Category Archives: Thoughts

Selecting Land

My good friend, Greg Judy, who actually has a Youtube channel to which you can subscribe for his interesting and informative videos about farming/ranching and a whole host of other topics related to profitable cattle and sheep farming, has offered up some key points for considering land purchases for your specific goals.

Greg’s check list when selecting a farm.

The check list really hasn’t changed in considerations for the purchase throughout history.

Buying undeveloped land may seem less expensive, but bear in mind the high cost of making it livestock worthy (or whatever it is you will use your land for). Perimeter fencing is expensive made even more so if hiring a bulldozer to clear the fence rows first is necessary.

As we get older, land which may be more expensive yet closer to a hospital or at least a sealed road will likely become more important.

If you are so fortunate to find a reasonably price parcel in the location important you, with limited buildings, then don’t wait because someone else will buy it. Desirable parcels of property are snapped up very fast. My observations of looking for properties, indicates that poor properties are offered at ridiculous prices just hoping for someone to bite; quality, in-demand properties will sell immediately and land auctions are becoming more popular due to immediate sell and they are bringing a premium price.

If the neighbours aren’t interested in the property and it has been languishing on the market, that is a red flag that something is wrong – do in depth research. Oftentimes, it can be high taxes, poor production values, swampy land, no water, low rainfall, the lay of the land requires constant maintenance (i have a 160 like that, every little rain causes my deep watergaps to blow out, fighting encroaching brush is an annual and long days event)

My personal search requires:

  1. enough acreage in one block location with minimal perimeter (in other words more squarish, not nooks and crannies. one property online had 11 miles of perimeter to maintain yet enclosing only 1700 acres!)
  2. A nice home which has been built with finishes which stand the test of time. Too many homes from the 80s and 90s and so faddish inside, it needs to be completely gutted and redone. May be better to tear it down and start again. Not out of the range of possibility, just be sure you aren’t paying twice for a new home.
  3. Live water with no or little flood plain.
  4. Located on a sealed road with minimal traffic
  5. Near infrastructure to livestock auctions and other supportive ranch venues
  6. Warm winters, warm winters, warm winters – did i mention warm winters?!
  7. Minimal timber and very little brush.
  8. I would like to not be close enough to neighbors to hear or see them, but within 2 hours of a major airport.
  9. Price is critical – i’m not rich – the ranch i buy must find a way to pay for itself or at the least provide a good rate of return. This is nearly impossible in today’s environment where there is very little low risk good investment. Land is in too expensive for its productive value.

Behavior and Tasks

I’ve always been amazed and astounded at how, even at very young ages – preteen in fact, my children have exhibited the powers of observation, deductive reasoning, insight into human behavior, and spiritual intellect far above what i would think is normal at any age. Maybe i’m just clueless. Whatever the reason, most of the time, i’m thankful they feel free to share my shortcomings with me.

In fact, the biggest change was to learn to NOT start another project until the one at hand is completed. They noticed that this would cause me to be overwhelmed by too many incomplete tasks – which simply drives me nuts! It seems like a low priority task should be started while you are in the location of a high priority task – but i’m guessing that 90% of the time that simply isn’t true. Best to make the priority list and stick with it. Don’t start that task that could be put off for 6 months or a year. Just don’t do it. Finish what you are doing, tick it off the list, then start the next. (along with this admonishment comes the all important question – does it really need to be done?)

Don’t get me wrong – if you are reroofing a building and you have a crew and equipment all on site and well into it and you find some rotted boards – yes, replace the rotted boards, then finish the roofing. You get the drift.

Why do i bring this up? As readers have noticed, i’ve started a new and exciting grazing program which is already show promise. Will i be able to maintain the protocol? Yes, with modifications in time and allotments, but the principles can be used. (and mostly as Yah allows)

Anyway, my youngest son, years ago, (okay it can’t be that many years since he’s only 24), pointed out that until the grazing and cow business can’t be put to a management level that most people can handle – even with minimal training – i’m simply never going to find anyone who will want to take over or even help because the day to day is ridiculously overwhelming – basically feeling like i’m putting out fires rather than focusing on building a profitable business that’s fun to watch grow with healthy animals, healthy soil, water, and forage, while producing a premium food product.

To that end, i’m finishing up getting my semi-permanent hi-tensile fences in place to better utilize water, forage, and time resources.

The total grazing plans are a bit bumpy for now because i’m not fully on track, but i’m getting there. Grazing where i wouldn’t normally graze if i was already , but needs to be prepared and get in sync. HA! Well, that was clear as mud.

I needed to change the location of a fence – nearly done with that – this is not necessarily in response to easier strip grazing (though it will be extremely better placed for that) and was already on the to-do list for a couple years now. I installed it in the wrong place 12 years ago – finally getting it done. Otherwise, there are a few short stretches of fences to install, remove, or shift plus i will re install the fence on the Bowyer farm which were removed for the organic soybean farming.

But every task has a priority and unless weather or some such intervenes, I plan to tackle them in the proper and timely order.

So thankful to be able to work hard everyday – though i run out of steam and muscles a bit more quickly than i did a decade ago.

Have fun!

Shopping Responsibly

A photo and comment showed up on Facebook recently that misleadingly and irresponsibly tries to justify laziness and poor eating habits as an excuse for being overweight. Well, that’s quite a hard thing to put together, i know, so i’ll copy the article here. Clearly, the author has selected items which are likely imported and out of season as well as being convenience and snack type foods. These types of selections are nearly always the most expensive choices. Anyone on a budget needs to shop smarter. If you can’t afford organic, don’t buy organic – buy the best you can afford. Historically, food is cheaper than it’s ever been!

Item# lbsprice/lbtotal price
Carrots2 $     0.80 $     1.60
Onions1 $     0.90 $     0.90
Potatoes3 $     1.00 $     3.00
ground beef2 $     3.00 $     6.00
chicken4 $     1.00 $     4.00
sugar1 $     1.60 $     1.60
zucchini2 $     1.00 $     2.00
oats3 $     1.15 $     3.45
milk4.3 $     0.50 $     2.15
apples3 $     1.60 $     4.80
butter1 $     1.99 $     1.99
eggs (doz)1 $     1.50 $     1.50
Flour2 $     0.90 $     1.80
Total $   34.79
For fun, i quickly put together a sample shopping list of items not on sale which adds up to a bit more than $32. Now, i’m going to be very clear – this list is commodity, cheap, and not environmentally friendly food stuffs and i would not buy these items where i am in my life. I can afford more costly, more humanely raised, healthier choices, including that which i raise of it in my own garden.

Real food is not expensive to buy – don’t be fooled – do your homework.

Shop responsibly and wisely.

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

Already Dead

Already Dead –

By Kit Pharo

Henry Ford once said, “The man who is too set to change is dead already.   The funeral is a mere detail.”   I had to read that quote a couple of times before I fully understood how powerful it is – and how appropriate it is to the current beef industry.   You may have to do the same thing.

I want you to think back to the drastic changes that were taking place when Henry Ford made this bold statement.   The horse and buggy were being replaced by automobiles.   Draft horses were being replaced by tractors.   For many people, these changes were beyond comprehension.   If you and I lived during that time period, there is an excellent chance we would have been extremely reluctant to accept those changes.

People hate change!   Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the cow-calf sector of the beef industry.   It often takes two or three decades for cow-calf producers to make simple changes – even though they know the change will be for their own good.   Some changes are not possible until one generation gives way to the next.   As stated in the leadoff article of our Summer 2020 Newsletter, many family businesses advance one funeral at a time.   If you don’t think this is true, you are living in la-la land.

Cow-calf producers who think they can continue to do things the way they have always done them need to WAKE UP and smell the coffee.   As Henry Ford said, “Those who are too set to change are already dead.   The funeral is a mere detail.”   Are you already dead?   I hope not.   It’s not too late to make the necessary changes in your program and genetics – but time is of the essence.   Nothing stays the same.   It’s Time to Change Horses!

Jim Gerrish puts it all together!

Here is a podcast Jim did with Charlie Arnott when he and Dawn were in Australia earlier in the year. Charlie is a biodynamic farmer/grazier located in New South Wales who also produces podcasts related to regenerative ag, human health, and an array of other current topics.

This serious yet lighthearted conversation covers a lot of ground. We hope you choose to listen & enjoy it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orRLYqSQQEM

 

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In this episode Charlie chats to the American grazier and educator Jim Gerrish. Jim takes us on his regenerative journey and recalls the moment, when he realised that the aroma of freshly turned/ ploughed ground he had always liked growing up was in fact the smell of the earth dying…this proved to be the turning point in his life. Jim’s journey is a captivating one which touches on human health & diet, food definitions, changing farm practices and a whole lot more. To start a dialogue and converse more about topics raised in this podcast, please visit The Regenerative Journey podcast Facebook group. Episode Takeaways We don’t need feedlots. We just need people who have grazing management skills to take a pasture and turn it into delightful beef | In research we don’t call it a cow pie/cow pat, it’s a SEE…a Single Excretory Event! | We don’t need new knowledge, we need to be applying what we already know | The whole idea that beef cattle are destroying the environment is only tied to feedlot phase of it | The methane thing is a real red herring with grazing cattle, feedlots it’s a problem. It’s the production model not the ruminant animals that are the problem | Grass feeds the grass, grass feeds the soil, then grass can feed the livestock| Human health is intrinsically linked to soil health. Links Jim Gerrish – American Grazing Lands LLC Maia Grazing – Grazing management tool Dr. James Anderson – Scottish agriculturist in 1700’s Diana Rodgers – Sustainable Dish Sacred Cow – Film project led by Diana Rodgersint

Find Local Food Producers!

Web search sites to help consumers find producers of all sorts of food products near you or available for shipping.  CSA’s, farmer’s markets, and all sorts of shopping opportunities.  Be sure to check to see if your own state has a state buyer’s guide!  and be sure to let me know of any i missed.

Local Harvest

EatWild.com

USABeef

Rodale Institute

Missouri Agriculture Directory

AgriMissouri Buyer’s Guide

Farm to Consumer Legal Defense

Local Producers’ websites or contact information.  These are just some in my circle of knowledge, you’ll have to search out those in your area.

Kiowa Hills Ranch

Missouri Milk Maid

Chad and Emily Fisher 816.804.8571 Pasture finished beef – Northwest central Missouri

Sue Stropes, sue.stropes@gmail.com, mobile 816.405.9545, grassfinished hamburger, eggs. Chilhowee, MO

Several others in our area, but these are the only ones who asked to be listed here.