Current Progressive Cattle digital edition


Read online content from popular Progressive Cattle columnists including Paul Marchant (Irons in the fire), Lee Pitts (It's the Pitts), Baxter Black (On the edge of common sense) and Yevet Tenney (Just dropping by), plus comments from Progressive Cattle editors.


For most of us, April 27 of 2011 was just another day of a bucolic spring. Pasture was turning green for stockers, cows were delivering the last calves of the spring crop, the CME Feeder Cattle Index was dropping below $135, and we were carping about either the price of gasoline or the price of corn.

But for residents of Alabama, April 27 was filled with sirens, dozens of dark funnel clouds and, when the day was over, 247 fatalities and 23,553 homes lost.

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One of the best qualities about the holidays – especially the Thanksgiving holiday – is how easy the season makes it to reduce life’s complexities down to simple honest truths.

For instance, consider this when you’re shopping for a plump turkey and deciding between yams and stuffing: Most of us in this country will never really worry about where to find our next meal.

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It helps to know a little about a lot of things. It gives you a broad perspective. It also allows you to make a fool of yourself in many different areas.

In my column, readers may notice that I appear to have an opinion on almost everything in agriculture. It might impress some, but real authorities in certain areas can easily see how thin my expertise is spread.

For instance, I worked in a sheep parasitology lab during ag school. I tell people casually that I helped work out the life cycles of Thysanosoma actinoides, Stephanofilaria tylisi and Elophora schneideri.

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Outside my window, the world is a glorious panorama of color. The leaves flutter red, yellow and orange in the breeze.

Autumn – what a glorious time of year! The artist of heaven paints the world a majestic array of splendor ... and I complain that winter is coming.

I swoop from room to room, exhorting my children to hurry up, clean up and shut up. I make sure they know exactly what still needs to be done, and what is going to happen if they don’t get it done.

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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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After having lived his entire life – up to that point – in the arid, rural West, my oldest son spent a couple of years in the Washington D.C. area.

He was quite an anomaly in the cities of the East Coast. While some of his roommates and acquaintances were not completely unfamiliar with the West, none of them could quite understand his addiction.

It wasn’t completely his fault. I suppose it was partly a product of the environment to which he was constantly exposed as a lad and partly due to his genetic makeup.

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