Something New For Tomorrow

Our pastor was unable to preach this past weekend so an assistant minister took over at the last minute and knocked it out of the park. During the sermon he said,

If you want something you’ve never had you’ll have to do something you’ve never done.

That quote didn’t originate with Ward Cusic. It is also not from Thomas Jefferson. It may have originated with Nike…but who cares. I’m glad Ward shared it. And with that in mind,

Welcome to 2014. What are you going to do this year? It’s time to be serious about it. Where are you going? What are you doing? Why are you doing it?

We are big on vision. Huge. Julie and I have a number of lifetime goals…things so far out of reach they are hard to imagine (5,000 cows). But we chip away each day. We make plans. To get there we have to go here first. To do that we have to do this. You can see why the quote above resonated with me.

Vision is such a part of my life I talk about it with people constantly…often leading to awkward conversations as I have shared before. It goes something like this:

Easy Question: Where do you want to be when you are 80?
Typical Answer: Oh, I guess I’ll be retired. Maybe taking care of my grandchildren or playing golf.

Harder Question: What do you have to do in the next 10 years to make that future a reality?
Uncomfortable Answer: Oh, I guess I need to…I don’t know. Make a few investments? Keep my job? Maybe get a raise?

Seemingly Impossible Question: Great! What are you going to do in 2014 to make yourself a more valuable employee or begin saving for the future?
Squirming Answer: Um….

Last Question: What are you going to do today to make your retirement dream happen?
No Answer. Usually no audience.

Today I moved my small herd of cattle. I made sure they had water. I checked their mineral. I decided to do with less sleep to bring tomorrow’s reality closer in line with my vision. I got up early to move cows then drove work. The farm is too small to begin to pay our bills so in 2014 we are making plans to add cows. And a few sheep. Start gearing toward farrowing pigs. We are taking over management of 40 additional acres of the farm we bought recently. A little at a time. We learn, we do, we evaluate the results…always adding to the accumulated knowledge, skill and wealth. If you want to manage 5,000 cows you should learn to manage 500 cows. If you want to learn to manage 500 cows you should learn to manage 50 cows….from 5 cows. Build slowly. Take your time. Learn, do and evaluate your results. Rinse and repeat. Keeping my day job along the way.

Many of you visit our blog because you dream of that magical someday when you’ll own a farm of your own. I think that’s awesome. I am excited for you. When is it going to happen? What are you doing today – right now – to make it real? Are you actually reading that stack of books from the library? Have you worked and re-worked your budget to eliminate waste? Do you even have a household budget? There are better resources out there for budgeting so let’s say you’ve already improved your financial defense and your are still behind. It’s time to step up the offense too. How can you earn more money? Art of Manliness has a great series on building a business on the side of your primary vocation (that’s what I’m doing with the farm). But that may not be enough. I mean, we’re talking about buying a farm here, not just buying a lawn mower. We need some serious cash. And fast.

I was reading Bruce King’s blog this morning and found this quote.

“What brought you here”, says I.  “Well, ” he says “I was working on a ranch in Wyoming.  it was a pretty big place; about 96,000 acres, and one day I was riding back to the bunkhouse with the owner, and I asked him how I could start farming, and he said something that really hit home for me.”

“what was that?”

“He said ‘you’ll never get here working for me’.  He told me that I needed to go get a job and earn some money and then come and ranch; that working on the ranch would never get me to owning one.   So that’s what I did.  I went back to school and got a degree, and I’m just about done with working here.  I’ve been here six years, and heading back to Wyoming with the money I’ve saved to buy a ranch. ”

“So you moved here with the goal of earning a nest egg to buy a ranch back there?”

“yep”

Now, you may think it’s odd for the guy who has very public disagreements with his mother about the return on investment of a college degree to quote a guy saying his key to success was getting a college degree but it’s not odd at all. I don’t disagree with college. I question the ROI. At some point we look for alternatives. How can you improve your earnings? Are there alternatives for education? Professional certification?

Are there alternative ways to achieve your farm dream? Could you farm an urban lot? I realize this sounds extreme but could you make a less but keep a higher percentage if you moved to another country? Could you buy land cheaper elsewhere? I mean, if your goal is to live off of your savings and produce much of your own food in your retirement, maybe Nicaragua fits your goals better than Illinois does. How’s that for something you’ve never done?

But how will you get there from here?

You see where you want to go. It’s way off in the distance. But you don’t have to cover the entire distance today. Today you just have to get to tomorrow…the tomorrow that inches you closer to your ultimate vision. What are you going to do today? What you did yesterday didn’t get you where you want to go. It got you here. Today you have to do something else…something more…something new for tomorrow. What are you going to do today that you haven’t done before?

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10 thoughts on “Something New For Tomorrow

  1. You are the man! 2014 is the year for us. We’re moving out of the burbs and moving to the country! It’s the next step in the process for us. Thank you for motivating us.

  2. Thank you, especially for the first quote. We have been away for three days to the place we hope to move to and the fear of moving has settled in a bit. This is the remedy. The idea of gardening for our food, then gardening across the street in someone else’s yard has grown, and yes we will have to do something we’ve never done to move forward. It reminds me of eating an elephant. One bite at a time.

  3. Happy New Year to you and yours, Chris. It’ll be exciting to see what steps you take in 2014 to get closer to the herd of 5000.
    I too love the quote you open with – I’ve seen it before, and it’s powerful all right.
    You’ve included some great links in this post, which I really enjoyed. I used to check in on Bruce King’s blog a few years ago, but he was too nuts and bolts for me at the time – now I’m ready for nuts and bolts writing, so it was a timely link. Through that link, I got to browse through Jeff Richardson’s blog, also very interesting – a lot of emphasis on making the farm pay it’s way, planning, etc. Right where my head is at the moment.

    • Tom,
      Thank you for the comment and the kind words. Those pictures certainly give the impression that something is wrong. Do you have any pictures more recent than November of 2011? Was that a particularly wet fall? Has he turned things around?

      The quote I used from Bruce in this case has nothing to do with animal welfare. It has everything to do with realizing that your actions today make in impact on tomorrow. I rarely read Bruce not because of my opinion of him but because I just forget to. There are so many farming blogs out there and so little time. He has certainly said things that have impacted our farm positively but I have no doubt he makes mistakes too.

      I have made mistakes on my farm. There are portions of my farm I wish looked better. We make it a real point not to attack other farmers on our blog, especially our friends who have confinement operations. We choose not to farm that way. We hope to influence them but work to do so positively.

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