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We’re Doing Well

While writing this column, the temperature outside is around -15 degrees for the second day in a row, and we’re hearing from others around the state that our temperature in Casper is somewhat balmy compared to some other places in Wyoming, where it’s been down to the middle 40s below zero – and that’s not with the wind chill temperature.
I was somewhat tempted to feel sorry for myself with the cold weather after hearing from some friends who have abandoned us here at home and have fled to warmer climates like those in Arizona. Those friends never seem to call back to Wyoming when we’re in a warm spell. But, at times we do envy them, and we wish them well. It must be tough living where one doesn’t need a daily weather report.
We put up with cold spells and other weather-related events – what else can we do? Maybe it is in times like these we need to reflect on the positives of ranching, or of being in the agriculture business here in Wyoming and on the northern plains.
First, we have the best cattle, sheep and horses, and our sales throughout the year reflect that. Why do all the buyers come to our area to buy our products, and keep coming back year after year? It has to be more than just the Rocky Mountain mystic, but if that is part of it, we’ll use it. We always hear how the chefs back east like our Rocky Mountain lamb and our other meat products. The real reason is that ag producers around the region have always been pretty progressive and aggressive when it comes to new management tools, better genetics and the latest technology in equipment. For the most part we’ve been accepting of change, which is something we have to do to stay competitive in our markets.  
Looking back 25 years ago, our livestock have really changed. I know a lot of our cows are now bigger than we would like them, but today’s sheep and cattle genetics, especially, are now working better for us.
In cattle, while our numbers are lower nationally, and some say the lowest in 50 years, the dressed weights of fat cattle at the packinghouse have increased almost 150 pounds in the last 25 years, an average of four pounds a year. That is the end result of improved genetics and cattle management. Couple those genetics with the fact that calves, yearlings and lambs from this area are always bragged about for being healthy during the shipping and receiving process, we’re doing well.
We’re learning on how to better manage our negatives: animal rights, intrusion by the federal government, invasive species and endangered species. We’re putting ourselves out there more to tell our stories, and the people who live and work around this nation are listening. If we hah talked 10 or even five years ago about our skills in social networking, or even what those two words mean, our neighbors would have thought we were off our rocker. Now we’re talking to students, teachers and families all over the world and telling them “we’re ok,” and they’re listening.
Dennis