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More Feedback From Ranchers

Deciding the best plan of attack isn’t easy, but I’m going to defer to Seth Godin’s theme of shipping it (essentially Godin says “Don’t let the perfect become your enemy. Get the product, whatever it is, out the door, and then re-calibrate”.

We have the option of building a herd by breeding cows and raising the calves, buying calves and rasing them, or buying steers. Buying a one year old steer in the spring is clearly the fastest way to the most meat. The timeline is compressed from 18 months to 6 or 8.

Of course, we could also buy steers this year, as well as some calves. We’d slaughter the first generation in the fall of 2014, then winter the calves and slaughter them in the fall of 2015.

I still have to figure out whether we are better off pasturing the cattle or turning them out on the open range. One rancher has suggested that they’d be open to a cow-sitting arrangement, whereby they sell us some steers and rent us pasture. This seems pretty easy in that it reduces the timeline and workload. We’d have to figure out how many steers we could put on the acreage and what the rancher would want to charge for cow-sitting.

Cow-sitting appears to be a fairly broad term. I suspect it ranges from the rancher doing everything required to the rancher simply keeping an eye on things and leaving cow-op members to do whatever work is required. Somewhere in the middle might be realistic. Cow-op members will probably enjoy being involved in the work whenever feasible, but it’s unlikely that they’ll be available for a trip to the Interior at the drop of the hat just because a cow needs something. at the same time its unlikely that we’ll train cows to put their emergency needs on a schedule.

Slaughter

Slaughtering the cattle is another challenge. Farm slaughtered meat can apparently be sent to a butcher to be cut, but farm killed meat is not supposed to leave the farm. I’m assuming that you can kill the animal on the farm, send it to the butcher to be cut, then return it to the farm. I’m also led to believe that cattle that are slaughtered and butchered at a certified site can be re-sold.

In the cowoperative model I’m taking the sale aspect out of the equation. That raises some questions. If, for example, I buy a steer and raise it on someone else’s property under a cow-sitting arrangement, can I slaughter it on the farm, butcher it as I see fit and then take it to my own home for my own consumption? Can a friend and I buy a steer in the spring, raise it on our own property, slaughter it in the fall and take it home? Can we lease property and hire employees to help us raise our own beef? I suspect there is a tangle of regulations to wde through, with most of them stacked in favour of the established business model. I don’t mind sorting through those. In fact, I look forward to it.

Tim Ferriss and Amazon vs. the Old School

There’s a difference between capitalism in the free market and the environment we currently operate in. In a capitalist free market individuals are free to associate and contract with each other without third party interference from government or other business interests. In our system there are very few commercial relationships that government does not try to regulate, as well as take a piece of. Sometimes government regulation is done for good reasons, but it is common that government regulation is designed to favour established business models. We are going to run ito this challenge, but we will overcome it. The difference between the information age that we now live in and past ages is that widely dispersed individuals with a variety of skills and knowledge can combine forces to bring power to bear in a guerrilla fashion.

An example can be found with author Tim Ferriss, the author of The 4 Hour Work Week, The 4 Hour Body, and most recently, the 4 Hour Chef. All of these titles are available online, through Amazon. However, the 4 Hour Chef was actually published, not just sold, by Amazon. The established US book retailer, Borders, is threatened by Amazon as a competing retailer, and so refused to sell The 4 Hour Chef in it’s stores. This initially hurt Ferriss’ sales, but he’s a thinker who doesn’t like getting pushed around. While Borders was closing 500 retail outlets, Ferriss made an arrangement to get his book into Panera stores. Panera is a US bread seller that has 1500 outlets. He then worked on getting the book into other retail outlets like grocery stores. By “polishing brass on the Titanic” (Ferriss’ term), Borders is forcing other retailers to sell the product that Borders should be selling. Ferriss is waging a guerrilla war against them, and let’s face it: he’s going to win.

There’s no government involvement or regulation in the Ferriss/Borders struggle, and we are not going to put industrial beef producers out of business as we develop a new model. The guerrilla approach is important, howver, for two simple reasons. First, a guerrilla approach to things stresses using intelligence in order to execute the unconventional, the new, and the timeless. Second, in a guerrilla context victory is defined as surviving while making incremental gains. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Do You See Holes In My Argument?

Our strength lies in diverse experience and skills. This is a cooperative exercise. If you see problems with the idea please let me know, either in the comments section or through direct email to rob@robchipman.net.

My name is Rob Chipman and I’m a realtor, pilot and all around renaissance man based in Vancouver, BC. I really enjoy flying, playing guitar and hockey, real estate and the Chilcotin. My company is Coronet Realty Ltd., located at 3582 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC, V5K 2A7. I have a C-150L that I own with two other pilots, based out of Pitt Meadows. Do not hesitate to contact me by email if I can help you do anything, especially if its likely to be interesting.


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