Pigs, Goats and People

I'm enjoying my summertime conversations with high school junior, Emily. With great gusto and insight she's been sharing her 4-H and FFA journey in preparing and showing pigs and goats at the county fair…and the Iowa State Fair. 

I listen to her talk about practice, patience, perseverance and paperwork.  I note the investment of time and money.  I see the daily work which comes from a commitment to a goal, positioning yourself for a best outcome, all while knowing  someone else determines the color of the prize ribbon at the end. The lessons she is learning directly relate to those needed in a successful family business.


Animals and farm team members need to know what to do and how to do it. They learn from experience and repetitive behaviors; they're trained for a steady pace and conditioned for longer and stressful workouts. All this practice leads to positioning for a desired outcome. And when practiced and working well together, there are rewards: family celebrations, vacations, increase in income or pay…and for the pigs, marshmallows for treats and a good tummy scratch!


Animals and people have minds and strengths of their own.  When you positively spend time with them, trust is built. All are more willing to do what needs to be done. Time and patience trumps force and dictatorship for a long term result.


Not every day or every chore is fun.  There are surprises and challenges along the way, yet changes are made and the work must be done.  Not every investment will result in progress or producing the "best," but you give it your best.  


It would be so much easier for Emily if she didn't have to deal with health certificates, registrations, DNA samples, record books and cost analysis. It would be so much easier for members of the family business if they did not have to create appropriate business structure, document communication and hold meetings, have processes for hiring, conflict management and evaluation, complete buy-sell agreements and estate plans. Yet without the paperwork (legally completed in a timely manner), the critters don't get to the show and family businesses end up in a mess.

Time for Care

Daily interaction is done not just to make sure the critters are carefully fed, comfortably housed and healthy...but also so they get to know you, and you them. This is a time of necessary interaction, meeting needs and communication for you and all critters, 2 or 4 legged.


Emily is keeping a careful log of all expenses for each animal, from acquisition to the show ring. People in family business also need timely, accurate and transparent financial information. By knowing the details of cost and income, all can learn and make better decisions, always assessing does this cost equal the value and what do we need to do differently next time.

Commitment to a Goal and Taking Responsibility of the Outcome

I've watched Emily in the show ring. It's not easy planning and working hard knowing that someone else determines the color of the prize ribbon at the end.  I've watched family members plan and work toward goals of land purchase, harvest or livestock sales and noted the power that Mother Nature, rules and regulations and global prices play in determining the financial outcome of the business. It's a common goal that keeps a focus on what you can control.

So I'm sending cheers to Emily and to all those in family business.  I want you to sleep well, knowing you have done all you can to achieve a desired outcome while mitigating risk. I want you to be deservedly proud while building skills and confidence to enter the show ring at fair….or the show ring of a family business.   

Jolene Brown is a farmer, professional speaker, author and champion for the family owned business. She's from West Branch, Iowa, USA, and travels worldwide sharing leading-edge best practices that have the power to increase productivity, profitability and peace of mind. Her passion combined with her fun-filled spirit and valuable information brings humor, hope and helpful ideas to the people of agriculture. Jolene's books, "Holy Crap! I Married a Farmer!" Joy-filled Lessons Connecting Our Sisters in Agricultureand Sometimes You Need More Than a 2x4! How-to-tips to successfully grow a family business are available online at www.JoleneBrown.com.  For more information and to check out her speaking availability, contact her at Jolene@JoleneBrown.com.

Full Rights Consent.  Jolene Brown LLC, West Branch, Iowa, USA, maintains full rights to utilize the content and/or format of all materials submitted by her for the www.PinkTractor.com website in any future speaking, writing, audio, video or electronic format.

Copyright © 2017 Jolene Brown, LLC. All Rights Reserved

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