Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Plan 'A'

            I’m not a big planner.  I’m a strategist.

            Strategy may be defined as a “course of action”.  It’s a framework within which plans are made.  My strategy is to harvest the grass on our ranch, using cattle, in an effective manner which has recently been given the title “sustainable”.

            Part of our ranch strategy is to harvest the over-abundance of grass which grows in June and early July – to preserve its nutrients, and to feed in the winter when forage quality is poor, and often covered by snow.
            We could plan to begin cutting on June 20.  But what if its raining?  What if its been a cold spring and the hay is not yet ripening?  What if there’s a funeral that day? What if the granddaughter has only that day free to help move cows?

            As part of that “sustainable” strategy, we move cattle often in the early summer to protect those growing grasses from the damage caused by frequent repeated grazing.  We aim for a 7-day rotation.  But maybe an irrigation ditch blew out.  Maybe we could only get an excavator on Tuesday.  Maybe the swather broke down.  Maybe we got the horses in and found one with a thrown shoe.  Maybe there is lightening.

            My strategy is simple when we do go into a field to gather cows: get them all from here and put them there.  But I’ve had a number of people ask for a plan.
            For me, a plan is too much work.  We don’t know where the cows are in the field – how many are here and how many are over there.  We don’t know what the weather is going to be like, and we don’t know toward which gate they are going to line out.  We don’t know if the fence got down and some of our cows out or the neighbor’s in; we don’t know if one is sick or lame.
            Sure, we could crowd them in whatever direction we chose – but it would be hard on the cows and hard on the horses.  It’s better to start them moving and bend them toward whichever gate accomplishes our objective with the least amount of effort.

            I once had my son-in-law lined up to help with some cow-work on Thursday.  He called the evening before to check on the plan.
            “So far as I know it’s still Plan ‘A’”, I told him.
            “Hey Amy”, he shouted over top of the phone!  “Listen to this: Your dad’s still on plan ‘A’”!

            It was years later that I finally received some positive affirmation for my “flexible” style.  Improvise; Adapt; Overcome”, I was told, is a slogan of the U.S. Marines.

            Yes!  That’s me!  After 20 years as a cowboy I was able to improvise, adapt, and overcome a broken back by going back to school and entering the health care profession.  I was able to improvise, adapt, and overcome when called to manage a hospital, three ranches, a dozen nursing homes, and hundreds of emergency ambulance calls.

            And I was able to improvise, adapt, and overcome my wife’s broken printer as I tell in this blogpost:


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