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It has been years since I posted to the porch. When I first began into draft horses, I had excellent mentors that made all of the difference in the world. My biggest influences were Brabant Owner in SC, ToddW, and Farmer Brown in NY.
I took off in a sprint and absorbed the lifestyle like a sponge. I ended up with a great team of Percheron mares that taught me as much as I taught them.
As time went on, the farm expanded and I entered into the cattle and later beef business. I sold the team and all of my equipment to fund my initial start. Now fast forward five years and I have a large herd of cattle, farm over 250 acres, multiple tractors and equipment. We supply restaurants and direct to the public all of the state of Georgia and further out into the Southeast. A few years into the operation a close friend helped me obtain a Brabant filly of his own breeding. It was the best horse anyone could ever ask for. Unfortunately we lost her to colic. It was devastating and really completely broke my spirit. The same gentleman offered to allow me another chance with a full sister to my original filly. The offer unfortunately came at a time where we were struggling financially and stretched to the limit with our time resources so there was simply no realistic way to make it happen no matter how badly I wanted it to.
Our beef operation continues to grow and it has almost become a wheel so large that it turns us. Last night i was watching a YouTube video of RH where Joe was interviewing a dairy farmer that pretty much summed up my entire journey. He grew and grew, added and added, yet it seemed like it was simply feeding an unquenchable fire that began to suck the love out of agriculture. This has been my experience. I love what I do but it comes to a point where it is unmanageable and you ask "How did I get here?".
I'm not sure when or how, but I plan to get this back on track to the roots of what made me happy in the first place. Not sure that I am ready to take on a team again until I can get things under control, but that is my goad and I wait for the day when I can say "stp up" once again!

Klaus Karbaumer says 2018-02-14 16:27:42 (CST)

Will, so great to hear from you again. I also admire that you have the courage to tell your story with its ups and downs. I can only suspect that the video you watched was about Jason Julian and his family. I think he can be a great example of where it leads to,when one thinks straight and asks oneself the question what one really wants to do. Getting bigger obviously is not the only answer, getting smarter is. Gross income in the end doesn't really count, only net income. On this path I wish you good decisions and success.
As to the colic of your horse, I learned in 55 years of keeping horses that nobody is immune to that ( I lost two horses), but that the best prevention is a) giving them access to enough water all the time,
b) feeding hay at all times when they don't have access to pasture
c) avoiding too much grain, especially corn, and finally d) staying awaying from any pelleted feed that can swell up in the guts, such as sweet feed.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Dusty 4R says 2018-02-14 19:16:48 (CST)

Will, good story, hope you get back in the game with draft horses. How many cattle are you running? We also are in the grass fed beef business so was wondering if you have heard of White Oak Pastures, Will Harris? Maybe you're not grass fed. Also where are you processing? Great business if you don't weaken. We are in Idaho with a office in Denver .take care.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Will Beattie says 2018-02-14 21:09:33 (CST)

Klaus, thank you for the kind words and advice.
In response to our beef business, I am very familiar with White Oak, one of our distributors also carries them as well. We are grass fed, grain finished and dry-aged. So we have a very unique way that we raise and finish our beef which has provided both the blessing and curse of success. Our target audience is the restaurant market that is seeking quality as a first priority, with the side benefits of being naturally raised and local. It took several years to develop and tweak our program to achieve the level of quality that we have today. As far as size of herd, I started the business from scratch. Bought my first farm, started with four cows. I have owned cows now I believe for seven years, and our cow/calf operation runs about 150 cows. We process more cattle than that of course for the beef business annually so I have a contracted partner that has been with me for four years and together we run nearly 900 head of backgrounder cattle, most of which go into the commercial market, those in which go into the farm direct finished beef side have to follow a very strict protocol that I developed from start to finish. This is the mechanism in which we achieve quality control across the entire operation. So from homesteading to herd production, it has been quite a ride. I couldn't imagine not having the opportunity to live the farm life and I truly love what I do, but we are the size now that I want to figure out who we want to be in the future.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

K.C. Fox says 2018-02-15 00:38:41 (CST)

Been quite awhile sine I got to read your post and I will tell you that I missed reading them all about your troubles and success. Don't wait that long before your next post OK. I have lost 2 horses and 1 Mule to colic the bigger the animal the harder it is to save them or to get them over it. the best to you and yours.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

NoraWI says 2018-02-15 06:01:01 (CST)

Will Beattie, congratulations on your success! You really have not been in the beef business for that long nor do you run that many cows yourself. Your success has been made by seeing business opportunities and moving into them. Acquiring a business partner was a move that expanded your business without additional serious investment. Targeting the lucrative restaurant market gave you the opportunity for maximum dollars on your product. Customizing your product to appeal to this lucrative restaurant market gave them a very salable product. And, of course, coming through with the promised product consistently did the rest.

You are a prime example of what agriculture should strive for. Bigger is not always better. But, as Klaus implied, doing something smarter is the key.

Sorry that you find your success to be insufficient reward. I hope you find something in your lifestyle satisfies or something parallel that you can successfully grow and enjoy more. Just be careful not to mess with success...

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Barb Lee says 2018-02-15 08:50:32 (CST)

What a beautiful and resonant essay. May you find your way back to your center.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Will Beattie says 2018-02-19 18:37:29 (CST)

Thank you to all for the kind words and encouragement. It is great to see you guys still around the porch and contributing. It seems a quieter place here as the years have passed by. I guess that like the rest of farming, inviting the next generation to produce food for themselves and others is becoming more rare.
I have been very blessed with the opportunities the lord has given me. I hope to continue to make the best of them no matter which direction that takes me. I do plan to stick around here a bit,I may not be able or ready to take on that responsibility yet but it somehow gives me an escape to that dream by reading the tales of others and of course watching RH on RFDTV.
The slogan of Rural Heritage has always been "Borrowing from yesterday to do the work of today". As a testament, I recently renewed my subscription and wanted to receive an issue quickly. When it arrived thee was a simple article on the construction and use of a hay manger. Well, just so happens due to La Nina this latter part of the winter has been warm and extremely wet. Non-stop rain creates mud. The heavy weight of a tractor just destroys the pasture where you have to feed hay. I am going to use this idea of a hay manger and expand the size to fit my operation and not only cut the time needed for feeding, but be able to manage the grass better during warmer wet times of the winter. That one idea more than paid for my entire subscription! Glad to be back.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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