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Accumulating knowledge

published: October 2nd 2020
by: Dr. Joe C. Paschal

Over the last several months I have gone through much of the papers and books I have accumulated over the last 40 years or so, just trying to declutter. I am not going anywhere yet. I did not throw all of it out, I tried to find homes for much of it, particularly books and journals, especially those that were one of a kind.
    I came across two 1960s USDA Soil Survey books (one for Jim Wells county and the other for San Patricio/Aransas) that I sent to the respective county Extension agents. I know that the USDA NRCS has the web soil Survey online and it does much more than those books ever could but there is nothing like a book in your hand to read. I also found a bound PhD dissertation by L. D. Wythe on Brahman cattle written in 1973. I pilfered it from the Texas A&M Animal Sci-ence Department more than 35 years ago when I was writing mine. Depart-ments no longer keep those except in electronic form, so I sent it to his son. Dr. Wythe was well known at Texas A&M and still highly regarded by his former students. I even found my own dissertation notes and the computer analyses, three full notebooks, and after initially deciding to toss them, pulled them out of the pile. Not sure why, that knowledge is 35 years old now, but I remember the struggle to obtain it.
    There is a lot of knowledge and experience in the cattle business, in organizations like ICA, and yes even in universities that is slowly being lost as folks retire, resign, or go to greener pastures. Educa-tion and knowledge are meaningless if we are not able to pass them along so that others can benefit from them. As with other things in life, we are doomed to repeat ourselves if we are not able to recognize when we are in a situation that we have been in the past. One of the worst effects of this pandemic has been the breakdown of knowledge accumulation and passing along of that knowledge. One could expand it to include all history but here I am only speaking of beef cattle production and marketing practices and principles.
    My suggestion is to keep learning. Not all knowledge is useful but if you learn one new thing that is more useful, efficient, or profitable, it has been worth your time and likely expense. Don’t hesitate to go online or read that new “how to” book, you never know where that next “million dollar” idea will come from!
ICA

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