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When The Conversation Died

Do you ever think that we get a little one dimensional in the cattle industry? I've long contended that one of our industry’s greatest strengths is that we are passionate about what we do, but let me tell you about something that happened to me the other day.

My family and I had just headed out on a long road trip, and my cell phone was ringing constantly with feedyards looking for cattle that were listed for sale. Then, a couple of friends called and we talked and discussed our favorite topics – genetics, the market and precipitation levels.

My 11-year-old daughter sat patiently through the first hour or so without saying a word. She then declared: "All you and mom ever talk about is cows." I laughed and replied that wasn't true, but she responded that if I couldn’t talk about politics, horses or football, I was totally unable to communicate.

So, I turned up the radio and she fell asleep. I had another seven hours of windshield time with nothing but country music to distract me, so I pondered my little girl's comments and grudgingly admitted to myself that she just might be right. So, I vowed that when I finally get home, I wouldn't talk to my wife about such things, and I’d really try to branch out in my conversations with friends and neighbors to talk about more personal things.

The result was that my wife and I didn’t have a meaningful conversation for two days, except for comparing to-do lists. Meanwhile, you could measure my phone calls with friends and even my parents in seconds rather than minutes. It became obvious to me that if I didn’t break down and return to my old ways, I'd soon be totally isolated from the outside world.

It was a good exercise, however. I learned that I can fake my way through talking about kids, faith and an occasional movie. I even took it upon myself to explain to my daughter that a person can really only have so many interests, and that because we were ranchers we naturally were going to talk about cows, markets and the weather.

She didn’t argue the logic, but she got me to thinking again when she said, "well, it just seems like you have the same conversation with your friends as you do the people you hardly know." In her mind, there was something seriously flawed about that; she may be right, but I’ll let you know later how that particular experiment turns out.