I like to think of myself as a creative person, after all I do have an Art degree! I’m also young (27) and prior to my internships I had no agricultural experience. This means that I’m open to new ideas and I don’t have any old habits to kick. I should be the most creative person in the pasture, right? Whoa, not so fast!
Today I was once again blown away by Ian’s wisdom. To tell you this story I need to give you some background.
Even after two internships and reading countless books on the subject of ranching/grazing I was still unsure about being able to ranch in Colorado the way I wanted to. For me this means; high density grazing, custom grazing, mob grazing and practicing Holistic Management. I knew I could do the Holistic Management part, anyone can use it to plan their lives, but that is another subject entirely.
Let’s get back to the story. I was already, with my limited experience, of the belief that I had to be a cow-calf producer in order to make money from ranching. Please, don’t get me wrong, many people make good money from running a cow-calf operation!
As I got more comfortable with asking Ian questions (which didn’t take longer than 2 hours, ask him!) I started talking to him about my concerns with ranching in Colorado. “How was I going to feed and water cattle through the winter when we can get 4 feet of snow from one storm?” “How am I going to get startup capital?” “How can I grow more stockpiled grass for winter grazing?” “Where am I going to get hay?” “What if I don’t want to feed hay?” The questions went on and on in my head and I only asked Ian a few of them, because his responses answered most of the questions I had.
You may be asking yourself, “what does this have to do with creativity?” Well, Ian’s response to my questions were, for me, like a slap in the face (in a good way). He told me that there is no limit to what I can do in Colorado. The only limitation is my creativity. Maybe I don’t run cattle all year long. Maybe I just graze someone else’s cattle for 6 months of the year and then bugger off to South America. Or, maybe I can sell/buy cattle similar to Bud William’s marketing techniques. Maybe I get 200 sheep and mow people’s yard and charge them for it, then sell the sheep at the end of the growing season and take a vacation to Vail and ski for 2 months. Maybe I graze replacement heifers for a diary 1 month and the next it’s someone’s steers. Maybe I charge people to come out to participate in a cattle drive with their horses. Maybe some years I don’t have any cattle. Maybe I graze corn stalks with cattle and sell them nice and fat during the winter and get a good price.
The lesson I learned is that we are only limited by our creativity. It’s inspiring to have someone like Ian tell you that you can do anything. I have so much confidence now that when I get back to Colorado I know that Jessica and I can find something that will work for us. Maybe it will be a cow-calf operation, maybe it won’t even be cattle. But we will find something that works for us.
I’m the type of person that when I get an idea, I like to go for it. Ian has taught me to just think for a while before I take the plunge.