Saturday, October 13, 2012

Coaching Tips

Thursday night was the annual meeting of the Northeast Texas Beef Improvement Organization (NETBIO).  It is a group of ranchers, Veterinarians, bankers and livestock auction owners that came together to find a better way to market their cattle.  It is a great organization that has been very successful for many years.  Many have tried to duplicate the success of NETBIO but none have been able to.

The guest speaker for the Banquet was Gene Stallings, former coach of the Texas Aggies, the Crimson Tide and then coached under Tom Landry at the Dallas Cowboys before becoming head coach of the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals.  Coach Stallings is a rancher and lives not far from where I do.

I expected Coach Stallings to talk about his experiences in football -- as a player and then as a coach.  He did not.  He talked about ranching and overcoming hardship and maintaining proper values.  He talked about perseverance and about making a difference in someone else's life.  He is giving back to others.  Currently he is pursuing building a hospital in Haiti.  Of all his accomplishments, it is the one he seems most proud of.

During his speech he talked about taking pride in what you have been given stewardship over.  He specifically referred to his ranch.  He said, "I don't want to see a weed in the pasture or a tree limb fallen in the woods.  I want everything to be well-maintained and there is no excuse for walking past something that needs fixing day after day and not fixing it."  Well.....those may not have been his exact words, but they represent the gist of it.

I expecially found it interesting in light of my current project on the ranch.  Clearing brush from the fencelines that pass through some woods on the place.  Things had grown up into a tangle of Greenbriar, Blackberries, Dewberries, locust trees, and a million saplings of various species of tree and shrub.  There were trees fallen on the fence pressing down the wires and there was no good way to get through to fix things.  So, a couple of weeks ago I set out to change that.  I'm doing it the old fashioned way too.  A lot of sweat and manual labor.  I figure it's a good way to get back in shape and it seems much more productive than going to a gym or jogging.  There are a couple of pictures below to give you an idea....

Above:  Where I'm going.
Below:  Where I've been.

Realizing a Dream

All my life I have wanted to be a rancher.  I grew up following my grandfather who always owned cattle until he was almost 90 years old.  The problem with wanting to be a rancher is that it takes a lot of money.  That wasn't something that I inherited or was given so, I had to start saving what I could.

My undergraduate advisor at Texas A&M was Dr. Ronald D. Kay.  I will never forget Dr. Kay because he cared about the students and teaching more than he did about research.  He gave me some very practical advice.  Pursue what you want to do but remember, there's more than one way to skin a cat.  You may have to do something you don't really want to do in order to do what you really want to.  He suggested agricultural finance might be a good way to start working toward my dream of owning a ranch.  It was good advice.  Managing money properly is necessary to realize a dream that costs as much as ranching.

I owned cattle a time or two through the years.  But, I was never able to put much together beyond a few stocker calves or a few old cows on leased land.  I stepped away from it for awhile and decided to focus on putting together enough to do it right.

This year, we finally were able to realize the dream.  Looking back it was all obviously "God orchestrated" because the combination of things coming together could have been the result of nothing else.  There are a few pictures below....