One of the oldest and most effective management quotes on record is "you can't manage what you don't measure". Farmers and ranchers continue to get new technologies in order to record and measure more and more information. As we continue to collect and record more data we are able to manage more intensely. Examples of these include the use of EID (electronic identification) tags and the collection of this information. At 4+ Feeders we are able to document the antibiotic given, date given, and withdraw date. Being a backgrounder for calves that eventually move to another feed yard, this information easily transfers to the next care takers of the cattle. In return beef consumers can be sure that their steaks, burgers, brisket or roast are completely safe.
There are numerous devices and tools that have been designed to help with food production. I am sure you are thinking about a few right now. However when I was teaching Agriculture Education I told all of my students whether they were returning to the farm or not that keeping track of expenses and expenditures for personal use, or if they were running a hair salon, dairy or any other business keeping accurate records is extremely important. We filled out mock record books in class. I recognized that the curriculum has called for all information to be put into a computer system. I think it is extremely important to keep records electronically because it will give you more data and information to make better business decisions.
However I always felt as a teacher to students being introduced to record keeping, that they should do their own adding and subtracting. I didn't like the computer system adding for them and transferring the numbers through the book and then subtracting the expenses and telling them what they made. I wanted them to understand the numbers moving through the system and how to change them. It was important for them to understand that profit could be increased by both decreasing expenses and increasing income.
I will never forget the day I realized that America was at a great loss in our education system for not teaching this anywhere in math except as an elective. I had a National Honor Society student in my class and at the end of the week of teaching these concepts, he said "I am in Honors Algebra II, and I just don't get this." I am thinking at this point and we are in big trouble. While I appreciate the math I have taken involving letters, that math has not made me near the money that math with numbers has.
I am so thankful for the record keeping experience Jake and I have had with the FFA and Agriculture Education. If it wasn't for that experience, we wouldn't be doing what we are today. Although our record system has changed and continues to evolve based on the information we want to collect and need to collect.
There are two things that reminded me this weekend about how important record keeping was and continues to be in all facets of life. The first was my cousin Friday night sitting down after we ate dinner together to count and record the money she had made cutting and coloring hair that day. She recorded information from that day on paper, quite possibly the most simple record keeping system available, but still very useful. The second thing was when I found my Grandpa's record books from his Agriculture Education and FFA days. I wish I would have had these when I was teaching. These are my Grandpa Jim Poorman's record books from his Junior year of High School in 1942-1943. This was the same year that he quit high school to take over the family farm after his father passed away.
According to his records he took corn, wheat, cattle, sheep and hogs as his projects.
|Isn't this budget interesting?|
|A cattle Plan of Practice. In 1942 it looks like corn was on the menu for cattle. Hmmmm!|
|Does anybody want to harvest corn with this plan of practice?|