Category Archives: FAMILY

Traveling Chooks!

So we have some traveling hens. Brett took these chooks for a ride on the pickup to the North place, where apparently they hung out for about 15 minutes, then continued their bumpy muddy gravel road journey to Highway Y, pulled in at the Neal farm and loaded two big bales of hay then continued to Brook road, another mile west on Brook road (another muddy, hilly gravel road. Cord drive was too muddy for a pickup, so Brett held up there to unload the hay for tractor to pick up and continue another mile to take out hay. It was during that down time, the hens apparently decided they’d had enough travel and hopped down to make themselves known. Dallas caught them and they scored an up front ride home. Never a lack of entertainment on the farm.

How did they go unnoticed for 22 miles?  The only answer must be that they were settled on top the spare tire which is bolted underneath the bed of the pickup.

Cheers!

tauna

The route of the chooks!

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Road Trip

“Unsuccessful people make decisions based on current situations.   Successful people make decisions based on where they want to be.”   ~ Benjamin Hardy

This kind of goes along with ‘don’t go to the grocery store when you are hungry’.

The weather has been so dismally cold, windy, frozen, snowy, icy, miserable here in north Missouri, i decided to head south a bit to seek sun and warmer temps under the guise of looking for new land for me cows.  Sadly, i seemed to drag the cold weather around with me, although one day was warm enough for 3 hours of saddle time on a good mount with great friends.  A little hiking and exploring, but by and large it was too cold.  One cold afternoon in Eureka Springs, i managed 2 miles in this cute, but busy town, followed by expert mani/pedi before heading north to Ozark, MO.

Although, paradise wasn’t found anywhere on my 2 1/2 week sojourn, my time was better spent visiting and catching up with friends and family.  It was a wonderful time to observe, think, share, reflect, and be lifted in spirit.

Cheers!

tauna

Mixed Grain Bread – Scottish

I have discovered my favourite bread to make!

MIXED GRAIN BREAD – SCOTLAND

Modified from Scottish Cookery Cookbook, 2010

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 oz (about 3 cups) strong white flour
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz (about 2 cups) whole wheat flour
  • 8 oz (about 2 cups) Einkorn flour
  • 1 oz butter, diced
  • 2 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 oz (1/3 cup) rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoon sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • ¾ pint warm water
  • 1 medium egg

DIRECTIONS:

Sift white flour and salt into a large bowl.  Stir in the wheat and Einkorn flours then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Stir in the yeast, oats, and seeds then make a well in the centre.

Stir the molasses into the warm water until dissolved.  Add the molasses water to the dry ingredients.  Mix to a soft dough. (I used paddle hook on KitchenAid mixer)

Using a dough hook, knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Put in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 ½ hours, or until double in size.

Preheat the oven to 425°F, 15 minutes before baking.  (I start the oven now, then do the below and leave the loaf and pan on top the stove – the warmth from the oven helps with rising, especially in winter.)

Using dough hook, knead again for a minute or two to knock out the air.  Shape into an oval loaf about 12 inches long and place on a well-oiled baking sheet.  Cover with oiled (important) plastic wrap and leave to rise for 40 minutes or until doubled in size.

Brush the loaf with beaten egg and bake in the preheated oven 35-45 minutes (mine was 35 minutes) or until the bread is well risen, browned, and sounds hollow when the base is tapped.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe - Mixed Grain Bread

The One Who Helps

I took this from Facebook this morning – there have been several write ups of this ilk and i’ve even made comments on Facebook sharing my experiences that in the agriculture world women ’empowerment’ (whatever that looks like as opposed to lifting up anyone and everyone)  is not necessary – men, women, and children respect and help each other.  (well, except me – i’m kind of mean and scary).  If you think you need to be in a march of some sort to promote women, then you hang out with the wrong crowd.  There is a world out there where people are pulling together and not ripping each other apart.

Shalom!

tauna

Sue Tebow

While women march the streets of America, protesting for rights that they already have, allow me to applaud a way of life that has honored women in ways the rest of the world never has (for a very long time).
I’m proud to be a part of the silent, steadfast women of rural America, where:

Little girls are taught to work alongside little boys, not hate them.

We let the men lead us on the dance floor, in prayer, and in life. There is strength in partnership.

The woman’s housekeeping and the man’s ranch work are both vital aspects of the operation’s success, even though gender roles don’t have much of a place on the ranch.

Women ride Bronc’s, wrestle calves, and rope just as often as men cook, sew and tend to children.

We actually participate in meetings, sit on boards, and vote to create REAL change.

We see the miracle of life in every foal, calf, and child and believe all life should be protected.

The men never question a woman’s strength, and women know that a door held open is a simple sign of respect.

The ranchers/farmers/blue collar people of America create empowered women, respectful men, and a brighter future than any “protest” could bring about.

Sue Tebow founder of agri.CULTURE
AUTHOR: Kaycee Monnes
PC – Robin L Green

Ranching in the Future

Here’s an excellent article explaining the impossibility of entry level ranchers and farmers.  Unless land and agriculture prices come to a reckoning, land will be owned by the wealthy and worked by those with a passion for land management.  We are headed that way culturally rapidly given the advanced age of current land owners.  With few heirs waiting to farm or ranch, the land will sell to the highest bidder far above its production value.

Shalom!

tauna

Ranching in the Future – What Should Young Ranchers Expect?

By   /  January 7, 2019  /  4 Comments

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I recently received a note from a young friend (let’s call her Peggy Sue) who desperately wants to be a rancher. Since her childhood she has dreamed of working with animals. She has learned about marketing and economics. She’s studied hard and become a competent grazier. She’s done some hard work. But she’s getting a little impatient.

“So, I’ve been looking at real estate ads all over the country, studying up on productivity of land in different places, trying to look up how many acres per cow it takes and how much each acre costs, and I just can’t figure this thing out. How are people doing it? I mean, how are people able to buy a ranch and pay for it by raising cattle?”

My immediate answer was not what she had been hoping for:

“I don’t know of anyone in America who is buying a ranch and paying for it by running cattle. This doesn’t mean you can never be a rancher—you can be. But going forward, you will only be successful as a rancher if you accept the realities of the current world. You must be able to adopt a definition of ranch and rancher that fits in the economic universe in which you currently live. And guess what? This is true for every other new rancher, too.”

Sorry, Peggy Sue.

Past, Present and Future Ranching Models

Both my wife’s and my own family trees are well stocked with hopeful people who put together ranching operations 100 or more years ago. First was homesteading, and later on there was picking up the pieces from other folks whose homesteads had failed. There was hard work and sacrifice. Fundamentally, the ranches of 100 years ago were founded on using land to grow grass and cattle. Land values were tied intimately to productive value of the land and the then-current values of the cattle market. And so, our ancestors built successful ranches.

Those days are over. The conditions under which our ancestors operated no longer exist.

Today, properties do not become available through homesteading or abandonment, and in general, ranch land prices have very little relationship to productive value. Other influences such as hunting and fishing, scenic view, and privacy are the determining factors in land price. The model described above: working hard to build functional ranches by acquiring and paying for land with cattle, is apparently not possible in today’s world.

In our own little valley, even though there is virtually no influence by hunting or fishing values or high mountain views, the value of land has now risen to the point where pastureland prices are clearly irrational. Turns out, there are plenty of people with plenty of money who just want to live in the country, and they will pay whatever it takes. In the 1980s, I told Ranching for Profit guru Stan Parsons that my chief concern with becoming a rancher was that land in my area was selling for $5,000 per cow unit. Currently, that value is more like $20,000. At $20,000, the land overhead PITI (Principle, Interest, Taxes, Insurance) is something like $2,000 per cow per year.

It should be mathematically obvious that the current land value situation absolutely precludes the possibility of becoming a rancher, if you think ranching has to look like it did 100 years ago.

So, is it possible for my young friend to become a rancher? Absolutely. But that will require her to accept a different definition of what ranching looks like and of what being a rancher means.

Going Forward: Ranchers of the Future

A principle of motion discovered by Sir Isaac Newton over 300 years ago applies directly here, I think:

I believe the trends that we have witnessed in ranching over the past 100 years or so will likely continue. These trends will determine what ranching will look like going forward, and the possibilities for present and future ranchers.

Here are some current trends to consider:

Land Prices

I believe the price of land will continue to escalate and will have less and less relationship to productive value. This means new ranchers will need to seek models that do not include “buying a ranch and paying for it with cattle.”

Other Input Costs

The cost of oil, iron, processed feed, and other inputs will continue to advance relative to the value of traditional ranch products. Future ranchers need to design models that place less emphasis on these things.

Technology

Our industry has become highly dependent upon technology. Whether this is a good thing or not is hard for me to tease out. That said, ranches of the future will surely include more technology. Ranchers of the future should build business models that take advantage of new technologies. This is certainly critical for businesses that involve direct marketing.

Societal/Political Change

There has been sweeping change in the relationship between urban and rural populations. Our urban neighbors are ever more interested in ecological issues, animal welfare, food safety, transportation, and on and on. Going forward, this trend will result in a higher degree of regulation of ranching activities on all fronts. Young ranchers should plan accordingly.

Diversity of Products and Services

Increasingly, ranches have become more and more involved in producing things beyond just meat on the hoof. Young ranchers of the future should consider business models that include providing even more diverse products and services. Growing hamburger is a low margin enterprise. Providing sites for weddings, hunting, vacations, etc. can be very high-margin enterprises. Like it or not, this may be what opportunity looks like in the future.

The Decline of the Rugged Individual

It seems to me that image of the rancher as a rugged, independent operator has always been a bit overblown. My great grandparents (and every generation since) were highly dependent on cooperation for survival. Going forward, I believe ranching will look more and more like other industries, with intensely complicated, inter-dependent systems of producers, suppliers, marketers and customers. Ranches will offer a wider and wider range of services, and they will serve a wider range of customers. No ranch will be an island unto itself.

(The exception to this will be the ranches that are owned outright by folks who have un-limited assets, and so, can do anything they want. These may be ranches, but I question whether they are Ranch Businesses.)

The Big Question: To Own, or Not to Own

Oregon author William Kittredge wrote a fine biography called “Owning it All”, a story about growing up in the big ranch country of the American West. I think young ranchers should consider exactly the opposite course: Owning almost nothing. And here’s some of what that might look like:

Owning portable fencing, corrals, and water equipment. Renting or leasing grass that land owners don’t want or don’t know how to manage. Same goes for livestock. Selling your expertise and skills as a grass and property manager. Becoming expert in managing the accessory enterprises that ranches will contain in the future: tourism, education, entertainment, recreation, sport, etc. Note: be sure to make enough profit to fund your own retirement, as you will not be accumulating any real estate.

Decisions, Decisions.

I could be wrong about all of the predictions above. Maybe land costs will magically revert to align with productive value. Maybe young ranchers will be able to enter the industry, buy some land and livestock and make out just fine. Maybe. But I doubt it. I think young ranchers would be well advised to conjure up a business plan that includes the parameters and limitations we now operate under, and think carefully about what the future might look like.

Best wishes to Peggy Sue in the coming year. Oh, and to the ranchers of the next 100 years, too!

Happy Grazing, Happy New Year, and a Happy Future

John Marble

Stay tuned for future articles with examples of how young farmers and ranchers are building their businesses.

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  • Published: 2 weeks ago on January 7, 2019
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  • Last Modified: January 7, 2019 @ 8:40 am
  • Filed Under: Money Matters

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Marble grew up on a terribly conventional ranch with a large family where each kid had their own tractor. Surviving that, he now owns a small grazing and marketing operation that focuses on producing value through managed grazing. He oversees a diverse ranching operation, renting and owning cattle and grasslands while managing timber, wildlife habitat and human relationships. His multi-species approach includes meat goats, pointing dogs and barn cats. He has a life-long interest in ecology, trying to understand how plants, animals, soils and humans fit together. John spends his late-night hours working on fiction, writing about worlds much less strange than this one.

Hoarder or Frugal?

Finally giving up on my old jeans and stretched out Empire State Building hoodie as work clothes.  Actually going straight into the rubbish.  The hoodie was pricey since it was a souvenir, but the jeans, like most of my clothes, were purchased for a $1 a year ago from a local second hand shop.

They needed throwing out long ago, but i always justify keeping them a bit longer because they are great for fence repair.  That is to say, fence repair will destroy them even more, so why start with something new, right?

Oftentimes, i’m frugal to a fault, but a hoarder i am not – if i have no use for an item and it has possible value to someone else, i’m selling it or giving it away at earliest chance.

Nevertheless, the hole in the butt portion of the pants that i keep covered by pulling down my stretched out hoodie is just getting too large for comfort.  With a windchill of 4F and a foot of snow outside,  it will be a long time before any fence repair will take place.

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna