Business


imageI went to the annual Country Living Expo last weekend. As always, it was interesting and educational, and a time to run into and catch up with friends and acquaintances.

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I’m finally getting around to analyzing my lamb yield from last spring, driven by my need to plan vaccine purchases for 2017 lambing, which is driven by my need to analyze what went wrong from last season!

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FishingI often run into parallels between what I do in my day job, and what happens on the farm. The topics of sustaining, capacity and slack time, have been on my mind lately.

In the software world, sustaining work is effort applied to keep existing customers happy, or to maintain the existing code base in general. This may mean fixing bugs in released product, adding features to keep an existing product competitive and selling, or making changes to infrastructure to either keep a product line alive, or improve it so that more sellable features can be added to it. Sustaining work doesn’t generate revenue or increase market share. But, it often helps maintain a revenue stream, or prevent losing existing customers to competitors, in hopes they may eventually upgrade or buy new product in the future. In software, many companies dedicate about 30% of their labor spend to sustaining work; and this is always considered a very painful budgetary reality, since there is no direct ROI on sustaining work.

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It’s been a busy summer, and I’ve allowed blogging to fall down, and off, the priority list for a few weeks. As most know, we’ve had unusually dry weather here, so the grass growth has been curtailed. Our lot usually does well even during dry times, as we have so  much reed canarygrass, and it has very deep roots that can access the water table several feet deep. Annoyingly, the Canada thistle is thriving, so from a distance the ewe field looks green, but only from thistle!

With the dryness comes extra trouble with portable grounding rods on portable fences; and I’ve been having trouble with a few sheep escaping the Electronet due to low voltage. The solar powered chargers don’t have very high voltage to begin with; and now I need to run fairly long runs because I have a lot of sheep. Often one sheep will pop under the fence, pull out a few stakes, which leaves enough leaning that the rest of the group figures out they can jump over. We had enough loose sheep incidents in the garden and orchard that the portable fence grazing is on hold, for now. On my to-do list is to install AC-powered hotwire, and try again to see if higher voltage solves this problem. Now, if I can only fit that project in…

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We still have good green grass, but not for much longer with this string of no rain we’ve had. It’s unusual for it to get hot and sunny consistently before 4th of July here; but the entire month of June has felt like August! There is a possible thundershower in the forecast for next week, so crossing my fingers the pasture gets some watering. It sounds like our hay will be delivered next week, which will be a welcome backup: I can feed out of that store if I have to rest the pastures for a while. The pasture pictured above is mostly reed canarygrass. Though it is often an unmanageable pain in the butt, it is a great grower during dry times, since it has such deep roots. It will likely tap the water table no matter how long we go without rain, so it can continue to grow back after being grazed. It produces a huge volume of very nutritious grass, as well.

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Photo courtesy of NABC

Another seminar I enjoyed at Focus on Farming was getting to tour the new mobile poultry processing unit owned and operated by the Northwest Ag Business Center (NABC). I had heard about this, but it was neat to see it in person.

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I have been so remiss on blogging lately! Last weekend we went camping and razor clamming. The weather was beautiful and warm, it could have been June rather than mid-December. I’ll include photos from the beach, since my topic has no photos.

Here is a short tidbit on another seminar I enjoyed at the recent Focus on Farming. This one was given by Kathryn Quanbeck, Program Manager for Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network (NMPAN). She covered the broad topic of slaughter options- custom-exempt versus state-inspected (which we don’t have) versus USDA-inspected. Her talk was very good, bringing some of the frank realities to the table.

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