June 8, 2004
Farming and ranching is a profession that does not come from textbooks or simply by inheriting a family farm. While education is beneficial, I believe a successful farm or ranch comes from an entrepreneurial spirit, a strong will to survive in a business climate like no other, and to adaptation to changing times.
I have seen that long, hard hours, only to relearn as you go, are considered normal in the agriculture industry. Why? Because enjoyment for what we do and the understanding that success is truly dependent on effort!
A quote by Henry R. Luce, co-founder of TIME magazine, can better describe the thought process I've witnessed in most agribusinesses, farmers and ranchers in today's economy. "Business, more than any other occupation, is a continual dealing with the future; it is a continual calculation, an instinctive exercise in foresight."
Last summer my nephew asked my father what they were going to do that day. My father responded: "Well, we will see what Scott has planned and I will either go along with it or veto onto another plan for the day." We laughed about this, but that is truly how it works; and works well. My father allows me to be youthful and creative, while I respect his experiences and wisdom. So far, neither of us let little issues become big ones and we seldom worry. (Keep in mind; we have done this during one of the most persistent droughts we've seen on this ranch.)
We are two completely different people, yet we never argue. I am much more aggressive and capitalistic, while Dad is more relaxed and liberal. Nonetheless, we have a very sound working relationship with each other, which comes from a strong faith and common goals for the future. I believe this will be a key to our success while ranching together.
For our cow/calf operation, we decided to slowly move out of the exotic cattle breeds and back into an English-based herd -- a breeding program my father had years ago, until the market demanded larger calves. To kick off this new venture, we purchased some registered and purebred Black Angus cows and then went to the local Hawks' Hereford bull sale. We have not completely decide whether to go red on black or switch to black on red for the longer-term breeding program, but we do know that the potential Ridgefield Farms, LLC packing facility in South Dakota will require 50% Hereford and 100% English genetics. We very much support a local packing facility, as that is a great place to market our cattle, specifically for the program we have decided to pursue.
Recently, I purchased the book called, Passing Down the Farm. The Other Farm Crisis. by Donald J. Jonovic and Wayne D. Messick. I am not too far into the book, but I would recommend it for anyone dealing with family dynamics in farming and ranching. Next article I plan to highlight what I learned from this book and how that fits into my experiences and future goals.
Location: Howes, SD
Business: Cow/calf operation