Someone once told me that agriculture is great because it’s always teaching you valuable lessons. Unfortunately, many of those lessons tend to be imparted as a result of some minor calamity.

People talk about practicing law or practicing medicine, but I’ve become the living embodiment of practicing agriculture. I used to think large multigenerational operations were largely successful because of the inherent economic advantages that accompany such operations. While those are indeed important, I’ve come to understand that a large part of these operations’ success is simply the generations of wisdom created through experience.

There are times where I feel like I could provide Baxter Black with a year’s worth of columns; I’m just not sure he could make them funny because they sure don’t feel funny to me sometimes.

One title would be “1,000 ways to screw up calving.” Looking back, the winter of 2007 hit us hard; the experience taught us so many lessons, but the irony is that while we eliminated lots of management mistakes, we seemingly have found more to replace them.

I try to internalize the optimism of Thomas Edison who rationalized that every mistake/failure led him one step closer to success. But as I grow older, it sometimes becomes harder to focus on creating the future rather than focusing on the past.

Everyone understands that when it comes to Mother Nature, and agriculture in general, there will be humbling moments. Still the challenge is inherently rewarding and it’s always just when one feels like they’re at rock bottom that one begins to appreciate those rewards.

I’ve always remembered a Sunday school teacher teaching us that God won’t challenge you with more than you can handle. Strangely, when things are going badly for me, I’ve always laughingly interpreted it as a sign that God actually has quite a bit of confidence in my abilities.

Hitting bottom, or facing difficulties, isn’t a bad thing. Our actions and responses are what set us apart. This isn’t some new sort of epiphany but we all need to remember that the past doesn’t determine the future; it merely gives us the tools to create a better one. Positive change usually comes at the foot of adversity and not prosperity.

“When you hit bottom, the only direction is up” is more than just a cute saying. Onward and upward!