Harrington's Sort & Cull
John Harrington DTN Livestock Analyst

Friday 12/21/12

Bing Crosby Never Scooped a Bunk in His Life

"Be careful what you wish for," I remember saying to my wife last week when she longed for a white Christmas.

As of Wednesday night, we're up to our manger and Santa's sleigh in heavy snow: 9-plus inches that arrived just in time to quench the Mayan apocalypse.

Barb is very happy with the Currier & Ives transformation of dusty country roads and dead-looking trees. Still, the unintended consequence of my daughter's delayed flight in from New York has her mighty bummed.

So far, I've successfully struggled to keep my mouth shut. Marital history will tell you I am not a good bet to keep up that fight.

She's a city girl, and that's part of the problem (though one I've joyfully tolerated since the early 1990s).

When we first met, Barb pretty much exclusively associated snow with fun and beauty: skiing, sledding, skating, pristine winter landscapes, and even the "charm and delight" of helpfully shoveling high-centered cars through the unplowed streets of Boseman, Mont.

As the son of a cattle feeder in Nebraska, I was taught a more sobering respect for snow as well as the devastating potential of the winter season in general. I can still see my dad's grim face as he listened in hushed silence to dangerous weather advisories on the kitchen radio and mentally prepared himself for the morning's nightmare filled with dead cattle, frozen equipment, frostbitten fingers and faces, and miles of bunk line hopelessly plugged with hard-driven snow and ice.

You never romanticized about the season with Dad. Where you saw Jack Frost, he saw Jack the Ripper. Where you saw a winter wonderland, he saw a snow-packed minefield.

Speaking of White Christmas, my Mother once made the mistake of how she loved a certain movie classic, especially how the crooning star always filled her heart with holiday spirit.

When Dad barked "Bing Crosby never scooped a bunk in his life," his wife knew it was time to turn the channel.

Of course, livestock feeders who dare to serve alfresco in the winter ahead are seriously caught between a rock and a hard spot.

On one hand, the combination of animal health concerns, acceptable feedlot performance, and short hay supplies makes you pray for the mildest possible winter.

Conversely, an extremely dry and open winter could be a dire omen of extended drought conditions through the spring and summer of 2013. The cattle industry desperately needs a resumption of adequate moisture patterns in order to both boost feed grain production and ensure the carrying capacity of grass.


Posted at 4:17PM CST 12/21/12 by John Harrington
Comments (2)
Indeed...talking about a mixed emotions phenomena-lotsa snow-good for planters-not so good for hoofers. I'm not sure even God can sort that one out.
Posted by Ric Ohge at 9:48AM CST 12/27/12
I agree with Johns Dad , snow does no good for field moisture, particularly when the wind blows. I do believe its good for the groves, sloughs, lakes and rivers tho. Plus it helps with unemploment, grab a shovel.
Posted by Unknown at 10:04AM CST 12/28/12
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