Cow business wasn’t as good as it looked

When growing up in Rochelle, most all families kept milk cows. After morning milking, they would turn them out to graze all over town. I could hardly wait to learn how to milk, and after I learned, I dreaded each milking. The old cow would either hit me in the face with her tail or knock the bucket over about the time it was full. Mr. Phillips, a local cow trader, always had a few milk cows for sale. When you went to look at one, his wife was trained to come out of the house and say, “Don’t sell that good butter cow,” providing that was the one you were looking at. In about 1949, Daddy leased the Lewis Bell ranch on the Brownwood highway. I was just out of high school and enjoyed going out there and learning the cow business. We would be riding around the pasture in a pickup and Daddy would say, “That little long-tailed calf belongs to that ol’ black cow. And that little red-necked calf belongs to that certain cow.” I was wanting to get through and go to Brady. I asked him how he knew which calf belonged to a particular cow. He said that when you sign the note at the bank for them, you would understand it. For about a year things went good. I got to buying a few cows, and they would be $50 a pair higher the next week. It looked great. In 1950 I bought about 50 registered cows in Brownwood for $375 per head. The Korean War began, and I joined the Air Force. The drouth was beginning, and Daddy sold those cows in 1952 for $125 per head. My son-in-law, Skip Godwin, is a cattle buyer in Kaufman. In about 1974 he sent me and Miers Johnson several black Angus cows for $227 per head. They calved out in October, and we sold them for $800 per head. Again I thought I should quit teaching school and just buy cattle. Then Miers and I bought 80 cows for $500 per head. After a while we lost our lease and sent them to the San Angelo Auction. One had Bang’s disease so they quarantined the rest, and we brought them back home. We drove them up and down dirt roads and finally Bill Miller at Mercury let us put them on his place. We finally sold them and lost $15,000. We never want another cow.

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