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On Thursday, August 21, 2003, at 2:45pm, my wife of 34 years, Rebecca, died in my arms in an emergency room.

The last words we spoke were in perfect synchronization: "I love you with all my heart."

 

 

Questions

With your patience, I'd like to address one or two other issues.

This is not an exact quote.  I'm doing the best I can to condense several statements so you won't fall asleep or become confused.

The rodeo people claim that rodeo livestock are living a wonderful life.  They claim the livestock is "Bred To Buck!", "Born For Rodeo!", "Living In Luxury!", and several other claims - which are all subject to question.  They say they receive the very best care, they're treated with respect and kindness, and they work about once a month at a rodeo.  The rest of the time, they enjoy life to the fullest.  I presume - and I admit I don't know all the facts - that means that the calves, steer, broncos, and bulls probably spend most of their life grazing in pastures.  This description resembles livestock farms. 

Within 10 miles of my home are at least 8 cattle farms, right here in Florida.  The cattle seemed to do just about nothing, except eat grass, eat hay, eat some kind of food from a trough, drink water from huge containers, move around big fields, and produce plenty of cow shit. 

I remember asking for permission to use several fields to train tracking dogs, and some farmers were nice - they allowed me to train my dogs, as long as I didn't disturb their cattle.  I offered to help "round up" some cattle on a few occasions, and I remember how it was done.  The farmer and I just rode in a pickup truck, and occasionally, the farmer or I got out of the truck, and kind of "steered" a stray cow (or whatever it was) back into the group, so they would pass through a gate into a different field.  I recall that nothing more than a tap on the ass or the shoulder with a thin stick or a newspaper was needed to move the ones that strayed out of the group.  Actually, it was pretty damn boring, and kind of sloppy, because I stepped in some cow shit sometimes. 

I've been to some horse ranches, too.  I recall the horses pretty much living in stalls in big shady barns, being turned out in pastures, being ridden, and - basically - just living a pretty boring life. 

I also recall vets coming to the barns sometimes, worming, inoculating, horses having new shoes put on, and I even saw a horse euthanized once.  The owner had to use a big tractor - I think it's called a backhoe - and dig a deep grave for the horse.  Not that I want to include any emotional content here, but there was a lot of crying going on the day that horse had to be killed.  The owner was the same gentleman that made up all my leather goods for my dog training business.  That's enough emotional content.

I probably haven't done a very good job of describing "normal" life for livestock.  I haven't spent year after year on ranches and seen it all, that's for sure. 

I've done a little more research, and found some confusing stories about rodeo livestock.  The first thing I have questions about is the time when the animals aren't at a rodeo.


From what I've learned, rodeos are kind of like a "road tour".  I can think of something similar, something I'm very, very familiar with.  It's like a band going on tour.  Before I trained dogs, that's exactly what I did for many years - I toured the country, playing music. 

They put on a show in city #1 one night (or one weekend), then travel to city #2 and put on a show, then on and on, until the tour is over.  Then they take a break, and start all over.


OK - now here is where I'm a little confused.  All the livestock has to be moved.  I've seen pictures of big trailers used to move horses and cows and bulls around from place to place.  I don't understand how all the livestock can travel around so much in the trailers, and go from rodeo to rodeo - meaning city to city, state to state - and live a wonderful, happy life, roaming around in the pastures.  So I need more facts to understand this clearly.  Let's think this over together.

Let's say "Harry", a livestock contractor, brings 10 horses to rodeo #1.  He gets paid for providing 10 horses, and he has a lot of bills to pay.  I'm guessing he has helpers who must be paid, and obvious other road costs: motels, restaurants, fuel, and upkeep on the vehicles.  He has to feed the livestock, and of course, they need water.  If he isn't at home, road expenses can pile up pretty fast.  I have no idea how much "Harry" gets paid for providing livestock to a rodeo. 

 

But I can logically figure out that he HAS to make more money than he spends on all the expenses.  That leads to the sensible next step: if "Harry" can do a longer tour, he can make more money.  Common sense dictates that if "Harry" always loses money at rodeos, pretty soon he won't be able to afford to go to a rodeo.  If it gets bad enough, he won't even be able to afford a bottle of Budweiser!    

I also don't know all the facts about a "rodeo tour".  But logic tells me that this "tour" would have to include a few rodeos to financially break even.  So even if I'm uncertain about the exact details of this one basic issue, we need to think in sensible terms: money in and money out.

I would like to know where the livestock really spends most of its time.  So far, my research points to this: the livestock spends a LOT of time in trailers, and also in temporary pens, set up nearby rodeo locations.          

Obviously, I need to do more research about details.  But here's an idea that I'd like to try, if it was possible.

I'd like to "track" about 10-20 livestock animals for several months - particularly popular, "name" bulls and broncos.  I'd like to know for sure if they're at a rodeo, if they're being transported, if they're out grazing in a pasture, in a barn, a temporary holding pen, or where they are.  Then I'd like to somehow "chart" their daily life as rodeo entertainers, and get an honest, clear picture of the life they really live before they are ultimately killed and processed.  If Cadillac can track your vehicle with OnStar, I'm certain a micro-miniaturized version could be fabricated to track livestock.

These thoughts and questions are just some things that came to mind fairly quickly.  I'm pretty sure as I learn more, I'll have more thoughts, and probably several more questions.

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