Friday, 10 December 2010

The Ghost of Christmas Past ....

Christmas 2008.  Something so right but sooo wrong has happened. This great new scheme has been launched that gives farmer’s access to more capital.  Its the Scottish Rural Development Programme - Rural Priorities ... catchy name.  You can get 50% funding on relevant shiny new stuff. I need it ... I need it bad!
I ignore that 50% means SRDP is a game of TWO halves and that I will actually have to fund the rest .... I get overly excited and, in the festive spirit, I write a wish list as if I were going to send it up the chimney on Christmas Eve.
The resultant application was essentially the following:

Two years on and the Ghost of Christmas Past has come to me ... telling me I am a total pillock.  All the items on the list can be justified ... apart from Number 5.  The others were useful and needed. They added efficiency and enhanced my balance sheet at effectively half their cost.  
Number 5 though! ... Its ostentatious.  Its completely OTT.  I originally planned on getting a Racewell - it senses the sheep,  reads its electronic tag, then grips it, then weighs it, then can draft it three ways according to just about any EID criteria you set ... all by itself ... all whilst I stand behind the sheep making funny body movements and eery sounds to keep them moving.  It was £11,500 in December 2008 ... now its £15,500 - GULP!  The cheque would bounce at this price and as the deadline approached for buying something, I wrote a cheque the other day for a Prattley 3 Way Auto Drafter ... 4 figures (but only just) ... I’ll get half back, but that still means  effectively a five grand investment and for what?  Its almost the same as a Racewell and can weigh and draft (but not grip) up to 600 sheep per hour.  I don’t need it!

This throws up the issue of capital and its efficient use.  Effective capital useage is absolutely key to the scaling of the farming ladder.  On the subject of what to invest in when building a business, the wise old men I have talked to have told me: "the less depreciating rust you have, the better"; “buy flesh, not metal”; “buy legs and land”; “keep it simple”.  Effectively I’ve said in response - “bugger that, I want a cool new toy to play with”.
I’ve bought the auto drafter to enter the complex world of EID.  I want to know what all my sheep are doing and how good or bad each of them are.  This ‘want’ costs money ... in many ways it makes work rather than saves it . What the hell am I doing?
But then there is this hope that the Ghost of Christmas’s Yet to Come will pay a visitation apon me soon and show that in the furure I am getting genetic improvement worth £2/ewe per year.  I am hiring it out.  I even go round farms contracting and consulting. Harvesting data through my pneumatic wonder toy ... spreading genetic gain to all who open their gates.  It pays for itself in a year and as a return on investment it is my best purchase ever .... Don’t stop believing! as the song says.

Simplicity saves, complexity costs.  The auto-drafter is the bastard child of these two extremes ... the end result could be drafted three ways ... its up to me to set the right criteria.


Rona Amiss said...

Still not sold the sheep then Michael? Didn't the wise men tell you to cash in when the price is good! All you need is a dog and stick (and some grass keep!)

julesandtim said...

How much for the auto drafter?

Michael Blanche .... bless said...

Rona - I know, I know ... you are right as usual! Damn you, voice of reason.

Tim - Please don't laugh or think I am mad .... £9,960. It only works if I become the answer to all of the world's EID problems and contract it out, providing a one stop shop for weighing, drafting, recording and complete customer service .... with a smile! ... It will never work!

julesandtim said...

No , what i mean is;-How much do i have to pay you for the auto drafter? I know it cost you £4980 and i assume you want to make a small profit----so i'll make a starting bid of £5500 plus a free high index polled shedding ram lamb. Thats a clear profit of £520 and a ram that may make it through to next season----have i let you down yet?

Michael Blanche .... bless said...

Its not for sale! ... at least until I eventually see the errors of my ways and realise it was a daft idea - try me next week!