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Trying To Decide On My Winter Deadline

Red Angus heifers in snow

I love the late business consultant Stephen Covey. Like he suggests, we’ve been working hard in our operation to plan ahead and take care of the important things before they become urgent. However, I’ve also been caught in the deadline crunch – focusing on what is most urgent most of the time.

Nearly 85% of my time is spent on activities that must be accomplished that day or within the next two weeks. One of the things on my to-do list that keeps getting moved back in priority is getting our operation truly winterized. The reason is that every day the local 10-day weather forecast indicates moderate temperatures and no snow.

Experience has taught me to appreciate that winterizing water tanks and the like is far more enjoyable at 50°F, than at -10. And, oddly enough, even though calving season is still several months away, I’ve already begun preparing for calving season. I guess I know calving season will arrive, but these warm days have apparently left me unsure about winter’s arrival.

I guess Mother Nature has been so fickle around my area of Colorado the last couple of years, that it’s easy to believe that things have changed permanently. Though deep down, I know that winter will arrive at some point.

As I grow older, I find I value experience more and more. It has taught me a couple of things:

• Things do change frequently and rapidly, and those who understand those changes and prepare for them will put themselves in a position to succeed.

• And no change is permanent. It will rain again, it will get cold again, the cattle cycle will return, leverage will eventually shift back to the upstream participants, etc.

In hindsight, it’s nice to be able to remember and relate to the days of BSE in 2003, the dairy buyout, the winter of 2006/2007, the droughts of 2002 and 2012, and to be able to use those experiences to adjust my paradigms. The great irony is that we often underestimate change before it occurs, and then overestimate its impact once it’s happened. Experience allows me to shift from the urgent to the important. As warm and as dry as it is today, I know it will snow or at least get cold at some point. I guess I better get to those water tanks – pretty soon.

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