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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

Angus Bull

A bartender had the uncanny ability to accurately guess a person’s IQ by just looking into his eyes.  Last Friday, a well-dressed gentlemen came in and ordered scotch and water.  The bartender assessed the man’s IQ to be 151 and he asked the man his opinion about the slow economy and received an intelligent and informed response.

His next customer ordered a Michelob and the bartender guessed his IQ to be 128 and engaged him in a lively discussion about sports. The next man to come in ordered 3 Wild Turkeys.  The bartended looked him in the eye and saw that the IQ was only 88. He asked, “How many years have you been a politician?”

Hugh Watson was born on a farm, and as most children of farming families, he helped his father in all areas of the operation. Early on he gravitated to the cattle side of the operation and became passionate about selecting and breeding better cattle.

When Hugh turned 19 years of age, he ventured off on his own and rented a farm (Keillor Estate). When he started his farming activities, he received from his father’s herd six of the best and blackest cows, as well as a bull. That same summer, he visited some of the leading cattle markets and purchased the 10 best heifers and the best bull that he could find that showed characteristics that he was striving to breed. The females were of various colors, but the bull was black; Hugh decided that the color of his herd should be black and he started selecting in that direction.

Hugh Watson practiced the fitting and showing of his cattle more than was common by other breeders of his day. He was proud of the quality that he was breeding and wanted more people to know what could be done through selection. He made his first exhibition at the Highland Agricultural Society Show at Perth. During his long show career, he is said to have won over 500 prizes with his cattle and did a great deal to increase the popularity of black cattle.

As the years past Watson became quite fond of bull he named Old Jock 126 who was sired by Grey-Breasted Jock 113. Old Jock was used very heavily in the herd for nine years and was awarded the Grand Champion Bull at the Society Show at Perth when he was 11 years old.

Another of Watson’s notable animals was a cow, Old Granny, which was born on Hugh’s farm and lived to 35 years of age and produced 29 calves. At this point you might be asking yourself—“Heath who cares about Old Jock and Old Granny” they are just cattle. Well I can assure you they were NOT just any ordinary run-of-the-mill cattle. For you see Old Granny had her first calf in 1824 in the vale of Strathmore in Angus, Scotland and the pedigrees of the vast majority of Angus cattle alive today can be traced back to these two animals.

If any one person can be singled out as the founder of a breed of livestock, Hugh Watson of Keillor Estate, is worthy of that distinction for Angus. If not the first real improver of Aberdeen-Angus cattle, he was certainly the most systematic and successful.

Hugh’s story of following his passion and showing his results by constantly promoting is a great formula for how we should grow businesses today. Who would have thought something that worked so well in 1824 could be applied to 2015… it seems like the more things change the more they stay the same.


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