Monthly Archives: September 2014

Culling the Herd

When my dad decided to turn the outfit over to me, I thought at first his head was going to explode. You see for the last thirty years, and for forty years before him, the philosophy on this ranch was to keep as many cows as the range would support, with the idea that more cows meant more calves, and more calves meant more money in our pockets. However soon as I was old enough to check the range, I began to notice a few things. First of all in the quest for maximum numbers, we were cutting corners on the quality of the females we were keeping for replacement stock; conformity went by the wayside, and we were ending up with all shapes and sizes of cows, resulting in a very uneven and unpredictable set of calves for market. The result being instead of top dollar at the sales, cattle buyers were beginning to bid way less for the calves we offered– and our overall income began to shrink. This led to overstocking the range with even more inferior cows to make up the lost returns.
A vicious cycle; subtle at first but breaking out in full bloom about twenty years ago. We found ourselves in a huge, deadly bind. Poor cows led to poor calves, leading to even poorer cows being introduced; degrading our end product even further. All of a sudden, another problem arose: cows that weren’t even fertile, and went year after year not even breeding- we even had cows so sorry that they would not mother the calves they DID have, and the calves would be found dead on the prairie from starvation or downright abuse. Things still devolved from bad to worse; we did not have the money for decent bulls, and the quality of our calf crop dropped even further, as we went shopping for “anything that had horns and balls” as my wife would complain. Very soon, when I took over, things hit bottom.
Our banker of the last few decades retired, and they hired a new fellow fresh out of banker school. He had pouffy hair and shiny slippers for shoes; a real dandy- but some of the things he told us were very true, and he backed up his observations with action. “Boys “ he started, “I know I am new, and you will probably hate me for saying this, but your business is a wreck; your expenses keep rising and your income is spinning down the drain- in a few more years we will not finance you for operation, unless you begin to turn things around…. NOW.”
That is when my dad’s neck turned purple, and I knew that when it reached his eyes it would not be a pretty sight; but I was relieved because I was in charge now, and I was in complete agreement with the new bag of money sitting in front of us. I knew exactly what to do- it was going to hurt in the short run, but in the long run it was our only way to survive. It was time to cull the herd.
First to go were the cows who did not calve; next the ones that would abuse or starve their calves by being poor mothers. Next were the cows that did not conform to the way a cow should perform in terms of efficiency and in terms of overall appearance—uniformity is critical when it comes to producing a predictable growth set of calves that will outperform their counterparts: for a calf is no calf unless it does what it is supposed to do- grow fast and efficiently and produce red meat for the consumer.
The herd was tight and right; but it hurt -our calf crop was cut in half. However our net income was only cut by 40%- and that was in the first year. The weirdest thing was, my dad was most upset when he went to town, and had to listen to the coffee coolers talk about how the great Gut Hook outfit was now smaller than their neighbors…. It seems perception to some was more important than production and survivability. But not to me and the family; a smaller, bust superior set of cattle was going to slowly expand and fill back up to where it was decades ago; the best ranch in the valley, with reputation livestock and an outfit that we could be proud of, while others would try to emulate. We were on our way, and the pain of our past catching up to us, was in the end the best thing that could have ever happened.

Advertisements

The End of the String– Selective Procreation

Atheist Press (AP). It was a morning like any other when Doris Macaulay had her inspiration which subsequently has swept through the hallowed halls of higher academia, altering the major constructs of philosophy. “It just seemed to me to make sense” Doris modestly asserts, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about, but I am glad that people are finally starting to feel the way I do.”  Doris is a High School History and Ethics teacher in a bustling metropolis on the West Coast. For years she had been wrestling with certain ideas pertaining to right and wrong, being part of her “professional development” as she likes to put it.

 “Grading papers has an ethereal quality about it, and I like to try and enter an altered state in order to try and truly see what my students wish to convey, regardless of the outmoded constructs of western thought, which is so passé“. Doris, a single mom of three, rises to almost any challenge; juggling her offspring with her career has been one of those problems she has overcome .  “My children love their daycare providers, and every evening when I get to finally see them as they lay sleeping, I feel so fulfilled, because now I can really see that I am making a difference in their future, and the future of so many others like them.”

 Doris has quantified the next step in our brave new world and has been the acclaimed leader in the political/social movement started by her followers. “We must be bold and unswerving in our quest for acceptability among those who wish to destroy or hurt us—we will soon be mainstream, just like our pioneer brothers and sisters in the fight for freedom, equality and justice”.  It is not just Doris either; some of the most respected and intelligent beacons of light and reason are rallying to her cause. Peter Singer, the renowned Princeton professor, is said to be sympathetic to her cause: “Selective Procreation.”  “None of us can count on the vagaries of romance, lust or compatibility to advance the onward march of the coming generations” is her rationale. “Lust can be channeled thanks to the recent legalization of the sex worker industry in the United States, and with our wondrous capability for innovation and creativity, there can be no end to the exciting pursuit of physical pleasure.  We can prevent every unwanted pregnancy, but now it is time for us to mandate legally the act of child bearing… after all, since the government raises every child now, it has a vested interest in who it is going to raise.”

Even now the pioneers of this movement are setting up genetic panels in each State to give the citizens access to the latest mating data. Thanks to the recent interest in genealogy, superior lines can be identified and paired with their corresponding best match. “We have been doing this with animals for generations, it is time we take the leap to the Human Race “, intones Doris. “Margaret Sanger has nothing on Doris!” gushes one of her most ardent acolytes. “Just think; a world of beautiful, healthy smart people- no more stupid people, or stupid ideas!”

 Doris is not finished there; her next project, kept under wraps for fear of a “population not quite ready for such a revolution in human history”, is rumored to be a type of cleansing and expropriation of those genetic lines determined to be going nowhere. With all of her new ideas, it might be thought that Doris is bereft of a spiritual side; not at all. Doris considers herself a Faithful Catholic and attends services at least once a year.  “The Church is beauty, and we can dispense of beauty can we? After all, a few misogynist men throughout the course of the millennia are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the force of new ideas and new ways of expressing humanity”. Doris points out that while the Catholic Church she professes to belong to may be outmoded, she states that,” Paul IV  and John Paul II were just misguided old men; well-meaning but misguided; Humanae Vitae?… Are you serious?”