'I Can't' Is A Prophecy

Beefs and Beliefs

Alfalfa grazing story triggers author's negativity training.

Published on: June 21, 2012

The two words I hate most when put together are "I can't."

When my son was very small I began telling him, "If you say you can't, you can't."

As he got older I told him "Can't is a self-fulfilling prophecy."

It's the same thing I tell nearly everyone with whom I share such discussions.

My granddad used to tell me "There is no such word as can't."

Of course, there are many ways of saying "I can't."

A favorite on the farm is "That won't work here."

Another common version of "can't" is "I won't."

I recall a friend once told me he had a revelation in relationship dealings with his wife. He said he had come to understand the naysayer, the one who refuses to go along, the one who sinks plans and torpedoes requests, is the one in control. I realized instantly he was onto something.

Just a few minutes ago I was reading Bruce Anderson's script for his radio show on forages and forage management in Nebraska. One of his topics was how to graze alfalfa.

Instantly that triggered me to remember how few people will graze alfalfa because of fear of bloat. Yet I have been on operations that masterfully grazed alfalfa with little or no bloat problems.

In turn, that led me to think about Walt Davis, our Beef Producer grazing guru columnist, who grazed Johnsongrass pastures for many, many years. Research and experience showed him the secret was to put the cattle on Johnsongrass forage and keep them on it through drought, rain and cloudy weather. In fact, Walt told me he had seeded Johnsongrass into paddocks that lacked it just to be sure the cattle had no lag in Johnsongrass consumption.

Walt's pastures were a plethora of plants so it wasn't pure Johnsongrass and all the forage was quality. But he told me cattle seem to build an immunity to the prussic acid poisoning if they're eating Johnsongrass every day. That was his other secret to avoiding "can't" on Johnsongrass. Cattle went into new forage every day. That kept the overall quality of nutrition high, as well.

We humans are great ones for sabotaging ourselves. I won't get all Freudian here, although I often do, but the point I'm making is that fear keeps us from doing many things.

"I can't" is just giving in to that fear.

On one hand, healthy skepticism is a good trait. But instead of saying "I can't," we should be saying "Show me" and then exploring things with an open mind.