Looking back, and ahead

The holiday season is upon us and once again it is a reminder of how quickly time passes.
It also is an opportunity to stop and reflect on what has happened this past year—and to look ahead with a positive attitude.
For producers, 2002 has been challenging. We started with a very wet and cool spring which stretched out our “winter”—and the hay supply of many producers.
Then just when things started to look better, the rain came—about a year’s worth in just under a week.
Yields of first cut hay were down substantially in many parts of the district and many hoped for a really good second cut. However, the rain clouds stayed away for the next two months and re-growth after the first cut was next to nothing in a lot of cases.
The key pasture months of July and August were very dry, and some producers had to start feeding their meagre supply of hay a little earlier than planned.
Prices for feeder and finished cattle weren’t that good in September, but we saw some great prices at the October calf sale in Stratton. Cow prices also were on a bit of a seesaw, dipping quite low in later October and early November.
Things froze up early this year, but one saving grace has been that temperatures haven’t been too cold (other than our record-setting October).
There are some things you have no control over as farmers. Weather is certainly one of these things. Market price is another.
During the holiday season, take time to look back on what has happened on your operation and look ahead to next year. With seasonal tasks and regular chores on the farm, off farm work, and family activities to keep us busy, we often don’t see the bigger picture.
For example, while you can’t control the weather, you can plan for a possible drought.
Putting up more hay than you should need is a little insurance, although not always possible. Consider crop insurance.
You also can’t control market prices, but you can take the best advantage of whatever the market situation may be. You can work toward weaning a calf from every cow exposed to a bull.
You can work toward providing the type of animal the market demands in breeding, size, and muscle condition.
You can present the calf for sale in the condition desired by the buyers, including dehorning, castrating, vaccinating, and starting on hay and grain.
Selling by weight, and with competitive bidding that is provided at a sale barn with more than one buyer, increased your chances of getting a top price on a particular sale day.
A little planning is important. If you have a chance to reflect during the next couple of weeks, pick one part of your farm operation you would like to change.
2003 is another farming year. With some reflection and planning based on looking back, you can go forward in a positive frame of mind.
Wishing you a holiday season and beyond filled with beautiful moments and cherished memories.

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