Cow Camp Chatter
“Enjoy the Process”
Ron Torell, Long-Standing Educator and Advocate of Agriculture
I recently received some very sound advice from a trusted and loyal friend that is worth passing on: “Slow down and enjoy the process." Most agriculture producers are just like me. On any given day they have too many irons in the fire and too much on their minds. Consequently we all try to do too much in a day with too little help and too few resources. The slim profit margin agriculture offers is simply too small to afford the labor force and infrastructure we once enjoyed so we simply do without. We rely heavily on our family, neighbors and friends to fill this labor void. We shoulder the bulk of the added burden and are often unable to enjoy the process and the reason why we are in agriculture production to begin with. We hurry through one job so we can move on to the next. We become crisis managers rather than ranch managers. In this issue of Cow Camp Chatter let’s discuss the subject of slowing down and enjoying the process, and how, by doing so, we may become more efficient ranch managers and more enjoyable people to be around.
It’s important to keep in mind that the boss of any given outfit sets the tone for the day. Take for example working cows. This is generally one of the most pleasant of tasks associated with livestock production. It involves sorting calves from cows, running cows through the chute for vaccination, and processing calves. Normally this is a good day unless the boss starts it out with a sour attitude or tries to work the cows all in one day with marginal facilities and inexperienced labor. As this scene often plays out, what could have been a very pleasant day for both man and beast often goes south. The boss has a meltdown and goes ballistic. This isn’t all due to the marginal facilities, the inexperienced and untrained labor, or the large number of animals to be processed before dark. In large part it may be because of the overload the boss is packing around mentally. The tone has been set. No one wants to be there at this point including the cows and calves. The fun has been bled out of the day for all.
I rather suspect that if you manage or live on a family ranch the above scenario comes close to describing a day or two on your operation. So what can be done to change this situation? For starters, slow down and enjoy the process. Do not try to do it all in one day. Don’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Take an iron or two from the fire. Prioritize responsibilities and eliminate those tasks or jobs that are the most stressful and could possibly be done on another day when time allows. Become an advanced planner. Improve your infrastructure so it is untrained-labor friendly. As inexperienced as your labor force may be, you can change that by taking the time to educate and train those individuals and make the job enjoyable so that your limited labor pool will want to return to help the next time. Select and train mother cows to be more human friendly. And, yes, that can be done! Remember, you set the tone for the day.