Sustainability of balloons vs. beef


Moved cows this morning with the Boss Man at the Home Place. It’s usually not a big deal as we rotate pastures regularly, so the pairs are used to being juggled from place to place. It was a beautiful cool beginning to the day — one of those that starts getting a person excited about Husker Football and warm drinks. Then I saw it …

I was around a tenth of a mile away and could catch the glimmer in the grass. I deterred from my path to chase some more pairs out of the hills to see if my initial thought was correct. It was.

It’s surprising how one little thing can just make my internal cuss mechanism go off like none other.

Some idiot, once again, had bought a balloon for someone else (in this case it was that individual’s birthday) and that balloon ended up in one of our pastures yet again.

I despise balloons. It never seems to fail that whenever a helium balloon is purchased, there’s going to be a pretty good chance that that balloon is going to escape. Why can’t we have EIDs for balloons? Or health and brand requirements so when they show up unannounced, I can pack them up and take them back to their originally destination.

I think what irritates me the most about balloons in our pastures — besides the possibility of livestock digesting them — is that pasture is acres upon acres of this beautiful landscape covered in grass that has been feeding cattle for over 130 years. I don’t know what’s more sustainable than that.

The only tarnish on that entire pasture this morning is that someone not associated with our business decided to make a poor decision one day and purchase a balloon that ended up becoming my problem. This would even become a greater oxymoron if that individual was a tree-hugging, non-GMO vegan.

I can almost envision me showing up at the culprit’s house. It would be just like those older movies where the neighborhood kids would put a brown paper bag — which would include you-know-what — on the community scrooge’s front porch and set it on fire. I would make sure to include the balloon.

My email inbox has continually been full the last couple months with all the #fakemeat, #meatlessmonday, #howgoingveganwillsavetheworld junk. Ranchers and farmers aren’t sustainable. Animal agriculture needs to be reduced so we can feed the planet. If we want to keep climate change and global warming under control, we need to reduce cow farts, or heck, let’s get rid of cattle altogether. We don’t want GMOs but we want the “Impossible Burger” that has things in it that deserve an asterisk.

Those who don’t care for animal agriculture have an agenda: To get rid of animal agriculture.

Those who are in agriculture? Well, they disagree a lot.

I don’t know how much more of a wake-up call we need to get everyone on the same page. I don’t care if you grow grass-fed or tradition beef. I don’t care if you have free-range or caged chickens. I don’t care if you raise a GMO or non-GMO crop. But I do care if we can’t have a cohesive message.

No, agriculture is not destroying the environment. Yes, livestock can be sustainable. Yes, meat and vegetables can be good for the human body. That’s a pretty simple message, and the data backs it up.

I see the same response time after time. We need to play nice. We need to realize that we can’t change the opposition’s opinion. Yet doing so has continued, time after time, to get us into the position of playing defense. We can be respectful. We can get our point across. It’s about time we ALL started to band together and understand that if people want to eat in the future, they need to start appreciating the efficiency and sustainable that ranchers and farmers are providing.

Take an extra minute this week to share with someone a positive agriculture message. Because as Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Let’s just make sure the group that’s changing the world is the one that knows how they like their steak cooked.

Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Neb. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at


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