This goes for any business, but is specifically written by a rancher to ranchers/farmers. It is sad how few ranching businesses stay as such from one generation to the next. Kit explains again one reason for this.
November 7, 2018
Cowboy Logic: “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
Have you noticed that the most successful and happy people throughout history have been those who made decisions that were based on the future? It’s true! Successful people know that nothing stays the same. The present is different from the past – and the future will be different from the present. Those who make decisions that are based on the future will always have a HUGE competitive advantage over those who continue to make decisions based on the past and/or the present.
Unfortunately, nearly all people from all walks of life are afraid to make decisions that are based on anything but the past or the present. It has always been this way, and it will probably always be this way. Even though they can see things transforming before their very eyes, they are reluctant to make any changes in what they are doing. It’s as though they would rather fail doing what they have always done than succeed if success requires change. That is a shame – but it gives you the opportunity to move your family and your family’s business to a very sought-after position.
Based on what you think about the future, what kind of management decisions should you be making in your cow-calf operation? I’m not going to tell you what I think. I want you to do your own thinking. You may come up with something different and/or better than what I have. The decisions you come up with, however, need to be based on what you think the future holds. Be bold in your actions. Those who are slow to take the appropriate actions may lose all they have – forcing their kids and grandkids to get jobs in town.
Quote Worth Re-Quoting –
“The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.” ~ Unknown
The benefits of managing trees and timbers far outweigh the tree-hugger (an environmental campaigner used in reference to the practice of embracing a tree in an attempt to prevent it from being felled) concept of saving all or specific trees. Biblically, we are instructed to tend and keep the garden – not let it run rampant into total chaos. Work is not a four-letter word in the negative sense and it behooves us all to manage for effectiveness, efficiency, helpfulness, integrity, and beauty.
As Greg Judy shares, there are two ways to establish silvopasture or savannah. One way is to clear out dead or unproductive trees in existing timber or to plant a diverse mixture of productive and valuable trees. Planting and establishing a new timber will take decades before reaching its full potential, but if you didn’t start decades ago, might as well start now.
Unmanaged timbers will eventually become worthless – full of scraggly crooked trees which will never grow if the older trees are not harvested at their peak of quality. The heavy canopy old tall trees prevent youngsters from reaching their full potential. Even though the old fogy’s will eventually die, the young trees may never recover and the timber itself will fail. This may take a millennia, but why not manage it, sustaining, regenerating, as well as taking off a cash crop to help pay the bills.
Trees and timber are so important in our environment – for people, livestock, wildlife, soil. Shade is the first benefit which often comes to mind. Evapotranspiration is the ‘coolest’ sort of shade there is – much better than that provided by a shade cloth or roof. Additionally, we harvest fuel, wildlife, forage diversity, shelter, lumber, and a beautiful landscape. But management is more than harvesting, it also requires protection from overuse by livestock and even wildlife, yet on the flip side, excluding animal use will allow brush overgrowth and a buildup of fire fuel, which during a dry hot spell could catch fire and destroy your timber in a matter of moments.
Trees which are allowed to grow large around ditches, draws, and branches destabilize the banks. Their large roots won’t hold the soil as well as millions of deep rooted grass plants, so it’s best to keep those sprouts cut out so grass can grow. My observation is that once trees are removed, sunlight can reach the bank which allows the grasses to grow, especially with the ready supply of water! Include timeliness of livestock impact (to knock down the steep eroded banks) and grass will quickly cover those leveled areas as well. This all works together to hold soil, reduce erosion during what we call gully washers and slow the flow of water across the landscape. It’s a beautiful thing to watch the land heal.
A word of caution in all this! It will not work if you hire a bulldozer and push out trees – roots and all. This moves too much soil which may cause a lot of erosion and make the scarring even worse. The trees must be harvested leaving the roots in place. I find it more attractive to cut the stumps fairly level to the surface, plus the convenience of not having a stump to run into, but it probably doesn’t make any difference from a soil saving aspect.
The final argument to address is to define my use of the word ‘management.’ One way to manage is to bulldoze, another is to clear cut, but i’m referring to managing for regeneration. Sustaining my unmanaged timber is not smart – improving for the next generation (regeneration) is more respectful all around.
This is a direct quote from an article I read awhile back.
“The name of an article in a non-farm magazine was “Gulf hypoxia thought to be caused by agricultural run off.” Yet this year it was 33% the predicted size and no one knows why science failed to be right.”
No, it was not that science failed to be right, it was that they guessed wrong, and that is not science. Guessing is what people who have an agenda “call” science. Science is when something is studied until they know that it is right and it can be proved. There is so much guessing about things in the future that to try and make the guessing legitimate they call it science, and then try to have it accepted as proven.
This is much like the livestock markets. Most people want to guess what the prices will be in the future. These guesses often fail to be right then it is blamed on something else. Always deal with real things not guesses or hopes. The things that are real are today’s prices not what they may be in the future. There is one thing about today’s prices, they are easy to prove. That must be very scientific. It will be very hard to prove that prices in the future are right until we get there, that must not be very scientific.
Bud Williams died a few years ago, but his thoughts, videos, and stockmanship teachings are kept available by his wife and daughter at stockmanship.com. There is a massive amount of information necessary for becoming competent and improving at developing relationships with animals and people.