I will think or do just about anything rather than be bored. I laugh when people say things like don’t you sometimes just like to “zone out” or sit back and “relax”. I guess this is because some people do not realize you can zone out while driving a tractor or relax while working on a 400 pound summer grass heifer budget. I am not big on paper work but if spending some time crunching numbers can relieve some anxiety and add some security I am all for it. The down side is sometimes the numbers do not look so great. In that case you feel uncomfortable and anxious but in reality you were that way naturally anyway.

I am sure that as rare as it is to run cattle and make money that when it happens you live off it for so long both monetarily and mentally. I have spent some time in different agriculture sectors and saw the great as well as the disaster that can happen. I have watched a semi truck leave an apple orchard carrying $30,000 worth of fruit on a single load. I watched a July hailstorm turn $4.5 million worth of fruit into $0 in the space of 10 minutes back in 1998. I have personally sold potatoes for $200 a ton; I have also given away potatoes and also paid for the trucks to get them out of storage back in 1992. I have sold 500 pound calves in the fall of 1996 for .68 cents per pound. I have sold 500 pound calves in the spring of 2005 for 1.29.

I guess the point I am trying to convey is people in agriculture are resilient people. The people who enter agriculture hoping or planning to get wealthy rarely last long. The people who are willing to trade a way of life for financial riches are usually the type of people and operations that have staying power. My family has always been the latter; we know the risk going in. We know that the great years mean we upgrade our operations a bit and have a few extras. We know that in the bad years you just survive at a base level hoping and trusting in better days ahead. I guess I am lucky in my view of the world. If my family can eat, cover base necessities, pay the bills and survive that is not perfect but it is acceptable. In the good years you do all those and maybe buy the wife some new jewelry and yourself a new pickup.

Many cannot understand why anyone would be willing to live this way especially with the hours and sacrifice. Let me tell you if you have ever watched the sunrise on a frosty spring morning over a group of cow calf pairs, ever seen a group of young calves run down a hill with their tails in the air in the sunshine or watched your child be handed a belt buckle for a champion steer you have seen a little glimpse of what I imagine heaven is like. If that is not enjoyable and allows you to zone out and relax I do not know what would.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the blue wing teal aka Anas discors.

Today’s picture is of a yearling heifer number 9063y that decided to have a seat in the chute Sunday after getting her vaccinations.