PART 2.2 of The Series: A LIVING WAGE FROM COMMERCIAL CATTLE
AUTHOR'S NOTE - All of the premises presented in this series of posts are solely based on personal experience as a livestock producer and strictly as a cattleman (I have a basic understanding of farm commodities markets, but no real experience with such, and cannot speak with much authority from the farm side of things; Though I would think there are going to be some similarities). The information represents my opinion and is based on personal experiences. Any factual information may or may not be referenced, but be aware, the majority of the content is personal conjecture. Dialogue and comment are welcome.
A cattle baron is a man who possesses great power or influence in the activity of herding/caring/selling of cattle. - Unknown
The Civil War devastated economies in the South and in particular Texas. However, Texas had a distinctly singular and bountiful resource. Millions of longhorn cattle roamed wild across the state. Due to the ravages of the war and the steady stream of immigrants, beef was in heavy but short supply across the nation. To complicate matters further, Texas had plentiful supplies of beef but, no distribution system (railroads)...Kansas (three states and hundreds of miles away) had the rail heads to get the beef to market.
In the late 1800's, some daring and intrepid cattlemen rounded up longhorns by the millions and herded them north across Texas, Oklahoma, and into Kansas. In doing so they gave rise to two, distinctly American, icons: the Cowboy and the Cattle Drive.
|"Driving Cattle circa 1887|
|Ranch Brands on Marker |
Doan's Crossing, Texas
Legendary ranches were born as well.
The Y.O., XIT, JA, King Ranch, 6666, Waggoner, and Matador Land and Cattle were among the largest providers of cattle at that time (Side Note: With the exception of the Matador, all of the above named are still active cattle ranches today). These men were literally "Barons of the U.S. Cattle Market" and wielded considerable influence in the pricing of beef.
That was then...This is now.
The open range became fenced pasture land. Cattle are now "driven" to market in eighteen wheelers via a modern highway system. Charles Goodnight, Oliver Loving, the XIT, and 6666 no longer influence the pricing of beef. In fact they are now merely characters and entities of a romantic and colorful past...just "history"as they say.
|"Driving Cattle" - Modern Day|
"The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways." - President John F. Kennedy
LITTLE KNOWN FACT:
Many of the cattle drives were "staffed" by cowboys between the ages of 15 to 20. There was such a shortage of labor that many of the "cowboys" were actually...cowGIRLS. Many of whom cut their hair and made themselves appear as boys to get a job that was dirty, physically exhausting, and paid about a $1.00 per day.
To learn more about the considerable influence and heroism of women in the American West visit the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth. Learn More Here
PART 3: A Living Wage From Commercial Cattle: What Goes Up...