Resilient Ranching

Resilient Ranching

May 2024 vol. 3

As many of you know, John works full-time for GE in addition to being a full-time farmer and rancher. This year, he accepted a new position that requires him to travel frequently, often for a week at a time. Last week, he was called to Atlanta for work, which meant I had some big shoes to fill. This week, in addition to handling sales and marketing I also shouldered responsibility for all the livestock.

Managing our 70-acre farm, which includes 50 head of cattle, 30 sheep, 15 pigs, 300 broilers, and 200 laying hens, can seem intimidating. However, thanks to John’s knack for creating efficient and easy-to-maintain systems, it’s usually more manageable than it sounds. This week was a testament to how well his systems work—the only challenge I faced was a powerful storm that hit Thursday evening.

Admittedly, I hadn’t been watching the forecasts as closely as usual, so the severity of the storm caught me by surprise. We had already decided not to set up at the Thursday market in Elgin due to low stock, but I still planned to fulfill preorders. As I was driving to the market, the rain began, and by the time I arrived, the storm was raging. Sitting in the van, rocking in the wind, and watching trees bend almost horizontally, I considered heading home but concluded it was safer to stay put until the storm calmed – I’d also committed to delivering preorders and didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Impressively, all but one customer braved the wind and rain to pick up their orders.

Driving home, I worried about what I might find—downed trees on fences, missing or injured livestock, flooded pastures, or washed-out dams. It wasn’t a pleasant drive. Thankfully, when I arrived back at the ranch, everything was in order and all the livestock accounted for, albeit very wet and disgruntled. The following morning I discovered that we did lose four broilers, but after experiencing the storm myself, I was surprised that we didn’t lose more. Later, I learned that the storm brought winds up to 30 mph. We got about 2.5 inches of rain in two hours.

Overall, I weathered the storm and the week alone quite well. Kudos to John for building a home and lifestyle that makes this possible.

See you at the market!

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