Current Progressive Cattle digital edition

Lee Pitts

California cattleman Lee Pitts provides his brand of humor on issues surrounding the ag industry.


There’s one thing I simply must buy every year: The Old Farmer’s Almanac. In this digital age you’ll know it’s the end of the world when the Almanac ceases to exist or goes totally digital.

The 2012 edition is the 220th consecutive U.S. edition. Yes, it’s been printed continuously for 220 of the 236 years we’ve been a free country!

Besides the weather forecasts, planting tables and schedules of tides, eclipses and gestation found in every issue, in 2012 we’re told the best days to quit smoking, castrate, pollinate, graft (for congressmen) and the best days to see a dentist.

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Just because I wrote a column idea in the dust on a piece of furniture because I didn’t have a pencil and paper handy, my wife thought I was making a critical comment about her housekeeping.“If you don’t like the way I clean house,” she said, “you can just start doing it yourself.”

I don’t know why women complain so much about cleaning the house. They get to work in comfortable, mud-free conditions in which there are no snakes or flies, in most cases.

Although it’s true that we men don’t routinely dust the furniture and wash the dishes, that doesn’t necessarily mean we couldn’t if we had to.

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Every Christmas I look forward to getting a traditional card from a ranch family, in which every member is mounted on a good-looking quarter horse with a silver bit in its mouth.

So you can imagine my dismay when their 2011 Christmas card arrived and they were all mounted on a lazy man’s horse ... an ATV. What is the world coming to?

I just don’t get it. The opportunity to ride a horse for a living is why many of us got into the cattle business to begin with.

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0112pc_pitts_1My grandpa always said, “Horses don’t improve with age ... especially right after you just bought one.”

As verification of Grandpa’s wisdom, I offer the following account of actual events as told to me by my friend George.

I believe I have the story correct, but if details are lacking it is only because George couldn’t stop laughing long enough to recount the epic saga.

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I just heard about a Hereford cow in England who gave birth to her second calf in three months. I’m not talking about a twin; I’m referring to a miracle known as “superfecundation.”

It sounds dirty to me but it means that a second egg got impregnated a few months after the first, causing another pregnancy at a later stage of development.

Being a tightwad, my first thought was, when the vet preg-checked did he charge for one cow or two?

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I’ve always been impressed by diversified ag operations, where one brother is the farmer in the family, another is the rancher and the third sibling, usually the youngest, is in charge of the shop.

(If there is a fourth sibling, that person either runs the trucks or is a lawyer in town.)

More and more I’m finding families where one of the siblings involved is a daughter and, invariably, she is the one in charge of the cows.

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