The livestock market has gone a lot like the stock market on Wall Street. Only difference is that Broker has a different meaning in rural areas.
About six decades ago the cattle industry was breeding cattle to look compact, short legged, deep bodied and not too heavy. The judges started talking about the ideal animal in those terms but local cattlemen nicknamed them “Watch Fob Cattle.” But if that’s what the market wanted then they could produce it, so they bought those squatty sires, mostly English breeds like Hereford, Angus and Shorthorn and turned them in on their cows. The first thing they discovered was that these squatty bulls were not great sires unless they were clever enough to use a step ladder.
And the cows were mighty cranky so some enterprising animal scientists got around that by artificial insemination, which produced a lot of squatty cows to make the squatty bulls happy. One of Mendel’s laws of genetics is “Like Begets Like.” They kept breeding these cattle until the market changed to demand leaner beef which comes from longer legged, rangy cattle. The whole industry changed except for a few cattlemen who continued to breed these squatty cattle until they got smaller and smaller and now they are marketing them as miniature cattle and everybody should have one for their back yard. They replace the family dog, mow the yard, fertilize the garden, reduce gas emissions, save the environment, and pull a little cart for the grand kids. They can be house broken, sleep in the den, be trained to moo on command, a wonderful conversation piece when company comes over and they are compatible with pot bellied pigs. But, enough about the husbands.
A friend of mine decided to cash in on the miniature craze and drove all the way to far West Texas to buy some miniature cattle. He forked over $3500 for a couple of cows, and then realized he needed a bull. The cheapest one was $12,000, price not negotiable. He thought about that for a while then decided to back out on the deal for the cows. Drat, all sales were final. He decides to use artificial insemination on his two cows.
But he’s in West Texas and lives in East Texas and has no trailer with him. The previous owner suggests shipping them UPS in a crate but he declines that idea, gets some adult diapers and puts them in the back seat of the Lincoln. Somewhere between Fort Davis and Langtry they ate the seat covers off the back and upholstery off both rear doors. A stop at Walmart to buy two muzzles for Great Danes prevented further damage to all but egos. Upon arriving at the ranch he unloads the cows and shows them to neighbors. A fellow rancher sums up local philosophy when he says, “I thought about those miniatures, but I decided to just cut my steaks in half.”
Doc Blakely is a humorist and motivational speaker who resides in Wharton. For more information, visit www.docblakely.com.