Jan Swan Wood: My year in review, horse processing news, barges are big | TSLN.com

Jan Swan Wood: My year in review, horse processing news, barges are big

Well, Christmas has wound up for another year and a New Year is upon us. I feel a little hungover from all the good food and the visiting over Christmas and the quiet of our place feels pretty good. It was sure great seeing everyone though. I'm especially blessed to have my Dad, who is 86, in good health and able to do most of what he enjoys doing. His new knee is working very well and makes getting out and about much easier for him.

The past year has brought wonderful additions to our family and changes in our lives. Last January, I was able to buy back a wonderful gelding I had sold when he was a youngster and am now happily mounted on a horse I can do anything I need to do on. I've reached an age that makes me hesitate to take a colt and go do some of the things I need to do, so that nice gelding has sure made my life safer and easier.

We also added three adorable grandkids to our family, bringing the tally to 11, with three boys and eight girls, ranging in age from two months to 15 years. Of course they're all just perfect, too.

We had a terribly dry year, which isn't news to any of you, but managed to get through it. We calved in the balmy late April and early May weather, and weaned off the heaviest calves we'd ever in mid-November, so that was amazing and wonderful.

My husband got hurt in September, and has been miraculously healed with all the cruciate ligaments (there are four) in his knee recovering without surgery. He has been able to resume shoeing and trimming horses again, which was certainly questionable in September and October. He has decided to be a lot choosier about what he shoes and trims, though, so if you have a bronc needing shoes, don't bother to call him.

So, all-in-all, it's been a very good year around here, with the setbacks bringing new faith in a greater plan for all of us. The drought will end one of these days and we'll be back to fixing water gaps and wondering if our feet will become webbed, so don't give up hope.

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On to some news … The owner of Valley Meat Company, Roswell, NM, has filed suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging inaction on the company's application to resume domestic horse processing. Owner Rick DeLosSantos has been working to get inspections into his plant so that it can reopen for horse processing. The USDA told him that he would need to close his beef processing plant in order to get the proper permits for horse processing. So, he closed his plant and laid off all of his workers (if memory serves, that was around 40 people) so that the USDA could move on his request. However, the negative publicity tidal wave from the anti-slaughter set made the USDA quit cooperating with his effort to start processing horses and put his employees back to work. Valley Meat Company has also filed a suit against the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), Front Range Equine Rescue, and Animal Protectors of New Mexico. The governor of New Mexico was also swayed by these groups and took it upon herself to write letters requesting that USDA not let the permit process proceed. I do hope that DesLosSantos can win this suit and set a precedent for future efforts to re-establish legal and humane horse processing in other areas of the U.S.

The 2013 PRCA season has been going for a while and was underway before the WNFR. The qualifying rounds for the timed events at the National Western Stock Show in Denver will be Jan. 2-3. The National Western kicks off Jan. 17 and goes through Jan. 27.

Of course, that means that the Black Hills Stock Show will be starting before Denver ends. The BHSS will run Jan. 26 – Feb. 2 this year. I hope it warms up by then so that everyone can get away to go. Hard to leave home when it takes all day to get the stock fed and the ice chopped.

I read this interesting little tidbit this morning, and though it would seem to have little to do with most of what we do in the livestock business, I thought it was interesting. The drought over so much of the country has caused the Mississippi River to be at near-record lows in most areas, and that deeply affects barge traffic on the river. Barges need at least nine feet of water to safely navigate the river, so, with falling water levels, it's a crisis for the barge industry. What I hadn't realized is that barges move a majority of America's commodities. To put it in perspective, a semi tractor/trailer rig can haul 25 tons (50,000 lbs); railroad bulk cars can carry 110 tons (220,000 lbs); but a barge carries 1750 tons (3,500,000 lbs!). I can see why national farm organizations are asking the Army Corp of Engineers to release water from the dams on the major rivers that supply the Mississippi. The mighty Mississippi has got to have water to keep those barges moving or you can bet that everyone who eats, wears clothes or drives anywhere will be affected.

Well, that's my circle for the week. I love to hear from you and like to share your news and suchlike. Have a wonderful New Year!

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