The Plan


Remember Bear Bryant, the great football coach from Alabama? During his 25 years at Alabama, he won six national championship and thirteen conference championships. He’s one of the top ten winningest football coaches in collegiate history. Bear Bryant knew his stuff. But then Bear Bryant was never a farmer.

One of his famous quotes was “Have a plan. Follow the plan and you’ll be surprised how successful you can be. Most people don’t have a plan. That’s why it’s easy to beat most folks.”

For farmers, a plan is something you make early in the morning and abandon twenty minutes later. A plan is something that does not take into consideration things like broken equipment, broken canals, hard-to-find parts, hard-to-find employees, bad weather, contrary animals, empty fuel tanks, or flat tires.

A plan is something you think about doing, try to do, but never quite get done, even though you might work and work and work at it all day long.

If you have a plan and you’re lucky enough to stick to that plan all day long, mark this day and pat yourself on the back because you probably won’t have another one for a long time.

One farmer friend told me, “I like to make a plan every morning just so I have something to laugh about at the end of the day,”

Here is an example of a normal workday plan:

Get up early to beat the heat, have coffee. Check irrigation water and pivots. Check livestock. Check hay. Return home, fix hydraulic leak on tractor. Hook up tractor to rake, rake hay. Come home for lunch. Take a nap. Go back out, check irrigation water and pivots. Check livestock. Go to town for parts. Visit with neighbor in the parts store, complain about weather. Get some ice cream. Go home, get baler ready. Bale after dark till it’s too dry or too wet. Go to bed.

 Sounds pretty good huh? But this is how it normally goes:

Get up early to beat the heat, have coffee. Have more coffee because you were up all night baling and can barely see straight. Check irrigation water and pivots. One pivot is down, one field has no water. Figure out that there is a gear box out on the pivot. Figure out that there is a dead raccoon in the head gate blocking your water. Dig the raccoon out, curse raccoons, get water going again. Run to town for a gearbox. Get halfway home, realize you are completely out of gas. Go back to town for gas. Take gearbox to pivot, realize you need a different tool. Go home for tools. On the way home, see that your cows are out on your alfalfa. Call for help, get cows back in, fix fence. It is now noon. Find some corn-nuts in your glove box for lunch. Get back to pivot. It is now HOT. Fix gearbox in 100 degree heat. Get pivot running again. Go home intending to fix hydraulic leak on tractor. Wife calls, says she has a flat tire. Rescue wife. Friend calls, asks if you want to go golfing. Resist the urge to laugh hysterically. Get back to tractor. It’s too late to fix leak, just put more hydraulic oil in, cringing at the price of hydraulic oil. Hook up rake, go to field. It’s too dry/wet to rake. Decide it’s okay, it hasn’t rained in weeks. Go home for supper. Fall asleep in your plate. Wake up to rain on your hay. Tell yourself Bear Bryant was an idiot.

That folks, is why farmers and plans don’t usually go together. Other people, such as ranchers, contractors, and anyone self-employed, have the same type of days. They don’t do well with plans either. But if you are one of those people who really likes plans and likes sticking to them, don’t be a farmer. Be a football coach.

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