Stories

Texas Agriculture Facts

 

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I love being Texan! Sure, the state can be a massive fuck-up and a lot of the people are assholes, but I love it here. I’m grateful that I was born here, and I know it shaped a lot of who I am as a person. Here, from a native Texan, have some pertinent agriculture facts! Agriculture is a huge part of the state and another huge part of who I am. Me and my family are cattle producers, but in a state this big, you pick up a little bit of everything.

Without further ado: Texas Agricultural Facts!

*An acre of land, which is roughly the size of a football field, can produce Texas crops in the following quantities: 650 lbs. of cotton, 27660 lbs. of corn, or 1800 lbs. of wheat.

*If you stand out in a cotton field measuring 6 acres by 6 acres, when the crop is 6 feet high, you can hear the lamentations of the slaves upon whose backs the cotton industry was built.

*Texas leads the nation in number of farms and ranches, with 248,800 farms and ranches covering 130.2 million acres.

*Texas has more women and minority farm operations than any other state in the nation.

*Burying a goat’s head facing the governor’s mansion and listening at night will reveal which crop the Department of Agriculture intends to cut subsidies on next.

*Agricultural exports to foreign countries totaled $6.5 billion in 2012.

*Texas leads the nation in cattle, cotton, hay, sheep, goats and mohair production.

*More unaccountable acres of land appear in Texas at midnight than in any other state.

*Texan cows lead in global production of stillborn human-faced calves by twelve percent.

*The highway system devours our farmland like a serpent of asphalt. But even serpents will burst if they consume something too big for their bodies, and the farmland is a vast, black sea.

*The ribs of the forest cut down to make room for cotton and wheat shimmer under the light of the harvest moon.

*1 of every 7 working Texans (14%) is in an agriculture-related job.

*There are seven barn owls for every person. There are a hundred coyotes for every person. There are innumerable shadows for every person, flitting just out of sight, sighing under the soil, waiting for all the light to die.

*Top 10 commodities in terms of cash receipts in 2012:

  1. Cattle, $10.5 billion
  2. Cotton, $2.2 billion
  3. Milk, $1.8 billion
  4. Broilers, $1.7 billion
  5. Greenhouse & nursery, $1.3 billion
  6. Corn, $1.2 billion
  7. Grain Sorghum, $594 million
  8. Wheat, $538 million
  9. Forestry, $520 million
  10. Vegetables and Eggs, both tied at $439 million

*The railroad connected distant farmland to economic centers, enabling more profitable trade. The trains were the death of the cattle drive, but its gravestones litter the landscapes. Visiting the display in Cleburne gives the memory power. The lowing of cattle sings the land to sleep.

*What came back from the flatlands and hill country, slithering along the train tracks to more populous cities? What rumbled under the roar of engines? What haunted the lines of gaunt-faced farmers and sunburned ranchers?

*It looks like a cow when you get close, but when you look over your shoulder, you see it dissolve into multiple parts again. The field holds no cattle during the day. But it’s better to just call it a cow, and move on. Knowing what it is won’t make it go away.

*The Texas state tree is the Pecan Tree, and the state is a leading producer of pecan nuts and products. School forbid children from picking up the pecans and eating them, but once you taste sweet Texan pecans, no amount of rules can stop the compulsion. Peel open the pod, smash the shell, suck up the shards of flesh left behind. Don’t mind the rot. Texan pecans will never poison you. It’s not in their best interest to harm the host.

*The average age of Texas farmers and ranchers is 58 years.

*A rancher who loves their land and respects the season finds themselves loved in return. The land does not let its children go easily. Weathered old farmers with creased faces like the leather they produce are creatures of great power. It has such a steep cost, though.

*Agricultural pursuits have fed and clothed people for at least 13,000 years. Land is older than agriculture, though, and the plants we put in it are new and foreign. The animals are invasive and unfamliar. But the land accepts and nurtures. Even invaders. The land doesn’t care who stands upon it, so long as it is fed.

*When we die and are buried, we feed the worms and bugs who are the land. It churns in their guts and comes back healthy and new. In this way, our ancestors sustain us, and we sustain those to come.

*The land doesn’t care who stands upon it.

*So long as it is fed, it feeds.

*The Texas sky is blue and broad. The soil reflects the sky above, and those who know the sky know the land. Vast eternity. Bury your toes in it. Feel the great stretch of soil and roots and long-passed souls. The lowing of cattle and the rumble of engines. The lamentations of the slaves and the prayers of the farmers. How is it that something as small as us shapes the land like we do? Are we even shaping it?

*Or is the land shaping us and letting us think we are the masters, because it is the kind thing to do? The provident thing to do? The most expedient?

*When you stand in the middle of the field and see no fences, no trace of human life, it feels like Texas stretches on without end. It’s a hard feeling to hold onto. But cling to it.

*Walk among the hills, the goats, the bluffs, the ranches. Climb the fences. Hold onto the feeling. And walk among your history, forever.

*Sky eternal. Land eternal.

*Feed.

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