Super intro to Holistic Management!
HOLISTIC MANAGEMENT A WHOLE-FARM DECISION MAKING FRAMEWORK
Even though I’ve known about and used the testing questions for many years, too many times, i go ahead a purchase a band-aid which does nothing but make my work harder and negatively affect my quality of life and that of those i love the most. While holistic management terms have been used mostly in farm and home circles, the precepts can be applied to most any business.
Good starter questions are: Why am i doing this job? If I can let nature do the job, then why am I not letting that happen? Is there a better way?
Do you have daily repetitive chores? You can probably get rid of them and not only save a tremendous amount of time, but also considerable out-of-pocket money. Especially if they are non-income producing time-suckers. Pets are notorious for this, but also having too many unrelated income streams.
For example, unless you have work horses (even then you’d better know your costs!), the time spent caring for and feeding them is astronomical with absolutely no return! (unless you are using them for pleasure and have time to do so). Horses consume 2% to 2.5% dry matter to the body weight or about 21 lbs for a 1000 lb horse. About the same as a cow. However, the cow is producing a calf on that same ration. So, while feeding three horses you could be feeding three cows with the resultant calf sale each year which at current levels is about $1000 per calf. If you spend 10 minutes a day feeding and watering the horses, in the course of one year, you’ve spent the equivalent of 60.8 hours! How much productive work could you get done in 60 hours! So, 60 hours times $15/hour is $900 plus feed, pasture rent, hay costs, water, vaccinations, hoof trimming, emergency vet costs. You can figure your own costs, but a full-service boarding facility for a 12×12 stall is $250/month per horse (includes turnout and water/feed/hay) or $9000 per year for three horses. This does not include farrier or vet services. Pasture only boarding is $160/month, but you would need to care for the horse yourself. What about tack, training, grooming? Add up the costs and time.
In a continuous grazing situation, horses will do more damage to the stand of forage than cattle and even sheep in some respects because not only can they nip the new growth to the ground like sheep, but they are heavier and each step carries more weight per square inch than a sheep. This often leads to pugging in soft pastures. In other words, horses can destroy a pasture in no time at all. As Penn State Extension puts it: “turning horses out on pasture should not start until the grass has reached a height of 6 inches, and should be stopped when grass has been grazed down to 2 to 3 inches.” and “this grazing strategy (continuous) often results in overgrazing,…. The bad thing about this system, it allows horses to be very selective. Horses repeatedly graze the best-tasting plants. This stresses plants beyond their ability to survive. Pasture is never allowed to recover from grazing. In time pastures are soon turned into dry lots where only weeds will grow.” Penn State’s recommendations are very basic, but a helpful start into learning about managed grazing.
Here’s a good starter article for pasture maintenance: Care & Feeding of Overgrazed Pastures
This is just one example, use the test questions against everything you do, gather information, and make the right decision!
Set goals, use the test questions, then really, really wait before buying work or any inputs. If you need training to help you identify problems and what is a symptom, then get help! Don’t spin your wheels getting nothing done or worse, digging a deeper hole and remaining confused by why you aren’t getting ahead. Ask! But if you are not ready to implement what you learn or make changes, then don’t waste your money or other people’s time.
Resources from Holistic Management International!
Creating Healthy Soil
You and I won’t agree with all of HMI’s ideas, but there is a ton of good information and help for getting you started in a new business, established business, or life in general.