Gypsy Wagon Aug./Sept. 2019

By Betty Jo Gigot, Publisher

My summer “walkabout” started the first of June when Phoenix temperatures headed for triple digits, and Kansas and Colorado beckoned. Ironically, temps have been high everywhere across the country and, boy, is it wet out there. The borrow ditches in northwest Oklahoma were full, and southeast Kansas is as lush as I have ever seen.

From there to Casper, Wyo., where a grandson was married; grass is green, green and a cattleman’s dream. As I write this, the streets of Grand Island, Neb., are flooding and the calamity in Nebraska continues. The bad with the good in agriculture as usual. As you can see from the photo, I did get a chance to stop in at the Hy-Plains Education and Research Center to visit with Tom Jones.

The working title for this issue is “The Art of the Deal” and, as usual, we have covered the waterfront – from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to China to a new brewery in Oklahoma. When you think about marketing in depth, you realize your entire life revolves around either buying or selling. Morning to night, someone is trying to match you to their product, just as we are trying to be sure the world understands the value of our product – beef.

We all realize it is a brave new world out there as we watch the trade renegotiations going on right now, but don’t often think about just how wide the net has been cast. My youngest son reminded me of that in discussing his venture into the world of YouTube. A history buff, he started making videos for fun a year and a half ago. As viewers started responding, he made more. What was a hobby became a vocation and, within a year, The History Guy had a subscriber list of just under 400,000 viewers. It’s a very nice way to make a living and a chance to do something he loves.

As he explained it to me, YouTube works just like owning CALF News. I have a subscription list of 12,000 readers. Our staff sells ads to advertisers who have targeted what you folks need for your business. The advertisers pay us for opening that door. The same works for the high-powered search engines on the internet. The History Guy viewers watch videos on YouTube, and Google keeps track of their interests. They then match their advertising base to those interests and show those ads to specific viewers all over the world, from India to Australia to who knows where.

Along the same lines, I have a niece who runs an eBay store featuring more than 1,600 items. She just began shipping overseas, selling Denver Bronco shirts to customers in France or wherever. Over in eBayland there are thousands of people who sell stuff in thousands of ways. My niece sells branded clothing, while the next guy sells bundles of leftovers from stores that are closing. Another might sell last year’s ballpoint pens by the thousands. There’s something for everybody.

The point is, whether you are selling cattle at the livestock auction, services at the feedyard or beef over the counter, we are all in the business of finding the target and providing a quality, needed product.

As an aside, one of the most admirable parts of the cattle community is the population of self-starting, creative people who throw the dice every day. We are properly proud of the American dream. Likewise, in the case of my son and my niece, the American dream is alive and well for those who take the risks, walk the walk and stay the course.

My top prize for the month in advertising was the sale of a multi-million-dollar property in the Flint Hills of Kansas. The ad listed one of the property’s major selling points was that the huge ranch was unencumbered by buildings. How is that for a lemon to lemonade switch?

On the home front, response to our last issue on trials and triumphs in the cattle business was heartwarming. Our thoughts are still with those trying to recover from the crisis.

Here’s hoping I see you down the road.