Well, I'm too late to recommend Walt Davis's new book for Christmas but it is well worth reading anytime.
He calls it "How to Not Go Broke Ranching: Things I learned the hard way in fifty years of ranching."
It's chock-full of Davis's anti-orthodox and yet logical thoughts and lessons.
The back cover of the book says Davis believes ranch life is "either the world's best way to make a living or an unending struggle against nature that will break the strongest spirit." That's the Walt Davis I know.
Many times I've heard Davis tell his story of change from the modern, high-tech methods of ranching to the more nature-compliant methods he teaches today. But in this book he tells still more than I ever knew of his past.
He shares stories from his boyhood in West Texas to the "end" of his regular ranching career and explains the logic and biology of everything he's changed, all sprinkled with his wry, often self-deprecating humor.
At one point he says: "In order to illustrate what I consider as flaws in the ways that ranches are and have been managed; I am going to use personal experiences. Any resemblance to dumb things you have done is purely coincidental."
Here are some other quotes from Davis's book:
- "Weeds are not caused by a 2-4-D deficiency."
- "The need to consistently feed large amounts of hay or other energy feeds during the dormant season is a signal that beneficial changes in management are possible."
- "It is usually a lot easier to get a loan than to pay it back."
- "The amount of money coming in is not nearly as important as the difference between what is coming in and what is going out."
These and many well-stated explanations throughout the book make Davis's points in clear ways, often with good anecdotes and illustrative stories from his past.
In summary, I've always said everything Walt teaches is summed up under this metaphorical umbrella and I've quoted it often over the years: "Agriculture should be the art and science of promoting life so that we can harvest some of the surplus for our own use."
It's this practice of promoting life and skimming it well which Davis is explaining in his new book. Get it for $30 from www.WaltDavisRanch.com.