The stakeholders are not the same as the shareholders. The shareholders own one or more shares of the dairy herd for the purpose of obtaining fresh milk, and for that they pay a fee, but the stakeholders are actually doing the work. Mostly. May I explain?
We were reading a Ralph Moody book a while back, The Fields of Home. (I recommend the whole series, by the way. A highly enjoyable family read-aloud.) In The Fields of Home, Ralph helps Grandfather bring the family farm back to a state of productivity, and Grandfather shares the profits in this way:
The income is divided into ten parts. Five are for “provender” – the farm; two go to Grandfather; two more go to Ralph; and the remaining one is for the hired girl who only gets credit for the butter, but really does a lot more.
We’ve never had enough coming in to even cover expenses, so I haven’t been paying the children for their hard work, but I also wasn’t getting everything done that needed doing. I had to ride them all the time and double check their work to make sure it was done and done well. So I decided to try Grandfather’s method. It’s only been two months, and I haven’t seen any particular change, but I’m going to give it one more month before I start docking the stakeholder payments. They have to trust the money is coming before they feel badly when it doesn’t.
Anyway, back to the meeting. Our farm is small and we have a lot of bovines on it right now. Decisions must be made. We have two calves of excellent quality. This wasn’t going to be a keeping year, but Annabelle has turned out to be a most excellent milker. We also see improvements in milk quality in her – higher cheese yield and more cream, which is what I’m breeding for. The bull I’ve been using should add to the milk quality – and Annabelle gave us a heifer calf this year. I could risk my last stick of Miles’ semen on another heifer from her, but I think I’d rather just keep Cocoa.
I don’t like Daisy’s genetics so much, so I want to cross her with a beef breed this year. Hopefully, we’ll get a heifer who can be crossed again, until we’ve raised up our own beef cow. Daisy is a really good cow, patient and gentle, but her milk is the lowest quality of the bunch, as far as cheese and butter go.
And then there is Maybelle. She’s got a persistent mastitis problem that only flares up around calving time, but she’s getting a little cranky with the other cows. Actually, she’s a bully. I was thinking of letting her milk through the summer, but not breeding her and sending her out for ground beef in the fall.
According to this plan, our current milking herd would be Maybelle, Daisy and Annabelle. In the fall, it would be Daisy, Annabelle, and Sunshine. The following year, it would hopefully be Annabelle, Sunshine and Cocoa.
This is what the stakeholders have decided. But every morning, I go out to milk the cows, and I press my head into Maybelle’s flank, and I say aloud, “I just don’t think I’m ready to give up on you.” She’s my cow, the one from whom all other cows on our farm have come, and she’s a really good cow. I think I might just buck the stakeholders on this one. They were just following my recommendations anyway.
Business is really picking up, since I started advertising. We’ll probably need a fourth cow anyway, right?
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