Separating Tradition From Traditional Ways

Change is both inevitable and a good thing in most cases. The trick is determining what is essential.
I love tradition. Any fan of major-college football understands the game will be diminished if there is no rivalry game played between Texas and Oklahoma, or Texas and Texas A&M.

However, I’d like to add the caveat that there is a vast difference between traditional ways of doing things and tradition. Few of us would want to go back to the days of just hauling our calves into the salebarn in the middle of October and hoping to get paid well. Few of us would want to feed with horses, either. And, yes, that front-wheel assist loader tractor and diesel pickup with enough power to haul 15 cows down the road at 80 mph is sure nice.

Change is both inevitable and a good thing in most cases. However, there are some things in life that create an improvement in quality of life that aren’t as easily quantifiable, and certainly not from an economic standpoint.

What does it mean when one can leave at 4 p.m. to watch their kid’s football game, even if that means feeding in the dark? What is it worth to sit across a good horse, and enjoy the image of healthy cows eating good green grass? What does it mean to know you can call your neighbor at any hour of the night and get help if it’s needed?

Our traditional way of doing things will continue to change. But who among us would want to be part of an industry where a man’s word was not his sacred bond, or where his neighbors aren’t willing to lend a helping hand?

It is so simple in theory to maintain the traditions that have made this industry great, while rewriting and rethinking our traditional way of doing things to become more competitive and more efficient. Of course, determining what is tradition and what is simply a traditional way of doing things becomes a matter of choice.

I personally love the sound of an auctioneer and working cattle on horseback. Does that mean that I won’t be selling everything in an eBay-style online auction in a few years or have a stable of four-wheelers in 10 years? I hope so. But the mere fact that those are choices I can make tells me those are traditional ways of doing things that I enjoy. But I have no doubt about giving up the capability to seal a deal with a handshake or spending quality time with the kids and Mother Nature.


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