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Varilek’s Cattle Call: Supply peak reached

Beef demand has held its own throughout our large supply of cattle. However, grilling season lost several weeks this year due to bad weather which we will not be able to get back. Beef sales have been good, but we are seeing our first sign of the dog days of summer. The pace of forward meat sales is slowing slightly. This is standard for the season as we typically see a fall off after Indepenence Day. The health of the U.S. economy has been a boost to beef demand for the last few years and continues to help the cattle industry move our product through the system.

The feedyards are staying very current at the present with yields starting to increase. Cattle could use more pounds to reach full potential setting up a possible holding rally. The new concern to factor will be the higher corn price. Will producers really want to keep feeding them if corn continues to climb? In my opinion, the deferred cattle contracts have not reacted much to the higher corn price but have followed the feeder futures lower.

Cash news was light last week with packers pulling from formula cattle to get them by. Prices ranged from 180-184 dressed with trade starting to leak in to July delivery. The June board maintained a lower price than cash since producers have the ability to deliver on that price roughly two weeks into the month of July.

Keep your head up through the summer lows and take it a week at a time. Higher feed costs are a new challenge for us. We know the supply of cattle will be large so stay current and don’t fight the market. The good news is between last year and this year we are at our supply peak according to the cattle cycle seasonal. Stay safe out there in the fields this summer.

Scott Varilek, Kooima Kooima Varilek Trading

The risk of loss when trading futures and options is substantial. Each investor must consider whether this is a suitable investment. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood

Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the June 15, 2019, edition of Tri-State Livestock News

Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: Preschool

My dad asked if preschool was in full session in response to a photo I sent him of our three-year old arming his first cow. The more I think about it, the more I believe that yes, it sure is.

Both our kids have learned several things relevant to AI’ing cattle the last couple weeks: Liquid nitrogen is cold, when finished loading an AI gun, you tuck it in your shirt, arming sleeves make awesome balloons, reading freeze brands or ear tags correctly is important, and you always write down how you bred each cow/heifer.

But, it goes well beyond that. We stopped in a wet area to admire and catch tadpoles while moving the cows post-AI. They fought over would get to drive the side-by-side through each gate. Our boy can hold quite a conversation on the current farming situation on our place. When a fat steer got out in the wheat field, our two-year old girl immediately yelled we needed a horsey, and that he was, “over there!”

I get asked fairly regular about enrolling my kids in literal preschool, or daycare, or something. I have been told by multiple sources that my three-year old sure isn’t speaking at a kindergarten level. That school has changed, and kids need to be prepared. It’s not like it was back when we were kids, when you might be able to get by without some form of pre-kindergarten formal education. Like I did.

You can even have a government funded person come into your home and provide educational lessons to your children, as well as observations on your family. Because nothing says, “Big Brother,” like having someone with the government begin the educational process with your child asap after birth, and provide insight on how your family should function within your own home.

I am not anti-preschool or anti-daycare. I am anti-one-size-fits-all-education, which does extend to having a lot of doubts with the current public-school system. I am even more anti-you-are-messing-up-your-kids-by-not-pushing-education-on-them-as-toddlers.

There is nothing wrong with letting kids be little kids for the short time it will last. With learning numbers via freeze brands on black cattle, or letters via reading seed bags to dad while filling a drill. More kids should know to go find basic tools when something is broken, and what those tools are, instead of having to call someone. Kids should experience growing food, and learn how to work with technology not found on an entertainment app or video game.

They should have the opportunity to work with animals, fix fence, change oil, learn noxious weeds, and count hay bales.

There is more to be learned running a pencil and calculator for dad as he does break evens while driving down the road than some college courses will eventually offer their minds. The ability to speak with people, look them in the eye, shake their hand, and actually listen to a conversation is an irreplaceable skillset. Being around adults more than other kids isn’t all bad.

I don’t care that my three-year old doesn’t speak at a five-year old level. I’m not inviting a complete stranger into my home to tell me that a family that works together, prays together and learns together needs to do things differently based on a booklet they were told to follow.

We are far from perfect. But, we are also far from doing a disserve to our children in the area of early education. It is preschool year-round here, and we all love the lessons it teaches us.

Baxter Black: The Cow Committee

Once upon a time at the start of all creation

Angels sat upon a cloud. An odd conglomeration

Of buckaroos from near and far but not there from the city.

Their job; to build a brand new beast. They were the Cow Committee.

“Now me, I’d like some floppy ears,” suggested Texas Jake.

“Floppy ears would freeze plum off on the Powder or the Snake!”

“Up north we need some curly hair,” said Colorado Bill,

“Hide that’s tight and hair that’s thick to ward against the chill.”

“Hold yer horses, one and all,” said Omaha Eugene,

“Nebraska needs a fleshy cow; a real corn machine!”

“She’d waste away!” cried Tucson Bob, “What we need’s a hump.

One who’ll live on tumbleweeds and run from clump to clump.”

‘How ‘bout horns?” said Oakdale Pete. “Don’t need’em in Des Moines.”

“We’ll make some with and some without and some with tenderloins.”

“Some with sheaths that drag the grass and some so dadgum tall

To hear her calf down on the ground she’d have to place a call!”

“I’d like’m roan,” said Shorthorn Mike. “No, black,” said Angus Tink.

“White or red,” said Hereford Hank, “I’d even take’m pink!”

“Whatever suits you tickles me,” Said Juan from Mexico.

“I second that,” said Crossbred Jack, “Just make’m so they grow.”

They made some white. They made some blue. They made some orange and spotted.

They never made a green one but they made’m tall and squatted.

In every shape and every size but no one had decided

How to make the perfect cow; on that they were undivided.

This went on for days and days, in fact, it never ended.

Each time they reached some middle ground the project was amended.

They still meet from time to time and argue with their leaders.

The Cow Committee carries on…they’re now the purebred breeders.

Lee Pitts: The Marketing Power Of Me

I’ve noticed that some of my fellow cow columnists have taken to endorsing products to supplement their income from ag periodicals and weekly newspapers who, up until now, have made it possible for all of us to live such lavish lifestyles. I guess the hope is that farmers and ranchers will see the columnist’s picture, read their endorsements and that goodwill will then be transferred to the products being promoted. These celebrity cowy endorsers are quoted as if they are Plato, Socrates or George Clooney.

I suppose you’ve noticed that I have not lent my name or image to any company in return for cash. There are several reasons why, number one being no one has ever asked. It doesn’t help that I absolutely hate having my picture taken and I’m not exactly what you’d call “photogenic.” Seeing my photo attached to a product could have negative consequences. For example, if some squeeze chute manufacturer made me the face of their company and put my picture on the tailgate of their chutes you can imagine the increased difficulty you’d have in getting cows to voluntarily enter the squeeze chute. Likewise, if a manufacturer of cattle trailers put my picture on their products you’d never get your cattle loaded. You think your horse is balky now about loading, just wait until it takes one look at me on the trailer!

If a supplement maker put my mug on their tubs cows would stay away from them in droves. This could be a huge selling point to cattlemen in that it could reduce rancher’s yearly supplement costs dramatically, but I doubt the supplement makers would see it this way.

I think BIG business is really missing the boat, like the constipation industry. Why wouldn’t a big drug company who sells anti-constipation remedies think of me first as their spokesperson? Just one look at my photo on the label of a product would be enough to scare the you-know-what out of any constipated cow. If Oprah can advertise for Weight Watchers and Lindsay Lohan for some rehab joint I can surely be the face of constipation.

I know you’re going to find this hard to believe but not a single cattle breeder has ever asked me to endorse their bulls! I see other well known people being quoted using so and so’s bulls and it really hurts my feelings that no one has ever asked me. Oh, that’s not entirely correct as I did have one “sort-of” endorsement deal with a top notch Angus breeder. For years I worked ring at his annual bull sale. I really liked his bulls but never owned one because they were way out of my price range, which topped out at fifty bucks over beef. But one year when the cattle market was in the doldrums at the end of his sale the bulls started selling within my price parameters. After I bought my first bull and announced the buyer as US Cattle Company, which all the locals know is my outfit, I noticed the breeder got flush in the face and had to be revived.

I ended up buying eight bulls and immediately after the sale the owner came running over to me and whispered, “We have to talk. If word ever gets out that you’re using my bulls it could ruin me. Please promise me you WON’T tell the auctioneer when you sell your puny calves at auction that they were sired by my bulls.”

“I think we can come to some sort of financial arrangement,” I said. “How much are you willing to pay me for NOT keeping your bulls in my front pasture where everyone can see your brand.”

“But that’s blackmail,” he replied.

“Oh, that’s harsh! I prefer to think of it as an un-endorsement.” Despite his protests, we came to terms and the deal proved quite lucrative for awhile but the purebred breeder fell on hard times and just a few years after I bought his bulls he dispersed his herd. (I hope the two incidents were in no way connected.)

This was such an eye-opening example of the marketing power of me that I decided to capitalize on it. So, to any business owners who know that I use your products please be advised that I’ve acquired the services of an agent and I am now signing what I refer to as “anti-endorsement deals.”

Outside Circle: Horse sales, ranch rodeos, roping, clinics, youth rodeos

Is it just me or is the month of June going by at warp speed? Just last week it was February and now it’s halfway through June. Time seems to be going faster and faster.

The 44th Annual Lopez, Meyer, Lauing Quarter Horse Production sale will be continuing on even though the Meyers retired and dispersed last year. It will be September 7 at Faith Livestock, Faith, S.D. They are taking a few outside consignments with special consideration toward horses that came from any of the programs. No weanlings though. Call 605-280-0398 for information.

They are taking consignments now for saddle horses for the Sugar Bars Legacy Sale, Sheridan, Wyo., on Sunday, Sept. 22. They don’t have to be Sugar Bars bred, though that sure doesn’t hurt a horse at all, but they have to be legit broke horses. For information on how to consign, call LeRoy Wetz at 605-347-8120, or go to www.sugarbarslegacy.com.

June 21 is the date for the Roping By The James River at Heartland 4H Arena, Huron, S.D. There will be open tie down roping, all girls breakaway and tie down roping, junior high boys and girls divisions as well as a WPRA All Girls All Around Event with barrels, breakaway, tie down roping and team roping. Entries open June 17, 6-10 p.m. and you can text them in to April Zilverberg at 605-871-9056. It’s cash only on entries. You can also get any info you need from April.

Glenrock Deer Creek Days and Ranch Rodeo will be June 21-23 at Glenrock, Wyo. The Ranch Rodeo will be on June 22 with the grand entry starting at 5 p.m. It sounds like a great weekend for the whole family. For information, call Jim Schell at 307-259-5065.

Rhame Gala Days will be June 29, Rhame, N.D. You can enter June 24, 5-10 p.m. by calling Tyan at 701-279-6793. Slack will run at 9 a.m., performance at 2 p.m. New this year will be bucking ponies for ages 12 and under, both barebacks and saddle broncs. To enter that, call Dale at 701-974-2432.

The 3rd Annual Moorcroft Rodeo Club Youth Rodeo will be Friday, June 28, 6 p.m. There are four age divisions from 0-18 and all the usual great youth events. Entry forms can be found at www.moorcroftrodeoclub.com. Try to pre-enter so it can start on time. Gates open at 4 p.m., entries from 4-5:30.

KPH Arena at Gillette, Wyo is a busy place this summer. The Ranch Horse series shows will be June 29, August 10 and Sept. 14. There will be open, rookie, green horse, youth and NP classes for $20/class, $25 membership. Clinics will follow each one with the show judge instructing. The June 30 clinic will cover overall performance in ranch riding, ranch reining and ranch trail with Les Zadina. There’s a limited number in this and it is $125. Call Ashley at 307-680-5362.The August 11 clinic will have Justin Henderson and September clinic Marilyn Randall.

The Sioux National Challenge Tour Indian Relay Races will be June 29-30, 2 p.m., at Ft. Pierre, S.D. All divisions will be running. This is a Tour of Champions circuit race. You can get more info on the relays at www.horsenationsrelays.com. If you haven’t been to the Indian relays, you have missed out and need to go!

July 7 is the date of the Little Missouri Saddle Club Kids Rodeo at Marmarth, N.D. Lots of events for kids from 5-15. Entry deadline is June 30. You can check it all out, events, times, and suchlike on the Facebook page. Enter by email to slminerich@gmail.com. Indlude name, age, gender, date of birth and events. It’s $1 per event.

Gather up your family and head for the Cattle country Ranch Rodeo July 1, 4 p.m., at the Goshen County Rendezvous Center, Torrington, Wyo.

A reining jackpot and clinic will be July 13 and 14 with Chuck Nesmith judging and instructing. It will be at KPH Arena, Gillette, Wyo and will have a class for every level of reiner. You must enter by July 1. Call 307-680-5362. Clinic is $125.

Wyoming Downs Horse Racing will kick off the season July 6 with races through August 18, in Evanston, Wyo. The first race will be run at 1:05 p.m. Get details at www.Wydowns.com.

The W Arena, Cody, Wyo., is hosting two Brent Lewis Roping Clinics. The first one is July 10-12 and second one is July 24-26. Tie Down Roping is $600, Breakaway $500. A 50 percent non-refundable deposit is required and due for either clinic by June 26. Call Ben Williams at 307-899-2857 to get signed up.

That’s my circle for another week. There’s a thundershower blowing through as I write this, ensuring that the green grass will keep growing. Have a great week.

Varilek’s Cattle Call: Negative closeouts

The feeder calf market remains volatile. It has had $29 break from previous highs with a small recovery last week. The rally in corn could be to blame for the washout in the feeders, but continued losses in the feedyards do not help.

Cattle weights for the week ending May 25 showed all cattle five pounds below a year ago. We saw the last of the long fed yearlings move through the market so we are on to the 2018 calf crop. Winter conditions proved to be tough for the finished weights and cost per pound of gain was much higher than anticipated. Producers were using a 65-75 cent cost of gain projection when the feeders were purchased and have seen it come to be closer to 90 cents.

The basis remains positive, enticing producers to sell in the 183-187 dressed range. However, it is not making up for most of the losses experienced in the feedyards. Packer margins are still very strong with better weather for grilling finally upon us. Feeder calf prices seemed to be following the ups and downs of the futures markets but estimates for the placements in May are starting to come in significantly lower.

We are finally unwound from the record open interest in June live cattle futures. We can all breathe a sigh of relief to finally be through those contracts. Enjoy the weather and don’t forget to grill your Dad a steak this week.

Scott Varilek, Kooima Kooima Varilek Trading

The risk of loss when trading futures and options is substantial. Each investor must consider whether this is a suitable investment. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood

Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the June 8, 2019, edition of Tri-State Livestock News

Earl cartoon by Big Dry Syndicate

Earl cartoon by Big Dry Syndicate for the June 8, 2019, edition of Tri-State Livestock kNews.

Baxter Black: A Cowboy Parade

You gotta hand it to cowboys. They can turn a birthday cake into a four-alarm fire!

Many years ago the Napa Valley (California) County Fair and Rodeo wanted to do something to attract attention to their big PRCA rodeo. Now I’m not sure how the conversation went at the Fair Board meeting, but maybe something like this…

“Why not have a cattle drive down Main Street. Call it the Texas Longhorn Cattle Stampede.”

Detractors, stick-in-the-muds, spoil sports and accountants would have reacted with reasonable objections;

“Are you crazy! What if they got loose! You ought to be committed! What if somebody gets hurt! And where on God’s green earth could you get anybody who’d let you borrow thirty-three head of full grown longhorn steers to turn loose on Main Street!”

Into the spotlight stepped COTTON’S RENT-A-COW & BAIL BONDS. They assured the city officials that they had steers that were ‘street-wise and couldn’t be spooked and were absolutely controllable! (you can almost hear a cowboy sayin’ that, can’t you…!)

Well, friends, Texas Longhorn Cattle Stampede made the front page. Quotes from onlookers and police included;

“I almost got gored!”

“Not under complete control!”



“We ain’t doin’ this again!”

“People could have been injured!”

“Cattle riot!”

“Why don’t they just load ‘em on the truck before someone gets hurt?”

According to the Napa County Sheriff’s Posse and local cowboys, it did get a little western. Cattle bolting every which way, clattering against the front door of the Redwood Bank, running through the parking lot, scattering protesters, grazing on City Hall lawn, side mirrors snapping off parked cars and lots of screaming. To put the problem in a nutshell, you could say the steers followed the parade route just a little wider and a littler faster than everyone expected.

The Texas Longhorn Cattle Stampede did what the Fair Board wanted. It drummed up attention for the big rodeo that night. Lots of TV coverage, front page in the paper and a story that the citizens of Napa told for years.

That’s good. Although the Fair Board might have been a little embarrassed, it’s the kind of news story that lives on. And to top it off, it’s a cowboy story.

The Stampede did not become an annual event in Napa, but as one onlooker who’d seen the running of the bulls in Pamplona remarked, “Some people go all the way to Spain to see this sort of thing.”