You’re never too old to learn something new, and it’s never too late to get started.
It is fascinating how much Roselynn and Taylor have changed in just over a year, yet everyone else in the family photo is just grateful to not look all that much older. These two great grandkids are so much FUN! They love learning every day, and they really LOVE cows. You can see their eyes light up when somebody mentions that they are going to the ranch, and they are checking cows the minute they arrive! They’re a little young for NJAA but our “youth development program” is actively underway.
David McMahon, Sr. was well-known as a businessman, a stockman, a thinker, a leader. He was also a very good teacher, because he was an avid lifelong learner. He read voraciously – newspapers of all kinds, business magazines, livestock publications, sale catalogs, every promotional brochure that landed on his desk. He would clip information that was of interest to him and share it with others. When he learned to use the fax machine his teaching influence expanded significantly. Dave “got” the fax. Computer? Internet? Not so much. It’s not that he didn’t appreciate the digital exchange of information. He thought it was amazing, for other people. It’s just that he never had a real need to use digital technology for accessing new information – because he already had plenty of reliable sources!
Our Angus neighbor in Poteau, Oklahoma, Danny Wann, tells a story about one of Dave’s most meaningful teachings, that Danny quotes to others frequently. Danny recalls hearing Dave emphatically declare many times, “You have to TAKE OWNERSHIP in your cattle. People enjoy picking them out, bidding on them, taking them home, looking at them, talking about them. But OWNING cattle means learning to do everything that’s required to take care of them – and doing it, every day!”
Back in the early ‘90s, a post-sale conversation took place between a brand new big spender and an equally-able spender with much more experience. The new guy had dropped some serious cash that day, and may very well have been feeling just a bit of buyer’s remorse. But you wouldn’t know it by his bravado. “We’ll have this cattle business all figured out in a couple of years,” he announced. To which the seasoned breeder boomed, “If you think you’re gonna figure out this business in a few years you should sell that cow you just bought and get out now!” Everyone within earshot chuckled and listened as he continued, expounding on why he is an Angus breeder: he truly enjoys studying about every aspect from pedigrees, to performance, to pasture management, constant change makes it the most challenging business he’s ever been in, and (the big finish) it is a lifelong endeavor that he may never actually “conquer.” It was an inspiring speech!
A lifelong endeavor requires lifelong learning. Reading, observing, asking questions, unlearning old beliefs, trying new methods, trying again. To succeed in the Angus business you need big picture vision and an eye for detail, an open mind and a listening ear, quiet time to watch cattle and think about what you see, trust for the tried-and-true, enthusiasm for the new-and-improved, and willingness to shift gears and adapt. When decisions, projects or purchases don’t turn out exactly as planned ‘round here we refer to the experience as “tuition.” Pay the price, look for the lesson and keep moving forward.
Take ownership in your lifelong endeavor. Like Roselynn and Taylor, we LOVE learning about and taking care of our Angus cattle. Don’t you?