A Cowboy’s Faith: ‘Mortgage lifters’ back breakers – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith: ‘Mortgage lifters’ back breakers

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Cowboys really aren’t supposed to be in the hog business.”

Still for decades it was frequently quoted “hogs are mortgage lifters,” often producing farm profit when nothing else did.

Recent newsprint stories about high demand for local livestock processing brought reflections of a wannabe cowboy in the hog business.

Where’s the relationship, many instantly scratch their heads? However, in order for the little wannabe to have a horse, Mom demanded, “You have to pay for it with hogs.”

After begging long enough, eventually two acres in the city limits were acquired “to keep a horse.” Still, hogs had to come first.

The bred Hampshire gilt was acquired from local breeder Jake Jackson. Picked up in the grocery delivery station wagon, Susie Q, the belted hog’s cute moniker, wasn’t a big bill payer. She had twins. Still, one gilt was retained for operation expansion.

Finally, Dad bought a grade mare called Spot so the wannabe became a “real cowboy.” Of course, Mom kept demanding the importance of raising hogs to pay increasing bills.

Feeder pigs, often runts, bought at the local sale barn were fed rolled milo without protein supplement.

Then Mom’s uncle John did electrical wiring for a locker plant built just a city block from the “little farm.” Of course, meat processing facilities have lots of livestock innards which find little economical demand and are difficult to dispose.

“That’d make perfect hog feed,” Dad and John decided, forming a hog business partnership. “It’s so convenient to get and is going to waste anyway,” they concluded.

Realization came quickly: “This is really a lot of work.” Processing was twice a week and barrels of entrails had to be picked up slaughter day.

Next thing: “It can’t be fed raw. Cooking to a certain temperature is required meeting regulations for a Department of Agriculture permit.”

Every restaurant in town has buckets of throwaway good food (garbage) every day. “What a real waste not to cook that for hog feed as well,” decision was made.

“It Smells Like Money” was the agriculture class speech about the bad-odor operation, but that was really a misnomer.

The only thing true about a cowboy feeding hogs others’ leftovers is it’s stinky backbreaking work with little profit.

Reminded of First Corinthians 14:58: “Whatever the work is never wasted time or effort.”

030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.

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