Riding Shotgun – A Cattleman Retires

Riding Shotgun Caption
As we travel the highways and by-ways of the Limousin family and breed we often cuss and discuss the cattle business, sports, politics, great cheeseburgers and most of the time, the promotion and marketing of Limousin cattle.

Through “Riding Shotgun” we invite you to join us in the right-hand seat, so that we can let you in on what we find to be our marketing pet peeves, shortcuts and some of the favorite habits of top-flight professional producers. Grab a cup of coffee and take the ‘shotgun seat’—we are pleased to have you riding along.

Years ago, in 1976, I took a job preparing cattle for sale and show during my Christmas vacation from the University of Missouri. While working my skinny little rear off, I had the great opportunity to add to my salary with a New Years Eve poker game with the neighbors and of course my employer and host, David Smith. Late into the evening, in a round of Three Card Guts (I was dealing), I found myself with a guaranteed winner, two kings with an Ace kicker. The pot was $1,250, the same amount as my paycheck for one month of fighting yearling bulls and frozen ponds. As we rounded the table, two of us thought we had winning hands, it turned out that Dave (my employer) had 3 of a kind, an unheard of situation in Three Card Guts. But a bet made is a bet played and I worked that month for nothing. Turned out it was worth every minute.

Sometime this fall, David Smith is going to retire from Grassroots Genetics and the registered cattle business. The dates are a little foggy, but the end result is the same. It’s not very often you get to work with your hero, but around 1996, I found myself in need of a dependable and knowledgeable cattleman, and Dave found himself in need of a job that allowed him to follow an up-and-coming high school defensive end that put his feet under Dave’s kitchen table. Now, 25 years later, we find ourselves facing a new future and new business plan. David and Ginger are going to enjoy their grandchildren, the oldest of them also works on the defensive side of the ball. They are going to travel to their favorite countries, cook their favorite gourmet meals, and enjoy the taste of vineyards from here to there.

We all learn and need mentors in our lives. David Smith is mine. We’re cousins by birth and brothers by circumstance. We have cussed, discussed and dissected bulls and females from four different breeds and still had time for pro football, chef-style cooking techniques and the properly executed pitching wedge. His and Ginger’s influence on my life and business sense is immeasurable and I can’t thank them enough for all they have done for me beginning with the year we all went to the New Bloomfield County Fair with five Polled Herefords, eight sheep and David’s brand new driver’s license.

Thank you, Dave and Ginger for all you have done for De and I and for the Limousin breed. Here’s to hoping you never have to talk to UPS customer tracking again and that we will, down the road, tip back a Busch or maybe a Cabernet and talk about bulls with heart, guts and big feet. Real cattlemen are hard to find, I was lucky enough to have one three miles away.

See you down the road.


Mark A Smith
email: [email protected]
phone: 515-229-5227