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Monthly Archives: March 2016

Q4 Agproud Lessons Learned

Question 4: How did your business get started? And lessons learned.

I started my stocker/feeding operation from scratch, when I was 21. I started with $6,000, and bought 15 head of fly weight heifers. They were mostly the junk no one else wanted. Over the years it grew from there, and in less than ten years became big enough I no longer had time for an off the farm job.

That previous paragraph just busted a huge myth, and destroyed many excuses.

I had to learn a great many things along the way to be successful. I am grateful every day for the people that came into my life and taught me the things I needed to know. Contrary to popular belief we do not inherently know the correct things.

I wanted to be the best, and one thing I learned from Rodeo was that if you want to be the best you had to study the best. That’s what I did. I have traveled around the country to learn the cattle biz from the best. I’ll give you a hint on how to find them, they are not in the universities.
It is always important to earn money. When you start young and broke there seems to be more of an urgency to succeed. I went to a marketing school, and it all just made sense. The skills I learned there changed my life, and the future for my family.

I learned stockmanship skills from the master. This helped eliminate problems, and the need for extra labor.

I had to learn to structure and manage a business. This topic right here is why most production agriculture operations fail, or are run as failures. I feel it is extremely important to point out, that most of the ag bloggers I have read are clueless on this topic and it is evident in their writing. The only reason I bring this up is so people may learn to recognize it and not accept any of their points as truth. I fear their writing sets a very dangerous precedent for young people getting into agriculture.

One of the hardest things I’ve faced in my business was making the leap to being a full time cattleman. My operation had to pay my salary, groceries, all the different kinds of insurance I buy, equipment purchases, feed, rents, and the list goes on. This is why marketing skill and business structure are so important. Doing this properly eliminates much stress. It also eliminates the desire to assign blame and come up with creative excuses for when you fail, and don’t want to take responsibility for it.

You have heard knowledge pays the best interest. Thing is very few actually heed that advice. More and more people rely on technology, that in reality is letting them down without them knowing it. I am talking about learning old school skills. By learning these I have been able to eliminate problems, and drastically cut overheads. What is old is new again

Another big lesson I’ve learned is to understand ecology. The more I learn about nature the more I’ve change my operation to work with it. Sounds simple, I know, but so many in production ag spend most of their time and money trying to dominate nature. You can read about our quest to dominate nature every day. It’s in the research papers, blogs, and magazines. It is so engrained in us we do not even realize it.

Who you marry will have a huge impact on your success. So will how you behave in that marriage.

Critical thinking, decision making, and problem solving skills are a must. I should’ve tied this in better with business management. Sometimes the most important thing is not knowing what to do, but knowing what not to do.

I also want to point out the reason most generational operations fail is because the old man held onto all the power, and never included the kid in the decision making process. This is why you see so many people who finally get to take over the farm, when in their 40’s or 50’s and they can’t do it. They just lock up.

Last points, communication and listening skills are important, but most people do not have them so you will constantly have to double check. Also people like to play dumb, and are dishonest, so trust no one, again double check.

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Daddy’s Day of All Stars

When my daughter was four she went through a phase where she was afraid of bugs. It didn’t matter what we said to her about bugs, she was terrified. At the time we also had what we called “Daddy’s Day”. On this day she’d spend most of the day with me, and all of it if the weather would allow. (feeding cattle in the rain or freezing cold is a bit much to ask a little one)

On one of those daddy days I had it with her freaking out about bugs. I came up with a plan on the spot. I asked her if she wanted to go for a four wheeler ride, which I knew she’d be more than eager to. I always have a spade on my wheeler, so I grabbed a fishing pole and we were off. I took her to an outdoor class room, a pasture I rent.

When we got there I got off the wheeler and tried to show her all the different bugs, and tried my best to explain to her how not all of them are bad. I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere with her. If I caught one and tried to show it to her close up she’d freak.

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Then we found an All Star team. Dung beetles. I didn’t know much about the other bugs I found, but I know these guys. I simply explained to her the beneficial role these guys play in supporting a healthy pasture, pasture feeds calvies, calvies feed dung beetles, the beetles feed the soil, and soil feeds the grass. We were trying to teach her to recognize patterns, and explaining that cycle like I did helped make sense for her. There also was the element that whatever is good for the calvies is good as a whole.

The beetles we found were rollers. These guys can easily entertain a little one. She became very excited, because she thought they were playing ball, just like she does.

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I then took out my spade and turned over some soil. Boom! There was the other All Star team. Earth worms. I again gave her a simple over view of the benefits of earth worms. She seemed to really be catching on.

After finding a way to get through to her and help her realize not all bugs are bad, we took a few worms and headed over to a farm pond that is always good for bull heads, which is just perfect for a kid her age, since they usually bite fast.

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I feel it is important to include this last bit. There was a lot going on in the first 400 words, that I’m afraid most may have missed, since the focus was on bugs. First, by setting up a “Daddy’s Day” we have provided a structure where our little girl really has a strong presence of me in her life. She gets exposed to many life lessons that farm life, and commerce provide. As you can tell from this story, I slow down a bit on daddy’s day. I take the time to use our large class room to teach her things, and we also use it for play time. Like four wheeler rides and fishing. The surprising thing is how much I have learned. It is difficult some times to explain things about agriculture to a four year old. But when I hear her explain what she learned to someone else I get to relearn about what I do through her eyes. This has opened my eyes to more things, helping me to learn more, by giving me a fresh perspective. It has also helped me communicate better.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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