Almost everyone knows someone who helped them along the way without expecting anything in return – who just enjoyed teaching someone about what they do.
For me, there have been many of those people. But one of the ones that I revered most, Capp Proffit, manager of Barton County Feeders at Great Bend, died on Monday. Capp had been fighting cancer for months and had been away from work off and on for treatments.
I prefer not to think about the months since last fall when he became sick, but the years since I first met Capp back in the mid-1990s when he stepped forward without hesitation to teach me, the new kid on the block at the Wichita Eagle, all about how the feedlots of western Kansas work.
Capp gave me his personal cell phone number and invited me to call him with questions about the beef industry, especially finish feeding.
He talked with candor about the challenges feedlots face in blizzards and dust storms and heat waves and ice storms. He explained how cattle are divided into pens according to their nutritional needs. He explained about feeding out “all natural” cattle versus cattle treated with growth promotants.
He explained nutrition and rations and cattle comfort and why the most humane treatment yields the best financial results.
He explained to me why Holstein steers require special rations compared to beef breeds. He taught me about evaluating the protein content of feedstocks from prairie hay to DDGs and how that impacts the eventual grading of a carcass.
Not one time in decades of relying on Capp for information did I ever come across a time when he didn’t have his information straight and on point. Not one time in all those years did I call his phone and not get either an answer or a return call; always courteous, always kind, always teaching.
Capp, my friend, my teacher, my mentor, I am joyous that you are released from pain and suffering. I am in pain that I must move on without you. Thank you for all the things you taught me. I will miss you and I will remember. RIP.