Why Do We Do Things the Hard Way?

This weekend I was talking to a friend who has changed her lambing date to coincide with spring grass growth on her Vermont farm. No more worries about how to save hypothermic lambs for her, plus she's reduced her labor costs and other inputs associated with lambing in colder months. "And you know," she said, "I couldn't have made the change without Ranching For Profit and the people on my Executive Link board." My friend is a pretty innovative soul, so this made me think about how hard it can be to step outside the box - to do something different that makes sense, even though everyone around us thinks were crazy. And that's where this video comes in. It's the last in a series by the South Dakota Grasslands Coalition on switching to calving systems that coincide with the local climate to reduce workloads and increase profit. It's 5:16 of ranchers talking about what kept them from doing something this valuable to them and their operations. Reasons range from "tradition" to "feeling good about being important" to "bullheadedness." As you watch this video, think about how what these folks are saying relates to some of your reasons for not trying something new that can actually make your life better. Consider the kinds of people you're surrounded by, and how they either help or hinder your ideas about what you can and can't do. Maybe these ranchers will help you find solutions that will help you take the next step. Enjoy! https://youtu.be/335Vu9tCmnc Transcript: Arl

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3 thoughts on “Why Do We Do Things the Hard Way?

  1. At least locally the reason ranchers cannot change their calving times is due to US Forest Service Grazing restrictions that forbid them from putting calves out on the range until a certain age and that also have the grazing starting in May and ending in October. If they use federal grazing allotments then their calving season is determined for them by the rules.

    1. This didn’t seem likely to me, so I just searched the Forest Service Grazing Administration Handbook. As I expected, they don’t mention anything about an age requirement for calves to be turned onto the allotment. There are no regulations, at least from the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management, regarding the age of calves when they enter an allotment.

  2. Well, heck. Here I go again, thinking back over the decades and asking a tough question: why was the change process so hard? And of course, it’s not just calving season. When I look around this place, not one bit of our ranch looks very much like where I grew up. Changes in fencing, water, cattle, calving, inputs, people, machinery and everything else, too. In the end, each of those changes was made difficult because of one thing: fear. And the biggest fear by far was my fear of what other people would think about me. I thought people would chastise me for placing our streams into CREP. I thought they’d hate me for selling all those fine cattle and mucking around with yearlings or custom cattle or salvage cattle. And the outrage of not making hay; all that good flat land being wasted.

    In the end, hardly anyone said one dang thing, and maybe that’s the best lesson I ever learned: Ignore them! just forge ahead and don’t worry what they think or say. Most of those folks just blabber among themselves anyway.

    And Ms. Mary Lou Guptill, you hit the nail on the head. Don’t talk to people, just insist that they come and see the results. Ask them what they see. Ask them what they think. Allow them to prove you wrong. Mostly, be brave.

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