Think of key words to stay focused throughout new year

post-it note

COSHOCTON, Ohio — Now that January is halfway over, how are you doing on those New Year’s resolutions? If you are like many Americans, your intention of finally following through with your resolutions has already been shredded by the busyness of our daily lives.

A few years ago I followed the advice of a friend, who now happens to be my wife, to concentrate on one word each year instead of making a long laundry list of resolutions.

Simple enough, right? Just one word! So if you had to choose one word on which to focus on for 2019, what would it be?

Organize and transition

Two of the words which I chose over the past few years included organize and transition. I am still working on being better organized and this past year really brought the word transition into play.

So what is my word for 2019? Lots of words come to mind, but I finally settled on the word “patience.” Patience to allow life to unfold in its time.

To be patient in learning a new community. To turn the other cheek. To not be annoyed by the little discomforts of life. To remember to have the “patience of Job” in the daily walk of life.

So, in this Dairy Excel space, we share management advice targeted for dairy farmers. So, if I had to pick one word for our northeast Ohio dairy farmers for 2019, what would it be?

In retrospect, I know many farmers might quip that some words which fit the dairy industry this past year would be gloom, despair, and agony. But word should we choose for 2019?

Would it be patience? Or perseverance? Or hope? There are many words we could choose. We all know that profits have been non-existent. We are all asking how can we help our dairy farm families weather this storm.

Today, I would like to share some of the “words” our dairy industry friends have shared. Components do matter! I was recently visiting with a processor and he mentioned farmers not forget the value of fat and protein tests.

In fact, for one month, there was over a $6 price spread between farmers for the price they received for their milk based solely on the differences in components. So how do your protein and fat levels compare to others?

Are there ways through genetics and nutrition to increase them?


Don’t hide from the numbers. Most of us keep good records but are we getting the most out of them? These records can help you control your operation more efficiently, find problem areas, and identify what could work better.

Start with your financial records and calculate your cost of production. Compare this to benchmarks and look for where you can make changes.

Dianne Shoemaker, our OSU Dairy Production Economics Field Specialist, coordinates our Ohio Farm Business Analysis and Benchmarking Program. This program is dedicated to helping farmers analyze their farm’s financial situation.

This benchmarking analysis will help you better understand where your areas of highest profitability lie and which areas need attention. You will be able to compare your farm business to similar businesses across Ohio to see how you stack up.

Learn more about this resource at


Keep business as business. Focus on your family and make sure to keep laughing. It is easy to get down. Take time to get away from the farm and to laugh with friends. Laughing can reduce stress, reduce pain, increase creativity, increase self-esteem and so much more.


One of my colleagues and friends in Michigan, Phil Durst, recommends producers get as many people as possible to provide feedback. In fact, he recommends starting a management team.

Invite folks such as your dairy nutritionist, veterinarian, lender, key employees, and your Extension educator and have them put a fresh pair of eyes on your situation.

Open your records to them and have them help you to identify opportunities and changes. I think you will be pleased with the objective and honest feedback.

So just a few words of advice for 2019. Take the first letter from each word — Components, Analyze, Laugh and Feedback and concentrate on one great word for the year: CALF.

So vow to be CALF in 2019.

Have a good, safe, and profitable year!


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