Gypsy Wagon – June/July 2018

By Betty Jo Gigot, Publisher

As I write this, the lava is flowing into the ocean across Hawaii’s Big Island coast, spreading havoc as it goes. Among our family lore is the story of when I went into labor with my first child. It was a long, drawn-out affair, so much so that I had time to read all 937 pages of James Michener’s book Hawaii. Yes, I am a fast reader. Typical of Michener, the first hundred pages described how one volcano after another erupted from the sea floor until, eventually, there was land – a little group of islands created by Pele, the goddess of fire, lightening, wind, dance and volcanoes. Well, Pele is on another tear, hopefully for only a little while.

Meanwhile, as Pele is adding land to the island, she is adding words to the English dictionary. My antenna really went up when I saw the headline, “Dangerous Vog Predicted for Island.”

“For heaven’s sake, how can you misspell fog?” I asked myself. Wrong. It turns out that “vog” is smog or haze created when moisture is present and mixes with dust and gases from a volcano. As of yesterday, they were expecting “laze,” or lava haze. As my Amazon Alexa says, “It is good to learn every day.”

Have you noticed that the freefall of words is also on an uptick politically? Last week, one political candidates accused his opponent of being “neurologically flexible.” After due consideration, I still couldn’t decide of he was trying to insult or compliment his opponent. Was he saying the other guy was a flip-flopper or a creative thinker? However, I did know what he was talking about when he next said that his opponent was morally flexible!

As I get ready to wander off on my summer “escape the heat” tour of Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska with a jog up to St. Louis to see my youngest son, I hope to see many of you on the way. Speaking of my son Lance Geiger, do me a favor and check out his YouTube channel, “The History Guy: Five Minutes of History.” He started it a year ago in his basement and the site now has almost 20,000 viewers. His snippets of history will add a little knowledge to your day, in an amusing way.

The first stop on my trip will be the 50th anniversary celebration of Beef Empire Days in Garden City, Kan. Talk about something to celebrate – think about the live shows and cookouts and parades and pride that has gone into that homegrown event dedicated to the cattle-feeding industry. Ever since Earl Brookover built a feedyard on the edge of town and painted the words “EAT BEEF KEEP SLIM” on the top of his grain elevators, Garden City has recognized the value of cattle feeding to the region and done it up right.

The lead story in this issue by Chris McClure connects the dots on the making and marketing of our ultimate product, beef, which we all know is much more complicated than our consumers comprehend. New to our writing team this issue is Shawn Walter of AgStrata who writes about managing variability for profitability. Jim Whitt reports on the Sustainability Summit, and ServiTech has joined us with a column each issue. Please read Will Verboven’s View from up North column. With trade negotiations ongoing, Will provides a unique perspective from Canada’s beef industry. I also hope you are enjoying our spotlight on youth with our Young Stockman and 4-H Diary columns. They are our future. And as I reminisce about W.D. Farr in Recollections, a nostalgic look at the past is in order. Enjoy and I hope to see you on my summer travels.