Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

Let’s look forward to future forage production

David Zirnhelt’s column to the Free Press

I am fortunate to be sitting on the balcony of a small bungalow hotel in Mexico trying to convince myself that holiday time for ranchers is really an investment in mental and physical health that will sustain me/us in at least the year to come as we grapple with the developing stages of transitioning the ranch to the next generations in the family.

Why would this energy and peace of mind brought by holidays matter? For me, it is trying to have the wisdom to not “know it all” yet to also transfer knowledge gained from experience and study, in a usable form to those following in our footsteps.

Success in this transfer of knowledge would give satisfaction and a sense of well-being: Peace of Mind, I have called it.

A sometimes-repeated statement puts my thoughts into perspective. As we get older, we spend more time looking back to lessons and useful experiences than we do looking to the future to which we are headed.

Young people tend to look forward. That is what is most important to them. Wisdom of the elders can ground the present and upcoming generations. Dreams of a positive future state are important to motivate anyone young or old.

Yet success must necessarily incorporate useful and time-tested practices (think farming/ranching) practices. This is what I call building the foundation under the dreams in the sky.

As we move forward, like driving a car with eyes on the road, we can glance in the rearview mirror to see where we have come from and how we got to where we are.

In my view, we are not yet at what we call “sustainability” looking at the social, environmental and financial capacity to carry on with our part of world food production.

To maintain some measure of control or at least influence over the collective future, I recommend we all commit to learning more and sharing our experiences.

Practically, we can join and support our producer organizations such as Farmers’ Institutes, Cattlemen’s organizations and importantly the BC Forage Association.

You can keep track of upcoming and past knowledge transfer events by going to the websites of these associations.

There are many planned events, check it out! Look forward to what you might do for improving your forage production.


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