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Gambling hillbilly


Mike Graves

By Mike Graves

We’re in a slow-down mode on the farm today. Winter feeding is over, the freshly worked heifers are gaining about three pounds a day on lush spring forage and we’re burning brush while we spot spray thistles and privet hedge.

We’ve seeded some new ground with fescue, rye and clover and are planning to plant some common Bermuda. We’ll apply some triple 13 and hope to get some litter around July, when, traditionally, fewer ranchers apply it.
In other words, we’re gambling – not at the casino and not at Oaklawn, but gambling on timely rainfall. When we’re through at that table, we’ll move down to the animal health table where we hope anaplasmosis, blackleg or infectious bovine rhinotracheitus won’t take us out. If we’re lucky enough to still own some livestock, we’ll gamble on a good market when we cash in our chips (calf crop).
Yes, farming and ranching are forms of gambling; only without the celebrities, marble halls and beautiful columns. There are no scantily clad “ladies” welcoming you through the gate. The smell of cow manure takes the place of cigarette smoke, bottled water supplants hooch and tonic and the closest thing to a restroom is a red oak tree.
The bawl of an old Brahma cow and the whisper of a pine mixed with rushing water on the “Massey Branch” provide the audio entertainment since the remaining band members of “Bad Company” most likely have never heard of Corinth, Arkansas. And, lastly, cloud formations, wildlife, budding trees and wildflowers will have to suffice for our visual entertainment instead of the flashing lights of the “one armed bandits,” or whatever they are called today.
This column was not intended as some kind of sermon against casinos. Y’all know how I feel about them, and the fact that I stay away from them won’t deter gambling one iota. In fact, I know more Nashville folks who’ve gone broke from farming, than ones who’ve lost it all at the gambling joint.
But, at the end of the day, there is the (sometimes foolish) intrinsic notion that we, the food producers, who gamble on the rain and the market, have contributed to the well being of our planet, mankind and ourselves.
And, with that I’ll close. I’ve sure enjoyed the visit. Thanks for stopping by. Oh, and Roy Conrad said I will NEVER work for him, so buy a subscription to the Nashville News today so I can keep my job!


“And now it’s time to say ‘goodbye’ to Jed and all his kin. They would like to say thank you all for kindly dropping in. You’re all invited by next week, to this locality, to have a heapin’ helpin’ of their hospitality. Y’all come back now, ya hear?”
-The Beverly Hillbillies
“It’s interesting to think that my ancestors once lived in trees, until they got the nerve to head out upon the plains; where they were hit by cars.”
Deep Thoughts
Deut. 31:6

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