Mad Cow = Distractions= Beginning Cattlemen

BSE made the news again.  I have a different view point of it than most people.  Past experience tends to shape how we view things.  Everyone else seems to be a bit shaken by it, while I kind of embrace it and laugh about it.  My Facebook status right now is “We have 140 breeds of cattle and the black and white ones seem to be the center of most of our problems.  Before Angry Birds came along Holsteins gave us Mad Cow.”

How did I come to this paradigm?  It was back when I was really still struggling to get my cattle feeding enterprise off the ground.  I had been buying calves and co-mingling them.  All I could buy at that time was the singles, the sorts, and well junk.  I would back ground them and resell them.  At the time if I could get about 30 to 40 head put together in a week that was pretty good.

My pen was empty when we had the second inconclusive mad cow.  Everybody panicked.  I went to the bank to get a loan to buy cattle.  They looked at me like I lost my mind.  “Don’t you know what’s going on?” they asked.  Every bank in town turned me down.  At some of them I didn’t even get the chance to sit down before being laughed out of the place.

Here is what I did.  I had some money that was in a CD.  It was put there after my aunt was killed in a car accident.  My grandmother divided up her retirement money between us grand kids.  It was to be used for college.  But as I stated earlier in another blog, I dropped out.  I had scholarship money that covered it when I was there.  I also had another CD that my great grandmother put together for me to use for college.  I cashed them both in.  Paid the penalty and went to the sale barn.  Remember those penalties are only there to make you feel trapped.

I had budgeted everything out.  I knew how much money I needed for propane to heat my home.  How much I needed for gas and food for each month, and so on.  I saved that amount back.  I turned down the heat in my house.  It was cold enough in here that I slept in a hoodie under a few blankets.  I quit driving around so much, and so on.  I already had enough feed to background several groups of 40 head for the rest of the year.

So I tripled my efforts.  I bought about 100 head.  I could background them for a few months.  Put a couple hundred pounds on them, and then I sent them to a custom yard.  There I valued them, so I had a check and money to live on for a while.  I financed the feed, so that was deducted from my check when I sold them as fats.

Here’s what happened.  I made a shitload of money.

When I was buying those calves people tried to talk me out of it.  I even had a guy here last week that recalled I did that.  He told me people were really worried about me buying those cattle.  They really got cross with me when I ignored their warnings.

Here is what I knew.  None of the borders had been reopened since the first cow with BSE was discovered.  So we did not lose any trade deals.  Yet when that cow came up inconclusive the market dropped about $40 a hundred here.  Get it?  We really lost nothing yet the market was sustaining that level before that cow was discovered, so I figured it was only a matter of time before the market came back.  To my surprise it came back in only a few weeks.  Of course that was due to the cow coming up negative on the long test.

Here is my take away.  Sometimes the best time to be successful is when everyone else is distracted.  Maybe today’s mad cow will provide some buying opportunities.  Maybe not.  The thing is, this is the type of thing you need to keep your eyes open for, and have the balls to cash in.  I did this when I was in my early twenties, and it greatly accelerated the growth of my operation.

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