Old McDonald’s farm had grown over two centuries to become a formidable cattle enterprise.
Truth be told, he wasn’t that old, just enough years to remember the Beatles being called the British Invasion long before the word invasion offended half the country. W. Robert McDonald, or affectionately referred to as Billy Bob; short for William Robert McDonald was in charge of the five thousand acre ranch tucked between two large breasts of mountains somewhere in the Midwest.
Billy Bob ran the place successfully enough to make his grandfather’s grandfather proud. A big operation like this is huge with multiple buildings and large equipment to harvest hay to feed thousands of cows. Each of these animals takes nearly three years of feed to fatten them up for tasty hamburgers at the other McDonalds under the golden arches.
Life was good. Then, he received a letter from a new government agency serving an eminent domain notice. This gave him concern, so he called and discovered the government did not want some of his vast acreage for a new highway, the notice was for his cattle. They offered what the government called a fair price which was no where near the two thousand dollar going rate for a beef cow.
When Billy Bob asked for an explanation, the young official stated, “All scientists have agreed the emissions of methane from cows are destroying the atmosphere leading us all to extinction in just twelve years.”
“Is that so?” Billy Bob inquired.
“Absolutely. The ozone is disappearing as we speak.”
“What do you plan to do with my stock?”
“They will be set free to live out a peaceful life on the plains. It would be inhuman to just kill them for no reason.”
Billy Bob thought and offered, “Well that is thoughtful of you to consider a better life for our bovine friends. However,” he said and paused.
He whipped out his trusty Excel Spreadsheet.
“Hello, Mr. McDonald?”
“Just a minute,” then he offered “There may be something to consider.”
“You do know a fair number of our stock is slaughtered currently to feed the masses. Out of the ninety four million cows currently grazing just over thirty two million end up slaughtered every year. That keeps the net population just about the same as it has been for years; right around that ninety million mark.”
The young clerk intimidates, “So?”
“You may not know this but a good healthy cow rarely dies of natural causes. Most make it between eighteen and twenty two years of age on their own. Barring any mad cow disease or pack of wolves, they will do just fine. However,” he pauses.
“Left without our consumption, and the fact that the birth rate for cows is around forty three percent, in twelve years just over six point nine billion cows will be grazing the plains right here in the good ole U S A and farting away the ozone you are so concerned about. Again let me be clear, that is billion with a ‘b’ and that’s a lot of cows.”
“Look,” says the clerk, “Do you want the government to pay a fair price or just take them?”
“You make that sound like I have no choice in the matter.”
“That’s one way you can take it.”
“What am I supposed to do?” says W. Robert. “This ranch is all my family has done for several centuries.”
“You are missing the silver lining.”
“What silver lining could that be?”
“Now, with all your free time you can do art, invent something, go to a museum, learn something, take a vegan cooking class, move to Florida, whatever you want. Isn’t that great?”