If I ever had any doubts in the wisdom of learning to operate a cattle operation without all of the accepted-as-normal inputs, something I did some years ago dispelled them forever.
We bought a bunch of old, thin cows to graze for the summer on our daughter Karen’s place. This place is a cutover (all the timber was removed) that we were working to develop into a workable grass farm. For one reason or another when all of the cattle were moved we ended up with three cows and two calves that weren’t hauled to the sale barn.
As in a lot of cases of this sort, two of the cows had dropped calves over the summer, and this is always a plus. But long story short we had these animals on a place that had long run out of feed. The decision was made to bring these animals home and keep them until the calves were big enough to be worth more on the market and the cows were in better shape to sell.
With the limited amount of pasture, there was really no place to put these animals during the time it took to plant ryegrass and for the grass to be ready to graze. Then the inevitable happened. This three head of grown cows and two calves were put in a lot and fed hay and feed. The amount of feed and hay that went through this little group of cattle was ridiculous and wasteful and stupid and expensive and accomplished one thing: it reinforced forever in my mind that hay and feed are very overrated as a means of maintaining a cow herd.
The possibility of recovering the money spent on this little episode of futility is questionable at best. Why do we continue to do these dumb things? Is there something in our DNA that requires us every so often to do a thing that we know is the wrong thing but something makes us go against everything we know and run off in the ditch one more time? Will this be my final attempt to solve a problem with a solution that is worse than the problem? It is doubtful but I surely hope that it is.
How do we get ourselves into these situations that are not major problems or that take a lot of thought to get ourselves out of but that are unquestionably wrong and in most cases expensive? In this instance the right decision would have been to just make one more trip to the sale barn and let the market for better or worse solve the problem for us. It is also true that there was a time before the place was devoid of useable feed that these cattle should have been sold.
In the grand scheme of things this is minor but it illustrates a point: poor planning produces poor results. There is a truism that we all should adhere to and it is this, Expenses will always rise to absorb all available money. This means to me that somehow without thought and planning we will always spend all the money that we can get our hands on and the results will forever be disappointing.
Forest Gump said it about as good as it can be said, STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES.
Well said, Don. A lot of the problems began with Land Grant Universities and their research that cows were more productive with perfect nutrition without doing the economics to PROVE it was profitable. It as we know, was not, helping only the parasites living off our industry.
A cow is a survivor. Let a cow be a cow! Stand back and let her show what she can do on her own.
This is the ranchers vow I wrote back about 2000.
From this day forward I pledge to support my tractor, pickup, hay machinery, chemical, feed and pharmaceutical dealers through good times and bad, through drought, blizzard, flood low prices and high interest, till bankruptcy do us part.
Don you are right on target. Keep it up.
Also thanks to Kathy and Rachel for posting articles that are not favored in the freebie magazines.
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