Early in my goat farming career I bought 6,000+ pounds of goats from a scalper named Floyd Thompson in neighboring Higgins, TX. – At the age of twelve, Will Rogers ran away from his Oklahoma home to Higgins to learn how to be a cowboy. – I agreed to pay 80 cents a pound for Floyd’s 68 rag-tag collection. We drove truck and trailer to the grain silo for an empty weigh-in and returned an hour later for the loaded tally. Wrote a $5,000 check from Shelby’s account and started my two-month saga to resell those puppies for at least 85 cents a pound.
For my first attempt I set-up shop on the highway outside Booker complete with a chain-hook scale. Three hours later $20 bucks for one lousy 20lb. goat sold to a Mexican slaughterhouse worker. Next try was a six pack at the Dodge City livestock auction for a whopping 75 cents a pound. A week later it was the same story at El Reno, the auction west of Oklahoma City, where scalper Floyd had purchased most of the sorry critters weeks before.
Before embarking on another furtive sales venture my goat buddy from up-the-road in Slapout, OK – called Slapout because when the general store was out of stock their response was, “sorry we’re slap out.” – Danny Nord, claimed that slaughter goat buyers wanted ‘wethers’ or neutered ‘billies.’ Taking out his pocket knife he performed the surgery on ten ‘billies’ who post op, laid around the pen with sorrowful facial expressions. Four subsequently failed to survive the experience. Dead goats brought zero cents thereby adding to my cost of goods sold.
It was then suggested that I try selling the remaining stock at the sheep & goat auctions in Texas. Goldthwaite was the closest, seven hours straight south of Follett. Friday afternoon the deed was done, 75 cents for the motley ones and 85 cents for those showing Boer blood influence. When I got home to total all the damage I had sold my collection of hand me down goats for an average of 70 cents on the dollar. Of course the diesel fuel, chicken fried steak and cheeseburger lunches were not included. However, sale barn, livestock auction cuisine beats the truck stop any day.
You would think that like Adam Smith, the father of Economics who gathered his wisdom of the law of supply and demand at the Glasgow, Scotland sheep auction, I had learned my lesson. But after Shelby and I relocated the Anala Goat Company to Kendleton, TX, 50 miles southwest of Houston I became incentivized by the West African need for $1.25/lb. billy goats. Mrs. Kettler and her husband had over 200 Nubian goats on two acres in Waco, TX. They were a legend in Texas dairy goatdom for selling $7/gal. raw goat’s milk to David Koresh and his Branch Davidians. The ATF put an end to Mrs. Kettler’s number one customer and to top it off Mr. K, who did all the milking by hand, died.
The opportunity to purchase 40 of the best Nubian breeding stock billies for only a dollar a pound, was too much to resist. Borrowing another $5,000 check from Shelby, I loaded those bad boys up in Waco and drove straight back to the Nigerian chop shop in Houston. Woe is me the deal was off, that $1.25/lb. was good for the Christmas rush, and no longer applicable in January especially since Africans don’t celebrate the Super-Bowl.
Dairy goats in general are docile. Does for sure, Bucks not so for sure but Nubian Bucks are the noisiest, rowdiest, most obnoxious breed known to man. Now, Anala Inc. had forty of them in our backyard. Accidents, described as self-punishment in Louise Hay’s book Heal Your Body came to mind when I fed Shelby’s English Mastiff in the barn stall and all forty bad boys rushed in. The Mastiff sunk his two bicuspids into my thigh muttering under his fangs, “that’s for squandered five grand on ill-gotten ventures.”
Because Allah, like God, protects children, drunks and architects, I was spared from complete failure by my Palestinian goat vendor in Katy, who needed two-tooth billies for the Eid al-Fitr festival celebrated by Muslims around the world, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Alhamdulillah, in 2002 Eid was in February. Eid al-Fitr in Arabic literally means “festival of breaking the fast” and back then it meant saving my ass.
After, the Houston Islamic community had opened every Nubian’s mouth to verify that they were two-toothed yearlings they accepted 39 of the four legged devils. One, the prettiest, had a limp and went home with me. Later, swept up in the biblical sense I branded the dappled fawn colored boy buck, Joseph “coat of many colors.” Although, the Palestinian paid me the over a barrel price of $1/lb. I eventually sold Joseph for $500.
You see, Juan Valdez – he looked like a Juan Valdez, only taller – came out to our farm as the Goat Marketing Rep of the Texas Department of Agriculture and inquired about the handsome “coat of many colors” Joseph. “Did you get that buck from Mrs. Kettler?”
Yes, I did.
“That’s great cause she raises the best Nubians in Texas.”
I wondered if the Muslims thought they tasted good too?
At the end of my 400 days and 400 nights of selling goats door to door, I was convinced that a dollar a pound was a good price for any goat as long as it was still alive. Shelby, the CPA Systems Analyst brains of the analagoatcompany.com begged to differ and sent me and Rudy, my polka-dancing Czech-American goat buddy neighbor, off to San Angelo to deliver a dozen or so of our full blood Black Boer goats for $11,000 COD.
The COD part turned out to be a bad check but Rudy and I got to tour the Producers Livestock Auction, where every Tuesday 4,000 goats and 6,000 sheep are auctioned off. Ali the Turk is the big buyer of sheep and goats in Texas. On Mondays, he’s in Junction, Tuesday he’s front and center in San Angelo, he ends his work week buying for the East Coast ethnic market on Fridays in Goldthwaite. He has his purchased sheep and goats loaded on four level cattle trucks for deliver to New Holland, Pennsylvania.
There are three million goats, six million sheep and 100 million cows in America and 80% of those live in Texas. Save for a couple hundred thousand in Dallas and Houston, the hardcore caprine eaters live in the New York, New Jersey area. Ali either sells direct to a slaughter house or is forced to re-auction them off in New Holland. As Adam Smith and I learned livestock auctions are the Real World of price discovery.
No longer in the goat business per se I’m still interested in economics and especially the value of my fixed income dollar. I was on a jet plane to Rio on August 15, 1971 when the flight was grounded in Panama because Nixon closed the ‘Gold Window.’ At the time I thought that was cute. My 1955 Social Studies teacher claimed the dollar was only worth 35 cents, in 1971 it was 25 cents and after Greenspan and Bernanke less than a nickel. I thought the great Satan Greenspan was having an Adam Smith moment when he recently touted the 1913 (when a dollar was a dollar) economy and a return to the gold standard.
I don’t know how much a goat was worth in 1913 or 1971 but in 2001, I know all too well. As of Wed Aug 10, 2016 according to the USDA Market News, an 80lb. wether – A bellwether is literally the lead sheep or goat wether that wears a bell – got $2.22 – $2.42 a pound or almost $200 at the San Angelo, Producers Livestock Auction.
If Ali was forced to sell his goats at the New Holland sale barn in Pennsylvania on Mon Aug 15, 2016 he would receive a whopping $3.15 – $3.25/lb. or $250 for an unsubsidized, brush grazed, ruminant friend of the environment.
A Return to the Goat Standard says that inflation from a dollar a pound in 2001 to $3.00/lb. 15 years later in 2016 is close to 8% per year. Another way, the current price of our 80lb. wether in 2001 dollars is $2.18 the law of supply and demand at work.
Corn was $2.00/bushel for ever until the Ethanol subsidy goosed it up to $7.00/bushel in 2012 with the subsidy curtailed we’re back to $3.70 in 2016, which is still 40 cents a bushel higher than the 2001 price. The big big problem for the corn producers is their need for $5.37/bushel just to break even.
The cattle price when I was in high school was 20 cents a pound but then a dollar was only worth 35 cents. Cows in Nixon’s 25 cent dollar era went for $0.28/lb. Cattlemen aren’t doing too well these days at $1.32/lb. for the less than a nickel Federal Reserve economy translates to $0.22/lb. in Nixon dollars and $0.15/lb. in my high school years. Unlike goats, cows like alfalfa, feedlot corn and expensive anti-biotics to stay alive long enough to get to the auction. A mid-west farmer puts the cows and corn fiasco this way:
“Come on you guys just look around. I take a road trip every few years across America. Sometimes I cross the northern part of the country. Sometimes south. A few years (2008-11) ago I saw corn in every 3 cornered 3-acre patch of ground for a thousand miles. This year (Feb 2016) I saw cattle in every 3 cornered 3-acre patch. I no longer raise corn or cattle because I grew weary of mine and your predilection to produce ourselves into bankruptcy. If we could get the government out of agriculture, we would probably be ok. Get rid of all subsidies and I do mean all! Then we can let the market settle itself. Forget ethanol and CRP programs. We really don’t need them. The government does. Maybe the next regime will get out of our way…? Until then I will continue digging ditches.”
A Return to the Goat Standard or the Gold Standard as Greenspan calls it, is the only way to stop the Federal Reserve, Obama, Hillary etal. from taking our currency to infinity and beyond. Here is Nixon’s Gold Window fairy tale.
Gold should be $10,000/oz. to conform to amount of digital money that has been pumped into the world economy. It has been suggested that the US Treasury offer $5,000/oz. for gold to bring Nixon’s temporary solution to an end. If not Ali will be forced to pay $625/lb. for an 80 pound wether in San Angelo, Texas. A $50,000 goat sounds like a fair price to me but then what do I know.