Gypsy Wagon April May 2024

By Betty Jo Gigot  Publisher

Firefighter battle flames from the Smokehouse Creek fire outside Miami, Texas. Photo courtesy Sam Craft/Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications

“I’m tired of writing these disaster stories,” Larry Stalcup said when he submitted his Texas wildfire story. That particular disaster hit really close to home for so many of us who have spent part of our lives in the area. Miami, Canadian and Spearman were all places I spent months, years ago, staying in the local motels, eating plastic-wrapped sandwiches from Allsup’s and getting to know the people who make up the backbone of the Texas cow-calf and feeding industries. Tough and resilient, those people will have to “ride for the brand” one more time with the devastation that has, again, threatened their livelihoods. The fires also cause serious economic stress on the small, rural businesses that depend on agriculture – banks and grocery stores and Alsup’s. We here at CALF News grieve with you and send our words of support.

The only good thing we can say about the floods, fires and droughts that plague us is that the industry always steps up, sending feed, people and money to the areas in need, showing, again, we are the good guys who are helping our neighbors. Love the stories of people handing hay truck drivers credit cards to pay for their fuel, and the tons and tons of hay and other products that have been sent to the ranchers. It doesn’t solve the problems, but it helps.

On to the international front. Will Verboven, our writer from Alberta, Canada, told me that they have had the mildest winter on record up there. (I had to laugh when he said that because I am looking out my window in Castle Rock, Colo., at three feet of snow on my balcony.) He said the trainloads of corn keep arriving in Lethbridge. He went on to say that their cow herd is at its lowest number in 70 years, which, like the United States, is a definite cause for concern. In Rumblings From the Great White North on page 28, he writes about the farmer protests in Europe.

Interestingly, my next email was from David MacKenzie, our writer from the United Kingdom, telling about a conference held there recently. MacKenzie said that the government in Wales is proposing taking 20 percent of all land out of production, with 10 percent going to environmental areas and 10 percent into trees, with no consideration about the size of the businesses on the land. He also said that Denmark is looking at putting a carbon tax on breeding ruminants that could effectively make them economically unviable.

MacKenzie wrote: “Another interesting point that is always made and was certainly shown at the conference I attended was they continually show pictures of American feedlots and use the image under the narrative of not only causing climate change but draining the world’s resources, particularly water.” Yikes!

On a more cheerful note, we obviously have a very talented crew working with us here at CALF News. We recently began running poems and drawings from Chris McClure’s new book, Dust in My Eyes. (A good purchase if you haven’t bought it already.) And in this issue, we will debut cartoons by Patti Wilson, who has been one of our feature writers for many years. Who would have known that she, weekly, draws a cartoon of what is happening on the farm as well as a letter to her grandson, Miles. On page 39 you will find her interpretation of what the CALF News crew was thinking at our booth in the CattleCon Trade Show.

Speaking of CattleCon, in this issue you will find photos of the Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show, as well as coverage from CattleFax’s outlook and the Cattle Feeder’s Hall of Fame (CFHOF) celebration, which was the place to be on Thursday night. Celebrating 15 years, the CFHOF has become one of the convention’s main events. Be sure to vote on next year’s winners on their website.

Have a happy spring.