I saw this cartoon the other day and it made me laugh.
As a Florida snow bird, it’s fun to see the state from an outsider’s viewpoint.
Look at central Florida on the map. Theme parks fill the whole thing!
But there’s more to central Florida than Disney World.
I know. It looks like a whole lot of nothing. But all that space has a purpose: Cattle!
Did you know Florida has the longest history of ranching of any state in the U.S.?
The cattle industry has contributed significantly to Florida’s economy and natural resources for the past FIVE CENTURIES.
Drive across Central Florida and you’ll see that that cattle ranching tradition is alive and well today. Jess Kimball in Fatal Distraction describes the scene well:
The land between Ocala and Tampa was some of the emptiest space in Central Florida. There were no street lights along the Interstate, few homes and fewer lighted buildings. As in any rural area after dark, the brightest light was the moon.
According to the Florida Department of Agriculture…
-Florida is home to FOUR of the ten largest cow-calf operations in the United States.
-There’s one Florida ranch alone that owns the largest brood cow herd in the U.S.
-Florida dairy producers own more than $236 million worth of cows, heifers, and bulls.
There’s even one breed of cattle that’s native to the state of Florida! It’s called the Florida Cracker Cattle. The breed descended from Spanish cattle brought to the New World in the early 1500s.
According to the Livestock Conservancy, the Florida Cracker Cattle adapted by becoming smaller to help them survive the Florida heat. At around 700 pounds, they’re smaller than the average cow. Florida Cracker Cattle are also highly resistant to parasites, they have a long life span, and they’re said to be more docile than other cattle.
I wonder if Jess Kimball knew all of that!
You learn something new every day, right?