As I sit down to begin this journey, I realize it started long ago. I will loop you in along the way to understand what has brought us to this point, a point many others may be at as well.
I am part of the generation looking to our future in production Ag while looking back over our shoulder at the generation nipping at our heels ready to take our places. We look at them with pride, so glad they have chosen to follow in our boots, but there is an undercoating of trepidation mixed in as we look at declining commodity prices and land values. We have fought the fights on the battlefield they want to enter & instinctively we want to shield them from the harm they are flinging themselves into headlong.
Our parents had the same dualing emotions when we stepped up to the challenge. Oh! But that was different….we knew what we were doing. Right? Wrong! There is no perfect training prerequisite program to running a production agriculture operation. Yes, there are degrees to pursue, and an apprenticeship that began shortly after birth when we were loaded into trucks & tractors, but nothing, NOTHING, will prepare someone for the multitude of challenges faced in a multigenerational Farm or Ranch.
If you have made it down to the 4th paragraph, you either share the same passion, or you are an insomniac. I gladly welcome you both! My head and heart are full. It seems as if I have been in training for the transition ahead of me for all of my life. Genetically, it’d been “my duty to the operation” to see it move forward and safely into the care of the next generation. Those who have grown up in a business owning family, be they located on Main Street, or on a dusty country road will understand the destiny that was mapped out for us by well meaning grandparents and parents. The underlying question becomes, would I have chosen my life’s work had I been born to different parents? No. I would not have had the opportunity, or the dream or desire. How sad that would have been. Yet, at times, I am sure it would have been a much easier road. Thank goodness I will never know.
What I do know, is that as much as I loved and respected my parents, they worked very hard to build a good life and planned ahead to protect me with an estate plan. They however, did not develop a true succession plan. I have paid the price of their one shortfall many times over. Now, it’s my turn. My estate plan is in place. The succession plan is sketched out in loose form on the back of envelopes and filed in my office drawers on crumpled napkins as an idea formed while driving & that’s all I had to capture the moment. That’s unfair. It’s unfair to my children and it’s unfair to me and the legacy I wish to leave.
Together I hope those considering their plans and futures and I will join together in a community of sharing not only plans, ideas, issues, and solutions, but the many layers of emotions that these decisions all stir in our hearts.
Welcome to Our Ranch, Our Family, My World as we go about Keeping Our Family Ranch!