TLH - Newsletter (englisch)
Used courtesy of Dickinson Cattle Co. USA

Used courtesy of Dickinson Cattle Co. USA

All About The Seed

von Charly Bonifaz

DCC Ranch e-News #342 - 1-23-24

by Darol Dickinson

"It is our mentality that we would not try to harvest a crop
without planting it first. We would not expect a calf from a
cow that has not been exposed to a bull. We would not
blindly rely on others to do these tasks for us."

~ Brett Kenzy, President, R-CALF USA

In about 1949, I started working in the field for my grandpa, Lester Wilshire. He had five daughters and was disappointed not to get a single son. He needed a lot of help in his fields and realized that at my age I couldn’t contribute much—but I was free labor, except for what I ate.

Grandpa had battled the Depression, made land payments, and done everything a farmer could do to pay his taxes. He milked cows by hand, raised chickens and beef cattle, butchered hogs, had a fruit orchard, sold melons, and farmed grain crops, mostly oats.

For most of his life, he used an outhouse. As plumbing technology improved, in his last years he put a bath tub and flush stool inside the house for the women—but he didn’t use the stool. He said there were things that should not be done in a home.

Grandpa always planted on the 100th day of the year. In early spring, he turned over the soil, walking behind two big geldings that pulled a single moldboard plow. Regardless of weather—hot or cold, wet or dry, windy or calm—he was working from before daylight and up to pitch dark. After turning the soil, he followed the same two geldings with a drag harrow to smooth the surface before planting the seed. In those days, no one bought special seed. They held over seed from the last year’s harvest.

As the oats grew, Texas bull nettles popped up all over the fields. A bull nettle, for you non-Texans, is Cnidoscolus stimulosus or Cnidoscolus texanus—a perennial herb covered with stinging hairs like a cactus, but worse. At just a touch, the prickly hairs release an allergenic toxin that burns, stings, and hurts like fire for hours. I helped Grandpa hoe the fields and chop down bull nettles in the heat of mid-summer.

During the school year, I was in the field every day the minute class let out. Grandpa would be cutting oats, running them through a binder. When he came to a certain place in the field, I tripped the carrier and dumped the bundles. A few days later, we shocked the bundles. All of this stuff happened during long, hard, hot hours. None of it was enjoyable. No air conditioning, no stereo music, just hard work that had to be done, work that only a person of the soil would enjoy.

The 1949 grain threshing state-of-the-art process
The 1949 grain threshing state-of-the-art process

The payoff—the harvest—came in October. Bringing in the sheaves and threshing the grain was a cooperative community project, with all the excitement and color of circuses that one could imagine. Teams of horses, people, kids, and food came together all at once. Every year new people showed up to help. Spectators even came from Burleson to watch. A diner on wheels was loaded with food for workers, who appreciated whatever was offered. Good farm wives were in competition over who was the best cook. When you are that hungry it all seems mighty mighty fine. Tractors were seldom seen—mostly horse teams pulling bundle wagons. Arty Jones brought in his huge diesel tractor and thresher. He was shouting orders over the thresher, and was for sure in charge.

Neighbors worked together, gathering the shocks, hauling them to the thresher, lining up mostly steel-wheel wagons for off-loading. The thresher hammered the bundles to knock out the oats and separate the straw, which was blown into a huge pile for cattle feed. Threshing was big, loud, and exciting. The strongest, hardest workers were my most-respected heroes. Nothing in my early life was as thrilling as oat-threshing days at the annual harvest. Planting and plowing had no spectator appeal, but harvest was a gala event.


The registered cattle business is like Grandpa’s farm. It has its own seed time and harvest, and every part of the business is absolutely important. No harvest is possible without intelligent plowing, harrowing, planting, hoeing, and favorable weather. A good crop may come after all that. But a really successful harvest comes only if no part is skipped.

Some people in the cattle business want up-front, easy harvesting. But the harvest is only part of the business, the final reward, like a farm’s celebratory circus and music at the end of an arduous process. A good harvest is also like a puzzle with a lot of pieces. Each one is necessary to complete the picture. Whether farming or raising registered cattle, any piece of the puzzle can make or break a good plan.

Most success with crops and cattle comes from a methodical process of careful planning for months or years in advance. Every part of the process must be intelligently done, or there will be no harvest—ever.

Here are ten proven tips that have grown out of more than fifty years of planning and practical experience at Dickinson Cattle Co. All are part of a PR or marketing process is designed to develop a clientele who want to “buy the harvest” in the registered cattle business. These methods don’t come without a business plan—but they are essential. A business person can ignore them, but at great risk to the harvest.

1. Plant good seed. Start with cows with the best genetics you can afford and mate them thoughtfully to the best-known compatible sires.

Photo of DCC billboard
Photo of DCC billboard

2. Put up signs proclaiming that good registered cattle are being raised and are for sale. For example, this billboard along I-70 cost more than $6500 to install, but it is viewed daily by up to 100,000 people. At an estimated cost of 0.000057 of a cent per view, it is DCC’s most economical and successful marketing tool.

3. Advertise in media beyond the Texas Longhorn industry to bring outsiders into the fold. This is opposite to preaching to the choir.

4. Take prospective buyers on pasture tours. Hands-on, in-person, nose-to-nose education can be the most fruitful way to encourage new customers and help potential producers.

5. Invite prospective buyers to a well planned field day of tours, good food, and instructional demonstrations.

6. Doing parades with a Texas Longhorn steer. Seeing a big one in local parades is awesome adverting.

7. Speak about Texas Longhorns at area Rotary Clubs and other civic organizations. This is solid PR. (E.g.,

8. Meet prospective customers one-on-one at an event display booth. Personalize your PR. (For more tips, see

9. Be active on the Internet. Facebook and email are economical channels to reach customers. Think of engaging ways to make your advertising stand out from the others. Unfortunately, the Internet is like a stampeding herd. Details flash by and are easy to miss. Also, digital techniques are so economical that millions of people use the same method, creating mental overload and losing their punch. Internet efforts have to be well thought out and distinctive.

10. Target the sowing. Promote locally first and foremost. Sponsorships and money spent in distant markets normally yield very little. Data shows that most inventories sell easiest close to home.

These tips work. They have been tested in more than a half-century of experience at DCC. They increase the chances of growing a dedicated clientele and a healthy “harvest”—but they require energy. Each one has a cost in time and (tax-deductible) money. Still, they are critical tactics in a successful plan to harvest a really big crop.

Together, they make a unified strategy. If executing all of them is too much, try at least one or a few. Do them well, with distinction and class. Don’t be idle or passive. Plant good seeds. Fertilize your crops. Market them aggressively. If you take the initiative with your produce, you are likely to have a good harvest. If you don’t plan and sow … well, I warned you.

To wrap up, listen again to R-CALF President Brett Kenzy:

We would not blindly rely on others to do these tasks

for us and stake our future on the results.”

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Dickinson Cattle Co., Inc.; 35000 Muskrat Rd.; Barnesville, OH 43713; 740 758-5050