Farmers and ranchers are truly the toughest of people.
The margins rarely ever make sense.
The continuous stress of it all doesn’t make sense.
And that’s in a good year.
Now let’s add in a widespread drought.
Watching the crops wither away in front of you, unsure how you’ll feed your animals this winter. Watching the skies every day, just praying a rain cloud might be coming your way.
That is the current reality for so many of us.
My husband and I have spent the last 10 years building our commercial cattle herd just outside Rosthern, SK. Cattle run in our blood, however, we started from ground zero when it comes to cattle and land, in our quest to be ranchers. Overall, we’ve been very lucky to experience multiple years in a row of good crops and ample feed. And in those years my husband always reminded me what his grandpa told him- “You never know when a bad season is coming, so you never sell your feed.” However, some years, the bills had to be paid.
I’m a financial advisor by day (refer back to the margins never making sense). My husband also works full time off the farm. We work to build the farm. That’s the long and short of it. But we do it because we love it, and because there is no better place to raise children.
Our hay crops this year produced about ½ of what an average year would yield. And we’re venturing to guess the greenfeed will do about the same. We are thankful to have a decent carry over of bales from last year as well, which will be very much needed when winter comes (or the pastures run out, which is also looking plausible in many areas, including ours). Making a yearly overall plan with my husband, including a financial plan, helps us keep stress at bay (as much as we can in this industry).
I constantly balance playing the offense and the defense when it comes to farm decisions each year. Keep as much feed in the yard as possible, continue to look for land buying opportunities that make sense, hold back heifers as we can. I ask a lot of questions to fellow ranchers who I know have been in the game a long time. They’re always willing to give advice and ideas. And experience is one thing you just cannot buy.
The stress farmers and ranchers go through to feed the world is like no other. And yet, we all continue. Year after year. Because it’s in our blood. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- thank your local farmers and ranchers. We need them.
And then pray for rain.