Last month I met with a young Ranching For Profit alumnus who had accomplished some big things in a short time. He was leasing several ranches and running hundreds of cattle and, if I remember right, about a thousand sheep. “I don’t want to get stuck in a rut,” he explained, and said he’d take on anything that could make a profit.

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You Might Be A Manager If.....

Most “ranch managers” aren’t managers. They don’t do the work of a manager, they don’t produce the results a manager would produce and they aren’t paid what a manager would get paid. The result isn’t just poor management. Most American ranches aren’t managed at all!

I am a young rancher and have grown my heard to over 100 cows over the last four years. In addition to my own operation I earn additional income working for my Dad on his place. I owe $15,000 of my cattle loan, have land debt of about $250,000 over a 13-year term and a mortgage on our home of $85,000 with a term of 22 years. I have read and heard great things from the RFP school but I am just scraping by and don’t know where I could get the money to attend. Can your school help make an outfit my size self-supporting? Do you have any suggestions?

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Kathy and I are headed to Big Sky Montana for our Summer Executive Link meeting. Nearly 200 Ranching For Profit School alumni are participating. While EL members are engaged in their board meetings, I’ll be leading other Ranching For Profit School alumni through a program on a topic that fascinates me … the psychology of risk.

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Earlier today someone called me asking for advice regarding a bid he was about to make for a property he wanted to rent. The property could support 200 cows from May to October and the term of the lease would be 10 years. He hoped that I would have some knowledge about rents in his area (I don’t) and some suggestions for determining what he should bid (I do).

Here’s what I told him:

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I received this email from a young rancher who wanted to increase cattle numbers but was worried about drought:

Dear Dave,

I’ve got an efficient group of cows and my overheads are reasonably low. My problem is that I need to increase my numbers. I am sure I could run more animals right now but I am worried that in a dry year I won’t have enough pasture and would have to destock. Looking for help and ideas to see what my options are.

Thanks,

Doubt About Drought

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I received this email from a Ranching For Profit alumnus this morning:

Dear Dave,

We are back in the ranching game. My partner and I have accepted a job managing a ranch for an owner who has a very serious health problem. He could become incapacitated at any time (it is not an exaggeration!) Taking this job is a major move for us (1,000+ miles) and a big life change. We want to protect ourselves, and not be left high and dry if something happens to the owner. Do you have any suggestions on how to protect ourselves?

Sincerely, High & Dry

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Several weeks ago I included a WOTB quiz in a ProfitTips column in which readers could score the extent to which they work ON their businesses. The column was picked up by some other publications and wound up generating conversations on several other popular blogs. Most of the people making comments said that they had pretty low scores. One person who said they scored a 10 out of 100, justified it by saying that, like with all courses, “…take what fits and leave the rest.” I wonder which thing on the WOTB test he felt he could leave…setting goals? Economic and financial analysis and planning? Succession planning? Drought planning? The marketing plan?

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In a ProfitTips column last month I explained that I walk a mile and a half to work every day and that when I’m at work, I’m at work. When I’m home, I’m home. I have boundaries that separate my work from my life. I also noted that most ranchers don’t have clear boundaries between their work and their lives. If you are like most ranchers, when you are at work, you are still at home and when you are home, you are still at work.

I am convinced that people who have boundaries separating their life from their work tend to be more productive and successful in their work and lead happier, more fulfilling lives. Anna Quindlen is right when she writes, You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you are.

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