Jedidiah Hewlett is learning the tricks of the trade at the Perry Cattle Company. He’s only one week in, but has taken away a great deal of information already, including doctoring calves, financial matters, and irrigation methods. Here’s all of the details of Jedidiah’s first week experiences.
This week was full. We started up the new pivot on Monday and had to watch it pretty closely since it was the first time it had been run with water in it. The main concern was making sure that all the towers crossed the big ditch on the pipe bridges. One bridge ended up bending with the pivot on it, so we spent a few days manufacturing more uprights to strengthen the bridges. In the process, I got trained on how to use the plasma cutter and got pretty good at it. On Tuesday, we moved cows down the highway to another lease about 2 miles away. It was really fun to get back on a horse again since I hadn’t ridden for about a year and a half. One of the cows on the lease was pretty thin, so we brought her back and fostered her on to another cow who had lost a calf. We gave the cow rompun, or Xylazine, a sedative drug, to calm her down and put a powder called “Orphan-no-more” on the calf. The adoption worked and you would hardly know they weren’t a pair from day one! Mr. Perry and I went over their finances and I learned about gross margin analysis, financial statements, and cash flow.
Gross Margin Analysis is a quick and blunt way of comparing different options for running an operation. For example, running yearlings, running a “closed herd,” running temporary cows, running cows on shares, not running cows and selling hay, etc. Expenses are totaled for one option and compared to the income to be gained from that option. Set prices conservatively, this protects the operation if things go poorly.
The Financial Statement shows the total list of assets and the total list of liabilities. Assets include animals, land, machinery, vehicles, trailers, etc. Liabilities includes rent, loan payments, land payments, etc. These two numbers are compared at the end of the statement and the debt to asset ratio. When you divide your debt by your assets, this gives you a debt percentage. The lower your score, then the lower amount of your assets are financed by loans. The Perry’s took their ratio from 64% to 19% in 16 years. If you have a lower debt ratio, then banks are more likely to finance your venture.
Cash Flow is a large table that shows expenses and incomes for each month of the year for a variety of categories. Example: income from calf sales, hay sales, cattle sales, other. Expenses incurred by machinery, animals, cost of living, repairs, loan payments, etc.
I built two electric fences underneath the new pivot to divide the pasture up for grazing. I just set one wood post where it cornered in between the wheel tracks and put steel posts along it for the rest of the way. Other than that, I have been learning the ropes about moving and maintaining the side roll sprinklers. We got all four of them running last week, as well as the two pivots. I have gotten soaked twice while working on the sprinklers, so I have started wearing my raincoat and waders pretty much any time I need to do any irrigating. The grass and alfalfa is growing really good and we should be putting up the first cutting early this year; perhaps in the next two weeks!