Tag Archives: education

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!

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)?

Sunshine Blogger Award Nomination

Some time ago, a fellow blogger at Life As I Interpret It, nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award.  Thank you very much.  I would encourage visiting her blog since she is bold in sharing real life struggles and challenges in cutting back in a realistic manner without sacrificing small pleasures.

However, not really knowing how to go about responding, I kept putting off responding to the nomination, so here goes.

Here are the instructions:

The rules for this award are below (copied and pasted from the nominator’s site):

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Answer the questions from the person who has nominated you.
  • Nominate some other bloggers for this award.
  • Write the same amount of questions for the bloggers you have nominated.
  • Notify the bloggers you have nominated

My questions to the nominees are as follows:

  1. What is the most interesting blogging experience you have had?  Hmm – really haven’t had any interesting experiences blogging, but when my son posted a dual credit course paper about his great aunt and uncle’s Charolais business, it busted way off the charts!  that was exciting.  Lonely Statues                                                            
  2. If you were to be given an extraordinary amount of cash, what would be the first thing that appear in your mind?  How much income tax am i going to have to pay!!!???
  3. What do you think about frugality and what are your best advice to achieve it?  I‘m all for frugality!  It goes along with thankfulness in my mind.  But unless you are driven to live frugally or must because of finances, go ahead and live it up!  Somebody’s gotta buy a $1000 pair of shoes, don’t they?  How to achieve it?  
    Found tw 100% wool coats for working in - total cost was $7 for both.
    Found two 100% wool coats for working in – total cost was $7 for both.

    For us, it is buying second hand clothing for the most part, buying organic food in bulk (not prepared foods – but flour, sugar, cases of frozen veggies, etc and hold out for when it’s on sale). If we want to read a new book, we get it through inter-library loan rather than purchasing.  And, in general, just really consider whether or not we need to make a purchase. 

  4. Have you ever had a pet? What is your most cherished memory about it? Yes, many since i was very young.  They are treasured memories.  My most memorable that is gone now is my Quarter horse, See Sum Hum.  
    Here's my old horse, See Sum Hum and me.  We are both clearly past our prime, but we were having fun that day running the barrels.
    Here’s my old horse, See Sum Hum and me several years ago. We are both clearly past our prime, but we were having fun that day running the barrels. He always wanted to drop a shoulder into that second barrel and knocking it over, so i had a tendency to take him a bit wide and pick him up a bit. Added about a second to our time, but that was better than the 5 second penalty of knocking over the barrel. He was the best horse i will ever own.

    My grandparents bought him for me (when i was 16) at auction as a burnt out barrel racing horse – i loved him to pieces.  We raced barrels, pole bending, flag racing and whatever else i put in front of him -he was game.  Didn’t have a lick of cow sense, but he would always do what i asked, so we were a great team.  He was four when he came home with me, but died a few years back at the ripe old age of 29 – we were mates.  (i’m gonna cry now.)

    Thunder relaxing on the porch table.
    Thunder relaxing on the porch table.

      Currently, we have an old farm cat we call Thunder.  He is 15 years old and still going strong.  Still quite the hunter and frequently brings his prey to the door for our approval.  Pretty much an outdoor cat, except he likes to come in when it’s cold now.A beautiful stray kitten showed up at the seed plant last fall and we were able to save him.  My son named him ‘Ashes.’Ashes 2015

  5. What else do you think can be done to reduce the burden of cancer in our communities/countries/world?  By and large, many cancers can be avoided with proper diet and environment.  Not all, but a good many.  So if that is the case, individuals have to be accountable – i can’t change anyone or anything.
  6. Which is more annoying?  rain or snow? a bone chilling rain is worse than a dry snow, but a gentle warm spring rain is better than any snow.Misty Rain

Now, for the questions I pass on to bloggers I nominate.

  1.  What country or city do you want to visit the most?  What makes it so appealing?
  2.  Your favourite vacation would be adventure? history? relaxation? other? or all of these?
  3. Do you buy organic or locally grown food when you can?  or do you grow your own?
  4. What magazine or newspaper do you read the most?
  5. Do you drive a car, pickup, motorcycle, or something else as your regular vehicle?
  6. What would you like to learn more about?

Passing on the nomination to:

Cheryl “Cheffie Cooks” Wiser– Now, she actually manages and writes several blogs!  Check them out for great ideas on cooking and living!

Faithful Homestead – Jennifer tells a great story of day to day homeschooling, farming, and homesteading.

Grace In Torah – VERY insightful and thoughtful teachings about living in Torah.

Repairing our Favourite Picnic Table

Our dear friend, Jesse Bright, built this eight-sided picnic table out of western red cedar  maybe 12-15 years ago.  He was still in high school, (another talented homeschooler), so it’s been a while.  Jesse is now a technical designer at Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill in Alameda, CA, specialising in making his companies’ skyscrapers sustainable and ‘green’ as is reasonable.

Since the table has been sitting directly on the soil all these years, the bottom boards finally rotted away.   So, today’s  task is to at least get all the boards cut.  Unfortunately, ragweed pollen is at extreme high allergy rate, so I can only spend a few minutes at a time outside before succumbing to maximum sneezing, mucuos production, swollen, itchy, red eyes.  😦

When my children were younger, this project of repairing the picnic table would be one of many math lessons.  (We just completed 13 years of home education).  Of course I did all the cutting and drilling until they were older.  However, by then they could manage the entire project.  Measuring, determining angles, planning the project, gathering the necessary tools and materials, determining if something needs to be purchased, then going to town to make the purchase or finding them out of our own inventory.  Time and financial budgeting included as well as problem solving (because you know nothing is as easy as it looks).   All skills needed to be successful no matter one’s career choice.

Finished just in time for Shabbat!

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

Turned upside down in preparation for base board removal and measuring.
Most of the screws coule be removed with the cordless power drill, but some needed special attention.
Most of the screws could be removed with the DeWalt cordless power drill, but some needed special attention.
Using my small monkey wrench (visegrips), I could turn the stripped headed screws out fairly easily.
Using my small monkey wrench (Vise-grips), I could turn the stripped headed screws out fairly easily.
The boards had been glued down, so using a disk sander, I sanded off the old boards that had stuck to the glue and ripped off when I pulled off the old boards. Also, sanded off the old glue to make a smooth surface.
The boards had been glued down, so using  my Makita disk sander, I sanded the old boards that had stuck to the glue and ripped off when I pulled up the old boards. Also, sanded off the old glue to make a smooth surface.
Our local lumber store did not have Western Red Cedar boards, so i had to settle for treated 2x4s. Nathan went to get the boards and they sent him home with boards that are above ground grade! GRRRR. Nevertheless, I was ready to finish the project, so i used them anyway. Will treat them with a couple extra coats of boiled linseed oil when i have time. I used a skill saw to the cut the boards. Check out that short board with the 45 degree angles. I did that, too! I'm no carpenter, so that 's a big accomplishment for me.
Our local lumber store did not have Western Red Cedar boards, so i had to settle for treated 2x4s. Nathan went to get the boards and they sent him home with boards that are above ground grade! GRRRR. Nevertheless, I was ready to finish the project, so i used them anyway. Will treat them with a couple extra coats of boiled linseed oil when i have time. I used a Skilsaw  (our model 5250 is so old there is no web link!) to cut the boards. Check out that short board with the 45 degree angles. I did that, too! I’m no carpenter, so that ‘s a big accomplishment for me.
Thunder enjoying a cool morning and looking surprised! :-) Actually, he was just into a yawn.
Thunder enjoying a cool morning and looking surprised! 🙂 Actually, he was just into a yawn.

An Argument for Insourcing

Nathan’s Here:  Now, following a long delay, it is finally here!  I actually held off on publishing this because I couldn’t decide whether I should or not.  To be honest, before the week of research I spent before writing this essay I didn’t know very much on the topic of outsourcing.  What I did know, however, was that I was very strongly set against it.  Now, after that week of research, I still oppose outsourcing, but I have a better understanding of how little I know on the topic.  That said, here’s the argument essay I wrote in favorite of “insourcing” jobs back into the United States.

Today more than ever, current and future professionals must face the prospect of their jobs being sent overseas.  In 2004, the U.S. Department of Labor and Forrester Research, Inc. estimate that between 2003 and 2015 over 3 million jobs would move offshore (Young).  No longer is it only low wage manufacturing jobs that are being threatened, but also white-collar positions, from call center operators to paralegals.  As a nation, we must recognize the detriment this “offshoring” trend represents for both our economy and future generations of workers.

With the advent of modern modes of communication, even white-collar jobs previously thought safe from offshoring are being threatened.  From call center operators to informational technology jobs, roles which once could only be filled by domestic employees are now being replaced with much cheaper foreign equivalents.  And it’s not just jobs that require low skill or education levels that are being moved.  Alan S. Blinder, a respected author on the topic of offshoring, comments on the lack of correlation between the required education level of a job and how “offshorable” it is, “… it is easy to offshore working in a call center, typing transcripts, writing computer code, and reading X-rays.  The first two require very little education, the last two require quite a lot” (Blinder, par. 14).  Even employees who don’t face the offshoring of their positions can find themselves being forced to train foreign replacements being brought in from other countries, often on a temporary work visa such as the H-1B visa, or else forfeit their severance package after their inevitable release (Greenhouse, par. 6).

This trend of white-collar jobs being sent overseas also has severe implications for job seekers.  Shortly after the recession of 2008, Don Peck, deputy managing editor for The Atlantic, described the challenge of recovering from the job losses in that period, “Because the population is growing and new people are continually coming into the job market, we need to produce roughly 1.5 million new jobs a year … just to keep from sinking deeper” (Peck, par. 13).  This means that Forrester Research’s estimate of 300,000 jobs offshored every year represented 20% of the job growth needed to prevent the recession from getting worse!  However, the economy has since recovered, and new jobs are being created, though as Gary Burtless, a labor economist at the Brooking Institution notes, “In a sense, every time someone’s laid off now, they need to start all over.  They don’t even know what industry they’ll be in next” (qtd. in Peck, par. 16).  The increasing variety of jobs which can be done remotely means that higher education is no longer a cure-all, and that many people who spent time and money obtaining a degree now find themselves out of their chosen career field.  Alan Blinder suggests that “the kind of education our young people receive may prove to be more important than how much education they receive” and that “looking forward over the next 25 years, more subtle occupational advice may be needed” (Blinder, pars. 16 & 17).  Where once it was common for students to go to college automatically, now students must consider future career options or else they risk joining a pool of terminally unemployed or underemployed career seekers burdened with student loans.

Offshoring jobs also has the dual effect of diminishing the skills of the talent pool in the U.S. and imparting those talents on workers in foreign nations.  Persons who find themselves displaced by offshoring can find it difficult to find new work, because as Peck asserts, “As a spell of unemployment lengthens, skills erode … leaving some people unqualified even for work they once did well.  This can be made even more difficult by the other effect of offshoring: leveling of the playing field with foreign workers.  As jobs and equipment are sent overseas, those nations receiving them become more competitive with their American counterparts.

Proponents of offshoring argue that importing low-wage, low-skill services (sending those jobs overseas and importing the fruits of the labor) allows companies to streamline their services and creates more opportunity for high-wage, high-skill positions.  J. Bradford Jensen and Lori G. Kletzer, senior fellows at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, speak of a threshold above which jobs tend to be safe from offshoring, stating “Most employment in tradable service activities is above this threshold and thus most workers in tradable service activities are unlikely to face significant competition from low-wage, labor-abundant countries any time soon” (Jensen and Kletzer, par. 7).  They argue that a majority of employees in tradable jobs in the U.S. are above this threshold and hold a “competitive advantage” over comparable employees in those low-wage nations and as such it benefits the economy as a whole to allow those jobs which fall below the threshold to be sent overseas.

While their position is currently true and well-supported, it fails to take into account the trend of higher-wage jobs moving overseas.  Blinder describes this trend, saying, “Offshoring is no longer limited to low-end service jobs.  Computer code can be written overseas and emailed back to the United States.  So can your tax return and lots of legal work …” (Blinder, par. 9).  Where offshoring was once limited to basic services, modern communication has allowed more complex work to be completed in other nations.  How long before this trend surpasses the “comparative advantage” Jensen and Kletzer say protects U.S. jobs which are already considered tradable?

In an era of globalization, it is impossible to prevent at least some jobs from being sent overseas, but if we hope to avoid losing away our economic status and employment base, we must recognize the damage being dealt to the economy by offshoring and find a way to reverse the trend.

Works Cited

Blinder, Alan S. “Outsourcing: bigger than you thought: the outsourcing wave is about to hit the service sector.  To keep good service jobs, we need to prepare the workforce and understand the jobs.” The American Prospect. 17 Nov. 2006: 44+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.

Greenhouse, Steven. “Offshore Outsourcing Will Cost Americans Jobs.” Outsourcing. Ed. David M. Haugen. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009.  Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. From “Offshoring Silicon Valley.” The American Prospect. 19 Jun. 2008: 18-20. Opposing Views in Context. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.

Jensen, J. Bradford, and Lori G. Kletzer. “Offshore Outsourcing Can Favor Some High-Skill Service Providers.” Outsourcing. Ed. Jenny Cromie and Lynn M. Zott. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2013. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. From “Fear and Offshoring: The Scope and Impact of Imports and Exports of Services.” 2008. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

“Number of U.S. Jobs Moving Offshore.” Free Trade. Ed. Mitchell Young. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009.  Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context.  Web.  13 Apr. 2015.

Peck, Don. “The Recession Has Caused the Highest Rate of Unemployment Since the Great Depression.” Jobs in America. Ed. Debra A. Miller. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2011. Current Controversies. Rpt. From “How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America.” The Atlantic. Mar. 2010. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

Quotables

“Children are not a distraction from more important work.  They are the most important work.”  Dr John Trainer

“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career. ”  C.S. Lewis

“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”  C.S. Lewis

Photo:  St Magnus CathedralKirkwall, Orkney, Scotland

Book Banning and Educational Freedom

Nathan Powell submitting his latest essay for English at Trenton College dual credit course.

Censorship is a topic often associated with totalitarian governments and repressive regimes, yet, in our own United States, many books, including such classics as Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, have been banned from public libraries at one time or another for various kinds of objectionable material.  Massive changes in the way society and individuals view once-uncouth topics have drawn the debate over where the line between free speech and dangerous expression lies into sharp focus.  In their article “Counterpoint: Book Censorship can be[sic] Justified in Some Cases,” authors Christina Healey and Tracey M. DiLascio eloquently and convincingly argue for the use of censorship as a precise tool to protect children from concepts and ideas that could negatively affect the child’s development.

Healey and DiLascio emphasize the power of books to influence a culture and the need for parents to be able to choose what books their children read.  They say, “[books] can be used to educate, to inculcate values and transmit ideology, and to stimulate the imagination.  They can instruct in civic virtues or contain instructions to build a bomb” (Healey and DiLascio par. 5).  By this, the authors mean to inform the reader of the importance of the debate over whether books can severely influence those who read them.  The authors state that “ … it is important that parents be given information about the books that are being made available to their children” (Healey and DiLascio par. 9).  Healey and DiLascio believe parents armed with this information would be better able to make wise decisions about what their children are exposed to, and thus, better able to challenge what books should be purchased with public funds and what books should be removed from public libraries.

To establish a framework for their paper, Healey and DiLascio give a brief overview on the history of book banning in the United States, stating, “Book banning in schools or public libraries generally begins when a concerned parent or group of parents takes issue with a literary text on (usually) moral grounds …” (Healey and DiLascio par. 1).  They list several examples of books which have been banned and the reasons why, ranging from inappropriate language to depressing content.  This context they provide is vital for a realistic discussion of a hot-button topic such as censorship, as it allows the reader to understand that the form of censorship in question is not repression of divergent ideologies, but rather is the careful consideration of what topics young minds are prepared to understand, for which there is a strong precedent here in the United States.  This list also demonstrates the variety of reasons that could cause a book to be considered worthy of a ban, and shows that we must not take the power of censorship lightly for fear of overextending across the boundary between protecting our children and oppressing free expression.

Next, Healey and DiLascio discuss some of the issues surrounding young adult (YA) literature, a highly controversial genre, that make the censorship of these books from public libraries seem sensible to some parents.  As they explain, “One is that many books targeted at or assigned to the teen audience have increasingly graphic violence, sexual content, drug and alcohol content, and obscene language” (Healey and DiLascio par. 8).  This dark turn in YA books can be seen simply by investigating the youth adult section of one’s local library.  From post-apocalyptic gladiators to fantasy settings shrouded in shadows, the literature gracing the shelves may capture the imagination, but it no longer does so through inspiration and encouragement, but rather through visceral shock value.  Proponents of these books say that discussing topics that are normally considered taboo can increase awareness of persons in these situations.  However, critics, myself included, contend that books such as these glorify lifestyles and actions which are dangerous and that these concepts should not be perpetuated by public funding in school and public libraries.

Finally, the authors emphasize the importance of parental engagement in their children’s literary pursuits, advocating, “Just as parents monitor the music, video games, and movies to which their children are exposed, parents should be aware of what books their children are reading” (Healey and DiLascio par. 4).  Healey and DiLascio contend that the parental right to educate one’s children in the way one sees fit supersedes the right of free expression where public funding is concerned, so parents should have the right to petition for books to be removed from school and public libraries.  While some might see this as suppression and exclusion, I think the reality is that restricting books that convey negative messages with which a parent disagrees allows parents to better impart their sense of morals to their children.  Rather than relying on the permissive morals of the collective masses to decide when a child is ready to learn about a certain topic, the parent can make an informed decision on a child-by-child basis, which encourages greater diversity of ethics.  In other words, giving the parents the right to control what their children are exposed to can create greater expression instead of repressing it.

The perfect balance between censorship and expression will probably never be struck, but the fact that we have this conversation gives me hope that as a society we will continue to search for it.  In “Counterpoint: Book Banning can be[sic] Justified,” Healey and DiLascio offer a compelling line of reasoning to support parental censorship of children’s reading material and in this specific scenario, I find myself in support of their argument for replacement and restriction to introduce children to difficult concepts in due time.

Works Cited

Healey, Christina and DiLascio, Tracey M. “Counterpoint: Book Banning can be Justified in Some Cases.” Points of View: Banning Books 2015: 3. Web.