Zebra striped cattle

Laugh Tracks in the Dust
Milo Yield
Damphewmore Acres, Kan.

Scouring the internet for obscure news about agriculture sometimes yields some information that is borderline funny.

That’s what I thought last week when I stumbled onto a story about “striped cattle.”

Nope, it’s not about gene-splicing zebra “stripe” genetics into beef cattle. But, it’s close.

It seems that scientists delving into the deep and mystifying subject of why do zebra’s have stripes discovered it’s not for camouflage to confuse predators like lions, but serves to provide some protection from the smallest of predators — biting flies — by addling their teensy brains about where to land on the zebra to bite.

The scientists concluded that the sharply contrasting black and white stripes in some way confuse biting flies and give zebras a measure of defense against them.

So, taking their zebra research findings to a more practical level, the scientists decided to expand their research to “black and white striped cattle.” They got three groups of black cattle. On one group, they simply painted zebra-like white stripes on their black hair. On another, they painted black stripes on black hide. And on the third, the control, they just let Mother Nature take her course.

What they discovered may prove practical in improving cattle protection from biting insects. The cattle research showed that “B&W striped” cattle had around 50 percent fewer biting insects than the “black striped” cattle and the control group. The zebra striped cattle were annoyed less by biting flies and gained better.

So, don’t be surprised in the near future to see zebra striped cattle in pastures around the world. It just goes to show that sometimes obscure research, with seemingly little practical value, discovers something quite practical.

• • •

A 30-ish cowboy wuz in the local saloon having a great ol’ time with his buddies — quaffing beer, playing pool and shuffleboard, occasionally two-stepping with a barfly.

Suddenly, his cell phone rang and he got a real ear-full of chastising from his irate wife. After he hung up, he sheepishly explained to his buddies, “Sorry, guys, I have to go home. How wuz I supposed to know that when my wife said we should go out and celebrate our anniversary this evening, she meant we should go out somewhere together?”

• • •

Jay Esse from Colorado sent along this funny.

On a blistering hot summer weekend, a farm wife reminds her husband that the lawn needs mowing.

It is so hot that her hubby jokingly asks, “It’s too hot, I think I’ll just strip off naked and mow the lawn a’natural. If I do, what do you think the neighbors will think when they drive by?”

Without a moment’s hesitation, his wife retorted: “They will probably think that I surely married you for your money.”

• • •

Late breaking news on “Trick,” the race horse I have a 10% racing interest in. He didn’t run his second race at Remington Park in Oklahoma City because it wuz discovered that he is a ridgling, or a cryptorchid — one of his testicles did not descend from his body properly. This is a condition that causes extreme discomfort.

So, the decision was made to turn “Trick” into a gelding and that’s what happened. So, “Trick” is now in a mending, healing mode and won’t be running for an uncertain time into the future.

This is a short-term turn for the worse, but might turn out to be good in the long-term. After Trick returns to training, he’ll be more mature and, hopefully, fully healthy. At least his condition most likely explains his poor performance during his first race.

• • •

Sometimes I wonder why I keep on writing this column. It certainly isn’t for the money. The main reason is because it keeps me involved — at least on the periphery — in agriculture, my No. 1 rated career choice.

But, then I got a letter more than a year ago that gives me another reason for my column writing. The writer was “Joy N.” from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It read:

“I read all your columns to my aging Dad during my weekly visits and they usually make both of us chuckle about something. Dad lives in an assisted living facility about an hour from my house. He receives a subscription to the paper your column is published in. His niece and her family gave the gift subscription to him. They live and manage a grass-fed cattle enterprise close to Rosebud, Mont.

“Just wanted to let you know Dad and I both enjoy hearing about your escapades as well as your outlooks on human nature and all the things that go along with those situations.

“Wishing you continued success. Keep up the good writing.”

And I reply: “Thanks for the compliments.”

• • •

Now, words of appropriate thanksgiving from a thoughtful Daniel Humm: “What I love about Thanksgiving is that it’s purely about getting together with friends or family and enjoying food. It’s really for everybody, and it doesn’t matter where you’re from.”

So true. Have a good ‘un. ❖

Milo Yield

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