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Thanks a Lot

This past week, with the Thanksgiving holiday, hopefully we’ve had the time to gather with family and to reflect back through the year and decide what kind of year it’s been. Aside from some grasshoppers and the late spring, Wyoming agriculture has had a good year, and some say we lucked out.
I’ve never put much faith in luck. I always welcome it, but I figure it happens because of something bigger than just luck. Some say, and I agree, that luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity. The important factor is how we manage good luck if we’re fortunate enough that it comes our way.
An old saying says, “One half of life is luck, the other half is discipline – and that’s the important half, for without discipline you wouldn’t know what to do with your luck.” Mark Twain once said, “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” I guess he didn’t know some of the dogs I’ve had.  
Our storage reservoirs on the North Platte and in other watersheds are more full now than they have been for many years at this time of the year. For most of us, our fall was dry but it followed the best grass year we can remember. It was a great fall for fixing up corrals or whatever other projects we might have been putting off for some time. We’ve never seen a fall where people kept their straw hats out so long – some to late October – and the good part is that they never blew off. What a fall, with no wind.
If you’re a producer in southeast Wyoming, and one who favors oil production and wind power, this year was your time. Those producers have sat by all these years, hearing others around the state talk of added income from energy sources, while they’ve toughed it out year after year. It is now their time. Mineral rights and wind leases now have a value to be managed, if producers so choose. For those who believe oil wells and wind turbines make good cattle-scratchers and sheep-rubbers, we envy them.
Over the past year, our pages have reported livestock markets and sale results from auction barns and bull and ram sales, and they’ve been the part of the paper of which we’re most proud. Despite rising production costs, returns have been good and predictors forecast livestock prices will stay up.
The total quantity of beef produced per cow in the United States has grown significantly, from 310 pounds in 1956 to 633 pounds in 2009, as has both domestic and international demand for U.S. beef. Lamb demand is doing great, also.
As we have mentioned in this column numerous times, the price of corn and value of the dollar will have a big affect on these prices, but, with record low numbers of livestock, good prices are in our favor. There are always many variables we have to deal with in the livestock business, but better genetics and better methods to identify them are on our side. Remember, the darkest hour only lasts 60 minutes.
Dennis