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Irons in the fire: My heifer is the centerfold

Progressive Cattleman Staff Paul Marchant Published on 01 November 2011

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.

You see, his father suffers from the same addiction. And, I must admit that I have never really tried to hide it or to overcome the ailment and I have shamelessly subjected my family members to this scourge.

I’ve never even considered entering a 12-step program because I would never admit that I had a problem.

It took people who lived clear across the country and to whom our ways and lifestyle were completely foreign to recognize and identify the addiction.

I suppose the roommates figured it was completely harmless at first – the contents of the packages sent to my son from home.

What exotic literature or paraphernalia could possibly come from Oakley, Idaho? I’m sure they never dreamed his parents would purposely send him something that would be so potentially destructive to his psyche and his emotional health!

But, thanks to the Freudian brilliance of those young, astute psychoanalysts, the dreadful addiction now has a name, if not a cure.

It started in the fall, let up a little during the winter months, but really became a problem in the spring, when bull sale season is in high gear.

It probably seemed worse to the horrified bystanders than it really was because I was sending my son used product.

Usually, by the time I sent it to him, it was well-worn, and the urban natives soon discovered that when he received a package from home, the seemingly innocent country boy would be useless for an hour or two while he drooled and talked in gibberish they couldn’t understand as he fawned over the pages of what they came to know as (gasp!) Marchant’s cow porn!

Yes, I admit it! After I gawked and lusted in my heart after the beautiful creatures in the sale catalog for the 14th Annual Too Hot to Handle Fall Female Extravaganza, I’d slip the perverse periodical into a discreet manila envelope and ship it via U.S. Postal Service to my son in northern Virginia to cultivate the inescapable multi-generational cycle.

(I think the postal workers probably sneak a peek quite often. Do you think Newman, of Seinfeld fame, would even think twice about it?) As far as I know, I never violated any interstate commerce laws.

It got worse around January, when the catalogs for the many and varied breed sales that revolve around the National Western would arrive.

The nice, glossy ones of the high-dollar outfits are the best. The cattle are always set up, fit and pictured so perfectly!

I know, I know. Various PETA types and activists and some clergy and therapists will try to tell you that it’s blatant exploitation of cattle and that such attractiveness is only superficial.

Besides, they say, cattle like that don’t exist in the real world.

There may be some merit to that argument, I suppose, but boy howdy, they sure are easy on the eyes! The good-looking ones are probably pretty high-maintenance to keep them looking that way, too.

After a couple of tough winters and some marginal nutrition, they probably won’t look much better than that Pinzgauer-Jersey cross I bought from the dairy as a graft calf a few years back but still remains in the cow herd because she always looks too rough to sell when the cull cows go to town.

I refuse to take all of the blame for my decadent behavior, though. It’s a cycle that’s tough to break, and one that non-livestock folk can scarcely even try to understand.

As a kid, I remember my dad staying up late with his stash of ABS and Select Sires catalogs. He didn’t even try very hard to hide them.

I’d find them on the counter, under the stacks of the Summit County Weekly Bee and The Western Livestock Journal or behind the seat of the pickup.

You know, I always used to believe him when he said he only read them for the EPDs.  end_mark