Michael Cox

A little trip through Googleland within the search terms “nutrients in food and CO2” or other similar phrases will reveal a couple of things.

One, there are millions, maybe even billions of dollars, being spent on “research” concerning carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere. Virtually every major public-funded university (worldwide) has conducted or is conducting some kind of program looking into the effect of CO2 on plant life, especially plants used for food for both people and animals.

One thing that these intrepid carbon police found was what we all knew they would find, plants get bigger and greener with more CO2 in their diet. Grass grows taller and healthier. The rain forest gets greener. Food crops grow faster and more abundantly. And here’s one you don’t hear about, CO2 actually aids soil and ground level air cooling and water retention.

But just when you think you can sell the Prius, we hear about the “great protein” crash followed by the zinc and iron shortage. I saw the results of a recently completed study in my morning Drovers Magazine email the other day. This study is apparently a regurgitation of data from other, earlier studies with some added specificity aimed a cattle growers.

It seems this group echoes what other CO2 cops are saying. Yes, CO2 is good plant food, but they add that plants raised with higher CO2 in their lives lack some protein and nutrients like zinc and iron.

The Colorado/Wyoming researchers determined that a calf raised on pumped up grass will be on average 12-percent lighter than his carbon deprived cousin. Of course, it all depends. Like on what kind of grass — they don’t all have reduced nutrients. How much sunlight the grass gets affects the issue. How far the calves range (burning calories) while feeding is also a factor, as well as weather and animal stress.

Ooooh, one more thing, they didn’t actually have cows that they weighed, it was done with, you guessed it, computer models.

But, let’s assume cows don’t get as fat on the increased availability of slightly less nutritious grass. If a cow stops eating when it is full, and researchers say they do, then there is more grass left over. The cow is still healthy, just not as heavy. The answer? Add more cows, use the leftover grass. Selling 13 cows instead of 10, makes the same money on the same cost. Bonus points? If the calves are not as fat, those anti-red meat do-gooders can’t complain as much.

I know. It can’t be that simple.

A real rodeo

The last of the 2019 Mountain States Ranch Rodeo series came off at the Montrose Event Center over the past weekend. The place was packed. If you haven’t been to one of these events you are missing a good show. If you are going for bull riding and the accompanying mayhem, you’ll be a bit disappointed.

A ranch rodeo is a competitive display of the real skills of real working cattle people. It is a team event and usually a team is a group of five riders from one ranch or region. The only event that comes over from the other rodeo circuit is the bronc riding. “Breaking” ornery range horses still takes place on the modern cattle outfit and so one team member rides a bucking horse in the show.

The other events include team branding, but there’s no hot iron involved, just a dye sponge on the end of a stick. The roping and the immobilization of the calf is real. Team doctoring (mimicking castration, injection or other procedures) is another event, but there is no real doctoring. That part is simulated after the team cuts and team-ropes the animal.

Wild cow milking has been around for a long time and it is the clown show of this rodeo. Once the mama cow is roped, the rest of the team has to hold her still as best they can and one team member has to get a certain amount of milk into a small mouth bottle. It is fun to watch.

Team penning is really a cutting horse exercise on uppers, that requires precision, good cutting horses and some skilled cowboys. Of course, quick, unpredictable cows don’t hurt audience enjoyment.

The MSRR series will pick up again next spring.

Corn is a mess

If you have Dent corn that is healthy and will come out of the field on time, you’re better off than a lot of growers. According to the USDA only 55 percent of the Dent crop, is “dented” (meaning the kernels have the required dimple) compared with about 77 percent as the normal. Only 11 percent of the crop is considered mature which is less than half of the norm.

The questionable harvest has created a jump in futures prices. On Tuesday this week, December delivered futures had picked up five and a quarter cents going to $3.59.5 per bushel.

Too much fun

In my long life I have always written about agriculture, golf and travel, and food. Back in the 90s I spent weeks every year away from home playing golf and writing about it. One of the characters in my book of short golf stories (Golf Shorts, available on Amazon) is a farmer named Robert Fitzgerald Murphy, everybody called him Bobby Fitz. He was a farmer in the Coachella Valley of California. He left the farm to be a greens superintendent at a Palm Springs Country club. Comparing the two he once said, “Greens keeping is a lot like farming, except you have a hundred bosses all of whom think that whenever they miss a putt, it is my fault.”

I’m a greenie

I don’t hug trees, I love green chili. The Busy Corner White Kitchen in Olathe has green chili cheese fries. It is sort of a Mexican poutine. The dish is a plate of fries with a ladle of their excellent green chili and melted cheese on top. Five bucks.

Michael A. Cox is a Montrose-based content provider. He may be reached at mcox@burrocreekpictures.com

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