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March 2009 Archive for Out to Pasture

RSS By: Steve Cornett, Beef Today

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Update on grades and brammers

Mar 27, 2009

By Steve Cornett

Gosh. I hope I don’t sound defensive here, but my recent piece about more Choice cattle and instrument grading included a gratuitous tease about Brahman influence cattle, and—no surprise here, now that I think about it—it upset some big ear guys.

They are legion, loyal and—as the guys from Excel learned a couple of decades ago when they publicly broached the subject of docking cattle with more than ¼ brammer in them—about as thin skinned as their cattle.

That’s a joke. Just teasing again, guys.

Let me enunciate more clearly.
What I was talking about was the fact that cattle in Texas feedyards, where a lot of Southeastern cattle are fed, tend to produce a smaller percentage of Choice carcasses than those farther north, where more of the feeder cattle are British and Exotic cross cattle.
My stated theory—and I just repeat what folks tell me, you know—is it’s because Texans feed more Bos indicus cross cattle and because there are more small producers in the Southeast than in ranch country.
It’s not my theory. It’s what the guys who actually feed a lot of the cattle suggest. 
I’ll stick with that. But, let me rush to enunciate more clearly. Quality grade is just one—a minor one,  judging by the market—of many attributes a breed of cattle needs. Gosh, look at the list of EPDs to get a partial list of stuff that separates right from wrong cattle.

Among the folks who upbraided me publicly with a reply to the earlier blog was a guy whose opinions I trust far more than I trust mine, that being Joe Paschal at Texas AgriLife Extension Service. He’s usually kind, but one blog I make fun of Aggies and the next one I denigrate brammers. I guess he decided enough is enough.

So what he did was suggest that I educate myself about the Bos indicus breeds and the progress they’re making on carcass traits and share some of the information with the Beef Today readers. 
That’s a good idea. Since the Excel guys stirred them up, a lot of them have been working overtime developing programs to identify and multiply good carcass genetics.
They have good stuff to work with. Without giving ground on my earlier theory about generic Bos indicus carcasses—the real world beast that help hold Texas grading to 50% Choice while Nebraska runs 70%—I should note that there is plenty of diversity within the breeds. Grading isn’t their thing, but they are nonetheless pushing forward.

So I  contacted a couple of the more prominent breeds. Ervin Kaatz at the Santa Gertrudis outfit and Chris Shivers at the American Brahman Breeders Association. Both were kind enough to provide me with quick updates on where they’re heading.
From Kaatz’ email: .

"At one time most of our Bos indicus related breeds were content to play on the female side of the equation – relying on the accepted superiority of our breeds in the southern third of the U.S. as the best cow for the environment. Here at Santa Gertrudis, we have been pushing for performance data not only on growth, but on carcass quality as well. We have no illusions about turning our cattle into high grading Angus. In fact, that effort would probably be the ruin of our breed. But what we do realize is that we have to have enough quality so that when used in a commercial program with Angus; our contribution will not reduce the quality and affect the value in a great way. We recognize that our strong point in a commercial program is our adaptability and compatibility with other breeds.

"So we are very involved in finding those cattle within the breed that need to have their heads cut off. They are the small percentage of the breed that cause a high percentage of the problems. We have an ongoing National Steer Feedout where purebred steers are fed, slaughtered and data collected. We are doing WBSF on them to get a handle on tenderness. We have our 11th set of cattle in the yard now with over a thousand head evaluated to date. Our association is as far as I know, the only one that had ultrasound machines and staff measuring cattle. That did a lot to get our breeders into the carcass quality arena. We have since switched to using certified technicians and certified labs to match industry guidelines. We were the first Bos indicus type breed to adopt DNA testing on a large scale. In fact, King Ranch was sending hair to Australia to be analyzed before that technology was even available here in the U.S. We are currently producing carcass EPDs incorporating carcass data and ultrasound data, and will soon use DNA data as well.

"Just this last fall, we implemented a whole herd program known as Total Performance Records. This was done in a very breeder friendly way while still meeting the basic need for data on complete populations or contemporary groups in order to increase the accuracy and predictability of our genetic evaluations as reflected in our EPDs. 

"The major thrust of our breeders today is to produce an animal that can contribute positively to the commercial industry. In visiting with our breeders, I am constantly noting that it doesn’t matter what we would like our cattle to look like – what is important is what our potential buyers want them to look like. That means if the industry wants them to have a yellow spot between their eyes; we better figure out how to put a yellow spot between their eyes. There is nothing to be gained from producing a product that no one wants to buy.

"One of the biggest challenges we are facing right now as a breed is the lack of enough cattle to meet the demand. We have a commercial percentage program that also doubles as a grading up process. It is known as Star 5 and includes half and three-quarter blood cattle. The demand for these percentage females as commercial replacements is tremendous. One of the most popular crosses is the red mott or half Santa Gertrudis & half Hereford. The adaptability of that female is unbelievable. She is less that a quarter Bos indicus and when bred to an Angus, she will produce as fancy a black baldy as anyone could ask for. And that calf can be sent anywhere in the country. If the market changes, all the producer has to do is change bulls and he is right back on track.

"Going the other direction, the Santa Gertrudis X Angus (black or red) female is almost as popular. A typical scenario is the black half blood Star 5 cow or red half blood Star 5 cow bred to Charolais, Gelbvieh or Simmental bulls. You get a black, smoky or yellow calf that can go anywhere.

"I have always had a problem with the gurus constantly talking about the type of calf the consumer wants. What the rancher needs more than anything else is the most efficient cowherd he can put together. That is what he lives with 365 days a year and hopefully 10 to 12 years. Those cows better be right if he expects to stay in business. If he has the cows right, he can meet any market demand simply by choosing the right bull. Like I said earlier, if the market moves; he can move with it by changing bulls. He shouldn’t have to change his cows. He can’t afford to change his cows."

I want to concede every point he makes, except that “gurus” thing. If efficiency was all that mattered, we’d all be raising goats. You can grow those things for nothing but the embarrassment.  The problem is goats taste like goats, and that rather limits the market.

Over at ABBA, Chris Shivers suggests a different approach, and one I enthusiastically applaud. They are pushing to find and promulgate tenderness genes. In a time when more than half of all cattle grade Choice and consumer surveys still show a wide level of dissatisfaction with eating quality, that might be wiser than simply trying to get high marks in what is, after all, a subjective measurement of one characteristic of one eating quality, which is itself only one of many important qualities you want to see in a cow you’re buying.

Anyhow, Chris writes: 

"Since 2001 we have harvested  767 head of Registered Brahman steers through the ABBA Carcass Evaluation Program.

"This program is set up just as many of the other carcass evaluation programs. Ranch to Rail, etc.  Producers nominate the cattle, they are fed in a commercial feedyard, weights are taken at entry, re-implant and then at harvest.  We collect the customary carcass data as well as take a steak to perform Warner-Bratzler Shear Force at Texas A&M.  The data is then recorded and Carcass EPD's are calculated on the sires.  We currently have EPD's on 279 sires.  These sires represent close to 5,000 head of purebred Brahman Steers fed through our program and programs at LSU and the University of Florida. 

"ABBA was second behind Simmental to produce a Tenderness EPD. The data on the ABBA Program is the following: 

  • Sale Weight/Live Weight: 1170
  • HCW: 735
  • Dressing %: 63.3
  • ADG: 2.7
  • Backfat: .31
  • REA: 12.9
  • REA/Cwt: 1.8
  • YG:2.3
  • QG: Se
  • WBSF: 8.5 lbs. - 47% under 10 lbs.
  • % Choice: 25%

"These are actual USDA Grades.  Dr. Joe Paschal collects the data and also calls the QG and he has called closer to 40% Choice.  As you reported in your article with machine grading we would expect our cattle would grade higher.  The grades have varied quite a bit due to the difference in graders. 

"Basically we have not seen a big change in any of the categories over the past 6 years except in Tenderness which went from 12.1 the first year to 6.7 in 2007.

"I can honestly say that some of the breeders who had bulls that produced tough carcasses in the first project did cull their bulls based on the results from this study.  Most of these continue to participate in the program and select for bulls with better WBS Forces.

"Our goal is to produce cattle that will grade Select & Choice with Yield Grades 2-3 and are tender.  We are really focusing heavily on tenderness, as consumer research has shown that consumers want a lean tender product. 

"Many of our members are incorporating the use of DNA Markers primarily the Genestar Technology.  When the technology was first introduced Brahman ranked 2nd behind Angus as far as utilization. 

"We do have breeders who utilize ultrasound and we are seeing this used more and more.

"I know you are focusing primarily on the carcass side but much can also be said in regards to the efficiencies and productivity of the Brahman influenced cattle on the female side which is its primary use.  Hybrid vigor, environmental adaptability, longevity and productivity are the strong suits of these breeds especially in the cow herd.  Although Brahman influenced cattle make up 30% of the cattle in the U.S. over 80% of the world’s cattle population is comprised of Bos Indicus Cattle." 

I snipped some in both notes as well as nudging the spelling a little in one, but the point is taken. These cattle are not high grading cattle, but that’s ok. They don’t grade like Angus or run as fast as corrientes. But, they’re not supposed to be race cows or grace the tables at Ruth's Chris.

They have other qualities. Great qualities, in fact. They produce well where other cattle might not produce at all. They are just better at producing Select beef, and there is a huge market for Select beef. Consider that Texas cattle—those 50% graders—often sell above their higher grading cousins up north.

So, gosh, I didn’t mean to disparage the guys’ cattle. If I wanted to disparage a breed it would be Longhorns, and even they have their place. Did you ever see some fancy-grading Angus over a mantle?

So there’s my bottom line: Different purposes call for different genes. This has got too long, so I’ll defend my stand on small producers and their impact on Texas quality grades another time.



More Machines, More Choice

Mar 23, 2009

By Steve Cornett

The market analysts last week were struck by the remarkable lack of divergence between Choice and Select beef prices and, interestingly, they seem agreed that one of the biggest factors is the use of mechanical grading.

You’ll recall that last year, after much prodding by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, USDA finally approved the use of machinery to replace human eyeball graders. The goal was to make grading more predictable and “fairer.”

If that is what has happened, it looks like a lot of cattle were under graded in years past—and the more high quality cattle in the mix, it looks like the further off the humans were.

It is just about what I expected would happen when we got rid of those subjective human eyeballs. It’s like looking at pretty girls. If you’re grading a Miss America contest (and who among us hasn’t?) you see so many pretty girls that your eyes get jaded. You get to thinking some darned pretty girls are average. I’ve heard people say it.

Having at one time or another watched carcass lines in plants in all three states, I figured the guys up north might be a little spoiled. They get one after another of those fancy European and British cross cattle that originate on professional cattle outfits.
Head farther south and there are more cattle bred to produce in the heat, if you get my drift, and born on places where their primary role is weed control. Not all, of course. But a percentage.

I really thought grades might decrease down there because I figured the human graders might get to where they thought anything with a fleck of white was surprising.
It wasn’t that bad, of course.  

Still, the percentage of cattle grading Choice is running several points over historic averages—despite the use of more products designed to pour on muscle at the (in some cases) expense of marbling.

Don Close at Texas Cattle Feeders noted last week that the percentage of Choice cattle in Nebraska has run 71.7% this year, compared to a long-term average of 61.47%. In Kansas, Choice cattle have jumped from a “normal” of 48.51% to 61.41%, and in Texas the historical 45.6% has moved to almost 51%.

Which is nice for grid marketers, I suppose, except that it means thousands more Choice cattle in the mix each week, and thus reduces the value of breeding and feeding to the high quality end point, at a time when consumers are less interested in quality than price.

So there’s one, and maybe the biggest, reason for the spread being historically narrow as we approach the summer grilling season.

Of course, a lot of the many, many culling decisions the last few years have been influenced by grids that reward Choice cattle. And the cattle are still getting bigger, which to the extent it means older, I suppose would enhance marbling. So I guess cattle may just be grading higher.

But I suppose—if only because I tend to suppose what the smart guys tell me is so—it has more to do with the change in grading technique. To that extent, I guess we may be looking at a long-term mitigating effect on the relative value of good-eating beef steak.

I’m not sure that’s all good, are you?

Steve Cornett is editor emeritus at Beef Today. You can reach him via e-mail at

This column is part of the Beef Today Cattle Drive e-newsletter, which is delivered to subscribers biweekly and includes beef industry analysis, market information as well as the latest beef headline news. Click here to subscribe.


Snake Morning

Mar 18, 2009

By Steve Cornett

Cheery. That’s what Jim Jennings was on snake morning. Cheery and all in starched jeans and shirt and a clean Resistol, looking like he was off to some fancyschmancy horse show in Fort Worth or Denver.

He was no longer just the recently retired editor for the American Quarter Horse Association and author of the stunningly beautiful Best Remudas book on my coffee table. He was a college kid again, bubbly you might say, and all enthused about catching rattlesnakes.

He was, of the seven humans assembled that morning in the Mulberry Red housebarn, the only one in good humor. The rest of us had the weebie-jeebies. We were there because of peer pressure, Jennings being the peer and we the pressured. It was Jennings who, upon hearing last year about a den full of coontailed diamondbacks on our place, offered to show us how to catch them.

Like we cared.
Like this was something we needed to know.

This is me in my body armor cap, telling the girls I’ve never had so much fun. Or something like that.

Anyhow, the rest of us were not in starched anythings. We were in lace up snake boots and puffy coats we thought might be thick enough to absorb snake fangs. I was even wearing the “Point Blank Body Armor” gimme cap a policeman friend had left. Just, you know, on the off chance a snake was to bite me in the cap.
We were not cheery. We were weebied and jeebied and sleep deprived after a night of snake dreams.

Jim had assured us it would not be scary. He said we would get to the den early before the snakes got out of their holes and then we’d be out there with long snake catcher gizmos and we’d “just pick them up” and drop them in a trash can.

Jennings knows about these things because he grew up around Sweetwater, Texas, and before he went off and got Aggie-educated at Texas A&M (Apparently the university of choice for snake hunters--go figure), he used to catch snakes for fun. I don’t know Sweetwater all that well, but  if all the young people have to do for fun is catch rattlesnakes, I say it’s a town in need of a pool hall.


Peering, attentively if not exactly hopefully, into the den are Jim  Jennings (front), Anon(center) and me (as rear as possible).

So anyhow, here we were. Just about sunup of a Saturday morning in late February. The beaming Jennings; another  friend we must call “Anon” because he doesn’t want his name associated with this activity (This friend’s job keeps him on the animal rights group hate lists. He believes he’d rather they not know he not only eats meat but also kills rattlesnakes); and your editor emeritus with a bit of a hangover from the previous night’s dose of preventative snake medicine.

Oh yes, and our wives--or, as we had taken to calling them, to the merriment of the men if not the women--the “Miss Snake Charmer hopefuls”--plus Kathy Pruiett, one of my wife’s coworkers who is inclined to just do stuff just because she hasn’t done it before.

A trash can buzzing with what Anon at one point called in a classic oxymoron, “a pretty good mess of snakes.”
And we went and caught snakes.
So this is a photo essay. Jim’s wife, Mavis, was handling the camera, and with a long enough lens to allow her to stay with the females while those of us cursed with testosterone caught snakes deep in the pit below.
Before we get too far into this, I should point out that I don’t like snakes.  I’m somewhere toward the sissy end of the scale that begins at “smart enough to avoid poisonous snakes” and proceeds to “outright, certifiably, phobic about anything remotely ophidian.” 
Nonetheless, this place of ours is overrun with the things. Two years ago, we happened on this den. It’s deep in a wash that has cut down through the gyprock formation. The sides of the washes are laced with old critter holes that favor the wintering habits of rattle snakes of all types.

This particular wash is probably 12 or 15 feet deep at the den point and maybe 30 feet across. If you visit on a warm winter day, there may be snakes outside a big cave-like orifice at the bottom, or lying beside gopher-sized holes on the sides. They’re just everywhere. 
So Jim the Snakist says this would be a great place to catch snakes. “Why,” asked Anon and I, “would we want to ‘catch’ them. Why wouldn’t we just shoot them?”

Anon poses a diamondback for the camera.
Because, says Jim the Authority, if you do that you’ll scare the rest of them and they won’t come out.” So, he says, we need to catch them live. Weebie-jeebies.
Jim surveyed the wash and said that, although it would be tight, we could get all three men and any women who cared to join us squeezed into the right spot. We would spray gasoline in the big hole, wait a bit, and then they would come out.
So, asked Anon and I, what if they come out of the other holes while we’re watching the big hole?
“You need to keep your eyes open,” says Jim, seemingly oblivious to just how superfluous that advice would be to non-Aggies.
So Jim fetched along a pump-up weed sprayer to which he had plumbed a long copper tube. We filled the sprayer with gasoline (unleaded, of course.) Then we crawled down into that chasm. We went in this order: Jim. Then Anon. Then nobody. Then nobody else. Then me. 

No women. They all gathered at the top and watched from afar saying things like: “Oh, Jim is so brave.” “Oh (Anon) is so brave.” And blahdeblah so on.

Jim strode over, sat down on a rock at the entrance to the hole and said with that adolescent enthusiasm, “this is perfect.” No. Accuracy demands an exclamation point. He said: “This is perfect!”
“Great” said Anon. “Where do we put the gas?”

So Jim started leaning over that weebie-jeebie hole in the rocks, pushing that copper tube as deep as he could. In a bit, he says to Anon, “ok. Give me some gas.”
And they pumped some gas in there. And we waited a few minutes. Nothing. A few more minutes. Nothing. Jim then says, “maybe they’re not in there.”
Which is when I moved up to have a look myself, positioning myself carefully behind Anon who had positioned himself carefully behind Jim, who was right at the mouth of the weebie-jeebie hole.
They both had hand mirrors and were reflecting the sun into the hole. It was surprising how well you could see in there. Emboldened by our lack of progress, I leaned over and looked in myself and, by golly, right there was this snake head looking back at me. I mean, right there. No. I mean RIGHT THERE.

I stepped back, calmly, I think, and said something like “I believe there is a snake coming out of that hole, gentlemen.”

“Watch your language” said one of the women. “Shhh, Steve,” said Jim. “Don’t scream, you’ll scare him.”
Apparently not, for here came the rattler, carefully, slowly, heading for ungassy air, his little weebie-jeebie serpentine tongue flashing in and out all wiggly and snakey. Quick as a flash, Jim caught him up with the snake catcher gizmo and dumped him all buzzing and mad into the garbage can.

For the next couple of hours, Jim and Anon snatched one snake after another, dumping them into a mass of their kin in the trash can.
I helped too, of course. But ever the gracious host, I let them do most of the catching. At least I was braver than the girls, who all stayed up on top hollering things like “be careful!” and “there’s one in that hole up there!” and “has Steve wet himself?” at us.
Anyhow, to make a long blog short, before lunch we had pulled 25 diamond backs out of that one hole and the honeycomb holes around it. We decapitated them later and I put their still-squirmy remains in a plastic bag and put that in the game freezer at the barnhouse, just in case somebody wants the hides.
They are still available, by the way.
Jim, who knows about these things, said I could go back the next day and catch just as many as we did that day.

I didn’t. 

Columnist sips the Pollan Kool-Aid

Mar 09, 2009

By Steve Cornett

Did you see that George Will has bought into the Pollan Premise? (Click here to read it.) Will is usually a careful thinker and reporter. His column last week is testimony to just how persuasive Michael Pollan’s arguments are.(Click here to read Pollan's views on food policy from the New York Times magazine.)

Somebody better get busy presenting the other side of this story, because now we have both our new president and a leading conservative thinker playing footsy with a most radical concept.

Michael Pollan is the teacher, writer and “food activist” who is pushing a premise that holds that food is too cheap in the United States. He says that cheap food is a bad thing because we eat too much of it and get fat and unhealthy and that is a big part of the health care problem. And, by the way, the way we farm produces a big carbon footprint.

He summed it all up a couple of years ago with this bit of advice in a New York Times piece: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

His primary target is subsidized corn, but to get at corn he likes to say mean things about “factory farm” feedlots and how cheap corn makes cheap meat and, ergo, we’re all fat slobs because of cattle feeders.

I’ll let the corn guys take care of themselves on this. I’ve read both ways on the science behind the anti-corn syrup argument and don’t pretend to know the answer. But you can’t blame red meat for this obesity problem, and especially not the explosion in diabetes.

Here, after just a bit of Google research, are a couple of graphics that ought to make anybody—much less somebody with George Will’s intellect—question that premise.

So we can see that diabetes, a terrible and expensive disease, indeed, has been increasing since the 1970s, with a growth spurt in the 90s.

This leads Will to presume in his column that:“Type 2 diabetes -- a strange epidemic: one without a virus, bacteria or other microbe -- was called adult-onset diabetes until children began getting it. Now it is a $100 billion-a-year consequence of, among other things, obesity related to a corn-based diet, which is partly because steaks and chops have pushed plants off the plate.”

Did you get that little “steaks and chops have pushed plants off the table” comment? Well, as of 1996, this is how USDA figured the changes in food consumption:

Per capita red meat consumption has done nothing but go down since 1996. Steaks and chops haven’t pushed plants off the plate during this epidemic. The opposite is true, and I would argue it is because of the way a gullible public has reacted to simplistic “bad food good food” arguments against red meat.

The public has been doing just what they heard the government and “food activists” tell them to do since the government introduced the first dietary guidelines in 1980. They eat less red meat, more fish and poultry and more fruits and vegetables.

But look how much good it has done:

Look what happens to that graph about 1980, coincidentally perhaps, the year USDA published those first “simple” dietary guidelines.

It’s not fair to blame USDA’s advice for the entire problem, I suppose. Think of all the changes we’ve seen during that rise in obesity. Microwaves—and all the fat and sugar that makes microwaveable meals edible; Chicken McNuggets and other treatments to make poultry edible; VCR’s and Tivo technology to keep us in front of the TV more; the Internet to keep us even more sedentary than we were before.

I wouldn’t argue that people who sit on their saddle parts all day shouldn’t change their diets. But there is no evidence that beef is the culprit in all this.

Nonetheless, Will buys into another trendy Pollan notion: “Corn, together with pharmaceuticals and other chemicals -- a Pollan axiom: "You are what you eat eats, too" -- has made it profitable to fatten cattle on feedlots rather than grass, cutting by up to 75% the time from birth to slaughter. Eating corn nourished by petroleum-based fertilizers, a beef cow consumes almost a barrel of oil in its lifetime.”

I’ll leave it to others to determine the accuracy of the math and to compare the beef cow’s relative use of fuel to that of chickens and pigs that never step outside the feed pen. But the point of the thing is the point of the thing. Why, given all the evidence, is beef always the villain?
More importantly, what can be done about it?

Steve Cornett is editor emeritus at Beef Today. You can reach him via e-mail at

This column is part of the Beef Today Cattle Drive e-newsletter, which is delivered to subscribers biweekly and includes beef industry analysis, market information as well as the latest beef headline news. Click here to subscribe.


Update: A medical term for vegetarians

Mar 04, 2009

By Steve Cornett

First, let me make note that I didn’t write the darned NYT article. All I did was ask you to go read the thing. So I can’t "not know" what I’m talking about because it wasn’t me who thought we needed a term for people whose personal warp makes them think they should eat less pasta and more tofu. Or less tofu and more pasta. Or whatever it is that lets them think St. Peter is keeping track of what they eat.

That was a psychiatrist who said we needed such a term because he was seeing a lot of them whose mamas would rather see them starve than eat an oreo or a pig skin. Psychiatrists, not magazine writers, know when somebody has crossed the line between concerned and goofy. So don’t tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about. Call the doctor. 

Still, let me disassociate myself from the term “wacko” that some ill- mannered correspondent used so cavalierly. That’s what I would call a stigmatizing pejorative. 

Orthorexia is, after all, a condition. An illness. People don’t choose to be orthorexic, you know. You can see right there in the article that it’s part environment and part genetic. Nature and nurture combining to make them “different.” Not their fault.

I don’t have a current copy of the DSM-IV that the head docs use to diagnose mental illnesses, but I’ve known (and, most recently corresponded with as you may have noticed) enough of them to think I can recognize some of the symptoms.

Some signs you should watch for in your loved ones:

The sense of humor atrophies early, especially among the orthorexics whose “bad food” phobias involve meat. I’ve seen no research, but I did once have a doctor tell me to quit eating so much beef and within days, I had become surly and what, at my age, they call “crotchety.” I think beef, and this I believe not only because of all the vegetative eaters I’ve known through the years, may contain a “good mood” vitamin. 

Orthorexia also “presents” (to use a term the way the psychiatrists do) as what my dad would call a “bad case of self importance.” If your loved one says “At least I’m doing something for the good of (mankind) (the globe) (the world) (animals) (bean curd farmers)” and if the emphasis is on the “I’m” don’t panic, but you might consider a subtle suggestion about “getting the old noggin noodled just for fun.”

Oh yeah, and if their arms look like mesquite roots with little nodules for elbows, that might be a symptom, too.

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