It is hard to imagine that anybody else has as many rabid detractors as our president, though President Donald Trump’s numbers have continued to rise over the past few months.

So, who else gets this much hate mail and bad press? The answer is cows. And the people who raise them.

As I wrote in this space last week, there are plenty of people whose mission it is to put the cowboys out of business. To hear them talk is to be told that cows single — ah — hoofedly, cause global warming, obesity, heart disease, animal cruelty, environmental disasters, dementia, poor manners, earthquakes and acne. All of that, of course, is silly hyperbole. The problem is the cacophony is so loud that it is hard to be heard when speaking in support of the cattle business. One voice that rises above the noise is that of Sara Place.

Place is a researcher for the National Cattleman’s Beef Association. She is also one of the leading visible, erudite and well informed public faces for the group. She recently spoke at the Future of Food summit in New York. She finds the fake meat thing silly, she knows cows and other ruminant animals are amazing protein producing machines:

They take things in of little or no value and they make higher-value products. A lot of the protein they generate and a lot of the nutrients we generate for the human food supply just literally don’t exist without them. Cattle, sheep and goats — they’re painted as inefficient, but they’re actually very efficient at what they do.

Most folks don’t understand that only about 10% of the feed that cattle get comes from grains. The other 90 percent of the feed is grasses (82%) and the rest (7%) comes from byproducts of other food processing operations like sorghum and cottonseed grinding.

When I was over in Nucla last week, that misunderstanding was a major contention creator among producers there. The Forest Service and BLM range land they use during the summer won’t produce anything other than some calves. The efficiency of some flatulent cows in turning some wild grass and home grown alfalfa and corn silage into useful food is amazing.

It might be worth your time to check Place’s recent interview in Successful Farming. Here is a link to it:

Back home again in the garlic fields

I spent this past weekend in my home counties of Santa Cruz and Santa Clara in California. The occasion was the 60th high school reunion of the class of 1959 from Gilroy High School. As expected, the turn out was smaller than the last one. Of the 15 attendees, five of us came from the same tiny grade school. Rucker School was (is) situated in the middle of chicken, prune and garlic farms. Many of the farms from Gilroy north have been replaced by housing and high tech. The south end of the valley as well as the next county south are still heavily agriculture.

Only one of my classmates is still involved in ag — Delores. Her grandson runs cows on some of the family property in the coast range foothills. I asked Delores how she was doing. Her answer was short and rather blunt, “Well, we’re still going,” she said. Given the California social and political climate that, in itself, is an accomplishment.

We took a ride over to Santa Cruz, where our farm was, and “was” is the operative word. Although most of the property is still vacant land, our orchard is gone as are our house and outbuildings, replaced by an apartment complex. How insulting.

It’s mooving time

Apologies to our friends at the second hand store, mooving is what will be happening over the next month as our cattle growers move their cows from the summer range on the plateau as well as the higher ranges in the San Juans and elsewhere.

The largest number of the animals will be moved by truck or fifth wheel trailer. However, we will see a few outfits that will move herds the old-fashioned way — the cows walk and the cowboys ride. Cattle drives from range to range and to rail heads or highway hubs have been a part of the cattlemen’s way of life. The logistics of doing it that way nowadays is very complicated.

Dave Wood Road and CSR 90 will see some action, among others. The harvest and cattle moving season is a time for motorists to be especially mindful of trucks and trailers hauling everything from hemp to corn silage to cows and sheep. They will be coming off side roads from all directions.

Your urban SUV is no match for a Peterbuilt hauling a double-decker trailer loaded with a couple of hundred animals.

Battle of the chili cheese fries rages on

When I went down to Nucla last week, I added another contestant to the Farm and Ranch Chili Cheese Fries Sweepstakes. This entry comes from the 5th Ave Grill on Main Street in Nucla. The fries were crisp and lightly salted. The chili was a nice chuck-wagon-style mix with just the right balance of meat and pinto beans. The plate, $6.79, was topped with shredded cheddar and crisp, sharp onions. It’s a meal.

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