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The Secret of Successful Farming/Ranching

By   /  August 27, 2018  /  Comments Off on The Secret of Successful Farming/Ranching

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After six decades of farming, Don Ashford knows a lot about what it takes to be successful. But if he were to give you just one piece advice, it might be this. Enjoy this Classic by NatGLC from our August 2015 edition.

Scott Nearing in his later years.

When he was 95 years old Scott Nearing, who has been described as the great-granddaddy of the back-to-the land movement, was speaking to a group about homesteading and gardening. Of all that he said that day the most profound statement was this:

“If you want to garden just do it.”

Just think about this for a minute, if you want to do it, just do it. And this was years before that big sport shoe company turned just do it into a commercial slogan. How many of us have thought of something that we wanted to do and thought of all the reasons not to do it so we didn’t. While there are things that Scott Nearing said and wrote that I really do not believe or accept, the simplicity of most of it, if nothing else, makes you think.

All of us have dreams of how we want to live, but be truthful – are you living the life you want to live? This is not intended to be another discussion about finding our inner self or anything of the sort. The question is if you want to do something why not do it?

I have learned long ago that the want to is so much more important than the how to. My Daddy said to my brothers and me over and over again, “Do something even if it’s wrong.” His belief was that if you did it wrong you could figure a way to fix it. He believed that it wasn’t a mistake until there was no way to correct it. But on the other hand he insisted that we do it right. If you are building nothing more than an outhouse, build it square. I will grant you that sometimes it seems that our mistakes are beyond repair but this is rarely so.

Nelson Rockefeller was quoted as saying, “I am not interested in what I can’t do, I want to know how I can do what I want to do.” On Pasture is just one of places to find the how to, but you need to find the want to yourself. Sitting around worrying about what you don’t have won’t accomplish anything. Learning to use what you do have is a start.

The grass is forgiving. It is not required that the poly-wire fences be straight and if you have built the paddocks too large or too small just move a wire. But you can bet your sweet ass nothing will get done sitting and thinking about it. This is not to say that there are not things that we need to know to make a grazing operation successful. But it’s kind of like getting married. If we wait until we can afford to, we probably never would.

Don’t worry about making mistakes. You are going to make them.

I have heard it said that worrying is like rocking. It gives you something to do but it don’t get you very far. One more quote and then I’m going to hush. This is from Mark Twain: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”

I have found this to be true. The first piece of poly-wire that you run is the most important one. After you have divided the pasture with that first wire the difference will amaze you and if you are like we were you can’t wait to do more and more and as you do more and more you will learn more and more.

As Scott Nearing and the sport shoe commercial said, Just do it!

Thanks to the National Grazing Lands Coalition for making this article possible.

The 7th National Grazing Lands Conference is coming up in December and it’s one of On Pasture’s favorites. One of the things that makes it so great is that folks just like you are the speakers, sharing their great experiences. Learn more about the event here. On Pasture will be there. Come see us!

 

Also, Thanks to the On Pasture readers providing financial support.

To be sustainable, we need community-wide support. If it’s an option for you, consider becoming an “Ongoing Supporter” at just $5/month. Being able to show that kind of support is especially helpful when we’re approaching outside funders.

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About the author

My name is Don Ashford and my wife is Betty and we live in Ethel, LA. It would be impossible for me to write a bio about myself without including Betty in it. We have been together since high school. I was in the senior class of 1955 and she was in the class of 1957. Do the math. We have raised cattle since 1959 except for a little time that I spent with Uncle Sam. We have grazed stockers, owned several cow- calf herds and custom grazed cattle for other folks. I worked as a pipefitter for more than 25 years. Until we went into the dairy business in 1977 we were as most people down here part-timers or week-end ranchers. Later after we had learned enough about MIG to talk about it so that it would be understood by others we put together a pasture-walk group to introduce it to our friends and neighbors. We belong to more farm groups then we probably should but we get great joy working with other people. What makes us most proud are our son and daughter, our 5 grandkids and our 7 great-grand kids. It has been a hell of a trip so far, but we are not done yet.

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