Just rambling thoughts about anything that happens to be on my mind and that usually isn't much!
This blog best viewed with IE4 or greater and tongue in cheek

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Foot and Mouth disease

Foot and mouth disease is a very deadly malady in the livestock industry.  It was eradicated many years ago in the US and Canada through quarantine and destruction of diseased herds.  It recently has become a national security concern again because of terrorist threats due to the viruses explosive onset.  Also due to the mobility of cattle in today's markets, it could bring widespread economic losses to our meat supply in a matter of days if the virus was introduced virtually anywhere in the US, Canada or Mexico.
However that is not what this blog is about .... this blog is about the salesman's malady of opening mouth and inserting foot!  Let me explain:
A few days ago I happen to run into a rancher fixing fence along a dirt road down in the Osage.  Now I have been trying for this man's business for several years and seen an opportunity here to continue building my relationship with him.  Now I had some knowledge of personal facts, one was that he was very proud of his daughter studying in college to be a doctor, so when a very young woman came walking along the fence to where we were talking, I extended my hand in introduction.
"You must be the daughter, Shelly" I said, proud of myself for remembering her name and hoping to impress the rancher.  "How's college life?"
"That's my wife, Sarah." was the rather curt correction from the rancher.
OK here was a missed fact, the rancher was divorced and remarried.  (And to a much younger woman.)  Needless to say I didn't gain any points on that call.
Another similar episode happened when I made a call on a rather young couple with two young children.  As the young rancher and I discussed mineral needs for the summer program, his wife joined us carrying coffee.  She was clad in tight low riding wranglers and a tight cotton knit shirt covering a protruding midsection. 
Not wanting to "overlook" the obvious I stated, "Congratulations!  Steve never told me.  When are you due?"
"I'm not pregnant." was the icy riposte.
When cattle are diagnosised with foot and mouth disease they are immediately destroyed and the carcasses buried.  It's fairly similar with a salesman.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Cowboy or Cattleman

"I'm a cowboy, Pappy!" stated Andrew after returning from feeding the cows, sporting his western style hat.
"A cowboy or a cattleman?" I asked. 
"What's the difference?" asked a confused grandson.
Well now at 6 years old, maybe that difference is somewhat a moot point.  But for someone like myself (who has spent a lifetime in animal agriculture and in "fly over country") there is a difference.  So I set out to explain, "A cowboy is a chosen lifestyle, a cattleman is a profession.
"Cowboys" I went on to explain, "may or may not be in animal agriculture as a profession.  They may drive trucks; drill for oil; dig ditches; CEO's of major companies; or may even be president of the United States.  Cowboys have as their heroes people like John Wayne, Hoss Cartwright or maybe Will Rogers; men known for standing on the right no matter the consequences and are known for shooting from the hip with extraordinary accuracy.   They remove their hats and stand when the flag passes by in review.  They'll take off their hats and bow their head when a prayer is said.  Their closest kin is a redneck and they're proud of it.
"A cattleman on the other hand is a profession and he is probably a cowboy at heart.  He can guess the weight of a steer in an auction ring within 10 lbs before the scale can settle.  If he comes up one short on his cow tally, he can look over the group and tell you which one is missing, how many calves she has had and probably what bull she was bred to this year.  He goes out in a blizzard to see that the cows are fed, cuts ice holes to see she is watered and works long hours in the heat of summer to keep fences fixed and hay baled.  He's not a member of PETA and finds disgusting anyone who believes he would mistreat the animals under his care.
  "Huh?" responded Andrew.
Someday he'll understand.
PS: To those who wrote emails and left comments recently during my "block" with concerns, suggestions and words of encouragement ... thank you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ranching worries

The facts I am about to tell you are true.  Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent ..... that is assuming that at least one of those at the liars table each morning is innocent, which is doubtful.
With inputs such as fertilizer, fuel, feed and mineral prices reaching all time highs, talk around the liars table at morning coffee has been rather disheartening.  Economic losses from cattle are expected to equal or surpass that of the mid 70's when losses were upwards of $200 per head coming out of the feedyards.  Losses from the feedyards now are in the $3-400 area, which if you take into account the value of the dollar, is quite similar.
Now for those of you who are historically challenged (or too young to remember) let me reiterate some facts; a long costly war was coming to a close; an election year was approaching; an economic slowdown/recession was the headlines of each paper; fuel had reached an all time high; climatologist of the day were warning of an approaching ice age; Democrats controlled the House and Senate and a Republican was in the White House.  (am I having déjà vu?)   And the ranchers I now drink coffee with each morning were 20-25 years old and owned nothing.
We now slip from the past to the present:  "I should have done something other than cattle ranching!" Clyde said to start the morning session, "I should have been a chicken rancher."
With that statement Chester gave a snort, "You'd made a great chicken rancher!  Now why would you want to raise chickens?"
"Well," Clyde began as he defended his statement, "you only feed them until they weigh 4 or 5 pounds instead of 12-1400.  So it seems to me you couldn't loose more'n 50 cents a head."  That brought a round of nods around the table showing agreement with Clyde's math.
"Nothing preventing you from starting now is there?" asked Chester.
"You know," replied Clyde, "I hadn't thought about that, but there's an idea.  Want to pardner with me?"
"Are you serous?" a surprised Chester retorted.
"Now think about it," continued Clyde.  "We could get us a few hundred chickens and get them good an fat.  Then go on one of those TV info-mercials as a way of selling out our steers."
Chester is now staring at Clyde with a wrinkled brow thinking his rancher buddy has his hat on a little tight.  "We could do like that ole boy that's always selling stuff on TV.  The 'Wait, that's not all' guy.  Put a picture of a steer on there.  Tell about all the cuts of beef he'll produce.  Price him and then say 'Wait!  That's not all.  Buy now and get a free chicken!'"
Who knows .... might actually work

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Writers Block

It's been a while since I had a post.  To those of you who wrote concerned with my well being, I thank you for your concern.  To those of you who thought maybe aliens had abducted me, nope, I'm still here.  And to those of you who think I AM an alien, the jury is still out on that one.  I'm just experiencing a bad case of "writers block".  I can't seem to come up with anything to write about, idea to expound on and even the Warden has been being nice to me for a change.


I have considered topics with such titles as "Spring Fever or Spring Fervor", "The Political Abyss", "Coffee Shop Blues", "Truth and Consequences", "Buy a Beef; Get a Free Chicken" to mention a few.  However, after selecting the title and rewriting the first paragraph a dozen or so times, I'd just give up.  The words just wouldn't roll.


Now this is concerning to me because I'm a salesman by trade and any salesman at a loss of words and ideas soon get's hungry!   I have to have an idea to take to a producer based on what I know is important to him; pique his interest with particulars, information or details; and then convince him my products will adequately satisfy his situation.  


Actually the same thing has to happen when writing a blog if the reader is to finish reading the story and come back.  There in lies the problem: I don't know what's important to the readers of this blog.  Therefore I use the "shotgun" approach hoping that one shot will hit the bull's eye occasionally.  (And there is no greater example of the shotgun approach than this blog!)


I have written a wide variety of stories; some truthful, some emotional, some with embellished facts and some total fabrications.  I have written concerning politics, work experiences, friends, family and marriage.  I have written at times to try to rouse sentiment and thought; to generate comedy and delight; and at times to create a testimonial with absurdity or wittiness.


Now comes the reason for this blog (as in the sales cycle, you ask for the order).  I am asking for your help; please leave me a comment at the bottom of this blog so that I might write things that are more fitting to your desires.