Rocks and Dirt
When you’re buying a bull directly off of a farm, you have an opportunity to see not only the bull you are buying, but also his herd-mates, and if it’s an older bull, you may get to see his some of his calves. More importantly, you can see the management system he was raised in. You can see the fences that held him, the feed he was fed and by analyzing the environment in which the bull was raised, assess whether he can thrive in your own, personal management environment. It may seem like you’re making a major genetic investment on looks alone, but you can really learn a lot from a farm visit.
I had to keep telling myself this over and over again when Scott came home one afternoon and told me he had bought a bull. We hadn’t discussed buying a new bull. There really wasn’t anything wrong with the bull we had. He and the neighbor were just going to go ride around. Maybe cruise up to the store and get a corndog or something.
He hadn’t taken the trailer with him, and a friend was hauling the bull home in a couple of days. “Rocks and dirt. I’m telling you this bull looked great, and he was just living on rocks and dirt. It was a disaster. The cows were starving.” Worst of all, the bull was black, and we had already decided that we were getting out of the black cow business. The more he talked about this bull, the more excited he got, and the madder I got.
I stomped, snapped, spit and slammed my way for the next two days. Scott had cereal for dinner – it was easier than rocks and dirt, but believe me, I thought about it.
I’m not sure what word best describes my reaction to Scott’s bull, but smitten comes pretty close. He looked like a cross between a cinder block and a burnt marshmallow. Somebody had obviously put a great deal of thought and effort and money into this bull, and here he was, in our pasture. The kids immediately named him Rocketship. He wasn’t tame by any means, but he went where we asked him, and did what he was supposed to do.
I never got to see any of Rocketship’s calves. We sold every single cow he was bred to. Every last one went to a buyer who bought the whole group. We heard that they were great calves.
I’m not sure what the difference is between an impulse buy and seizing an incredible opportunity, but sometimes, it just doesn’t matter.