The Recovering Farmer

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Would I Have?

I find it interesting that I am not experiencing many of the feelings I normally have at this time of year. Usually I count down the days till December 21 when we experience the fewest hours of daylight because I know it is downhill from there on in. I have normally struggled with the concept of Christmas. It always seemed to be such a superficial time. I have always disliked the cold and snow that comes with our winter. This year is different. And like I said I don’t know what the difference is. Not complaining though.

Some time ago I was asked to do a presentation at Agdays this coming January. At the time January seemed a long way away. So it is easy to say yes because you really don’t need to do anything for a while. In fact, if memory serves me right, I was headed out to the golf course when I got the call. What they needed though was a title and a short synopsis of what I would talk about. Oh, and by the way, here is what we want you to talk about. Sounds simple enough.

I spent some time reflecting on challenges many farmers faced this year. From drought in some areas to excessive moisture in others. Volatile commodity prices. Early spring followed by a killing frost. Lower revenues. Tightening credit. Communication challenges between generations. Onslaught of decisions to be made. The list is endless. The stressors are significant.

And now as we approach the end of another year many producers look back and question many of the decisions they made. That is normal. We all do that. However what often happens is we start kicking ourselves about how we could make better decisions. If only I would have utilized risk management programs. If only I would have waited with selling. If only I could have bought that new equipment. I should have retired a year ago. I should not have bought that land. I could have grown a different crop. I should have, I could have, I would have. That list is endless as well. Again the stressors are significant.

Thus the title to my presentation is Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda. We all know that our decisions will never all turn out to be the right ones. There are far too many factors out of our control. So we make decisions to the best of our ability. Then we learn from those decisions. Sometimes the consequences are painful. But they are experiences and as the quote says; “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.” We live in a fast paced world where things are always changing. It is tough to get what you want. It is tough to keep up. At times it is simply a matter of survival. Often times we are caught up in looking in our rear view mirror rather than looking ahead at the future and all the possibilities it holds for us.

So questions arise. Would I have? Was I wrong? Would I have changed the decisions I made? Would I have changed the way I did things? Would I have, could I have, should I have? For the most part we make our decisions, our plans on the best available information at the time. We must live with that and learn from that. To dwell on the past, to “kick” ourselves for things that went wrong is self-defeating.

In my synopsis of the presentation I suggested that through personal stories, humour and research I would help the participants find a sense of sanity to the crazy world we live in. Someone has already questioned, sarcastically I might add, the research component of my presentation. I confess. Other experts have done the research. So if you want the full meal deal on woulda, coulda, shoulda, come see me at Agdays. Make it a good one.

"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew." Saint Francis de Sales (1567 - 1622)

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