Monthly Archives: June 2012

Rope Skippers

It almost never seems to fail.  I talk to a ton of people who want to start their own business.  And as you could guess most of them are people wanting to get into raising cattle.  So many of them fall into a category that I call “Rope Skippers”

Rope Skippers talk like they are smart.  They know all the latest market info.  They know the trends.  And by gosh they can predict where the market is headed.

So why do I call them Rope Skippers?  Well, imagine a couple girls on a playground with a jump rope.  They twirl that rope round and round.  You can time it perfectly.  You can hear the snap, snap, snap, noise every time it slaps against the ground.  So now the Rope Skipper just needs to jump in, and,  start skipping rope.  Only they don’t.  Because the next time around will be a better time to jump in.  So they patiently stand there trying to time it the next time the rope comes around to jump in.   Only they don’t get in that time either.

I did not do that.  I just went into a sale barn one day and bought a few claves.  I went to another auction the next day and bought a few more.  When I sold those cattle I bought, I turned around the very next day and started buying the next group.  This worked out great for me because I was never victim to where the market was going.  I sold and bought back in the same market, allowing me to take advantage of the price spreads between weight groups at that very moment in time.   I know people that will sell cattle and wait a few weeks or months to buy back.  Only to have the market go up, killing their margin, wasting time, and not to mention it is kinda hard to make money without inventory. No one can time the market.  If they could that person would be very very rich.

So what usually happens to the rope skippers is the two girls twirling the rope get fed up waiting and leave.  We have a word for what happens to rope skippers…NOTHING

Yesterday a young fella I have been trying to mentor called me and told me he quit his J O B and started his own deal.  After years of skipping rope the bum finally did it.  He told me that in his first month his take home pay was four times as much as what he was making at his old job.  I really wasn’t surprised, but when you take that huge leap it is a big deal.  I’m proud of him for trying.  Time will tell if he really makes it or not.  Thing is, so what if he fails this time.  That only means next time he gets to start over a bit smarter.  NOTHING, is no longer happening to him.  He is making SOMETHING, happen.  So I decided to tell him last night what pressure really is.  I will share that with you another time.

Until then quit being a Rope Skipper, unless it is in the gym.  But if you want to skip rope until this heat passes I will let that one slide.  It was freaking hot in central Kansas today and they forecast that it will be that way here in Nebraska the rest of this week.


Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tears In My Eyes

Late last summer I wrote a blog on Cattle Call titled 027 (read it here ).  The next chapter of this story is now done.  The little girl passed on a couple days ago.  Thing is the story is not over yet.

My wife and I followed this girls story closely.  The little girl’s mother and my wife have been friends their whole lives.  The mother wrote a blog about what was going on with treatments and events they were going to.  She would post it on Facebook so it was easy for all of us to follow.  There have also been a few other children in our area that have been diagnosed with cancer.  Some of them I know personally, and some I never met.  I’ve been following their stories as well.  Some have already passed, and some have a good chance of living a long life.

These kids are, for lack of a better word, amazing.  I do believe they know more about life, and living, and giving back than most adults.  They also seem comfortable with the fact they may die.

If we take a moment, and watch, and learn these kids teach us a lot.  Listen to them talk about things.  There seems to be a bit more passion in their voices.  They know what is important in life to them.  Most kids that go on to college still don’t have that figured out.  Shoot, I know people older than me that still don’t have that figured out.

I have also noticed these kids finish.  The little girl pushed beyond exhaustion to go to school.  To get treatments she had to travel a couple hours one way.  Spend a lot of time in the hospital, just to have to travel a couple hours back home to her own bed.  These treatments take a hell of a toll on the body, and drain energy.  Yet it was VERY important to her to finish first grade with her class.  So she pushed herself to make it through.  And she did.  Some of the other kids may have been in some school sport.  Obviously they could no longer participate in the games.  So they went to all the practices they could and did what they could to help their team mates.  These kids do more to inspire their team mates than any coach ever could do.

I have also noticed they do more for the community than anybody.  Most of them get involved in doing charity work, raising awareness for cancer research, and fundraising.  And these kids do rake in a ton of money for children’s hospitals.  (I think that come back to the passion thing)  They also have a way to get us adults to put aside our differences and rally behind a good cause, pulling an entire community together that otherwise would not do so.  No politician can ever do that.

They appreciate everything.  They appreciate all the generosity, and help from other people.  They appreciate every challenge, or task that comes along.  They understand the true value of time, and don’t waste it like so many of us “busy” people do.  They just seem to embrace everything life throws at them.

You are well aware of Make A Wish.  Some of the kids’ stories that I have followed have gotten to have a wish granted.  Man, they are so excited.  They have so much fun and get so much out of it.  I have also noticed that some seem to pass on a short time later.  It’s like they fight off the exhaustion as long as they can for one last big thing.

When was the last time, or have you ever, pushed beyond exhaustion, fought through impossible challenges, to accomplish something big?

I am having a hard time writing this blog.  My mind isn’t real clear because I’m fighting a bit of emotion.  This blog does not communicate very well what it is I want to say.  So I will sum it by saying this.  These kids can teach us so much if we watch, and listen.  Step back a little bit and don’t focus on the fact they are fighting for their life, and focus on what it is they say and do and how they do it.  These kids know what life really is.

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


Some Old News. EPA Flyovers

Some old news is really getting a lot of attention in Nebraska.  The EPA is conducting fly overs.  They are looking for feeding operations that are discharging.  I say this is old news because the EPA did this in Iowa a couple years ago and in the fall of 2010 an EPA inspector told several UNL extension personnel that they were going to do it in Nebraska.

Myself and the Extension educators called Michael Kelsey, the Executive VP at Nebraska Cattlemen, and warned him of this action.  Since NC is acting so surprised about this action from EPA my guess is Kelsey did not take us seriously and blew off our warning.  Now I don’t think a feedlot should ever get fined for discharge because they should not discharge.  We know what the law is, and really EPA is a law enforcement agency.  (for the record I do  not like any law enforcement agency)  If there are bad actors out there we need to find them and deal with them, and then let them get on with business.

The argument most commonly brought forward is that the fly over is an invasion of privacy and property rights.  I gotta roll my eyes here and question why I paid my membership dues to livestock associations if that is the best they got.  Let me change the set up here for a second.  People go into the FSA office, sign up for programs and get a subsidy.  At the FSA office they get a photo of their farm.  It is a bit blurred and no one questions where that photo came from.  That photo comes from a military satellite.  Before that photo is blurred it is so clear and detailed that you can count the cattle in the pens and how many bales the guy has on his yard.  And, the photo is of the entire place, house and all.  Now the EPA fly overs are being conducted in a two seated plane and the photos are being taken of the feedlot pens.  Not the residence.  The camera they are using is a store bought Sony camera.  My guess is tech nerds have better cameras than the EPA.  So is this an invasion of privacy?  My guess is if there was a subsidy tied to it like at the FSA not many people would have a problem with it.

Let me ask you this.  Would it be any different if they sat on the gravel road in front of the place and took pics?  Is it going to look any different from the road than from the air?  Most CAFO’s are built close to a public road.  Everything we do is right out there where people can see it.  So if you think flyovers are a bad thing I guess you better tell people to quit driving by and looking at your place from the road.

I have heard that some think they are picking a certain producers, and that this is a costly procedure.  When EPA does these fly overs I doubt they say “Let’s fly over so and so’s place.  I just bet he is polluting.”  No, they are doing fly overs in certain regions of the state.  Say for example a county.  I live in Gage county.  So if they did fly overs in here they just go up in the air and randomly fly around.  It is not hard to spot a CAFO from the air.  Everything here is still kinda green yet despite the drought.  So a CAFO will pop out because it will be the big brown spot.  They fly over take a photo or three and if they determine they need a closer look they take a GPS reading so they know where the place is and can come do an inspection on the ground.  There are roughly about 4800 registered feedlots in Nebraska.  To pay employees to drive to all these locations would require lots of miles, fuel, man hours and so on.  Fly overs can look at lots of operations quickly and enable them to pinpoint bad actors that they need to come back and pay a visit to.  I would argue that these fly overs are probably a cost savings.

I own a CAFO.  I can tell you I would not like it at all if an EPA inspector showed up at my place with photos of my yard taken from a plane.  My neighbor did that once, and he got an ear full for taking those photos.  I am not allowed to pollute water or soil.  People around my operation have the right to clean water and soil.  So would it be too much for me assume that I have the right to clean air above my place?

I used  to go hunting.  I was not allowed to hunt from an airplane.   Could you imagine how easy it would be to spot deer or coyotes from a plane?  That is what EPA is doing.  They are hunting from the sky.  It is hard not to feel like there is this predator/ prey relationship in existence here right now.  If they fly low enough over the place it is highly likely that they will spook the cattle.  Maybe cause them to crash through a fence and damage property and possibly injure themselves.

In conclusion I think it is silly to get all butt hurt about these flyovers.  I can’t see how it is any different than the state trooper that sits in front of my house a catches speeders that come over the hill to the north or come around the curve from the south.  If you are traveling this road you can’t see him until it is to late.  So is it the troopers fault or your own?  In the case of these flyovers I would dare say you should be upset with the farm associations in this state because people like me warned them a couple years ago and they did nothing all through 2011 to educate their membership.  In fact they didn’t even host any nutrient management meetings until months after a series of these fly overs had taken place.  As far as our Nebraska delegation in DC getting all worked up telling EPA to stop……..what a joke, like they are going to help us.

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 6, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , ,

The Last 30 Days

It has been a while since my last post.  I have so many things to write about I just do not know where to begin.  I started blogging for Cattle Call in 09 and for the first time ever I sit in front of my computer and just can’t start.  I’ve had a lot on my mind the last month.

I sat in a couple meetings with our Nebraska delegation about the Farm Bill.  I am  not really sure why I went.  Just wanted to go to the source that uses me as a pissing post I guess.  I could not believe the stupid Marxist ideas that were kicked around.

I built miles of new fence.  For the first time ever I now have a grazing plan (well kind of) and am using rotational grazing.  I did some rotational grazing last year using poly wire.  The results were very pleasing.  Thing is pasture rents skyrocketed here and I now question how valuable grazing really is, or can be.

I brand all the cattle I take out to grass.  The Nebraska Cattlemen’s association has a resolution to change some of our brand laws.  No matter who you talk to about this they all have one thing in common.  They say the other guy doesn’t know anything about brands.

Drought has been a big topic here.  Last night we got our first measurable rain in 7 weeks.  I have been through one really dry period since I started farming full time.  I am shocked to find out how many people are not prepared for prolonged dry spells.

I took a break from social media for a few weeks.  Man that was nice.  I have often wondered what makes some topics and blogs so popular.  I think I may now have an answer.

Technology and research.  Do they help or hurt the cattle biz?

Politics and campaigns.  I helped a friend in her campaign for the US Senate.  She won the primary so now we are marching to a victory in November.  This experience, along with my experience on the Cattlemen’s board, and being on the county zoning board have changed how I view things.

I’ve given some thought to leadership.  What is it really and why do we follow some people?

The economy has also been on my mind.  Not just the local economy or the United States’ economy but the world’s economy as well.  How will things affect us at home?

We also made it through the graduation time frame here.  I don’t go to graduation parties, but it did make me ponder about what the future holds for those kids and what their plans are.  I mean after they go to college.  Every one of them that sent us an invite this year plans to go to college.  I plan to write a series why this is not a good idea at all

I also know a few people that are losing their fight against cancer.  What I’ve seen from these people is amazing

I have some speaking engagements coming up in the next couple months, so I may blog a little about that.

And of course I will continue with the beginning farmer blogs.

What’s been on your mind the last 30 days?

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 1, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: ,