I had one of those great phone calls last night. A rancher who has been building a cowherd for the last 50 years found himself at one of those milestones in life—it was time to sell the cows.
The traditional route would have been to schedule a dispersal and watch a lifetime of work get scattered to the wind. Financially that is often the best decision, but at this point, it wasn’t about the money for him.
He had two goals: keep the nucleus of the herd together and find the cattle a home with someone who shares a similar vision and continue his life’s work. And he would love for those cows to go to someone aspiring to make it in the cattle business. This individual has a long history providing support to the industry. He is at a point where he doesn’t want to be involved in the daily grind, but he has a stake in this industry and is committed to giving someone else the opportunity to follow in his footsteps.
It will be a great opportunity for the right individual. Talking to this gentleman got me thinking, because he reflects a special attitude that is pervasive in our industry. He isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, whose biggest consideration when creating an exit strategy isn’t monetary, but rather making it possible for the next generation to continue in his footsteps.
Ranchers have a unique blend of realism with optimism. They know the life isn’t for everyone, and that it is a very difficult path for anyone starting out on their own with nothing but a vision and a dream.
Yet, they can’t imagine a better path for someone committed and passionate about taking it. Outsiders sometimes see ranchers as whiners or complainers. After all, we are always talking about weather or markets or beef demand; things that as individuals we have very little control of.
However, it is simply a façade. Most ranchers feel like they are some of the luckiest people on earth, but they just don’t want to appear overly happy. We all know we are optimists at heart; the rain will come or it won’t, the market will respond or it won’t, but it has very little impact on our direction or plan of action. The vision is clear and intact and we will adjust to whatever obstacles or opportunities that Mother Nature and the marketplace throws at us. We are characterized by an unwavering purpose and that is what makes ranchers winners not whiners.
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