Message from the Flying M

Message from the Flying M

By Diana Kessler

How the Flying M Ranch makes DECISIONS, Decisions, & decisions

“DECISIONS” were set by our ancestors years ago and have stood the test of time. However, as maturity is taking place in our family business for the fourth time, another set must be created. Current seniors and our millennial family members will embark on the process ASAP. The ranch family has been guided by long-term goals and family lore to steward what was homesteaded by family and friends, and to add to that asset when at all possible.

They were strong and overarching though never written down.

Lots of discussions, “what ifs,” and kitchen table planning resulted in what the Ranch is today. About 50-60% of those plans came to fruition with lots of hard and diligent work and education. In retrospect, one could ask if more risks could have been handled? It was more straightforward in the last 100 years to achieve the family vision than it appears to be for the coming century.

The next set of “Decisions” are more fun to make and act as the objectives for one to five years:

Starting with a recap of events and results of the past year, we get to talk to and about the crew and management (people) required or desired, the desired improvements to land, the animals, the infrastructure and grazing planning. Creativity is encouraged. Employees probably have given much thought to doing things differently! And then planning the finances is the final filter that all these great ideas pass through. “Decisions” are written down, given a time line, assigned to a person or persons.

Then the “decisions” about the actual work are made by management and the crew many times during the month, week, or even day. When an “Oh, s***” moment arises, a replan “decision” takes place. Any given day’s “decisions” might start over coffee at 4:30AM, with a bit of Fox News, a weather forecast and market outlook or two, a calculator in hand, the cell phone ready when the world awakes, a glance at calendar, a review of the master list for the month, a note taken of which window the sun is coming in, another cup of coffee, letting dogs out or in, putting in a load of wash or hanging a load of wash, greeting each person one by one, starting another pot of coffee, doling out vehicles that are running, checking emails, following up on yesterday’s phone calls, filling thermoses, and then, finally, heading out door.

“Now what was I going to do today?”

All the while the “DECISIONS”, the “Decisions” and the “decisions” are etched in the mind’s eye in the order of urgency.  Now if only the market would stabilize or even smile on us this year! And maybe another rain . . .