August 14, 2019



You can feel the fall in the air. Oh, I know we’ve had some hot days. And the summer thundershowers have been rolling through the Dakotas at a pretty steady pace. But the nights have been cool and we had one morning in the 40s this past week. It will get hot again, but you can see fall is getting close.
Now with fall getting close you have kids getting ready for school. I think football was invented to make young boys more anxious to go back to school. Especially if you live in Harding County, S.D. The Ranchers take their football seriously.
A lot of my friends have kids or grandkids heading off to college. Some close. Some traveling across the nation. If you are in agriculture this is a bad idea.  
Because the kids will learn something. And you know, as well as I do, how things should be done. You’ve always done them that way, and your dad did it that way, and his dad did it that way.  
A case in point is the young man who left his home in southwest North Dakota and attended NDSU. It used to be the agricultural school, or cow college. I attended that school briefly. But that’s another story.
Anyway, this young man headed off to college. Four-year degree in ag econ and animal science. He had learned a lot!
This ranch had always fed a pretty good bunch of their calves. They had top-notch cattle and they always had buyers ready to bid when these cattle were finished.
When laddie came home from cow college, he stepped right in to help Dad with the cattle feeding. He had learned all about nutrition in his four years at State. He could balance a ration and knew when he needed to up the protein or increase the energy intake. He had learned to keep meticulous records and recorded every dime of input into this pen of wonderful steers.
When the cattle were sold, Dad and son both beamed with pride. The steers were all choice and a handful graded prime. They topped the market. But the market was poor. That happens a lot when you are in agriculture.
The son went over the records dutifully. They had lost $178 per head! He took the books over to Dad and went over all the input costs, the death loss, interest on loans…Everything.  
When he finished, his Dad calmly looked at him and said, “Son, we will never do that again.”
The son felt bad and quietly replied, “We will never feed cattle again?”
“No”, Dad replied, “We will never keep records again.”