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TO CATCH A CATTLE THIEF

ires crackle over a gravel lot and roll to a stop. A rusty latch clangs loose. And amid the manure and mud of a rural, open-air sale barn—a place where beef and dairy cattle are auctioned—in Stephenville, Texas, a 1,300-pound cow ambles out of a trailer, belly swaying side to side.

“See that right there?” Wayne Goodman asks, prodding me in the ribs with his elbow. “That’s your steak in motion.”

A slight, spry 60-year-old with fine white hair and robin’segg blue eyes, Goodman is like a character straight out of a Western: He

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