What Does 2016 Look Like?

What a difference a translation makes. Bear with me here. This is one of those posts presented without apology. We started 2015 with a  bang. And then September happened. I had big goals for the year, read a book a week, blog regularly, try to take over the world. I was unable to sustain the book reading pace once our daughter got ill. I find it is amazingly difficult to read in a hospital with the beeps and nurses and checking vitals and hoping we can find something she wants to eat today…

But now is not then. Now is now. And the requirements of today are not the requirements of yesterday. The vision of today is not the vision of yesterday. We are slightly closer to our destination. The path is more clear. In fact, this is a good time to stop and look. Are we going where we want to go? Have we gone astray? What’s the plan?

If you read Habakkuk 2:2 in NKJV it says:

Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.

But if you read it in the Message translation it goes like this:

Write this.
    Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
    so that it can be read on the run.

So this is what we do. We write it out.

A year is about as far out as I can plan as confirmed by a book I am currently reading called Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction. It is good to have some notion of what is beyond that…a destination maybe 5 generations out…but if you try to plan too many years ahead you trip over the stuff in front of you. Minor deviations cause major problems.

So vision for a year…keeping in mind that our year went swimmingly for the first 8 months then was entirely derailed. Well, our year went swimmingly for 3 months then my job changed and our year was changed radically. So maybe a year is too ambitious. But let’s plow ahead anyway.



If things go as planned we should have 10 calves this year. That’s a lot of calves. In fact, it may be too many. It may be a 10 too many. Our goal for 2016 is not expansion, it is retrenchment. We need to do better. We need to be more efficient. I don’t need more cows. I need better cows. I need better fences and more access to water and improved pastures. I need to repair buildings and wiring and equipment.

Our goal is not growth. Our goal is to repair and replace our infrastructure. The South perimeter fence, the wells at both houses, the shed roof between the silo and the cattle barn…all things we need to repair. I will spare the reader the complete list but until these things are finished we are in a holding pattern.

But there is more. I can’t handle additional cattle until I remove about 18″ of manure from my barns to return to our pastures. Until I frost seed 5 pounds of red clover and one pound of white. Until I remove inner fencing that causes frustration, erosion and large weeds next to the clover field.

So that’s part of my to-do list. But this isn’t about the what. This is about the why. We need to make everything easier and better. Not bigger.

But some things have to grow. We have to continue experimentation. I have no idea which of my solutions will be accepted by the market. People seem to like our eggs. They seem to like cattle raised entirely on grass. How about non-GMO pork? You can’t sell non-GMO pork from piglets that were raised on GMO feed. You have to be non-GMO from farrow to finish. Can we farrow non-GMO piglets to sell as weaners?


Dunno. Let’s find out.

People do seem to like our eggs. Heck, I like eggs too. But let’s talk about what I don’t like. I don’t like Silver-Laced Wyandottes. As a reader, Eumeaus, suggested SLW tend to be flighty and don’t lay well in winter. We still have about thirty 4-year old New Hampshires laying around a dozen eggs a day. Our hundred-or-so year old SLWs are laying 6. 2016 features the return of NH pullets to our farm. I suspect I’ll buy pullets rather than hatch eggs because I need 150 or 200 pullets. That would be 400 or 500 eggs. I don’t have that kind of capacity.


Broilers. I don’t know. Usually we are first to market with our broilers. We get chicks on Valentine’s day and harvest them before buffalo gnats hatch. If you want a fresh bird for a beer can chicken on Memorial day we are your source. Then we shut down until August. But our daughter’s chemo treatments will last until April.

I think we will try. Maybe not hundreds of chicks. Maybe dozens of chicks. I think we will encourage our older children to completely own the operation. They can pay us to process birds with them. They can earn the money. This is, ultimately, the direction we want to go anyway and the oldest will turn 16 this year. It is time. But it is up to him. I will encourage him to spread his wings but I won’t push too hard. Maybe there will be no broilers this year.

Books and I are still good friends. I may be reading as many as six right now. I got a stack of books for Christmas along with gift cards from friends that were used for even more books. Stacks of books. I suspect we now have half of P.G. Wodehouse. I’ll try to return to journaling my reading so you can play the exciting home game. A notable book I did not journal this year was The Richest Man in Babylon. It won’t take you long to read and it is stuff you already know but it might enhance your own vision of 2016.

There is more. Much more. But these are the portions of our vision that seem appropriate to share with you. It is where we expect to go. Things happen but this helps us to focus. 2016 we rebuild infrastructure. In 2017 we take over the world. (And by “take over the world” I mean prepare to send a kid to college.)

Write out your vision. Write it out in big, bold letters so you can see it as you run past. Hang it on your fridge. Post it on your monitor. Make it the background on your phone. Record yourself saying it and listen to the recording. Your vision is your vision. You need to block out all the noise and focus regularly on it. You are going somewhere.

So get going.

5 thoughts on “What Does 2016 Look Like?

  1. “I would do it again, but set down; this set down – this” … “We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, but no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation” – Journey of the Magi, by T.S. Eliot.

    I’m almost finished Lean Farm. Got some opinions about it, but there are some good take aways as well. Otherwise most of my reading is short sound bytes – dipping into Acres USA or Macleans or Mother Earth News or the Economist. Lots of blogs. The Message sits by my bedside.

    Rechrenchment sounds like a pretty good plan for 2016. All the great generals in history used it strategically to build strength, position and prepare for moving forward. And it’s not like nothing else is going on in your lives. He’s getting ready for college, already?

    I need to figure out my vision. Like you, life changes this last year kind of derailed me. Do I need a new vision, or just a revision? Dunno. Something I’ve been thinking about this past week. When I’ve got it I will for sure write it down in big block letters.

  2. Last year was our rebuilding year. Healing from surgery, old job gone, living with different finances, new jobs, just plain creating new life. This year we hope to refine. Maybe the refining will be the bigger change, or a larger step to our new life. I’m looking forward.

  3. When my 15 year old son wanted to try a money making bird project he went with turkeys. It was a hit and he made about $20-25 PER BIRD! The biggest problem is that the birds grew so large on his tender loving care that they wouldn’t fit into the plucker we borrowed from a friend. He had to pluck them by hand. At the end of the adventure he wished he had purchased more than 10 poults. It was an interesting lesson in economics.

    • We do a lot of hand plucking of our turkeys. A lot. It ends up taking about 15 minutes per bird to slaughter and package them up. 15 minutes is a long time…especially when you have 50 birds to process and it’s a cold November. You might suggest distributing a portion of your profits to a commercial slaughter house so he can eat a sandwich while the birds are processed. Hand processing large birds doesn’t scale up.

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