I find it a little coincidental that a day after I received the last “hot off the press” Midwest Producer, in which I voiced a number of complaints about the grasshopper population, the numbers miraculously decreased. Evidently Mother Nature is not only a subscriber, but getting extremely tired of listening to my ranting and raving about her job credentials. So she decided to send golf ball-size hail to crush the evil critters. We were extremely fortunate as only a couple of pastures and half a circle of alfalfa were beat to the ground.
I’m going to jump on my soapbox here for a couple of sentences. One thing that I’ve always taken for granted – and the current storm made me appreciate once again – is our operation’s attitude. After surveying the damage, the Boss Man and uncle made the comment, “We were lucky, it could have been a lot worse.” Sure, we lost hay and pasture, and the storm made extra work for all of us, but everyone remained positive and was grateful for what we still had.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve seen time and time again in agriculture, especially family operations, is the lack of positive reinforcement. We’ve witnessed operations that weren’t able to handle the stress of dealing with family, and it’s heartbreaking to watch those operations fall apart. In the seminars that I’ve had the opportunity to present on dealing with family and being the next generation, I always use the following quote: “In order to get respect, you need to give respect.” It’s amazing how a little attitude change can make a day so much brighter.
We finished A.I.’ing the heifers. Bulls are out in the multi-sire groups, and A.I.’ing cows is next on the agenda. Haying is well under way, the meadows are very wet and we will be going back again later in the summer. The last of the PT bulls are being delivered to a repeat customer that has us drop them off in his breeding pastures.
Finally, in case anyone was keeping track, I did not rant or rave about Mother Nature once this whole article. I think I learned my lesson on that one.
I love baling alfalfa at our south pivot. Its one of the few places on the ranch that I know there’s dependable cell service. Dependable service out here in the boonies translates to service that I don’t have to hold my head 45 degrees to the right and my phone with three fingers pointed in a northerly direction. So, here I was this week, baling away, enjoying catching up on the news while leaving piles of hay (issues with multi-tasking) when it hit me. Not only is there one gigantic disconnect going on here, there are a number of individuals out there that just don’t get it. In case you don’t agree, here’s some examples…
At one time I was a Sheryl Crow fan. In case you weren’t aware she was part of the entertainment at Cheyenne Frontier Days. Ms. Crow who is probably most well known in my mind for her “everyone needs to use one square of toilet paper” comment, made headlines when she donated the proceeds of the concert to a special interest group that wants to keep all mustangs on public land.
Next up, I’m an avid reader. I read almost anything I can get my hands on, including the latest issue of “Arizona Highways.” So imagine my “delight” in finding an article of a ranching family in Arizona that is doing great things for the environment. This doesn’t sound like anything to get upset over, until you read the description of the article: “Ranchers and environmentalists are rarely on the same page, and they’re even less likely to be one and the same.” Yes, my loyal readers, that magazine is going in the garbage.
I pulled out the latest issue of “Audubon.” In late March more than 350 Audubon chapters sent a letter to DC encouraging Congress that “the Environmental Protection Agency retains the authority and funding to address challenges.” Don’t be to concerned by this because two pages later, I learned that purple was least appealing for birds in a study for wildlife-friendly wind power.
What the heck? Have we become so cultural obsessed with thinking that we are doing the right thing that we lack common sense and wisdom in what we are doing? Is money being spent wisely on studies and interests? Are we getting anywhere? If I hit my head against a wall hard enough will it become clearer?
I really try not to rant and rave very often, but Dear Ms.Crow, I challenge you to buy a pasture, overstock it, go through drought, hard winters, reproduction, and let me know how that treats you. Dear “Arizona” magazine writer: visit more then one ranching family, it might be an epiphany that ranchers being environmentalists is the RULE not the exception. Finally, Dear “Audubon”: while I do appreciate some of your work, my dad always says after I come home from a seminar with new ideas…”we tried that about forty years ago…and this is what happened.” Wisdom and experience will trump EPA thinking any day.
As for the “one square of toilet paper.” Tomorrow, when I’m ai’ing cattle, checking pastures, and working in the hayfield, I will stop at all those public restroom facilities that are strategically placed in the pasture, hayfield, by the gates and along the road, and make sure I do my part. And that my friends is “Jac’d Up!”
We had a family invasion this week. Now I’m not a big television watcher, but I’m pretty sure that Hollywood would of made a lot more money if instead of the “Beverly Hillbillies” they had a show called the “Lakeside Greenhorns.”
I had a cousin-in-law from Texas that came to visit. One of the items on his “bucket list” was to work on a ranch. He definitely got that accomplished as he: moved cattle, set up portable AI facilities in soft sand, and somehow managed to rake hay into the biggest mound I have ever seen with a “v” rake. I actually got a full bale from his mound-it was amazing (maybe one should have been a little more concerned when the cousin-in-law said the last time he drove a tractor it was through a garage door!) It was just as comical to listen in on the Boss Man and my radio conversations.
Me: “Where’s the raker?”
Boss Man:”He’s up here following me.”
Me: “Why is he following you?”
Boss Man:”I have really no idea.”
Somehow we managed to get the alfalfa up, and the rake/tractor is still in working condition.
Family reunions are a great opportunity to close that producer/consumer gap. I have some young female second cousins that visit, all of which were raised in the city. It takes a little bit to break that barrier, but by the end of the visit; they are catching toads, wearing necklaces made out of cow teeth, and eating pods off of soapweeds. We always say we need to “tell our story” and “spread the word” sometimes its important to remember to start with our own family.
Which brings me to a point. Having “city folk” out here, makes a person think about the “proper” ways to run an operation. Are the management decisions we are making ones that we would be open to letting people that are not raised in our lifestyle see? Are we handling our cattle correctly? Is our equipment working right? Are we explaining all the intricacies of our operation that they can comprehend and share with their friends and families when they head back to the “big city?” There’s a lot of cameras flying around during the trip, and I would be embarrassed if the pictures that were shown were ones where we are yelling and screaming at cattle, using a hotshot excessively, or even having a calf fighting like crazy on the end of a rope while he’s been dragged to get branded and castrated.
I understand that for us its a lifestyle, but sometimes adjustment is a great thing, especially if its going to close the gap between “us and them.”
And that my friends is Jac’d Up!