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Archive for Dairy Farming

You don’t have to talk to many dairy farmers who have committed their lives to the safe production of quality nutritional milk to discover that there are many different ways to be wealthy in the world.  Wealth means a lot more than just financial success.  However, sometimes, especially when times are financially tight, we forget that we are all wealthy in one way, or another.

Over the years I have become a big fan of a gentleman named, Robin Sharma, starting when I read his book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.  It was Robin who first opened my eyes to the fact that there is more to life than just making money and specifically “there is no benefit in being the richest man in the graveyard.”  He defined and introduced me to the following seven elements of wealth:

  1. Inner wealth
    This includes a positive mindset, high self-respect, internal peace and a strong spiritual connection. Positive people with a positive outlook on the world can be happy – Always. I have been fortunate in my life to have married a wonderful woman, who is a psychiatrist. (Read more:  How I Used Everything I Know About Animal Breeding to Choose My Wife and The Other Woman) In our many conversations about people’s mental health, I have come to realize that this might be one of the biggest areas that many of us overlook when we judge our wealth.  My wife deals with people from all economic backgrounds every day. Your financial health has very little to do with your mental health.  Yes, lack of income is very stressful. However, there are also pressures on those who have significant wealth.  I can remember when I was about 16 years old, a very “wealthy dairy farmer” from our community committed suicide.  At the time, I can remember wondering why he would do such a thing.  He had a financially successful farm and a great family. How could he possibly want to leave all of that?  It’s now at an older age that I can appreciate that he suffered from inner health issues.  Try this: Have a positive mental attitude and try to be sad at the same time. I don’t think it’s possible. With a positive attitude, life appears to be positive. Inner wealth really helps.
  2. Physical wealth
    Your health is your wealth. What’s the point of having all the money in the world if you get sick doing it? Why be the richest person in the graveyard? For me, it took having a heart attack to realize this.  Before that, I worked 80 hours a week, and drank copious amounts of Coke in order to compensate for my lack of sleep.  Upon having my heart attack, and realizing that I was risking losing it all and not being there for my children as they grow up that I knew that my lifestyle had to change. A person who is not healthy cannot enjoy life. If you want to learn the importance of wealth, ask someone who is not feeling well or facing health issues (Read more: Patricia Stiles –Dairy Farmer, Grandmother, Hero, Fighting for Her Life!).
  3. Family and social wealth
    Do you have loving parents or a caring brother or sister or friends who can come to your help at any time you want? Family and friends are another form of wealth.  We are fortunate to be part of the greatest community in the world (Read more: Why the Dairy Community is the Greatest in the World….).  However, one of the things about being part of this great community is being an active participant in it.  No one gets to the end of their life and regrets making their family their first priority. Imperative in this is forging deep connections with friends and members of your personal community (including mentors, role models and trusted advisors).
  4. Career wealth
    When we have success in our chosen career, we feel a sense of fulfilment. In the dairy industry, this could mean earning a Master Breeder shield or production achievement awards.  This is another type of wealth.  Actualizing your highest potential by striving for your professional best is incredibly important. Earning recognition in your profession brings a feeling of satisfaction for a job well done. It helps you to make your mark. Being world class in your work is also good for your self-respect.
  5. Economic wealth
    Yes, money is important. Not the most important thing in life but very important. It absolutely makes life easier and better. Money allows you to live in a nice home, take beautiful vacations and provide well for those you love. And as Yvon Chouinard, the founder of the outdoor gear company Patagonia, has said: “The more I make, the more I can give away. So, earn more to give more.”
  6. Adventure wealth
    We feel happy when we visit a new place or meet new exciting people. We feel happy when we are able to take the challenge and deliver more than expected. Adventure is another form of wealth.  To be fulfilled, each of us needs mystery in our lives. Challenge is necessary for happiness. The human brain craves novelty. We are creative beings, so we need to be constantly creating if we hope to feel joy. Lots of adventure (ranging from meeting new people to visiting new places, to trying new things) is an essential element of authentic wealth.
  7. Impact Wealth
    Perhaps the deepest longing of the human heart is to live for something greater than itself.  That is part of what drives the majority of the dairy farmers I have met in my life.  Each of us craves to be significant.  To make a difference.  To know that the world has somehow been better because we have walked the planet.    This is just one of the reasons that dairy farming is one of the most rewarding professions in the world.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Money alone does not define wealth.  There are many rich people who are unhappy and unsuccessful as human beings.  By focusing on improving these seven elements of wealth to higher levels, you will not only be richer in the eyes of those around you, but you will also find contentment in who you are as a person. That is when you will truly be the wealthiest dairy farmer in the world.



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A Different Kind of Vet on the Farm

Monday, May 26th, 2014

farmers veteran coalitionSince the unfortunate events of 9/11, over 2.8 million Americans have served in uniform.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a whopping 200,000, or about 1 in 11, are currently unemployed.  The men and women who work risked their lives to protect the freedom of so many American’s enjoy on foreign soil cannot find the means to make a living when they return home.  About forty-five percent of the military comes from rural communities, compared with one-sixth of the total population, according to the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire The Farmer Veteran Coalition is hoping to change that trend, by introducing America’s heroes to agriculture and a new opportunity to help America.

“The military is not for the faint of heart, and farming isn’t either,” said Michael O’Gorman, an organic farmer who founded the nonprofit Farmer-Veteran Coalition, which supports sustainable-agriculture training.  “There are eight times as many farmers over age 65 as under.  There is a tremendous need for young farmers, and a big wave of young people inspired to go into the service who are coming home.”

The Farmer Veteran Coalition works with veterans in the food and farming community in all 50 states, to provide farming education, and veteran assistance to those in need. Farmer Veterans produce a wide range of food and fiber products, all of which are an integral part of America’s food system.

“Basically we have two simultaneous missions,” comments O’Gorman.  “One mission is to help the young men and women that are coming out of military service and the other mission is to help involve more farmers in an industry that is in need of younger people now more than ever.”

More than just dedication and commitment to their country can connect a farmer to a veteran.  Both occupations bring with them ethics to work hard and do things right; the fearlessness to sweat and the grit to never give up.  O’Gorman says one of the misconceptions is that farming is seen as a way for veterans to heal as if it were an easy, no-stress line of work.

“The real healing for our vets when it comes to farming is that it’s difficult, challenging and gives a true sense of purpose,” O’Gorman explains.  “These men and women went into the military with the highest calling and sense of purpose that they could find and after their time in fatigues is through, agriculture fills that void for them to do something for the greater good and our entire country.”

Mark & Denise  Beyers

Mark & Denise Beyers

One of the farmers that have found great support through the Farmer Veteran Coalition is Mark Beyers.  In 2005, while deployed in Iraq, Mark’s team hit an IED, which has left him with extensive injuries.  After Mark’s recovery, along with his wife Denise, who served stateside as a Unit Diary Clerk for 8 years, Mark decided to start producing maple syrup on their 15-acre property in Upstate New York.  Soon the demand for their product far outweighed the couple’s capacity to produce.  Mark and Denise have continued to grow their business with the assistance from the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund.

Jeremiah  Butler

Jeremiah Butler

Also benefiting from the Farmer Veteran Coalition is Jeremiah Butler.  Jeremiah served five years in the Marine Corps before enlisting in the Army to pursue a career in the Special Forces.  As a Green Beret, Jeremiah deployed to Afghanistan where he sustained physical wounds.  After Jeremiah’s service, he decided to pursue a career in agriculture.  “I believe in the American small farm, and think it has a crucial part to play in the local economy and the community.  I consider myself a patriot of this country and believe this is the best way I can continue to support and help her grow.”  Jeremiah currently raises organic vegetables and berries in raised beds on his family’s property.  As a Bob Woodruff Farming Fellow, through the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund Jeremiah was able to purchase a large greenhouse, which has enhanced his growing capabilities.

The Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) recently announced the national launch of the Homegrown By Heroes initiative.  This product-labeling program will allow farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and the like from all 50 states and U.S. territories who have served or are still serving in any branch of the U.S. military the ability to use the logo on their agricultural products.  Consumers and businesses purchasing agricultural products will begin to see this logo at the point-of-purchase and on business signage, enabling them to select products that support farmer veterans.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Former President Eisenhower once said “Our adequate food supply played as important a role in winning the war as did our supply of ammunition.  Thanks to the American farmer.”  However, even after their military service, there are still many battles these veteran’s face.  With one of the highest un-employment rates in the nation, these veterans need support.  That is why its great to see programs like the Farmer Veteran Coalition helping these heroes find opportunities in agriculture, an industry we all know is very rewarding and needs an influx of young producers.

To find out more about Farmer Veteran Coalition, visit their website or call their offices at (530) 756-1395. Share with them the opportunities you may have to help these dedicated individuals. Click here to download the Veteran Careers in Agriculture: A Resource Guide now.


Dairy Farming – No Pain No Gain

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Every dairy farmer wants to run a carefree dairy operation that has the greatest cows that produce the most milk.  Of course, in addition to that they must also have a great family, lots of money, look perfect and live the good life.  Everybody wants that, but   it’s doing it that’s hard!  It’s easier to lower our sights to a more ordinary level and do what everyone else is doing.

Recently I read an article on Huffington Post about how it is easy to want things, but asks, “What pain are you willing to go through in order to achieve these things?”  Now there is no question that if you have chosen dairy farming as your career path you are unafraid to work.  Otherwise, you would have taken a 9-5 job somewhere else.  But in order to get all these other wants typically means that you are going to have to go through at least an equal amount of pain in order to achieve them.

People want to be rich without the risk and without the delayed gratification necessary to accumulate wealth.  Everyone wants to have a herd that turns visitors green with envy upon visiting your immaculate facilities.  But what level of extra work or pain are you willing to go through in order to achieve this level of success? Everybody wants to have great sex and an awesome relationship — but not everyone is willing to go through the tough communication, the awkward silences, the hurt feelings and the emotional psychodrama to get there.

It’s only natural human behavior, the good feelings we all want are more or less the same. Therefore what we get out of life is not determined by our wants but by rather by the amount what pain we’re willing to sustain. Now we all know that “Nothing good in life comes easily,”

Personally, I have always wanted to have six pack abs.  But I have not been willing to suffer the pain of hour upon hour in the gym, calculating and calibrating the food I eat, planning my life out in tiny plate-sized portions, so as a result I don’t have the  much wanted six pack.

We are all guilty of it.  We see other dairy breeders winning all these awards at the cow shows, or for their outstanding operations, and we think, “Man I could do that.”  But we don’t schedule in the hours of work and attention to details that it takes.  In reality, the devil is in the details.  The details include long hours.  Fewer non-cow related hobbies, sports or holidays.  It means reducing every potential activity down to the effect it will have on your cow focused priorities.  It means hours in the barn.  Hours in the field. Dedication to computer, finances and planning. Otherwise, as the years go by, it starts to turn into “What if?” and What for?” and then before you know it is 20 years later and it’s too late.

Probably the biggest lesson I have learned is that to achieve exceptional dairy success, our passion must raise our pain (and work) threshold up to a point where we don’t even notice the sacrifices anymore.

Every day you have to be willing to go that extra mile that is too hard for many.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Everyone wants something.  We all would love to have the Royal or World Dairy Expo Grand Champion, or the top awards for our dairy operations, but the question is, “What is your plan?  How hard will you work to achieve it?  What sacrifices are worth what you will give up?”  At the end of the day you must be so focused on the gain, that you don’t feel the pain.

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