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RANCH MUSINGS: There, one grandchild out the door

I guess it is okay to have mixed feelings about them taking employment on someone else’s ranch
Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

Now, just as we thought we had one grandkid trained to be a good ranch hand, they get a job on a neighbour’s ranch. The reward for helping to get the oldest one ready for independence in employment is the joy and challenges of getting the next one prepared for work in the hayfields, the pastures and rangelands.

I guess it is okay to have mixed feelings about them taking employment on someone else’s ranch. One the one hand it is wonderful that their skills are recognized by people outside the family: on the other hand, we will miss them for what they can do for home.

But, you can’t hold them down on the farm, as someone said. That someone, Walter Donaldson, wrote the song to reflect the concern after the World War I that soldiers wouldn’t want to return to the  farm  after experiencing the bright lights and night life of Paris.

The farm press and the human resource specialists that the press report often have articles about how the next generation has to skill up in farm business management and various fields of agronomy and technology to remain profitable. That may well be, but basic work skills and ability to work with one’s hands as well as knowledge will equip the next generation for applied jobs and tasks around the modern home and farm.

As farms and ranches get bigger, there is a demand for managers and middle managers. Those are the better paying jobs. To qualify farm owners will look to those individuals that can problem solve and think outside of traditional box to adapt practices to a new business environment: production, marketing, human resource management (health and safety), lowering carbon footprint and environmental impact.

On the production side, one of the challenges is the impact of drought on the pregnancy rate of cows. The “open” or non-pregnant or very late birthing dates meant mother cow numbers are reduced. Raising a fertile new mother cow is expensive.  Solving the nutritional causes of infertility aided by a continuing drought is one of those challenges.

In a previous article I mentioned the reduction of soil fertility across Canada. Both these issues required more technical information for the farm to make good decisions about production.

From my perspective, learning to do the right thing is the strength of our youth as long as the will is there. Cultivating that will is the responsibility of the senior generation.