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Battle cry of giants

Progressive Forage Editor Lynn Jaynes Published on 12 July 2018

History tags him as the giant collector. His name was Fredrick the First of Prussia, and he had a passion for giant soldiers, which he collected from throughout England.

When the king’s agents traveled throughout Europe and found an especially tall man (6 foot 2 inches or taller), they offered him huge amounts of money to join the special regiment. If they refused, no problem – they were kidnapped and inducted into the “Potsdam Giants.”

Fredrick even received giants from other dignitaries as “gifts.” Russian Tsar Peter the Great sent him 50 giants to gain favor. Fredrick forced tall Prussian men to marry tall women in hopes of ensuring a race of giants. He collected over 3,200 in all.

But here’s the odd thing (odder, that is): Fredrick’s giants never went to war. They marched, they trained, and they paraded, but they never went to battle – and not because Prussia didn’t have battles, but because Fredrick wanted to protect them.

“Old Fritz” gathered assets but never used them. It makes me wonder how closely I resemble Fredrick, or how closely anyone resembles him. Do you have assets you never use?

I posed a question to one of my favorite online hay forums (haytalk.com) and asked hay producers what was the one added component in their farming operations that had truly been a game-changer in the last five years. In short, I wanted to see if they were using their assets. These are some of their responses (cherry-picked and liberally edited, I admit, but I didn’t have room for them all):

Equipment

[The] purchase of six Forage King hay baskets; [it] cut our labor to a fraction.

Without a doubt, in terms of equipment, the addition of a 10-basket tedder was a “game-changer” for us … it seems so benign, but it has drastically reduced our drydown time in the humid Southeast.

The rear grapple I built, doubling my hauling capacity.

People

Five years ago, my wife quit teaching and went on maternity leave and has stayed with me on the farm full time since. She grew up on an acreage with five cows and has adjusted to having 500 cows, two kids and a crazy husband quite well … makes the stressful/miserable times much more enjoyable when you are surrounded by loved ones.

I’d say my ability after five-plus years of hard lessons, to be able to communicate effectively with landowners and reassure them I will take care of their property (in other words, get the hay baled). It has opened doors for me to larger and larger landowners and helped me acquire acreage.

Online forums

I would say, hands down, this site [haytalk.com]. I’ve been in a bind more than once, and every time there is someone here who has an idea on what to do to remedy it. It’s a godsend in an area where there aren’t many people who do this anymore.

Experience

Experience – both good and bad; wisdom and patience – earned painfully as the result of impatient arrogance; not trying to fight the land as much, just come to an understanding with it.

Faith

My faith. Every year it grows deeper and is more fruitful as I tend God’s land and care for His creation. What a blessing it is to be a farmer!

Diversification

Our customer base – it took a lot of effort, years, patience and busting of tail. We work extremely hard at offering a quality product, priced accordingly, and on-time delivery – weather permitting.

Offering options of different kinds of hay – we serve owners of alpaca, deer, horses, sheep, beef, elk and dairy. Bales that don’t make feed get moved as roadside mulch. Oat straw has a strong market in livestock bedding.

I attend educational workshops all over the country every year, so I see a lot of producers and a lot of presentations.

What I wondered at the most recent workshop was: Will producers take this information home and use it? Or will they be like Fredrick the First and only “march, parade and train” but never go to battle and use their assets?

As a giant in our industry (and anyone still operating in this industry is a giant), will you go to battle? Ask yourself: What’s the next big change I am contemplating in my operation, and when will I pull the trigger to engage that change?

And now let’s shout a collective battle cry (take your pick) – “Oorah!” “Remember the Alamo!” or “Maybe we can bale tomorrow!”  end mark

Lynn Jaynes
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