Just as COVID-19 has disrupted so many of your lives, I interrupt the writing of the book to share with you my thoughts on the virus. The Coronavirus has affected the lives of every American citizen – some more than others. It has made us put everything in our lives in perspective. As I interject this into my personal life, I’m reminded of just how much my life will be changed. No longer will I be focusing on all the things that caused my tank to go empty, or the unfortunate accidents of the disproportionate horrific outcomes.

They are but life-changing events that changed our lives’ outcomes – often to something better than we ever envisioned. WE DON’T ALWAYS HAVE THE FINAL SAY!

Having devoted my entire life to the livestock industry, I can assure you that it will change forever. It may start changing sooner than later, as there probably isn’t an industry that functions in a more contagious manner than a meat processing plant. With workers standing elbow to elbow, breathing over fresh, susceptible meat, an outbreak is waiting to happen. So, don’t be surprised if you see the “front-page news” splashed with industry shutdowns.

Livestock prices are already beginning to plummet as the result of restaurant businesses shuttering their doors. This is an already vulnerable industry that can’t afford another hit like this. So, buckle up your boots and prepare for a ride, unlike any you have ever ridden.

I’ve been thrown and stomped on more times than I care to remember, but I now thank God every day that I don’t have a dollar invested in the livestock business. YOU HAVE MY PRAYERS, AND SUPPORT LIKE NONE OTHER I’VE EVER DELIVERED.

Taking delivery of livestock just may come to an abrupt halt. And honoring delivery contracts will bankrupt many reputable companies.

My heart goes out to these people, as they represent some of my closest friends and associates. Because of the meat and livestock industry, I’ve been well connected most of my life with friends in high places.

One such friend just passed away yesterday, inspiring me to write this column. His name was DARRELL CRUEA, (from the state of Montana), former Secretary of Agriculture for South Dakota. We were both teaching Meat and Animal Science Courses at universities of higher learning. He was involved in both Illinois and Wyoming while I was teaching at South Dakota State University. It was the kind of relationship that never ended until END. MAY HIS CONTRIBUTION TO THE INDUSTRY BE FELT FOREVER.

Having friends like this in high places helped to bring me through the “empty tank” time in my life. He was at my bedside when I was hospitalized, and always there, whenever he could, at most any public function where I was presiding. I even got to drive his sailboat and dine at his favorite restaurant (a now-closed restaurant.) HE KNEW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GRASS-FED AND CORN-FED. MAY HE REST IN PEACE, KNOWING THAT HE MADE A DIFFERENCE.

So many of my good friends and supporters have passed over the years. Many of which I have written about. Because of people like this in my life, my tank is now full of love and hope for a better America. But I’m afraid that the Coronavirus pandemic will change us forever. Maybe that’s a good thing – we’ll see in due time. At least we will know who is in charge.
My Granddaughter has been the epitome of knowing who is in charge, for without her, this column would never have been written.

To rise above your circumstances is what the COVID-19 pandemic is all about. It’s like asking your Granddaughter for the “last dance.” She, without legs and me, without the will of accepting that the last dance will be more about heart and soul. Once we receive this as a country, we’ll get through it. JUST ASK MY GRANDDAUGHTER.

It is family that is even more important than friends, and perhaps that is the most difficult part of this pandemic. Without “pinching” your nose (hugs and kisses), it doesn’t matter how full or empty your tank is.

My family has been through it all (two World Wars, the great depression, 9-11, and even a freeze on meat and livestock prices), but nothing can defeat the determination of my family, through this and all the other challenges of life. EVERY CHAMPION WAS ONCE A CHALLENGER, so don’t let the Coronavirus be the one.

CHALLENGES and DANCES have been as much a part of my life as filling an “empty tank.”

Just as I completed this edition of my column, I picked up the phone to hear the voice of a long-time friend and classmate from college from nearly sixty years ago (Dr. Allen Wyman/Gene). It was he, along with me, whose lives were spared in a horrific car/train accident. Two of our friends were killed, but due to the hand of God, we could have this conversation today. It was his reading of the “Knightro Report” about my Granddaughter’s equally horrific accident that drew us back together. It was a heart-felt visit (stained by the tears of some great memories) for which the remembrances can be found in my previous columns.

Previous reports can be made available through the editorial staff of the country’s most-read farm and ranch publication, “The Farm And Livestock Directory”, a widely distributed magazine that has captured the attention of so many of my compadres from the past (especially during this pandemic.)