Category: Change

Learning in Tough Times

Learning in Tough Times

Posted August 23rd, 2009 — Filed in Bud’s Musings

If you are a person who likes to learn or needs to learn, these last two years should have been wonderful.  The next two years may be even better.  We can’t change the world but we can learn how to live and do business in it better.

We are going through a time period now that has a chance to educate a lot of people. Maybe that should be, a chance to relearn some things that have been forgotten or ignored. People go to a University and pay a lot of money for the possibility of learning something. Now we have a situation where very large to very small businesses also have the possibility to learn something. This may cost a lot more than going to the University but there is the potential to learn some things that will have a lot more value.

Some of our largest companies forgot or never knew the most basic things of good business practices.  They did things that never should have been done. Now they get to pay for the education.  Did they learn, or do they just get to pay for it?  We have many small businesses that did the same things, it just may not cost them as much.  The education might cost less but it could be just as valuable. Individuals also had a chance to get a good education with possibly very little cost.

Everyone should have learned something about debt or borrowing money. Most of the time the people that loan money expect it to be paid back and with something they call “interest” added on.  “It is easier to borrow money when prices are high than it is to pay it back when prices are low.” These are good things to know.

Something else that is good to know is that “When it is easy to borrow money to expand the business other people are also expanding.”  Another good thing to learn is “When things are good and everybody is expanding their businesses it is possible that there may be some over production.”  Here is another good lesson “Over producing tends to bring low prices and it may be hard to pay the debt off with low prices.”

Maybe when business is good we should save money instead of borrow more. Then when prices go down we would have money instead of owe money. When we decide to expand it should be with some of our money, maybe not all, but some.

Invest money in things you know something about or invest very little and then only money you already have. Buy things you have the money to pay for.  If you don’t have enough money to pay then buy less or smaller. To save money takes very little effort and you don’t have to spend money to save, it also can make money. Learn to save and how to make money not just how to spend. To make money takes effort and you may have to spend money to gain or hope to make money, just try to spend money that you have.

The large and small companies that had and are having financial problems had people that were well educated at our finest educational centers. They had all the newest equipment and technology  to work with, yet they had these problems. Most of their education or at least what they learned was how to spend money, when they should have been learning how to make and then save money.

This is what we should learn from this problem that “emotion is trying to make bigger than it is.”  Develop as much skill at your job or business as you can then learn how to make, save, and manage money, not just how to spend it. It’s not necessary to own half the world by the time you are 21 years old. Learn and really understand what you want to accomplish, then start doing things as properly as possible. Then you can really own what you have not just have payments to make on something that might be gone with the first little down turn in the economy.  Things are so good now that it is easy to get over extended.  Because of spending money that people didn’t have, they say things are bad. The only thing bad is the people who keep telling us how difficult things are.

When things are like this there is opportunity everywhere. If we lose money, a job, a business,  the knowledge we gained should have been worth more than the money, job, or business was worth. That will make it easier to get started and be more successful than before. Or we can learn nothing because of complaining and feeling sorry for ourselves. If we lose a business it must have had very little value or it could have been sold for a large amount and everything would still be alright. Sometimes to lose a business that has very little value can actually be a good thing, then we can start over and do things better and have a business that is worth a great deal. If we lose a job it is the same thing, we should have learned enough that a new and better job is easy to find.

Learn all you can, these next few years should be fun, just like the last fifty have been. After all, we get to decide how good or bad they are.  I’ve decided that they are good, that’s why I can        Smile and Mean it.

A Great Dream – By Kit Pharo

In response to last week’s PCC Update, a subscriber in Illinois sent me the following quote.   As you know, I like to share favorite quotes in our PCC Updates and Quarterly Newsletters.   This quote really packs a punch!

“A great dream is not as good as a great memory.   The dream can be had by anyone.   The memory – must be made.”    ~ Eric Thomas

This quote speaks for itself and does not require commentary.   Nevertheless, I feel compelled to comment.   In my lifetime, I have met many, many people who had GREAT dreams.   Unfortunately, very few of those people made their dreams come true.   Most never did get off the starting line.   They always came up with excuses to put off the most important things in their life.   As I think back, I find this to be very sad.

I want to challenge you to get off the starting line and do what it takes to make some of your dreams come true.   Turn those great dreams into great memories.   Do you have some personal dreams or family dreams?   I hear people all the time talking about the things they have on their Bucket List.   Most of those people, however, never get beyond talking about their dreams.   Before you know it, they no longer have the ability or the desire to do the things on their Bucket List.   Consequently, they did not create any great memories.

Do you have some business dreams?   Would you like to make your business substantially more profitable, enjoyable and sustainable?   Would you like to create a business the next generation is excited to become a part of?   As Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”   Please remember, though, the present is different from the past and the future will be different from the present.   Creating a bigger and/or better business will involve CHANGE.   There is no getting around that fact.   While everyone else is afraid of change, we should be embracing it!

Quote Worth Re-Quoting –

“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.”   ~ John Barrymore

Quote Worth Re-Quoting –

“Success is simply a matter of luck.   Ask any failure.”   ~ Earl Wilson

Resistance to Change –

By Kit Pharo

People hate change!   Nowhere is this more prevalent than in agriculture.   It seems to take years for people in agriculture to make simple changes – even though they know the change will be for their own good.   I must confess that I too am reluctant to change.   I may not hate change as much as most people, but it still makes me uncomfortable.

I read a neat little Seth Godin book entitled Tribes.   In this book, Seth spends a considerable amount of time discussing the status quo and its fear of change.   He believes change is inevitable.   I don’t think anyone can argue with that.   Change is a normal and necessary part of life – and the sooner we embrace it, the better off we will be.

Seth says, “Change almost never fails because it was too early.   It almost always fails because it was too late.   By the time you realize your corner of the world is ready for change, it’s almost certainly too late.   It’s definitely not too early.”   Mr. Godin goes on to say, “There may be a small price to pay for being too early, but there will be a huge penalty for being too late.”

We use the term Herd Quitter to refer to people who have enough courage to break away from the status quo, herd-mentality way of thinking.   It is more about thinking for yourself than anything else.   Following the crowd (herd) and doing what everyone else is doing is never the best way to manage a business.   Dare to be a Herd Quitter.   Dare to enter the New Frontier in beef production.   Dare to make the necessary changes in your operation while you still have a choice in the matter.   The sooner, the better!

Quote Worth Re-Quoting –

“Change before you have to.”   ~ Jack Welch

30 Behaviors That Will Make You Unstoppable

A lot of people are good at what they do. Some are even elite. A select few are completely unstoppable.

Those who are unstoppable are in their own world. They don’t compete with anyone but themselves. You never know what they will do — only that you will be forced to respond. Even though they don’t compete with you, they make you compete with them.

Are you unstoppable? By the end of this blog you will be.

Let’s get started:

1. Don’t think — know and act.

“Don’t think. You already know what you have to do, and you know how to do it. What’s stopping you?” — Tim Grover

Rather than analyzing and thinking, act. Attuned to your senses, and with complete trust in yourself, do what you instinctively feel you should. As Oprah has said, “Every right decision I have ever made has come from my gut. Every wrong decision I’ve made was the result of me not listening to the greater voice of myself.”

The moment you start thinking, you’ve already lost. Thinking swiftly pulls you out of the zone.

2. Always be prepared so you have the freedom to act on instinct.

“Just as the yin-yang symbol possesses a kernel of light in the dark, and of dark in the light, creative leaps are grounded in a technical foundation.” — Josh Waitzkin

Become a master of your craft. While everyone else is relaxing, you’re practicing and perfecting. Learn the left-brained rules in and out so your right brain can have limitless freedom to break the rules and create.

With enhanced consciousness, time will slow down for you. You’ll see things in several more frames than others. While they’re trying to react to the situation, you’ll be able to manipulate and tweak the situation to your liking.

3. Don’t forget your WHY on the path of success.

While pursuing big dreams, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day weeds. If you don’t continually remind yourself WHY you’re doing this, and WHY it’s important to you and other people, then you’ll get lost.

Additionally, as you become successful, don’t forget WHY you’re really doing this. Having nice things is, well, nice. But for you, it’s never been about the money, prestige or anything else outside of you. Take these things away and nothing changes for you. You’re still going to be pushing your personal limits and giving it your all. Give these things to you and they won’t destroy you like they do most people.

4. Never be satisfied.

“The way to enjoy life best is to wrap up one goal and start right on the next one. Don’t linger too long at the table of success, the only way to enjoy another meal is to get hungry.” — Jim Rohn

Even after you achieve a goal, you’re not content. For you, it’s not even about the goal. It’s about the climb to see how far you can push yourself.

Does this make you ungrateful? Absolutely not. You’re entirely humbled and grateful for everything in your life. Which is why you will never get complacent or lazy.

5. Always be in control.

“Addictions embody repetition without progress. They produce incapacity as a payoff.” — Steven Pressfield

Unlike most people, who are dependent on substances or other external factors, you are in control of what you put in your body, how you spend your time and how long you stay in the zone.

Act based on instinct, not impulse. Just because you could doesn’t mean you do. And when you do, it’s because you want to, not because you have to.

6. Be true to yourself.

Although 70 percent of US employees hate their jobs and only one in threeAmericans report being happy, relentless and unstoppable people purge everything from their life they hate.

Have the self-respect and confidence to live life on your terms. When something isn’t right in your life, change it. Immediately.

7. Never let off the pressure.

“Pressure can bust pipes, but it also can make diamonds.” — Robert Horry

Most people can handle pressure in small doses. But when left to their own devices, they let off the pressure and relax.

Not you. You never take the pressure off yourself. Instead, you continuously turn-up the pressure. It’s what keeps you alert and active.

8. Don’t be afraid of the consequences of failure.

“The idea of trying and still failing — of leaving yourself without excuses — is the worst fear within the fixed mindset.” — Dr. Carol Dweck

Most people stay close to the ground, where it’s safe. If they fall, it won’t hurt that bad. But when you choose to fly high, the fall may kill you. And you’re OK with that. To you, there is no ceiling and there is no floor. It’s all in your head. If something goes wrong — if you “fail” — you adjust and keep going.

9. Don’t compete with others. Make them compete with you.

Most people are competing with other people. They continuously check-in to see what others in their space (their “competition”) are doing. As a result, they mimic and copy what’s “working.”

Conversely, you’ve left all competition behind. Competing with others makes absolutely zero sense to you. It pulls you from your authentic zone. So you zone out all the external noise and instead zone into your internal pressure to produce.

10. Never stop learning.

“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.” — Alain de Botton

Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning. If you’re pursuing a bigger future, then you’ll be failing a lot. If you’re failing a lot, then you’re learning and transforming and reshaping your brain.

When you look back every 90 days at your progress — by measuring THE GAIN rather than THE GAP — you’ll be stunned at all you’ve learned and accomplished. You’ll look back and be blown away by where you were and who you were. And how far you’ve come. This will bolster your confidence to continue stretching forward with greater imaginative leaps.

11. Success isn’t enough — it only increases the pressure.

“I firmly believe you never should spend your time being the former anything.” — Condoleezza Rice

For most people, becoming “successful” is enough. At some point or another, they stop focusing on the future and become content with a particular “status” they’ve acquired. The status, it turns out, was what they were really after.

However, when you’re relentlesssuccess only increases the pressure to do more. Immediately following the achievement of a goal, you’re focused on your next challenge. Rather than a status, you’re interested in continuous growth, which always requires you to detach from your prior status and identity.

12. Don’t get crushed by success.

“Success can become a catalyst for failure.” — Greg McKeown

Most people can’t handle success, authority or privilege. It destroys them. It makes them lazy. When they get what they want, they stop doing the very things that got them there. The external noise becomes too intense.

But for you, no external noise can push harder than your own internal pressure. It’s not about this achievement, but the one after, and the one after that. There is no destination. Only when you’re finished.

13. Completely own it when you screw up.

“Implementing extreme ownership requires checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility. Admitting mistakes, taking ownership anddeveloping a plan to overcome challenges are integral to any successful team.”―Jocko Willink

No blame. No deception or illusion. Just the cold hard truth. When you mess up, you own it. And as the leader, you own it when your team fails. Only with extreme ownership can you have complete freedom and control.

14. Let your work speak for itself.

“Well done, is well said.” — Anthony Liccione

Cal Newport’s recent book, Deep Work, distinguishes “deep work” from “shallow work.” Here’s the difference:

Deep work is:

  • Rare
  • High value
  • And non-replicable (i.e., not easy to copy/outsource)

Shallow work is:

  • Common
  • Low value
  • Replicable (i.e., anyone can do it)

Talking is shallow. Anyone can do it. It’s easily replicated. It’s low value. Conversely, deep work is rare. It’s done by people who are focused and working while everyone else is talking. Deep work is so good it can’t be ignored. It doesn’t need words. It speaks for itself.

15. Always work on your mental strength.

“Mental resilience is arguably the most critical trait of a world-class performer, and it should be nurtured continuously. Left to my own devices, I am always looking for ways to become more and more psychologically impregnable. When uncomfortable, my instinct is not to avoid the discomfort but to become at peace with it. My instinct is always to seek out challenges as opposed to avoiding them.” — Josh Waitzkin

The better you can be under pressure, the further you’ll go than anyone else. Because they’ll crumble under pressure.

The best training you will ever do is mental training. Wherever your mind goes, your body follows. Wherever your thoughts go, your life follows.

16. Confidence is your greatest asset.

A recent meta-analysis shows that most people misunderstand confidence. Confidence doesn’t lead to high performance. Rather, confidence is a by-product of previous performance.

Confidence and imagination go hand-in-hand. The more confidence you have, based on small/large wins from your past, the more imaginative you can be with your future.

Hence, your confidence determines:

  • The size of challenges/goals you undertake (imagination)
  • How likely you will achieve those goals (commitment)
  • How well you bounce back from failures (flexibility)

17. Surround yourself with people who remind you of the future, not the past.

When you surround yourself with people who remind you of your past, you’ll have a hard time progressing. This is why we get stuck in certain roles, which we can’t break free from (e.g., the fat kid or shy girl).

Surrounding yourself with people who you want to be like allows you a fresh slate. You’re no longer defined by your past, only the future you are creating.

18. Let things go, learn your lessons.

“You can have a great deal of experience and be no smarter for all the things you’ve done, seen, and heard. Experience alone is no guarantee of lifetime growth. But if you regularly transform your experiences into new lessons, you will make each day of your life a source of growth. The smartest people are those who can transform even the smallest events or situations into breakthroughs in thinking and action.” — Dan Sullivan and Catherine Nomura

Being unstoppable requires carrying no unnecessary mental or emotional baggage. Consequently, you’ll need to immediately and completely forgive anyone who has wronged you. However, forgiveness doesn’t mean you forget. Instead, it means you integrate your new experiences into your daily approach so that you learn from your experiences and don’t repeat them.

19. Have clear goals.

“While a fixation on results is certainly unhealthy, short-term goals can be useful developmental tools if they are balanced within a nurturing long-term philosophy.” — Josh Waitzkin

According to loads of psychology research, the most motivating goals are clearly defined and time-bound.

Your goals can either be focused on your process/behaviors (e.g., I’m going to exercise 5 days per week) or on the outcomes you’re seeking (e.g., I’m going to have 10 percent body fat by October 2019).

For most people, behaviorally-focused goals are the better and more motivating option. But when you crave the results so much that the work is irrelevant, your aim should be directed straight at the outcomes you want.

Without question, the human brain appreciates tangible things to focus on. Numbers and events, according to Dan Sullivan, are candy for the brain. I agree. Goals framed as numbers and events are more powerful.

Numbers can be both process-oriented and results-oriented:

  • I will workout 60 minutes 4 times per week (and at least 150 times per year)
  • I will be able to run 10 miles in under 90 minutes by October 2019

The first bullet above is process-oriented, the second bullet is results-oriented.

You can actually turn the second bullet above into a tangible event, which can create anticipation and excitement.

  • By October 2019, I will have run 10 miles in under 90 minutes on the beach and afterward, eat at my favorite restaurant

Events can cause transformational experiences that upgrade your subconscious mindset. Events can be immersive and deeply memorable — and by creating deep memories, you shutter your former belief system.

As an example, my wife and I are currently trying to improve our marriage and connection. We are attending therapy and setting goals.

One of the EVENTS I want to create an experience with Lauren this year is to fly to Chicago and eat dinner at Alinea, a famous restaurant in Chicago we’ve both been wanting to go to. Given that we now have five kids and are super busy, it would be very easy to push that desired experience off.

But when you’re truly living your life, you don’t push stuff like that off. In other words, you don’t build your dreams around your life. Your build your life around your dreams. You don’t hesitate.

So, we’ll schedule it, buy our plane tickets, and then figure out how to make it real. If you don’t initiate action first, then you’ll always be left waiting for the perfect moment. It’s best to put yourself in a position where you must act. In my book, Willpower Doesn’t Work, I called these types of initiations that compel forward progress, “forcing functions.”

20. Respond immediately, rather than analyzing or stalling.

“He who hesitates is lost.” — Cato

The anticipation of an event is always more extreme than the event itself — both for positive and negative events.

Just do it. Train yourself to respond immediately when you feel you should do something. Stop questioning yourself. Don’t analyze it. Don’t question if it came from God or from yourself. Just act.

You’ll figure out what to do after you’ve taken action. Until you take action, it will all be hypothetical. But once you act, it becomes practical.

21. Choose simplicity over complication.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” — Albert Einstein

It’s easy to be complicated. Most of the research and jargon in academia and business is over-complicated.

Cutting to the core and hitting the truth is hard because it’s simple. As Leonardo da Vinci has said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Very few people will give you the truth. When you ask them a question, it gets mighty complicated. “There are so many variables” or “It depends,” they say.

T. S. Eliot said it best, “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

Wisdom is timeless and simple. Learn wisdom and choose it.

22. Never be jealous or envious of someone else’s accomplishments.

Being unstoppable means you genuinely want what’s best for everyone — even those you would consider your competitors. Jealousy and envy are the ego — which operates out of fear.

The reason you are happy for other people’s success is because their success has nothing to do with you.

You are in control of you. And you are different from every other person. There is no one who can do exactly what you can do. You have your own superpower with your own unique ability to contribute. And that’s what you’re going to do.

23. Take the shot every time.

“If I fail more than you, I win.” — Seth Godin

You miss every shot you don’t take. And most people don’t want to take the shot. Fear of failure paralyzes them.

The only way you can become unstoppable is if you stop thinking about it. Just take the shot. Don’t do it only when it’s convenient or when you feel ready. Just go and make whatever adjustments you need after the fact.

Here’s what’s crazy — you don’t actually know which shots will go in. I’ve found this over and over. By being consistent, for example, at posting blogs, I’ve been shocked at which ones have gone viral. Almost always, it’s not the one you’d expect. But it would never happen if I wasn’t just taking shots.

Are you taking shots every day?

Are you trying stuff that could potentially fail?

At some point or another, life does kind of just become a numbers game. You have to be great at what you do. But you also have to stack the odds in your favor.

24. Seek results, but don’t get caught up in them. This will keep you stuck living in the past.

“Knowledge comes from the past, so it’s safe. It is also out of date. It’s the opposite of originality. Experience is built from solutions to old situations and problems.This is lazy. Experience is the opposite of being creative. If you can prove you’re right you’re set in concrete. You cannot move with the times or with other people.Your mind is closed. You are not open to new ideas.” — Paul Arden

When you start doing noteworthy stuff, there are benefits that can become distractions. It can get easy to “ride the wave” of your previous work. Keep practicing. Perfect your craft. Never forget what got you here. Results are based in the past. Don’t get stuck in a “status.”

25. Think and act 10X.

“When 10X is your measuring stick, you immediately see how you can bypass what everyone else is doing.” — Dan Sullivan

Most people — even those you deem to be “world class” — are not operating at 10X. In truth, you could surpass anyone if you radically stretch your thinking and belief system.

Going 10X changes everything. As Dan Sullivan has said, “10X thinking automatically takes you ‘outside the box’ of your present obstacles and limitations.” It pulls you out of the problems most people are dealing with and opens you to an entirely new field of possibilities.

When you take your goal of earning $100,000 this year and change it to $1,000,000, you’re forced to operate at a different level. The logical and traditional approach doesn’t work with 10X. As Shane Snow, author ofSmartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success, has said, “10x progress is built on bravery and creativity instead. Working smarter.”

The question is: Are you willing to go there? Not just entertain the thought for a second or two and then revert back to common thinking. No. Are you willing to sit with 10X thinking? Are you willing to question your own thought processes and open yourself to believing an entirely different set of possibilities?

Could you convince yourself to believe in your 10X potential? Are you willing to undertake goals that seem lunacy, to you and everyone else? Are you willing to take the mental leap, trusting “the universe will conspire to make it happen”?

26. Set goals that far exceed your current capabilities.

“You need to aim beyond what you are capable of. You need to develop a complete disregard for where your abilities end. If you think you’re unable to work for the best company in its sphere, make that your aim. If you think you’re unable to be on the cover of TIME magazine, make it your business to be there. Make your vision of where you want to be a reality. Nothing is impossible.” — Paul Arden

If your goals are logical, they won’t force you to create luck. Being unstoppable means your goals challenge you to be someone more than you currently are. As Jim Rohn has said, “Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better.”

27. Make time for recovery and rejuvenation.

“Wherever you are, make sure you’re there.” — Dan Sullivan

When you focus on results, rather than being busy, you’re 100 percent on when you’re working and 100 percent off when you’re not. This not only allows you to be present in the moment, but it allows you the needed time to rest and recover.

Your ability to work at a high level is like fitness. If you never take a break between sets, you won’t be able to build strength, stamina, and endurance. However, not all “rest” produces recovery. Certain things are more soothing than others.

Recovering from my work generally consists of writing in my journal, listening to music, spending time with my wife and kids, preparing and eating delicious food, or serving other people. These things rejuvenate me. They make my work possible, but also meaningful.

28. Start before you’re ready.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Chinese Proverb

Most people wait. They believe they can start after they have enough time, money, connections and credentials. They wait until they feel “secure.” Not people who are unstoppable.

Unstoppable people started last year. They started five years ago before they even knew what they were doing. They started before they had any money. They started before they had all the answers. They started when no one else believed in them. The only permission they needed was the voice inside them prompting them to move forward. And they moved.

29. If you need permission, you probably shouldn’t do it.

A mentor of mine is a highly successful real estate investor. Throughout his career, he’s had hundreds of people ask him if they should “go into real-estate.”

He tells every one of them the same thing: that they shouldn’t do it. In fact, he actually tries talking most of them out of it. And in most cases, he succeeds.

Why would he do that? “Those who are going to succeed will do so regardless of what I say,” he told me.

I know so many people who chase whatever worked for other people. They never truly decide what they want to do, and end up jumping from one thing to the next — trying to strike quick gold. And repetitively, they stop digging just a few feet from the gold after resigning the spot is barren.

No one will ever give you permission to live your dreams.

30. Don’t make exceptions.

Zig Ziglar used to tell a story of traveling one day and not getting in bed until 4 a.m. An hour and a half later (5:30), his alarm went off. He said, “Every fiber of my being was telling me to stay in bed.” But he had made a commitment, so he got up anyway. Admittedly, he had a horrible day and wasn’t productive at all.

Yet, he says that decision changed his life. As he explains:

“Had I bowed to my human, physical, emotional and mental desire to sleep in, I would have made that exception. A week later, I might have made an exception if I only got four hours of sleep. A week later, maybe I only got seven hours of sleep.The exception so many times becomes the rule. Had I slept in, I would’ve faced that danger. Watch those exceptions!”

Hence, Zig was unstoppable.

Conclusion

When you’re unstoppable, you will make sure to get what you want. Everything you need to know is already within you. All you need to do is trust yourself and act.

Are you unstoppable?

Feeding Hay to Improve Your Land – Part 1

By   /  February 25, 2019  /

We think it is far more important to stop making hay on your land than it is to stop feeding hay on your land. Here are some things to think about.

What Made Sense in 1973 Doesn’t Make Sense Today

Making hay is a whole lot more expensive than it used to be. This table compares input costs for making hay in 1973 in contrast to 2013.

 

All of the input costs have increased at a much faster rate than the value of beef cattle, lamb, or milk. To be on par with costs experienced in 1973, fed cattle should have been $284/cwt, not the $148 they were.

Hay = Inexpensive Fertility

While making hay is expensive, in much of the US, hay can be bought for less than the cost of production. When you buy someone else’s hay and feed it on your property, you are buying their fertility at a highly discounted rate. In some years in some locations, you can buy beef cattle hay for less than the fertilizer value it contains.

This is a great opportunity for improving your land in a way that also benefits soil health.

Feeding Uniformly is the Key

The key to soil improvement is to get the hay fed uniformly over your pastures. This is how you can realize the greatest benefit from purchased hay as a planned fertility input.

Large round bales are still the norm in much of US cow country. Round bales can be unrolled with relatively low-cost equipment. Bales don’t unroll uniformly all the time, but the subsequent manure distribution is way better than feeding bales in ring feeders.

Big square bales can be flaked off easily in a systematic way to cover a specific area with each bale fed.

Bale processors are expensive pieces of equipment. If you are invested in something like this, make sure you are feeding all of your hay to optimize the distribution of manure across the pasture.

We need to be thinking about how much nitrogen and phosphorus is in each bale we are feeding so we can plan our daily feeding to apply appropriate levels of nutrients rather than feeding too little and not realizing the benefit we expected or feeding too much and overloading the soil and environment with excess N. We’ll look at that next week!

Stay tuned! Jim will be covering all the data and math in this series to help us figure out how to do the best we can at improving pastures with hay feeding. If you have questions for Jim, do share them in the comments section below!

Kate Miller: I Will Not Thank a Farmer

MARCH 8, 2019 12:39 PM

By AgWeb Guest Editor
AgWeb

Note: The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of Kate Miller, and do not necessarily represent the views of RanchersEdge.com

I was dining alone at my favorite local Mexican restaurant. I was covered in mud because it hasn’t stopped raining in Arkansas since October. I was freezing because the heater quit working in the tractor mysteriously, and I misplaced the bungee cord that closes the farm truck door. As I was scrolling through social media, I could identify with the numerous posts from ranchers I saw who begrudgingly were fighting the elements, be it blizzards and record setting temperatures or this never-ending monsoon and mud in the south. There were multiple posts about “thanking a farmer.” After spending months, tied to a tractor and sick calves and worrying about weather, I could identify with wholly that sentiment.

Having finished my beef fajitas, I noticed a sign the owner had placed at the register. It read: “Please accept our sincere thanks for letting us serve you. We greatly appreciate the fact you have chosen to do business with us. And in return, we pledge our continuing efforts to offer you the best service possible”

It struck a nerve.

The owner of this establishment did not demand that I thank him for his efforts to produce this dinner. He thanked me for choosing to do business with him.

In my mind, I scrolled through the Twitter feed I had witnessed. For how long have we as the ag community demanded that our customers thank us? When was the last time we thanked them? Are we operating from a place of entitlement, where we believe that our professions are somehow sacrosanct in the scheme of the economic ecosystem?

But wait, we toil in the hot summer sun and the cold winter snow—every single day. Yes, but so do the oil derrick hands in Odessa, Texas. But we cannot skip a day because living beings rely on us. Yes, doctors face the same challenge. We work 24/7 and never get a day off—no one just gives me a salary! Yes, so do most entrepreneurs. Yes, but we are underpaid! Said everyone the whole world over.

Even within the industry, other segments of our own business do not take to the Twittersphere and demand praise and thanks. When was the last time you saw any one who worked in a plant demand to be thanked for the 12-hour shift on the debone line?

What is abjectly worse is that by our own admissions we feel that we farmers and ranchers are the most important members of the value chain—we criticize packers for their margins. We pay the vet bill, eventually. We mock consumers for their ignorance and again for the demands they make upon us. And then we turn around and have the audacity to ask everyone to thank us?

When was the last time we showed any appreciation to anyone who chose to do business with us? When was the last time we thanked a feeder or a packer or a distributor or a grocer?

By our own standards–if we are going to thank the farmer, we need to thank the pen rider who doctors sick cattle in heat and blizzards, right? We need to thank the veterinarian who amassed six-figure student loans to answer your call at 2 am because you can’t get one pulled. We need to thank the immigrant who feeds his family by spending 6 days a week surrounded by death, cutting the jugular of 1000 head a day. We need to thank the USDA inspector who earned a master’s degree to work in below freezing temperatures, who worries if another government shutdown will impede her salary.

We need to thank the line supervisor who can speak broken Spanish and Swahili and Burmese to make sure the job gets done right. What about thanking those same production line workers who do the same repetitive cut day after day after day? We need to thank the blast freezer fork lift operator who works alone at sub-zero every day of the year. We need to thank the truck driver who misses his son’s first t-ball game on a run to Amarillo. We need to thank the sales manager who takes the cussing from a chef and loses his bonus because of a rotten injection site lesion in a round because a rancher ignored Beef Quality Assurance (BQA). We need to thank the sales rep whose paycheck depends on the yield of brisket from week to week.  We need to thank every single person who touches our product once it leaves our farms. We need to thank them for the work they do that makes our livelihood possible.

But mostly, we need to thank our customers. We need to thank the people who buy our product, who put their faith in the chain and decide to buy beef to serve their families. We need to thank a chef for serving beef in their restaurants. Instead of asking them to thank us for arguably doing our job, we need to thank them for giving the product we raise value. Without the customer putting beef in their shopping cart or without someone choosing as steak on a restaurant menu, we would cease to exist.

But the reality is as well without the pen rider, the vet, the packer, the line worker, the truck driver, the salesman, the marketer, the grocer—we would cease to exist as well. Cattlemen are a link in the chain, and some of us can argue that we are the endangered species in the ecosystem. (But anyone trying to hire an experienced meat cutter or a driver might argue differently.) The best way to preserve our way of life, the best way to ensure that cattle remain in our pastures is to make sure that beef remains on tables of consumers.

Everything else is noise. Everything else is shouting into the void. We can disagree on Checkoffs. We can disagree on Country of Origin Labeling. We can disagree on BQA. But at the end of the day—without the consumer—none of that matters.

I urge those of you who use social media to interface with the world at large to stop demanding that consumers heap thanks upon you. Instead take a moment to listen to their questions, to answer them without condescension or reproach, and then thank them for the opportunity to tell your story. Then thank them for their patronage, ask them how you can help them have a better beef experience and be a representative of your commodity. Check your entitlement. Start a dialogue. You never know, you might find that by extending grace to the community that supports you—you’ll find the appreciation that you seek.

Bio: Kate Miller is the managing partner for IMB Cattle Company, a third-generation ranch in Southern Arkansas which just celebrated its 51st anniversary. With over ten years in protein marketing including domestic and export sales, Kate continues to try and bridge the ever-widening gap between production agriculturalist, the food production industry and consumers.

Having a Ranch AND a Life

by Dave Pratt

A friend included me in an email chain informing us of a farmer he knew who recently took his life. I don’t pretend to begin to know this man’s pain or anything about his situation. But the story struck me as beyond sad.

Responses in the email chain spoke of the stress of farming, peer pressure to follow traditional practices, financial stress, the personal health and the ecological consequences of reliance on ag chemicals, and more. I don’t know how much this man’s pain had to do with the farm and how much stemmed from other things. The emails made it seem like the farm had a lot to do with it. That’s understandable. Agriculture is stressful. Compounding the physical demands is the financial pressure, the uncertainty of weather and markets, the weight of expectations  to continue a multigenerational legacy, and the peer pressure to conform to the status quo.

After reading the emails I found myself sad and frustrated. Sad for this man’s pain and the unimaginable pain his family and others who knew him must feel. Frustrated because agriculture doesn’t have to be this way.

Please understand, this column is not about this farmer or his suicide. This tragic event is the trigger that got me thinking about an industry-wide issue. Rates of depression and suicide in farming and ranching are disproportionately high relative to other segments of the population. That seems particularly strange given that most farmers and ranchers consider ranching and farming to be a lifestyle first and a business second. If their farms and ranches were a business first and a lifestyle second, I think the emotional well-being of farmers and ranchers would improve. One RFP grad summed it up well when he said, “When we focused on our lifestyle all we did was work our butts off. When we focused on the business, our lives got so much better.”

We grow up learning that the harder we work, the more successful we will be. But as many farmers and ranchers work harder and harder, they fall further and further behind. If hard physical work were the solution to our problems, our problems would be fewer and smaller. Working harder is NOT the answer. In fact, it is part of the problem. We’ve become so busy working in the business that we don’t have the time or energy to work on the business. Of course, if we were to work on our businesses effectively, we wouldn’t have to work so hard in them.

There’s something else that keeps us from working on our businesses. I don’t think many farmers or ranchers know how. Growing up we learned how to grow crops and raise livestock. No one ever showed us how to run a business that grows crops and raises livestock.

The Ranching For Profit School is not a school on farming or ranching. It is a business school that teaches farmers and ranchers how to transform their farms and ranches into successful businesses. When participants  walk in Sunday afternoon, most own a collection of expensive assets and a bunch of physically-demanding, low-paying jobs. By the time they leave, they own a business. Until farmers and ranchers change this fundamental paradigm, they will continue to struggle economically, financially and emotionally.

Focusing on business before lifestyle won’t eliminate the stresses farmers and ranchers face, but it does put us in a much stronger, healthier position to deal with those stresses. I’m convinced that if farmers and ranchers embraced a business-first approach there’d be a lot fewer tragedies like the one my friend shared with me.

If you want to see how transformative the business-first approach can be, watch this video: VIDEO

You Might Be Cell Grazing If…

by Dave Pratt

A lot of ranchers use some kind of grazing rotation. Very few do it in a way that has even a 50/50 chance of improving the health of the land, the performance of their cattle and the profitability of their businesses.  There are so many names attached to various rotations, it is hard to know from the name what people are doing. Cell grazing is not a grazing system, it is a management method based on 5 fundamental principles.

You might be cell grazing if…

  • You are using at least 10 paddocks per herd.  It takes a minimum of 10 paddocks just to stop the overgrazing.  14-16 are required to support decent animal performance and it’ll take 25 or more if you want to see rapid range improvement.   Ranchers using fewer than 8 paddocks are not rotationally grazing. They are rotationally overgrazing.
  • You have combined several herds into one.  The fastest, cheapest way to create more paddocks per herd is to combine multiple herds into one.
  • You have reduced your workload. It takes a lot more time to check 4 herds of 200 cows than it does to check one herd of 800.
  • Productivity per acre has improved without sacrificing individual animal performance.  Many people using grazing rotations increase output per acre but find that individual performance suffers.  Cell graziers keep graze periods short and animals moving frequently to fresh forage. This tends to keep performance high.
  • You’ve dramatically increased the productivity of your pastures and the carrying capacity of your ranch without seeding or fertilizing pastures. Many Ranching for Profit School alumni have doubled the carrying capacity of their ranches while reducing labor and input costs.

 

You aren’t cell grazing if…

  • Someone asks you how long your recovery periods are and you tell them how often you move the cows. I’m continually surprised by the number of people who describe their grazing practices by explaining the length of their graze period when it’s the rest period that is most important.  The single biggest mistake most people make in grazing management is providing too short a rest period.
  • You use the same recovery period year round.  In cell grazing the recovery period is matched to the growth rate of the pasture.  Since growth rates change, the length of recovery periods needs to change too. Slow growth, long recovery.  Fast growth, shorter recovery.
  • Animals are moved from one pasture to the next in lock-step fashion.  In cell grazing, if a paddock isn’t ready for grazing, the animals should not be moved there.  The animals ought to be moved where the resource dictates they go.
  • You have increased your use of herbicides, fertilizer, seeding or fire.  These tools aren’t bad per-se, but they can have more negative consequences than positive ones.  Cell graziers usually don’t find herbicides, fertilizers or seeding necessary and many have dramatically reduced the need to burn.

Responding to a survey we included in last week’s ProfitTips, reader’s answers revealed several important trends. For example, people reporting that carrying capacity increased “A lot”  used an average of more than 30 paddocks/herd. Readers reporting “A little” increase used an average of 20 paddocks/herd, and those reporting no increase used an average of 10 paddocks per herd. The same trend held true for improvements in pasture quality, animal performance and profit.

 

Your responses also revealed several differences in the grazing practices used by Ranching For Profit School alumni v. non-alumni.  The key differences are:

While more than 60% of RFP alumni completing the survey use at least 14 paddocks per herd, only 40% of non-alumni use that many.

 

RFP alumni reported that the average recovery they gave paddocks during fast growth was two to four weeks longer than the rest periods used by people who have not attended the RFP school.  The difference was even greater during slow growth. The average recovery period used by RFP alumni averaged one to two months longer than the recovery periods used by non-alumni.

 

Most interesting to me is the difference between RFP alumni and non-alumni in the change in workload.  RFP Alumni using 30 paddocks or more were four times more likely than non-alumni to report that cell grazing dramatically reduced their workload. Non-alumni using an equal number of paddocks were twice as likely to report a dramatic increase in their workload.

 

The most dramatic decrease in workload was reported by RFP alumni using more than 50 paddocks per herd. Why would the workload decrease for alumni using that many paddocks?  The majority had also timed the breeding season of their livestock to match the breeding season of wildlife, thereby drastically reducing or eliminating the need for hay. Fewer non-alumni had the breeding season of their herds in sync with the forage cycle.