COLUMNS: Young ranchers, listen up: advice from your elders

Advice from elders may or may not be appreciated by the younger generations.

Advice from elders may or may not be appreciated by the younger generations.

Years ago, when I had the privilege of being the Minister of Agriculture in B.C., I attended a rancher/farmer meeting in the East Kootenays.

At this meeting, a younger man was bemoaning the price of farmland and said he did not think it was possible for a young person to get a start without inheriting a farm.

This sparked a discussion, which culminated with an older fellow having the final word. Those words ring in my ears to this day.

He said “nonsense” to the younger farmers concern about land prices.

He was in his 90s and had come here from Europe as a young man. He said that was what people said to him way back then.

There is always an opportunity.

Last month, in BEEF magazine, Jolyn Young wrote an article called: “Young ranchers, eight tips from an old-timer on how to succeed in ranching.”

Is this old speak or is it timeless wisdom?

Mori, in his 90s, gave up his love of rodeoing to follow his life’s dream of ranching.

These are his tips: I quote extensively here.

One: Sacrifice luxury items like expensive hobbies, new cars and pickups and new equipment.

Two: Make do with older tractors, balers etc. Learn to fix them. Fix up older buildings. You know this strategy.

Three: Be ready for an upturn in the cattle market.

Four: Beware of the temptation to splurge on a new pickup when calf prices are really high.

Five: Adjust your lifestyle and travelling to revolve around the ranch. Stay home and do your work as it takes longer with older equipment, he says.

Six: Marry well, as ranch wives do a heck of a lot of the hard work in the operation, in the home, and on the business end of things.

Seven: Cultivate and maintain good friendships. With good friends you will have help in the tough times. Good family is a must too.

Eight: Get a good banker. This person must understand agriculture.

If you are going to miss a payment, or be late, be in touch ahead of time and explain the situation.

To all this good advice, I would add the advice to participate in the local rancher’s organizations, get on mailing lists and go to conferences to keep up the latest and best efficiency information.

By the way, current prices are hovering around the breakeven for our industry at the moment.

David Zirnhelt is a member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association and chair of the advisory committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching program which started at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake this January.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Grade 2 class of 150 Mile House Elementary attended Cariboo Memorial Hospital with teacher Kirsty Bowers to deliver “kindness” bags full of small gifts to housekeeping staff. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
150 Mile House students deliver gift bags showing appreciation for hospital staff

Students begin Monday morning with a bus trip to Cariboo Memorial Hospital

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports 16 new COVID-19 cases

423 cases remain active in the region

The RCMP arrest one of the suspects on Highway 97 courtesy of cell phone footage shot by a bystander. (April Thomas photo)
UPDATE: Two suspects arrested after multi-jurisdictional chase

A half dozen police cars were seen heading north on Highway 97

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

Kamloops This Week
Cause of Kamloops landfill fire may never be known

Fire investigators are dealing with too much destruction in too large an area

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

Most Read