During my morning run, as snowflakes hit my face, it dawned on me that 2012 was coming to a close – today! I used my run to not only enjoy the snowfall but also ponder the year that was. Derek and I have had a wonderful 2012, full of many accomplishments and success stories. We’ve also had our share of bad news and hard times. But all of that is now in the past as I sit down to ponder 2013, I think of all the excitement and possibilities the next 365 days will bring.
I talked Derek into donating 5 minutes of his time to helping me outline some resolutions for our family and our farm. Derek immediately reminded me that he’s not a fan of resolutions so these are not traditional New Years Resolutions but instead Goals for 2013!
My goals for the family for 2013:
(1) Welcome Baby Sawyer – Our lives will forever change this spring with the welcoming of baby boy Sawyer in May. He’s not yet arrived and is already changing the way we look at the next year. I know there will be long nights, frustrating days and plenty of dirty diapers. But with that comes giggles, smiles and a round little bundle of love. We are both excited, and a little nervous, about his upcoming arrival and I hope he grows to love our way of life as much as his father does.
(2) Advance Our Ag Advocacy – Derek and I are no longer involved in the Farm Bureau organization in the same way we were last year, but we remain dedicated to continuing the advocacy of our farm and the entire agriculture industry. Derek will be serving on the Kansas Farm Bureau Resolutions Committee and I hope to continue my blogging and work with Kansas CommonGround. Neither may be large in scope but it’s what we can do to help show people how our family farm operates and how we work daily to raise healthy animals and plentiful crops. It’s important we keep putting accurate information out there for readers and the public because there continues to be so much negative and incorrect information published about the farming world.
(3) Be Open – You never know when a new opportunity will knock at your door so it’s important to keep your options open. When I ask Derek what his long-term goals for the farm are, he replies that he simply wants to put our family and the farm in a situation to take advantage of any new opportunities that may come our way. That may mean purchasing new land, securing additional pasture leases or upgrading equipment or it could mean another year of operating as we have. It’s all important and it all requires money which means our finances must be in order and our debt declining. That’s a task easier said than done but it’s important for a growing farm and family to always be looking to the future.
Derek’s goals for the farm for 2013:
(1) Find Grass – Grass is always at a premium in Kansas but the drought has left even the best pastures parched and ponds dry. Cattle need both grass and water to survive a summer and without both, entire tracks of land will be unusable. We send a 350-head cow herd and several hundred steers to grass each summer. We desperately need to secure grazing leases or we will be forced to either sell or keep at home those animals without summer grass. The lack of pasture land has already contributed to the decline in cattle in the state and fewer cattle mean higher beef prices. New pasture leases will allow us to continue our cattle operation in its current form and produce lean, nutritious beef through 2013.
(2) Finding Efficiencies – As input prices climb and grain and beef prices become less predictable, it’s more important than ever that we continue to look for ways to operate our farm and cattle in the most efficient way possible. That doesn’t mean cutting corners but instead doing more with less. Farming is a business and businesses are most successful when operating efficiently. This fall, we had sub-surface drip irrigation installed on three of our fields. This system replaced an old and inefficient flood irrigation system. We will still be able to water our crops but can now do so with less waste and far fewer man hours. We also took advantage of our fall crops to create more feed stuffs for our cattle and worked with area landowners to find corn fields for our animals to graze on during the late fall months. We are always looking for ways to do more with less and we will continue to change our practices to make the most of what we have available.
(3) Feeding More Families – It’s not just our family that’s growing. This country and the world are growing each day. That means more people to feed, more vehicles to fuel and more bodies to keep warm. As farmers, we have a responsibility to produce more with the same number of acres and inputs. In Kansas, one of the most essential inputs is water and it has been at a premium lately. That means planting crops that require less moisture and utilizing what rainfalls we do receive. Seed technology has allowed us to grow crop varieties that are more drought and heat-resistant. Those traits have been vital the past few years and unless weather patterns change, will be essential to producing a crop in 2013. Research into cattle genetics has also allowed our farm to produce leaner cattle, which results in healthier animals and more beef per animal. Technology has not negatively harmed the food we produce but instead allowed us to produce even more with less inputs and waste.
Like everyone making resolutions and setting goals for the new year, we look at our list with optimism and excitement, telling ourselves nothing will stand in our way. I truly hope that in a year from now, I am able to say we accomplished all of our goals and if we didn’t, know that we gave it our all. The road to success is never easy and that’s why we have a four-wheel drive truck and a tow rope, just in case.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013 to everyone from Derek and I and all of the families at Sawyer Land & Cattle.