Given the pressure of rising costs and flat prices for our product and given the climate/weather challenges what is a farmer/rancher to do as the season evolves?
My title implies being under serious pressure to make decisions even if, facing rain in the forecast, there is the odd day of sunshine.
Feedback I get on my musings usually is about what it feels like to be in this business these days, rather than cold hard analysis of the state of the industry: production challenges and market vagaries.
My feelings about the industry are a combination of the way ahead and what has happened over the past five decades for our family. We have had successes and we have had failures.
What we retain though is the hope that things can get better, especially if we remain thankful for our lot in life. Despair can creep into our thoughts when facing a cloudy sky when the food for our livestock is ready to harvest.
Waiting can be depressing. My thinking on this situation is to be better prepared when the situation changes (the sun shines for a while). One of our family members, all of who are working full time at other employment, introduced the idea of “redundancy.”
This means having backup personnel and machinery and repair supplies (spare parts). This is in a time of difficulty hiring employees and in supply chain interruptions (can’t get the parts or a supply). Since these are real risks that we know, we can plan for them.
I said that I am caught looking back when the way forward requires attention.
The way forward involves passing on the land and parts of the business (cattle and machinery) to the next generation (and by consideration of the successive generations) without encumbering them as they come to own the assets and the opportunities.
Retaining a caring approach is different from hanging onto older ways just because they were at one time tried and true. Letting go is so hard to do. But devolving material assets doesn’t diminish who we are or the value we hold for the world around us.
We can worry about the day-to-day and be obsessed with what we call the “workaday” world and fiddle as a musician did in ages past as “Rome burns.” Or, we can be present in the here and now and deal with our challenges and opportunities.
Achieving a vision (of a future state of our business or community) is not just about the end (say a profitable and environmentally sustainable business). It is about the way we do things day by day and behave as though we are here to stay and thrive.
Doing good things daily is the hope for the future and reflection on good things done is cause for satisfaction.
It is my humble opinion that we need to contribute to solutions to world problems (war, hunger, poverty) where we can and try to influence work at home which contributes to a larger world needing betterment.
We are not “under the gun” literally…thankfully. We can act in a caring manner. It is better to have less good feed than not to have feed at all for our livestock.
Now back to being really ready when the weather is more favorable for harvesting. At my elbow, I have a grandchild and will soon have more at the ready.
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