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Look ahead with a positive attitude


Christmas season is upon us. It is a reminder of how quickly time passes.

It also is an opportunity to stop and reflect on what has happened this past year—and to look ahead with a positive attitude.

For livestock producers and all farmers, 2001 has been challenging. The first cut of hay had a good yield and a lot of dry hay was put up. But then, unlike the rest of the country, it started to rain—and rain and rain and rain.

Still we got good second-cut yields, although it was a little tough to get a “dry” window for cutting and baling.

For a second year in a row, most farmers were able to put up a large quantity of hay although maybe not at the quality they hoped for. The key pasture months of July and August were quite wet but we managed to get some pretty good growth.

Prices for feeder and finished cattle were strong into September. They fell somewhat after that, but have started to come up again a bit lately.

There are some things you have no control over as farmers. Weather is certainly one of these things; market price is another.

During the holiday season, take time to look back on what has happened to your operation and look ahead to next year. With seasonal tasks and regular chores on the farm, off-farm work, and family activities to keep us busy, we often don’t see the bigger picture.

I find “ideas” come at times when I am (supposed to be) concentrating on something else.

For example, while you can’t control the weather, you can plan for a possible drought. Putting up more hay than you should need is a little insurance.

Also consider crop insurance.

You can’t control market prices, but you can take the best advantage of whatever the market situation may be.

You can work toward weaning a calf from every cow exposed to a bull. You can work toward providing the type of animal the market demands in breeding, size, and muscle condition.

You can present the calf for sale in the condition desired by the buyers, including dehorning, castrating, vaccinating, and started on hay and grain.

Selling by weight, and with competitive bidding that is provided at a sale barn with more than one buyer, increases your chances of getting a top price on a particular sale day.

A little planning is important. If you have a chance to reflect during the next few days, pick one part of your farm operation you would like to change.

2002 is another farming year. With some reflection and planning based on looking back, you can go forward in a positive frame of mind.

I wish you a holiday season and beyond filled with beautiful moments and cherished memories.

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