Friday, February 25, 2011

Close enough to perfect

Today is one of those days when I really feel lucky to be part of this industry and friends with the other people in this industry.It was not perfect but it was "close enough to perfect for me" As Alabama sang so perfectly.Which is I am sure what my wife thinks daily about me!

Today was another day of decision and marketing that can sometimes be scary yet the fact that it is a challenge and can sometimes be profitable makes it all worth while. Four lessons from today were prominent in that tenacity wins the day, do not over think or worry too much about things you have no control over and feel lucky to be part of an industry that is engaged and truly cares, and you cannot ever afford to rest in that the day is really never done.

I had several factors to consider in what I was going to market today. Short term and long term considerations to the ranch and profitability, current market dynamics, what I actually had for inventory, and then what it would mean in both a positive and negative sense as I made those specific marketing decisions. The cattle market is very strong at the current time and just about anything you would choose to sell would be profitable. At the same time I have to consider the big picture because I am in the “business” and have been for many years and plan to be for the rest of my natural life. I could sell everything tomorrow and make a nice profit but then where would I be as far as using the resources of my ranch? (water, grass, cattle, infrastructure etc) I am not in this business to make short term financial gains, I am in this business because I absolutely love what I do for a living, I am pretty good at it, it is a great way to raise a family, I provide an important service to the country as far as food production, and to be honest I would rather run a grizzly bear artificial insemination business and scrape by financially to be outside enjoying nature than being paid $5000 an hour and sit in an office and have every financial whim at my feet.

I was very conscious of the finality of my decisions today and how that affected individual cows. In a perfect world I think most cattlemen would keep every single animal and be able to find unlimited pasture and feed resources and die with a million plus bovines of every age and size. Reality dictates that you plan, be open to changes in resources and markets and stay in business. When you get to a time like currently has manifested itself in good prices and ability to have the freedom to market and have long term sustainability it is a welcome and rare situation. I sold 6 older fall calving cows today, 6 spring yearling heifers, and one each of a fall steer calf and a late fall heifer. Each and every animal from a personal standpoint had an argument that merited continued ownership and yet each given today’s price structure merited its sale. What I marketed today needed to total $8,000 to validate my decisions and my gross check was over $10,000.

That being said the mother cows sold today had many memories accumulated over the years and you always question selling calves and what their future production may mean to your bottom line. You know the market is good when I come home with an empty trailer and am also very happy with the prices received for what I sold. I never regret my days spent at the auction barn and seeing friends and interacting with others in this business.

When I got home tonight and got a charge on my cell phone I found out I was 30 minutes late for a conference call related to (ADT) animal disease traceability here in Washington State. I joined the call and I want to thank all of you that participated and trust in my leadership of carrying forward what we feel as an industry is appropriate. Tomorrow I have a face to face meeting with my Congressman to discuss “The endangered species act” and I better get some research done and have my facts straight for the meeting. No rest for the wicked, the farmers or ranchers in today’s fast moving world. Today was not perfect as I got home to a spring calving cow with milk fever and one fall calf that was quite sick. I will say that with today’s market and how things came together in general it was a pretty wonderful day in the mind of a cowman! I am off to do a heifer calving check as we are going down to the single digits temperature wise the next two nights with strong north winds and a newborn calf can use every advantage I can give it when it is this cold. Eat beef and thanks for supporting this blog, myself and our industry.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the prickly pear aka Opuntia polyacantha.

Today’s picture is cow #9198w with her 10th calf this fall that was raised here on the ranch and much appreciation for all she did as a terrific calf raiser. She was sold today and was the very last cow branded from an old partnership I had in the late 90’s.