What’s Next On the Front Burner?

By Blaine Davis, Contributing Editor

I can’t believe that 2022 is nearly one-quarter gone and another deadline has caught me with writer’s block and indecision to what is now on the “front burner.” For the past two years, we are weary of everything COVID related and its related political panic. Now moving to the front burner, its replacement is world tensions and a Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine. Our present administration, with its track record of failures and indecisiveness, wants us now to accept that the supply chain/inflationary/national security scenario is all the fault of one man of Russian descent.

Climbing on my soap box, I believe that one man actually resides in our White House and it began with the stroke of his pen killing the Keystone Pipeline. Since January, 2021 petroleum, the life-blood of our economy, prices have escalated to what now approaches 60 percent or more, and what we previously produced at home is now succumbing to imports from countries I don’t trust. This can only add to national security issues and not only a transfer of wealth.

Closer to the ranch, fertilizer prices have increased upwards of 300 percent, with seed and chemical costs following suit. Factor in the costs of diesel to power tractors and harvesting equipment. Fortunately, as I have written before, we are members of a self-help farmer-owned natural gas supply system. With our system, we have hedged gas supplies through crop year 2026. With the future looking at exports of liquified natural gas to Europe and other world locations to alleviate their dependence on supplies from potential enemy states, another of farming’s inputs will escalate. With the recent run-up of the commodity markets, I did forward contract both wheat and corn crops for prices I had never seen before; ironically, it probably only covers this “transitory” inflation, whatever that means. Consequently, farming is still a gamble, maybe with bigger odds than I have witnessed.

The past several months, I have bit the bullet at the gas pump and traveled to the Texas Gulf Coast twice for homeowner improvement projects and some beach time, witnessed my Colorado granddaughter and her cheerleading squad capture a championship in Denver and, in Kansas, I attended many of my two grandsons’ soccer and basketball games. Throw in a trip to New Mexico for some business-related meetings and I have seen miles and miles of asphalt – like my singer/songwriter hero, Robert Earl Keen, sings of “the road goes on forever.”

While these roads do seem to go on forever, they are fortunately punctuated by one of my favorite things that spurned the jest and title of this column – ranch gates. From the deep, south Texas’ elaborate, often of native stone masonry, and the ornate metalwork of artistic blacksmiths found just outside of Wichita, Kan., to simple iconic steel green gates with the central vertical yellow stripe found in New Mexico, my trips have been rewarded with such vistas.

As I finish this column, my local gas pump has reached nearly $4 per gallon and, next to it, diesel is more than $5. The “road that goes on forever” may just come to an end, not only for me but for everyone who relies on driving for their occupation or just getting to their occupation. Thinking I would spend much more time off the road took another hit and, adding to my frustration, my local morning coffee spot raised my cup of joe 60 percent, just this morning.