Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Lost Civilizations - Apocalypto - Lost Cattle Breeds

The past days have been busy and filled with much of the typical demands of a cattle ranch, with some llama (the one in front in the pic) and cat crisis added in. I lost a cat to a snake bite yesterday, and it was the second snake bite suffered by a cat in the past couple of weeks, the first one, Leopold, did survive -- it's got me wondering if some odd, insidious, northern snake that kind of likes moving around in the fall weather may have made the trip from up North with a load of alfalfa. One of my llamas is just acting puny, I can't see any obvious wound, but then she's covered in several inches of hair over the majority of her body. She waits for me to bring her food and water a few times each day, and seems to be getting a bit better. I haven't ruled out snake bite for the cause of her decline, it's a good possibility under the circumstances.

Tonight, I got around to watching Primetime from a few days back, the main story was on Mel Gibson's newest movie, Apocalypto. It looks to be a very good movie, and the premise I find fascinating, the rise and fall of a powerful culture perhaps via their own inadvertent self-destruction due to greed and wish to control, to have, to be, more and more. Ultimately, this led to a quite lost and destitute Mayan culture in the modern day. Of course, the point was made that perhaps the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq is reflective of the waste of human life and other natural resources that led to the apocalyptic end of the Mayan culture.

While to some extent I can understand Gibson's wish to correlate current USA events and attitudes with the historical rise and fall of powerful cultures and nations, there's ample bloody fingerprints from prior administrations throughout US history that have had less basis and more loss of life than current events -- what struck me as most important from this Primetime coverage of the movie Apocalypto was the footage of Mayan descendants in Mexico and Guatemala today who live in poverty. An ancient and mighty people who when covered by Primetime reporters find their best stories in a young Mayan boy who sniffs glue and lives in a garbage dump; and a 'single' Mom who prepares meals over a fire and weeps and tells them her life is striving to somehow make a better future for her children.

How will those children ever have a shot at a better future? Education is the key to better futures in the USA, and certainly a lot of hard work is vital as well. But the modern Mayan culture presented as the norm during the filming of this movie was distinctly lacking in any indication of options such as education or industry that would provide a way out, a way up, for one person, much less the modern day Mayan culture as a whole.

We also learn via this Primetime coverage that Mel Gibson's last movie has made over a BILLION dollars -- that's pretty awesome. The Apocalypto may well make more, they certainly made use of lots of native 'actors' and so there isn't a big budget for greedy USA actors. So, given the horrid conditions Mel Gibson described very well himself, and Primetime covered so colorfully -- why wouldn't Mr. Gibson himself already have a University being built in either Guatemala or Mexico for the modern day Mayan descendants? A BILLION dollars from his last movie and more to come ----- I think that would build a University (I doubt they'd object to cinder block walls or lack of 'really cool' stuff necessary in the USA) and pay some profs for a couple of years, and truly change some lives in this lost, but once mighty, culture. A failing of Hollywood Democrats is their own lack of example. They make more money than any average American can ever conceive, even some governmental bodies, use their popularity as a political tool, but be assured they don't put themselves at risk financially, they most assuredly have the best of CPA's or Financial Planners to assist them in using every conceivable avenue of tax savings.

So what's the point of this on a Cattle Blog? :) Well, the British White cattle breed is somewhat of a lost culture if you will. It is up to the breeders of this special bovine to continue to fight to bring it back to the revered status it held in ancient days. We will never know what events occurred that brought this special breed from immortalization in ancient oral tales to the small population to be found in the 19th century, any more than we can really know what caused the destruction of the Mayan culture. But we can work hard to educate those around us about the British White breed. And we can make better efforts to record their growth traits, their ultrasound carcass data, their DNA, and their many other desirable traits that aren't perhaps as easily quantifiable.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Happy Thanksgiving and a Photo Memory To Share

This is an old photo from my first year raising British White Cattle -- it's my Desktop background. My niece spent such a wonderful visit with me and she'd never been on a picnic before! We spread our blanket close to the fence, and of course that first set of curious British White heifers of mine gathered to watch and interact with us........always a good memory, and one to be very Thankful For this Day........and that fairly large, quite old cow you see in the background, she was from my first 5 British White cows purchased, and remains my oldest cow here at the ranch, and she's been dubbed long since as 'Mama'

Happy Thanksgiving! from J. West Cattle Company

There's not much left in this pasture to browse for, but they're doing a good job of acting content. A short while later they were mobbing the fresh hay they were served for their Thanksgiving Dinner....Hope everyone has a really nice day with family and friends

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

GrassFed Beef - It's What Your Wise Ancestors Enjoyed, How About Your Children's Diet Now?". . . the brain is 60 percent fatty acids. " Dr. Shalin

Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLA's) - We've all heard some discussion, whether on television, in the newspapers, or at the gym about the importance of these Essential nutrients in our diets. We can either take our Omega 3's and CLA's in a pill from the health food store or in the foods we eat.

The word "Essential" prefacing the fatty acids we as humans need to live in optimum health is not an advertising gimmick, but rather a formal designation of their importance and the fact that our bodies cannot manufacture these essential nutrients - we must get them from our diet.

Why do we need Omega 3 Fatty Acids and CLA's? The cells of our bodies are geared to want them and to use them in the maintenance of our heart muscle and our blood vessels and our immune systems and more. . .


"With all those benefits coming, we even developed particular genes to fend off the higher levels of fat and cholesterol in red meat. "There is a set of genes that allows us to eat a lot more meat without toxic effect and at the same time have longer life spans, which are unprecedented among other primates," says Caleb Finch, Ph.D., a gerontologist at the University of Southern California, who coauthored a report on how human beings became omnivorous, published in the prestigious Quarterly Review of Biology earlier this year.

But the most important evolutionary leap beef brought was the development of bigger brains. Your ability to outwit that guy in the next cubicle can be traced directly back to the switch from bananas to brisket in ancient man's diet. "Fats are essential for brain growth," Dr. Shlain explains. "Excluding water, the brain is 60 percent fatty acids." The primary source of these fatty acids in early man's diet? You guessed it: red meat. Humans are unable to easily manufacture the fatty acids our brains need; diet provides the sole source. "The more meat they ate, the smarter they became. The smarter they became, the more meat they ate," Dr. Shlain says. Which accounts for that magnetic pull you feel when you see red at the grocery store..."

Source: MensHealth.com Right On, Red - You already knew beef builds muscle. But did you know that it makes you smarter? By: Phillip Rhodes & Alex Salkever


{"The medical profession now recognizes that some mono-unsaturated fatty acids, (i.e. fatty acids with one double bond in the chain of carbon atoms), are protective against heart disease; that longer chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, in particular those with the first double bond at the omega-3 position, such as those found in oily fish, are anti-thrombogenic (helps prevents clotting); and that conjugated linoleic acid, an isomer of linoleic acid, is protective against cancer, obesity and heart disease. These compounds are found in beef fat in varying amounts." R&H Hall Technical Bulletin Issue No. 4 ~1999 (Ireland) THE QUALITY OF MEAT FROM BEEF CATTLE. Is it influenced by diet?}

Purdue - 1997 Research - Omega 3's and Your Bones

Where do we get Omega 3 Fatty Acids? In this modern day, we have limited choices from our diet. We can turn to fish - salmon and tuna are good choices. But, we are constantly warned of the potential presence of mercury in our fish. The risk is so great that pregnant women are urged to refrain from the consumption of fish. We can turn to beef - IF it is beef raised and finished on grass. We can no longer turn to beef produced through modern feedlots.

Feedlot beef is grain fed and most of us have become accustomed to it's taste and texture. There is nothing better than a high end cut of beef prepare impeccably on your grill or in an exceptional steak house - that taste and texture is what beef connoisseur's over the decades have become accustomed to expect of the ultimate beef eating experience. Most of the flavor in that steak comes from the fat - but also much of the important nutrients that nature intended that steak to provide is contained in the fat, or would be if it were not a grain finished cut of meat.

Because it is a grain finished product, enjoying that beautiful steak is compromising your health by giving you high levels of Omega 6 Fatty acids, which are provided to the slaughter animal via the grain in their diet. Grains are high in Omega 6, while grass provides the animal and you with Omega 3. The gross imbalance of Omega 6 to Omega 3 Fatty acids compromises the optimal functioning of your heart and arteries. The optimal ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids is firmly established. The consumption of grain fed beef raises the level of Omega 6 fatty acids well above that optimal ratio and compromises your health.

Wild game such as venison is heart healthy and lean. Deer forage on natural 'green stuff' that is high in Omega 3's and Vitamin E among other highly valuable nutrients to the human body. A steer that is raised on grass likewise provides the human consumer a lean meat product high in Omega 3's and Vitamin E. It seems pretty simple, but the traditional feedlot beef producer doesn't want you to realize that.

Monday, November 20, 2006

An Arabian Horse and a Jaguar Sharing Shelter!

This isn't necessarily a normal moment here at the ranch, but with Donny, my Arabian Horse, anything is possible. I'm thinking he anticipates some rain perhaps and wants a roof over his head close to humans! But, in trying to capture this picture, I realized he was both enjoying the carport and the massive amount of live oak acorns blown in by the wind for his enjoyment in a nice 'parking' spot. I scooted him out the gate in short order where he's got ample grass still to graze, it really wouldn't do for him to get a belly full of acorns, he might founder on them.....I swear he can founder on most anything - except grass and alfalfa hay!

Donny came to the ranch a few years back, he foundered immediately his first spring on the fresh grass! Turns out it's A&M's opinion that he was an old founder horse.........so that explains the really good deal I got when I bought him. The years since then have been difficult and draining and at times had me at what I thought was the end of my endurance, much less his. Regardless, we both weathered it through (his farrier says he's the example he tells others about of a phenomenal horse and owner that has successfully survived the most severe of rotations from laminitis) and he's a fixture here at the ranch, and in many ways is responsible for my complete embracement of a natural, grassfed approach to raising my British White cattle.

It would kill him if he found his way to a pasture with grain in a feed bin, or a lick tub with weird protein sources added, or just snuck into the barn and found a feed bag that smelled good and looked like a good candidate for ripping into! I new I had to make it safe for Donny to live with some ease, for me to live with some ease from worry about him. A Grassfed approach to raising my cattle satisfied, resolved the situation. Alfalfa suits him fine, he never has any problems hanging with the cows and sharing their alfalfa, and of course I always watch my grass hay quality for anything that may hurt him.

The only problems I encounter with Donny running with the cows.........he becomes their authority figure! So he's by himself for the next few weeks, my heifers are in my Northwest Middle pasture and it has lots of pot holes towards a natural ravine and I don't like the risk of having him there. He can't run with the fall calvers because he might try to start directing my new baby calves around, and that won't do. So for now he's by himself for a bit and I leave the gate open to the grounds of the house off and on, he's a really good lawn mower! But the massive acorns that have dropped from the live oak tress around the house the past couple of weeks create some limits to how often he can come in and browse around the shrubs and hang out in the carport! He particularly likes to do a good trimming to the purple pampas grass -- it's surely good for it! Right?