It’s the Pitts 2-8-10
February 8, 2010
My name is Lee Pitts and I was once a cattle feeder. Yes, I was addicted to cattle feeding. I have seen firsthand the impact this can have on families and their net worth so I am proud to say that I have been clean now for 20 years.
Since there is no Betty Ford Clinic for helping cattle feeding addicts, I had to cure my own addiction by developing a 12-step program like those used in Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and over 200 other such programs. (It may not have been just the 12-step program that enabled me to quit cold turkey; a 58-cent fat market and a balky banker also contributed.) I offer my 12-step program in hopes that it may help others become cattle-feeding-sober.
• Step 1: Stand up in a gathering of fellow cattlemen, in a bar or at a convention, and admit you are an addict and your behavior is unmanageable. Admit that when you see a pen of green feeders enter an auction ring and hear the auctioneer’s chant you are powerless in the face of your addiction and your hand automatically goes up.
• Step 2: Because no one has yet developed a patch, drug or chewing gum to rein in your cattle feeding addiction chew on alfalfa stems. You’ve already paid for them and you might as well put the hay to a better use than feeding it to cattle.
• Step 3: If you absolutely must go to an auction take a person of higher authority with you, such as your wife, banker or Cattle Feeders Anonymous (CFA) sponsor to stop you when you try to bid on a cheap set of preggy Corriente feeding heifers.
• Step 4: Remove the enablers; those people or things that are enabling you to feed cattle. These would include your banker, order buyer and futures trader. Sell your cattle truck and airplane. Cancel your membership in the Texas Cattle Feeders.
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• Step 5: Sell your calves at auction and don’t even consider retaining ownership. Let someone else have all the fun.
• Step 6: Rediscover the other days in the week besides Thursdays when the price of fat cattle is usually established. Quit living solely for that 30-minute period when prices are set by the Big Three and admit that there is a higher power in this universe than Tyson, JBS and Cargill.
• Step 7: Remove the temptation to be a farmer as well as a rancher. It is a short slippery step from growing your own hay or grain to building a set of corrals and having 3,500 head on feed.
• Step 8: Cleanse your mind of the obsession. Quit reading articles authored by university professors or economists that advise that you are leaving $50 per head on the table by selling your calves instead of feeding them. Ask yourself, where are the teachers’ and economists’ feedlots?
• Step 9: Break old habits. Don’t check the DTN machine first thing when you get up in the morning and every 10 minutes thereafter until the markets close. Don’t let the price of corn ruin your day and rediscover a new life without margin calls, feed bills, mad cows, dairy buyouts and e-coli outbreaks.
• Step 10: Remove defects in your character. Become a CFA sponsor and don’t enable anyone to become an addict by financing them. Help wives and children who have been hurt by your fellow cattle feeding addicts by forming a CFA-anon group in your area.
• Step 11: Pay your taxes. Stop buying trainloads of grain in December just to avoid paying taxes. Burn the money instead and save yourself a lot of grief.
• Step 12: Replace the risk-taking behavior and euphoria you feel when feeding cattle with other activities. You may find you get the same rush from less risky activities such as hang gliding, sword juggling, car racing or bull riding.