If you could have been in the pasture with us this week, you would have been able to experience the wonderful Florida tradition of a cattle roundup, complete with the cracking of whips and the barking of dogs as the cowboys went into the swampy woods and brought out this year’s crop of calves.
These cowboys are not what you see on television; they are real.
They take their life in their hands every time they climb on their horses and head into the swamps to move these cattle out into the pens. You have to admire their courage and the skill that they have perfected in handling these cattle. It gives a little more meaning to that ribeye steak when I settle down at my favorite restaurant. I appreciate how it got there. Effort matters.
So now that the cattle are on the trucks, what happens? They are sold at auction, either at a local auction facility or on television. Either way, the price is determined by auction.
Here is the part I would like to explain to you, the reader. This calf is sold for whatever the buyers are willing to pay. No minimums, no set price, no established floor that might be obtained, no government guarantee of profit.
This is American free enterprise.
The return on their investment is below the poverty line. They don’t do it for the money. They could make more money in Washington as a janitor than they make on the ranching operation. They do it because it’s a way of life. This nation is changing; the value of the land and the cost of ranching are in the crosshairs.
The current operational costs alone cannot justify raising cattle, but as long as the challenge is there and families fight to hold on to family farms and ranches, they rise to the challenge.
We can be assured there will be a rancher and a cowboy with his horse and dog ready for next year’s roundup. God Bless them, every one of them!
See you at the next auction!