WOTB

The WOTB Test

Most people blame things beyond our control like the weather, government regulation, low commodity prices and increasing costs for their failure to make a healthy profit. These are the things most often discussed at producer meetings and in the coffee shop. These are also things we can do little about. Making them the scapegoats for poor performance makes it easy to absolve ourselves of responsibility. But if prices, costs, weather and regulation really determine profit or loss, why do some businesses survive, even thrive, in these conditions while others fail? Depressed markets are a crisis for some but a profitable opportunity for others. It is not the situation, but the decisions we make that determine success or failure.

According to the US Small Business Administration, most new businesses fail. Fewer than 10% survive to see their 10th year. In his best-selling book, The E-myth Revisited, Michael Gerber points to an exception. He says that 97% of new franchises survive beyond 10 years. Why the difference? Simply put, franchises have a clear-cut blueprint on how to run a business. McDonalds doesn’t succeed because they make the best hamburgers or because they hire the smartest, talented people to work behind the counter. Over the years they have achieved economies of scale and have a lot of clout when it comes to negotiating lower costs with their suppliers. But they wouldn’t have been in the position to do that if they hadn’t built a business that actually works. They didn’t grow first and then figure it out. They figured it out and then they grew.

As Gerber puts it, they worked on the business (WOTB) to build a business that actually works. We are so busy working in the businesses (WITB) doing $10/hour jobs that we often don’t ever get around to working on our businesses (the $100/hour work). This is the work that determines the winners and the losers in any business…including yours. More than genetics, prices, weather or any other factor, it is this issue that separates the men (and women) from the boys
(and girls) in ranching.

Our ranches suffer economically, financially and ecologically when WOTB takes a back seat to WITB. Our failure to effectively work on our businesses is the single biggest reason that most ranches aren’t profitable and that most ranches don’t survive generational succession with their land or family intact.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Ranching can make a healthy profit, thrive ecologically, stay in the family indefinitely and be the stimulus for revitalizing rural communities. You put your ranch on the path to achieve these results when you put the shovel down and pick up the pencil … when you start working on it, not just in it.

I’ve heard some complain that they don’t like working on their business. I wonder if the real problem is that they don’t know how to work on it. Previous generations may have been able to get by without WOTB when land values were cheaper and their ranch had only been split once by a generational transfer. But times and conditions have changed. What passed for management then, doesn’t pass muster now.

Score yourself to see how effectively you are working on your business:

Scoring:  0 = I have not addressed this issue
5 = I have addressed the issue but have more work to do
10 = This describes my business.

ARE-YOU-WORKING-ON-YOUR-BUSINESS-chart-1

If you scored more than 70, congratulations! You probably have a healthy business with a promising future. If you scored 40 to 70, you’ll be feeling the pinch but will probably continue to get by with off-farm income subsidizing the place … at least until it comes time to pass the ranch on to the next generation. If you scored less than 40, you might want to think about going to work as a cowboy for someone else. If you want a good job, I suggest you hire on with someone who scored more than 60. He’s the one who’s Ranching For Profit.

 

Be sure to check out Dave Pratt’s Ranching for Profit website for more information and to see if his week long school would be something that will help your business!

FSA Microloans

This might be a good place to look if you need to borrow funds for a small farming or marketing operation startup.

Contact your local FSA (Farm Service Agency) office if interested in a USDA microloan that can help new farmers own land. http://www.fsa.usda.gov/…/farm-loan-progra…/microloans/index

Program Description:

The focus of Microloans is on the financing needs of small, beginning farmer, niche and non-traditional farm operations, such as truck farms, farms participating in direct marketing and sales such as farmers’ markets, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), restaurants and grocery stores, or those using hydroponic, aquaponic, organic and vertical growing methods. 

Cheers!

tauna

 

 

A CSA App

A new tool is available for market gardeners who operate CSAs!

Open Source Software for CSAs Funded by Western SARE
Press Release

Jacksonville, OR, March 15, 2016 – The Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative CSA in Southern Oregon has recently unveiled innovative, open source software developed through funds acquired from SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) to assist CSA farmers in connecting with their
members. At a time when farmers work hard to keep up with some of the latest trends in the local food movement nationally, CSA coordinator Maud Powell sought to provide a high-tech, user friendly tool to support CSA members interested in having their member information right at their fingertips. “CSAs continue to be a great marketing channel for farmers, but in order to attract customers, they need to be adaptive to cultural trends,” says Maud.

The first of its kind, the CSA App was developed by Josh Shupak with assistance from Lars Faye of Chee Studio and Becky Brown of iWrite. Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative CSA members participated in surveys and focus groups to determine the features and functionality that would be used in the App. The CSA App supports CSA members with easy access to product information, recipes, cooking and storage tips and nutritional information for the produce found in their weekly CSA shares.

The mobile friendly tool was created using a web based platform and is easily customizable by anyone comfortable using a computer and navigating the internet. “The whole idea is to keep it simple for the farmer and easy to use for the membership,” says Powell. “I wanted to help make CSAs more relevant and accessible for younger generations, and the most obvious way to do that is through the use of technology.” Farmers can utilize the templates in the web platform to create their very own personalized App that can include product information, recipes, cooking videos, farmer bios and any specific instructions about how and where to pick up weekly CSA box deliveries. Creative users may even find additional ways to provide valuable information to their members using mobile technology.

Access to the customizable web platform is provided free of charge, although a valid credit card is required to secure information in the account set up phase. All existing content is open source and available for use, although customization may be necessary to reflect the specifics of a particular CSA farm. The Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative CSA App can be viewed here: https://mobile-csa.herokuapp.com/.

For instructions on how to get started or for more information visit:
http://www.siskiyoucoop.com/csa/app/.

Becky Brown
Freelance Commercial Writer
541-890-1936

What is CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)?

the Garden – by George Weigel

Quick read in Rural Missouri magazine on pages 29-31. the Garden

Increase Your Gardening ROI – These 10 veggies off the best payback

Four Season Gardening – How to make your yard interesting year-round.

Seven Worst Gardening Blunders – Avoid these mistakes and improve your success.

George Weigel is a Pennsylvania-based horticulturist, garden consultant, author, and newspaper garden columnist.  His website is www.georgeweigel.net

these articles are published in our Rural Missourian Electric Coop magazine with recommendations to contact the University of Missouri extension for gardening tips.  Try checking with the extension in your area for more specific info.

Weather is warming up – get crackin’!

cheers

tauna

 

What I’ll Say to my Children if I’m Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s

oh, dear, so well said.

God's Grace and Mom's Alzheimer's

I was skimming some other dementia blogs lately and a reader had written in saying, that though she felt guilty about it, she wished her mother would die in her sleep and not have to continue living through the pain and indignity of dementia.  I’ve heard others say things like, “I’ve told my kids if I ever get Alzheimer’s just shoot me.”

I understand where these comments are coming from, but they make my heart heavy.  I feel like these attitudes devalue my Mom’s life right now. Even though they are not specifically referencing her, they are in effect saying that people like her are better off dead. It is hard to see Mom changing and confused and upset. But she still has sweet times of love and joy, too.  And God still has a purpose for her life.

He is growing our patience as we care for her.  He…

View original post 400 more words

Houzz Housekeeping Habits

Yeah, we are all in the spring cleaning/gardening mindset.  Certainly a time for renewal and sweeping away those thoughts and objects cluttering our minds and lives.  Ya gotta get organised!

Houzz has another great article which may help you get started.

A Cleaning Routine for your First Home

My comment is to use cleaning products that are homemade..  It is not necessary to go out and spend money for products.  Basics are water (at least 90%), vinegar, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, soap, and essential oils are nice.  Other basics are baking soda, borax,  lemon juice, and chlorine bleach.  You probably already have most of these in the cupboard.

THE MAIN INGREDIENT IS “GO!”

Have fun!

tauna

So You Want To Farm….

There are certainly obstacles  – huge obstacles- in place to keep a person from farming, but if you don’t even have a garden and feeding your family from it – i will suggest you take a really hard look at the reasons keeping you from farming.

Do you lack motivation?  knowledge? funding? land?  Of those four, lack of motivation is the most deadly to keeping you off the land (or whatever your dream).  The others are easily overcome.

The only way to get started is to do it!  In four square feet you can grow 15-20 lbs of pole beans! That is 60 servings of fresh green beans at a start up cost of seed (4 seeds at $0.08 each for $0.32) and a tiny spot of earth.  Plan ahead and start putting all your kitchen scraps into  your planting area all winter long.  Use the lasagne method of building compost in your garden (aka sheet composting).  Retail Value of your crop – $34.35!  On four square feet!  Now, that is not counting your labor or water.  But i can tell you that with green beans, the most labor is in harvesting!

What if you scale that up to 1/4 of an acre?  Don’t forget that gardening doesn’t scale without an increase in labor on every single plant or vegetable that you harvest.  And you can’t go on holiday during the growing season.  Oh, right, the RETAIL value of crop on 1/4 of an acre = $49876!

Before getting too excited about long pole beans, bear in mind, that even though the seeds cost 8 cents a piece and retail value of your production could approach $210,680 per acre,  (difference in math is number of plants on a larger property) it’s a LONG way between purchasing an acre, equipment costs, preparing the soil, purchasing and building trellises, watering when necessary during the next 5-6 months, and, without fail, hand harvesting every 2-3 days after the plants begin producing in about 80 days, finding a market for those fresh beans immediately, or be prepared with refrigeration and storage AND putting money in the bank.  Add in crop failures every once in a while and that seemingly massive income per acre whittles away very quickly.  BUT, with careful management, use of cover crops, crop rotations, offering a variety of staple produce, and developing an excellent market, a good living could be gleaned from a small property – even in town!

Additionally, i can tell you right now, that even if i was so motivated to produce this many best-tasting-beans in the world, there is no way i could find buyers for 92,000 lbs of long pole beans.   We simply have too much food produced in this country (not in Linn, CO) for people to buy that many.  That would be 19 lbs per household in Linn County, MO and $2.29/lb far too expensive.  Cheaper products are available at big box stores.

Just my opinion, but the easiest crops to grow and sell (available market) are tomatoes, bell peppers, green beans, snow peas, garlic, onions, potatoes, cucumbers, squashes (squash bugs are challenging though).  Now, put a sharp pencil to inputs, especially labor and marketability.  Only plant what you want to eat in case you can’t sell it all!  Too much diversity just increases stress!  But some variety all season can bring in more customers.

However, Missouri is considered a minor state in vegetable production, due to inappropriate soils and wide swings in weather variation.  Heavy soils in our north central part are particularly challenging and other than small gardens, vegetable growing is not part of the agricultural base found in this part of Missouri.

 

Ready to explore alternative profitable plants?  Read about these.  But you must do your homework!  Can you even find a market for ginseng or bamboo?

There is a movement across the country to embrace homesteading as a way of life.  Remember, though, farming is hard work with little financial reward, but it can be profitable with careful management, hard work, and no debt.  Keep your day job until the farm is paying.

What are your success stories of living on the land?!

Cheers

tauna

photos 007
Last fall, i put together a very short raised bed.  Only using a raised bed to make it easier to mow around.  This 2 ft x 16 ft spot will be all the gardening i plan this year.  
garden 001
Adding ALL of our kitchen food refuse to the buckets of dried cattle manure that had been placed in the 2 ft by 16 ft box.  My Asian long pole green beans will grow up the wire cattle panel along the back.