This comes to us from Lynn Myers. With his wife Marlene, he works and manages the home place, the Tippet Myers Ranch in Nebraska, which has been in the family for 100 years, as well as several leased pastures. His philosophy is to leave the pastures, rented or not, in better condition than he found them in, resulting in several long-term leases.
I like acronyms, so that’s how I came up with “Cowboy GPS.” It stands for goals, philosophy and system. But I’m often asked when I present a program on Cowboy GPS, “How do we build our GPS?” Here is my outline.
Keep it sustainable and simple, or KISS, with the whole operation in mind. Look at goals — long term and short term. Understand that your goals will change as your operation changes. Weather dictates changes, as well as the market. Leave some flexibility in your program.
Write down your long-term goals first. Use your short-term goals to achieve operation success. Make them realistic and and an attainable guide to manage by.
Your philosophy guides you and your operation. Look at your philosophy in relation to the ability of your property to produce, and the ability, experience and expertise of you and your employees. Remember your plans must fit together as a whole. You can’t accomplish what you can’t get done.
Systems refer to the means to make your goals and philosophy work. There are many good grazing systems in operation across the country. The one important thing to consider when you decide what’s best for you is keep it sustainable and simple. Don’t try to maximize everything; instead, try to optimize a balance between investments and return on investments — what you can afford and what is sustainable.
Don’t overextend past what you and your help can live with. Don’t make it so complex that you or your employees get disillusioned. I’ve seen this become a problem in operations that don’t have the expertise and common sense to know what is possible. There are many good resources you can use to put together a system, but make sure it’s yours, not a consultant’s or neighbor’s. Only you know your strong points and limitations.