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Lessons from the Lake

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by Gyce Butler

Venus Williams dropped the mic when she stated … “The thing about tennis is if you stay off for two weeks, or just for three days, you can lose your rhythm quickly. So, it’s just a question of constant diligence and vigilance.”

Isn’t that life? Each year, I adopt an action phrase to help me keep my rhythm and stay focused on life. This past year, my phrase was a simple one-word phrase. “Abide.” As simple as it may seem in its singular word form, it was a year-long struggle, especially from the spiritual side. If you have ever let the dirty dishes stack up in your sink, especially the ones out of the water that have food dried on them, just short of using a jack hammer, nothing will take off the old food better than to let them soak in a sink full of warm soapy water. Once they have soaked for a while, the food slides off a little easier. The dishes have to “abide” in the soapy water to allow the junk to fall off. 2023 was so busy for me that abiding long enough to allow God to get the junk off of me was almost unsuccessful. Between work, farm, family, and church stuff, being “still” was an afterthought at times, but life has a way of putting the jake break on when we really need it. It’s mind bending to know that a word of action means no more than to be still.

As I reflected on 2023 and thought about what I needed to implement or improve on, the word DILIGENCE was in bold letters each time it came across my thoughts. Even though the word exudes focus and discipline, there was something missing in order for it to be my 2024 mantra. One morning while I was crappie fishing at the farm, it hit me. I just needed to add feet to it. So, for 2024, my action statement is: “Be Diligent.” You may be thinking, isn’t that almost the opposite of last year’s action statement? Not really. I should have been more diligent in my efforts of being still. In order for me to be better at being diligent, I need to prioritize what requires my efforts and attention the most. Anything that pulls me away from being diligent to my priorities will be given the boot.  My top 4 priorities are: God, family, friends, and work. If anything pulls my time away from being diligent from these 4, then I need to decide to not commit myself to it.

With spring coming in hot, there are many things that will be needing my attention on the farm. We will be processing our calf crop. Last year we introduced a new bloodline of Hereford bulls to our herd of Black Brangus cows, and we have been blessed with some tremendous calves. I am looking forward to seeing our weaning weights in the fall, but until then, we need to make sure we keep them as healthy as possible through our vaccination program. Also, we are focusing more on our grass quality. Not only have we refocused on improving the quality of grass in our hay pastures, but we have also decided to focus on improving our grazing pastures, as well. The quality of our grass has a huge influence, not only on the body condition of our cattle, but the reproductivity of them, as well. We will analyze our soil tests and grazing ratios to devise a plan to increase our quantity and quality of our forage. In order for us to raise the bar on our product, which is our calves and hay crop, we have to make sure our foundation is the best it can be.

It is somewhat of a balancing act at times, between growing calves and growing big bass. My problem is … I LOVE BIG BASS!!!! I love to catch them, and I love the science of growing them. Just as mentioned with our grass and cattle, if our foundation for growing big bass isn’t the best it can be, then our bass will not reach their potential. Spring means we will kick off the feeders again to start feeding the baitfish that will be returning shallow with the warming waters. We will also be doing our 3rd electro-survey in April, and I am anxious to see what progress we have made on our fish. Hopefully, by doing the survey in April we will be able to see some of our large females since they will be up shallow getting ready to spawn. Last year, we introduced a strain of Bluegill that can reach up to two pounds, and I am looking forward to seeing where they are in their growth, as well. Once we do the survey, our data will tell us what we need to adjust. It may be that our baitfish numbers are low, and we need to add more baitfish. It may be that our bass numbers are still a little too high for our baitfish population to support it, so we need to cull a few more bass. Whatever we need to do, it will be based off the data from the survey.  

Spring will also bring some anticipated events for my family. Our daughter, Haley, will not only be trying out for her sophomore year as a twirler, but she will also be participating in spring twirling competitions. As a “twirl dad,” I love to take those spring Saturdays, press pause for a few hours, and just focus on her. Our 2nd annual church kids fishing day will be quickly approaching, and as long as the weather cooperates, we should see some snoopy and princess poles get a pretty good workout on some perch. Also, our nieces and nephews will be playing soccer, baseball, and twirling, too. All the while, work will be picking up. When the grass starts turning green, our parts counter stays busy, the phones begin to ring more, and the dealership comes back alive from the winter months. Hopefully, somewhere amidst the rat race, I will be able to chase a bass. Life stays busy.

As spring becomes busy, me being diligent will be a daily mindset. It will be really easy to lose focus and get sidetracked on non-necessary things, and before long I will be so off track, that I call calf rope. Life is busy for everyone, no matter what season we are in. I hope you have set some goals for yourself this year and will be diligent in seeing them through. Whatever your goals may be, find your rhythm, remain vigilant, and BE DILIGENT!

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