Friday, September 3, 2021
Thursday, September 2, 2021
Thursday, August 26, 2021
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
I know this is not the first time I've led off with the photograph of a Longhorn. They are picturesque critters and I enjoy seeing the colorful beasts in the pasture. This one is in fact a Corriente Cross cow and not a pure Longhorn -- whatever such might be.
She grazes the Great Southern Plains
Not know how symbolic she stands
Of an era dimmed with age.
Trailed up from the brush
To markets the railways had reached
On their transcontinental quest
Of a country just beginning to feel
The strength of the mightly economic engine
Swelling with power of imagination
Of bewildered tribes who found a new enemy
Much stronger than their ancestral nemises
With whom they had fought for ages.
As well as those left behind
In the growing cities where
Food must be imported from elsewhere.
As the American Bison
And the painted natives
That she helped to displace.
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Monday, August 23, 2021
Saturday, July 4, 2020
Thursday, March 26, 2020
As a few of you might have noticed, I took a break from posting. I suppose you could say I have been socially distant in this particular medium.
Social distancing is really nothing new for me; I am perfectly happy where there are few people and far horizons. I've even been told that I am sometimes socially distant in a crowded room. Oh, well.
This SARS-CoV-19 global pandemic is something new, but also something old. Viruses periodically mutate and sometimes move between species (zoonosis). That is the most likely explanation for what has happened. It is something we will see more frequently as this old planet fills up with people. Densely packed populations facilitate the spread of disease. The answer is social distancing -- spreading apart.
Dense populations -- whether they be temporary or, somewhat permanent -- are also sources of panic behavior. It's that old "crowd" mentality that causes people to bolt for the door when someone yells "fire!" In this case, it caused a run on the grocery stores which has temporarily created holes in our amazing system of supply chains which rarely miss a beat. The massive nature of the shift of consumer demand from "restaurant dining" to eat at home caught the entire system somewhat by surprise. There is plenty of food -- at least in the developed countries -- it is just in the wrong place, but that is rapidly being corrected.
I'm thankful to live in a small town rather than a city. Even in our rural setting there are signs of disruption. We have also had our first case of the disease confirmed. It will eventually pass through the population of the planet. It won't infect everyone, but it will touch most of the people in some form or fashion -- from a disease perspective, not just as a disruption to life as we know it.
The biggest fear that I have out of this entire episode of disruption is the amount of power that is being displayed by governmental entities all over the world. That is a genie that will not be put back in the bottle.
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
"I'm sure there's a good reason we are all standing here looking at the gate, but I can't for the life of me figure out what it might be!"
That's what I thought when I saw this picture from a few years ago -- that's what's going through at least one of those cow's heads -- or, it would if they could reason. It brought to mind "group think."
We all know about "group think." It happens when a bunch get together and someone makes a suggestion. The next thing you know, everyone is "piling on" to the idea and it gains a life of its own. Politicians exploit that tendency. They, or some political operative, plant suggestions and "suddenly" everyone agrees! Some examples are "meatless Monday," "taco Tuesday," "Epstein killed himself" -- which, by-the-way, I doubt very seriously (did you catch how I inverted that last one?).
It is easier to follow a suggestion than it is to think independently. We are lazy. We are trained to "group think" -- it's called public education. We are indoctrinated from our earliest years to think and behave as part of a group. We stand at the gate and wait for the government to "give" us benefits which came out of what they extracted from us already in the form of taxes. In spite of the rhetoric -- especially from one political party which is quickly morphing into socialism -- the wealthy will never pay "their fair share" of taxes. It is the poor and middle class which carry the tax burden and it is the wealthy who gain the largest benefit -- especially the subset of the wealthy who claim to be the salvation of the poor and downtrodden.
The whole impeachment debacle almost exposed what is really a "cash cow" for politicians -- foreign aid. Much of it is funneled through NGO's (non-government organizations) that are supposedly established for charitable purposes. More of it is sent directly to foreign governments that are filled with corrupt politicians (yes, even more corrupt than our own) who find creative ways to funnel it into their personal bank accounts -- such as state-owned businesses. Both methods frequently have plenty of siphons stuck in that lead right back to family members, "non-profit" foundations or, corporations owned or, controlled by the very politicians that authorized the aid in the first place.
Most folks that lead normal lives which include a job and a paycheck don't realize how much money is actually flowing around this planet. The amounts are astounding. There is so much money lying around Europe right now that the banks charge customers to hold their deposits. Yes, that is correct. It's not just an issue of low interest rates on savings over there, it's a case of the banks charging customers to keep their money. Oh, yeah, it's in the hands of that top 1% than controls the bulk of the wealth. The politicians around the globe are quite familiar with that crowd and work closely with them to make sure they get a piece of that wealth for "protecting" it from unfriendly laws while fleecing the citizen taxpayers of their countries in the process.
Yep, I'm making lots of accusations here and not really offering any proof. If I had the proof and could lay it out I'd probably end up like Epstein. I'm not too excited about that prospect. My point is simply this, don't follow the sheep (or, cows) through the gate. It might just be the loading ramp to the truck on its way to the harvest. The politicians own and operate the plant in a very efficient manner. They are the only ones who will profit from the transaction -- oh, and their very wealthy buddies.
There is a difference between the two political parties in spite of the fact that both have similar goals in mind; the elephants give you a chance to earn your way into the club, but the donkeys just want you to wear chains and pull the plow. I'd rather have a chance -- no matter how small.
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
This is from a few years ago and is among my favorite images. I find it interesting how the curiosity is strong on both sides of the fence.
Agriculture is something that is little appreciated by most people these days. Social media has been completely crazy with how one of the current Presidential candidates gave a speech a few years ago to a group of highly educated, full-of-themselves individuals, in which he implied that it didn't take much intelligence to be in agriculture. In fact, that speech (follow the link to see the article which includes the video) was given at about the same time the above image was taken.
The speech has been taken out of context in such a way that everyone in agriculture has gotten angry rather than thought about what was said. Essentially, he indicated that civilization has evolved through time from what was, for most of history, an agrarian culture to an industrialized economy and now we are in the middle of a technology-based information economy. He was correct, but his comments leave one wondering if he truly understands the amount of information and technology that are utilized in agriculture today.
Take that bunch of cows in the image above; they were from a registered herd of Angus that have been carefully selected for over 60 years to produce efficient, fertile, highly versatile animals that provide us with some of the highest quality meat in history. Each animal is carefully measured in many ways, the data collected, collated and compared against their genetic scores which are developed from genomic testing. They are rigorously selected based on stringent criteria so that only the best animals are allowed to produce breeding stock for future generations.
They are fed protein and mineral supplements that are carefully formulated to meet the nutritional requirements that the animals cannot attain from forage alone. They are vaccinated to prevent disease. They are cared for using scientifically-based methods that reduce the amount of stress to which they are subjected. The forage they eat is also managed based on best scientifically proven practices.
That's just a small part of agriculture -- raising cattle on a ranch. I won't even address what happens when they head up the production chain to eventual harvest and presentation in the meat case at your local supermarket. Technology is everywhere.
When you look at farming it gets even crazier. The tractors are guided by computers to precisely apply the correct amounts of seed, fertilizer, etc. based on satellite images. The seeds which are planted are frequently the result of advanced breeding techniques -- including genetic manipulation to enhance disease, chemical and pest resistance. We have more and better quality food than ever before in history -- thanks to the application of technology to agriculture -- and it costs virtually the same as it did 50+ years ago!
The candidate in question mentions the brainpower required to farm vs. work in a factory vs. create the technology which is so pervasive in society today. I should introduce him to the rocket scientist I know who ranches in Arizona. He truly is a rocket scientist -- used to work at NASA. Or, maybe he should meet some of the scientists unraveling the genetic code which determines disease resistance. Oh, wait, those are scientists. Yep, I have worked with them most of my career. They may be able to manipulate a gene, but most of them have no clue how their work impacts the real world. They are isolated in their cocoon of technology of which they know much, but they don't know what to do with it much of the time.
I think, ultimately, that is the issue. I call it intellectual snobbery. It happens in every field of endeavor. I've seen it in many, many scientific and engineering fields -- and I've seen it in agriculture. It goes something like this: "If you don't have a PhD in blah, blah, blah, there is no way you can understand it. You obviously don't have the intelligence to be able to comprehend it, or you would have a PhD in blah, blah, blah." Sometimes it isn't just a PhD -- with Engineers it is simply a degree in Engineering -- and they have ranks. I think Aerospace is at the top and Civil is at the bottom. Each believes if you "aren't one of us, you ain't nothing."
Back to agriculture -- "If you try to learn how to ranch after a career in something else, you had better be prepared to fail." "If you didn't grow up in it you will never be able to master it." Those are incorrect too.
Getting back to the article: I don't like the candidate mentioned in the article. Period. I think he would be worse for our country than most of the others. Just look at the problems in his state and you should agree. We shouldn't blast him for what was said, though. Instead, we should realize that what he said is a symptom of something deeper. The average person, or the self-proclaimed intellectual elite has no idea about what is involved in production agriculture. Most of them don't even know what is necessary to get the food to their table. Billionaire Presidential candidates probably have large staffs that take care of it for them anyway -- they don't even know their food comes from the grocery store -- let alone what it took to get it to the store.
If you don't like the candidate, talk about why you don't like the candidate; don't just blast him by taking his words out of context and failing to address the real issue -- ignorance. Yep, brilliant people can be ignorant. If you don't know about something, you are ignorant of that subject. It doesn't mean you lack the gray matter to understand it given time and effort. I wish all of the candidates would apply a little more of their gray matter to learning about food production. Those in agriculture just don't add up to enough votes for it to make a difference to them -- at least in their mind. We need to explain why it does matter. Even billionaires won't live long without food.