CaTO’s Farm Management – Farm Buying Tips

Okay, for a bit of old, interesting yet wise counsel, i’m going to share some bits from a reprinted book of 1910 translated by a Virginia Farmer from the Latin Eclogues from the De Re Rustica of M. Porcius Cato of Roman times.

The reprint is a tiny portion of the Eclogues and is entitled ‘Cato’s Farm Management‘ with an ISBN 978-1-330-56017-4. I think i purchased mine through Amazon, but can be found at Forgotten Books.

It is noted in the intro “Cato practised and taught intense cultivation, the use of leguminous plants for soil improvement, the importance of live stock in a system of general farming, and the effective preservation of manure.” Bearing in mind that Cato died 149 years before the Christian era.

This is the ‘new’ revelation and movement now coined as ‘regenerative farming’, with the same principles laid out over 2000 years ago. As the Scriptures say, ‘there is nothing new under the sun.’ Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Cato on Buying a Farm

  1. Give heed to the appearance of the neighborhood – a flourishing country should show its prosperity

2 Take care that you choose a good climate, not subject to destructive storms, and a soil that is naturally strong.

3) If possible, your farm should be at the foot of a mountain looking to the West, in a healthy situation, where labor and cattle can be had, well watered, near a good sized town, and either on the sea or navigable river, or else on a good and much frequented road.

4) Chose a place which has not often changed ownership, one which is sold unwillingly, that has buildings in good repair.

5) When you inspect the farm, look to see how many wine presses and storage vats there are; where there are none of these you can judge what the harvest is. On the other hand, it is not the number of farming implements, but what is done with them that counts. Where you find few tools, it is not an expensive farm to operate.

More to come!

Choice Hotels

Years ago, i decided to patronize Choice hotels and i’m seldom disappointed based on price -in other words – you get what you pay for. I quickly decided against Rodeway Inns after too many bad experiences, though there were a couple good ones. Econolodge, the same, with the exception of the one in Walnut, IA. Wow, i was impressed. On the upper end of the chain, there have never been any issues.

Downloading their app makes it super easy to search and book whilst on the road. A points program pays for a free night once in a while.

Having been a former travel consultant and being on a few FAMs and site inspects, i automatically have a critical eye to detail, yet i feel i can still give some wiggle room based on the location of the hotel and the price.

The only kicker i have with Choice Hotel properties is the breakfast which is included. They have the same level of quality or lack thereof so it is clear that individual properties have no choices in whether or not to use fresh products from local producers. This would be, in my opinion, a huge selling point for the hotel as well as provide a huge upgrade in tastiness and healthfulness with possible little to no price increase. Can you imagine coming down to a breakfast of eggs from pastured hens?! Or freshly made pastry and biscuits? With real butter, natural yoghurt, and real milk. Okay, most states won’t allow real milk.

Honestly, getting paid to do site inspects and making helpful suggestions might be a really fun thing to do. Maybe i need to see if there is such a job.

A few things i look for:

3) Dust should NOT be present anywhere in the room, including the ledge of the shower stall.

4) Toilet paper should always roll from over the top and have a fold in the end.
For goodness sakes, if you are going to paint, take down the wall hangings first – painting around is very noticeable and indicates a lack of care and consideration to guests.

Now, those are a few things, but others include:

1) an indication that someone sat on a made bed

2) of course a coffee maker, refrigerator, and microwave not cleaned and/or contain leftovers from a previous use. Yuck! Years ago, the boys and i stayed in another brand hotel in Kingsville, Texas and found a huge pastry (we think) in the microwave with half inch thick mold!!! Haven’t forgotten that experience.

None of these cost even a penny! Why not do it right?

I typically overlook wear and tear and focus more on cleanliness, comfort, and good repair unless the wear and tear can keep cleaning from being effective, Wear and tear is more present in smaller communities and less expensive properties where some upgrades simply can’t be afforded.

Treasures from Washington

Dallas and i went to Washington state a few falls ago and collected a few treasures from our hikes. Finally going to get around and try to stratify and start these chestnuts. Hope they aren’t too dry or old to sprout~

Shells, chestnuts, claws

ESSENTIALISM – RanCHING FOR PROFIT

Another excellent blog from Dallas Mount who now owns and operates Ranch Management Consultants aka Ranching for Profit. Although i’m most interested in the ranching bent to this business, many of the articles written by Dallas, Dave Pratt, former owner, and Stan Parsons, creator and former owner of Ranching for Profit are easily applied to any business or home life decision making.

You can spend money buying books or shelves or containers to declutter or you can save money by making better decisions. Starting with ‘do i really need this?’ then follow up by selling, giving away, recycling, upcycling, renovating, throwing away the stuff you haven’t used in ‘x’ amount of time. If you don’t do it now, it’s called hoarding and whatever value it might have will be lost to you and to whoever may be able to use the item to start a business or help their lives be better. Before you know it, 40, 50, 60 years have passed, and the item is obsolete and worthless. Now, that’s a waste and selfishness!

Essentialism

by Dallas Mount

closet

Each fall and winter our Executive Link meetings start with a continuing education program. We usually reach for something outside the ranching world that our members would not otherwise be exposed to. Often this is a book from business management circles. This fall our book is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. The book challenges us to think about all the things we do in our busyness. Then develop focus by cutting out the trivial and finding the essential.  

In agriculture it is easy to constantly pile on more to our already busy lives. When you step back to really analyze what makes the difference in your life or your business, there are really only a few things at the core of what you do and who you are, that matter. This is the essential. McKeown challenges the reader to think of the things in your life, like you would clothes in the closet. Often, we cull the closet by asking the question “Is there a chance I’ll wear this someday in the future?” When using that broad criterion, we end up with a closet full of Garth Brooks 90’s era neon colored Brush Poppers. McKeown suggests changing the question to “Do I absolutely love this?” allowing us to eliminate the clutter to create space for something better.

I often hear from ranchers that are too “busy” with the daily tasks on the ranch to come to a school, or work on their numbers. What they are saying is that they are too busy to find time to complete the high value work that will make the difference in their businesses long term success or failure. This is a perfect application of McKeown’s assertion that an Essentialist separates and focuses on the vital few from the trivial many.  

In ag, the unspoken culture tends to value work, misery and sacrifice over financial success and healthy work-life balance. I often hear stories being swapped where we are competing over who has the ranch that creates more misery and work then the next. We tend to wear it as a badge of honor, who has to work the longest hours in the harshest weather. Maybe it is long days in the hay field, calving in the winter or feeding our way through the ongoing drought. If you want to get uninvited to the coffee shop pity party ask the question, “Why do you choose to structure your business in a way that creates these challenges?” We need to find the courage to push back on this culture of unsustainable work, coupled with unrewarding results. 

If you want to dive in and examine the essential in your life, here are a few questions to get you started. Take 10 minutes, write down your answers and share them with your spouse or confidant. 

  • What if your business could only do one thing, what would it be?  
  • Where do your passions, purpose, and skill set align? 
  • What specific things will you eliminate to create time to focus on the essential few?

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For the LOVE of Horses

Since i was not much more than a toddler, i’ve loved horses, loved riding them, showing them in local shows, mustering in cattle (that’s my favorite), training, and trail riding. In junior high and high school, i was so crazy about horses that my nickname was ‘horsey’!

This neat article is published in the most recent issue of Rural Missouri. I studied this guy because he is from my home town, Mexico, Missouri.

For the Love of Horses

The extraordinary life of rider and trainer Tom Bass

Rural Missouri Page 40

Rural Missouri Page 42

Faith, Family, Farm

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