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Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

Cattle Feeders and Camels

Monday, February 13, 2012

Vermont is the "smartest" state (Iowa measures up as the 4th smartest), and Nevada has the dumbest residents, according to "The Street." Yes, Virginia, Senator Harry Reid is from Nevada.

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A story claiming it is illegal to hunt camels in Arizona is bogus, although there have been feral camels in the U. S. in my lifetime. One private herd was turned loose near Indianola, Texas and in other areas camels escaped on their own. Arizona declared camels extinct in 1913, but hunters reported seeing them around Yuma into the 1950s.

You may not remember, but before he was President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis was first a United States Senator, and from 1853 to 1857, the country's Secretary of War. Showing vision, he pushed for a Transcontinental Railroad and when that plan failed, Davis decided to experiment with camels as a means for transporting military provisions across west Texas and the "Great American Desert." Following the California gold rush of 1849, there was an increasing need to protect and supply the growing population of Americans in the southwest.

As a result, 33 camels and several Greek and Turkish drivers were brought to Indianola, Texas in 1856. Permanent quarters were established at Camp Verde, just south of the present town of Kerrville, and another herd of 41 camels arrived the following year.

Over the next several years, the camels were used alongside mules on extended trips throughout west Texas and as far west as California. In many ways, the camels proved themselves as superior transport animals. They were able to carry loads over long stretches without water and with very little forage--trips in which most mules would have perished.

During the Civil War the camels were captured by Confederates, and then re-captured by Union forces. After the war entrepreneurs used the beasts to supply remote mining camps, and the "California and Utah Camel Association" bought army surplus camels and sold them in Nevada. A plan to use camels imported from China to carry goods to Salt Lake City failed, and the camels left in Nevada created such a stir that in 1875 the legislature banned them from public roads.

Ultimately, however, the camels failed. Their soft-padded feet were unsuitable for travel over much of the rocky southwestern terrain. They frightened horses and they were detested by their handlers, who were accustomed to more docile mules.

The goal of a currently active organization, the "Texas Camel Corps," is to, "Share our camels in one of a kind settings that the public will enjoy and remember." They do parades and other events.

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Speaking of Camels, The Street also says that the highest percentage of smokers live in West Virginia and Kentucky, while Utah and California have the fewest lighting up.

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I think we should give Arizona and Southern California back to Mexico. It would serve them right.

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Over the last 60 plus years the Hinton area had, and still has, many prominent cattle feeders and breeders, including the Helds, Juncks, Jauers, Mueckes and Andersons. Around Plymouth County some other names I recall are, Vos, Bliel Anstine, Schroeder, Tentinger, Ruden, Scheitler, Peterson, Reilly, Phillips, and Tindall.

Beef on the hoof, both feeders and slaughters, is at an all time high. Driving across northern Nebraska and on to Oregon last fall I was reminded of the many Iowa farmers who took fall western "buying" trips to purchase feeder calves direct from ranchers in the late 1940's and the '50's. In Nebraska towns like Valentine, Merriman, and Gordon we saw the old time hotels, some still open, that catered to cattlemen.

My dad and friends made some of those trips, and a couple times singled out, or the rancher did, 4-H calves for my brother and me. I have since heard that when some of the guys went in groups it might have been to have a little fun away from home. Any Sioux City Commission house could have done the calf thing. My dad combined a deer hunt on a trip to Wyoming in 1948, and my mother got a deerskin jacket and gloves. That was in the day when horses outnumbered deer in Iowa.

Other cattle feeders went to South Dakota or Montana, and some weeks after the buyers returned, the semis would roll in. Those scared, bawling range doggies would pile out, ready to chomp down on bushels of corn and gobs of hay, hopefully to more than triple their weight, and their value. Then and now, you had to be a bit of gambler to feed cattle. Or to do any large scale farming!

Don Paulin, 2carpenterdon@gmail.com, 7557 30th Av, Norwalk, IA 50211 - 515-201-7236

By Don Paulin
Been There, Done That