What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you doing it?
After the phases of wanting to be Tinker Bell, Batman, and such, did you have an idea of what you really liked? I dreamed of being an author. Oh to write books like Judy Blume! Today, words impact me more than any other art form. For my hubby, it was ranching. He’s wanted to be a cowboy since he was old enough to “saddle” the arm of the couch.
He shared his passion of agriculture and I found it naturally alluring. As we’ve done this ranching adventure, we’ve had to adjust and think about what we want the future to look like. When we first began years ago, we started out with a few cows here and there. Our setup was less-than-ideal, but we made it work. In 2013, we sold the 125 cow herd we’d grown (still not huge in many ranching circles, but it was profitable and enjoyable), as well as our house. We let go of leases. We didn’t have land of our own, so this move was to lead us to a place of our own where we’d rebuild the herd.
It took two years before we found our land and it didn’t end up being where we thought. Now we have 135 acres–a fair chunk of land–but you ranchers know this isn’t enough land to accomplish ranching full scale. We had nearly 4,000 acres in lease land before–this seems minute. However, it isn’t impossible. We just need to change our business plan. Obviously we can’t run a cow/calf operation that will pencil with so few AUM’s.
What we can do, is support a small herd of beef cows where we supply local restaurants with high pasture raised veal. This is a different picture than we ever anticipated, but as I’ve dealt with health issues and our family with food allergies and sensitivities, we are increasingly excited about quality food. We have a mission statement and business plan that clarify and outline our goals.
Do you know where you want to be in ten years? How will you get there? What will be different? What will be the same?
Here’s what we did: First, come up with a vision statement and/or mission statement that describes what you do and WHY you want to do it. Simon Sinek has an excellent talk about the motivation behind what you do. Your WHY is always more important than your WHAT.
Next, outline your business. That’s right, ranching is a business. Obviously we sell cattle. Go deeper. Do you want to start keeping replacement heifers? Raising bulls? Is your target wean date in October for November shipping? Even if you’ve done this for years, look at if there is something you don’t want to do or something you’d like to add to your operation. Get it on paper. This brings solidarity to your ideas and uniformity to your thoughts. Thoughts will often swim around in our brains for decades unless we give them some form of action.
Finally, make a plan for what you’d like to accomplish this year. Even though it is March, there is time to evaluate. As I’ve mentioned before, use what resources you already have and then look at moving forward. It might not happen exactly as you plan, but you will move closer toward that place of where you want to be in ten years