Fat Calves and Falling Stars

My wife, children, and I have a farm in beautiful and peaceful Patagonia, where we fatten cattle. Each fall we buy a few hundred calves recently separated from their mothers, and then keep them for eleven months, letting them feed on our natural grass. Once they’ve gained enough weight, we sell them and restart the cycle. The first year we did this, results were spectacular: the animals doubled their weight, and prices were sky-high. In the years that followed, we started buying calves from better farms but, for some reason, our average annual weight gain kept dropping, along with our revenues. And last year’s selling season was our worst ever.

Puzzled, I asked a good friend, whose family has a three-generation ...

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