Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Money Side

It’s warmed up a little to the twenties and even some thirties in the daytime. We still have a solid snow covering. Seth and Leah’s perfect snowman still smiles at us out the picture window.

Every day now is a feeding cows day. The first day out was a pleasure. Ah yes, I remember this. It was a beautiful morning with a cover of fresh snow. The cows had a dusting of white on their backs.

When it’s really cold, the cows’ hooves make a creaking clamor as they crowd around the truck when we arrive each morning. Between bales I pull my fingers into my gloves and stand for a half-minute to get the blood flowing again. When it warms up, like now, we shed our coats after the first load and risk getting hay chaff down our necks.

Isn’t January grand? I love the feeling of a fresh start on a fresh new year. I finally got my 2016 planner set up today and the pages lay open - crisp and clean and full of promise.

Like every January, Mark and I have been going through ranch finances. I like the business side of the operation. A new year means visits to our accountant and banker and spending evenings sorting options. Actually, Mark does the sorting. I cheer him on and do what I can in the background. My forte is trying to figure out what questions to ask. I love questions. And really, it’s not so much about finding concrete answers, but rather thinking through the myriad of factors that good questions bring to mind. This is where the meat of great decisions lie.       

And we best be comfortable with questions on a ranch. How do we juggle the needs of four generations that have an interest in this business? How do we address a shortage of spring grazing? What is the return on soil amendments this past season?

Ranching is about relationships: cows and grass, employees and family members, older generations and younger generations, soil organisms in concert with above ground flora and fauna, horses and dogs and cows. And in the background, the relationship that keeps the rest of it together, those ever important debits and credits, income and expenses. For if that relationship doesn't work, the others have no chance to. 

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