A Different Type of LandownerJun 15, 2023
Have you ever doubted your ability to be a landowner... to make management decisions?
Have you ever looked at the legacy you are inheriting and thought that there's no way you can do as good of a job as your husband, your father, your grandmother, your cousin, your neighbor, your work colleague, or fill in the blank with whoever you might have in your mind right now...
Why do we have these thoughts?
Is it because we're "less educated" in forestry terms or land management? Because we have different ideas or goals we want to achieve from the land? Because we don't look the same as everyone else you see attending forestry conferences or workshops or really know anybody in attendance?
Well, let me assure you that you're not alone.
If you're new here, hello I'm Danielle: a mother of three under the age of 5, wife, forester AND landowner!
And let me tell you.. we watch a LOT of Monsters Inc/Monsters University in our household, it's actually been at one time or another, ALL of my kids favorite movie. And by a lot, I mean at least once a day. So stick with me because there's a lot of lessons that can actually be gleamed from Monsters University!
If you're unfamiliar with Monsters University, it's focus is on two characters who are complete opposites: Sully (the blue furry one) and Mike (the green beach-ball looking monster), who both get kicked out of their prestige "Scarer" program at school and join an underappreciated, "loser-like" Greek Fraternity so they can join the renowned "Scarer Games" and PROVE they are the best scarer's on campus to get back into their program, graduate and have life-fulfilling careers!
But as you can see, these aren't exactly the "scariest" bunch of monsters on campus, in fact each of them got kicked out of the scarer program for that very reason... but all have dreams of being a scarer. Jump several scenes and they are actually bullied by the top-dogs on campus, the ROARs as not being scary enough, good enough to ever win the games BECAUSE "real scarers" look like them (see below)
Everyone is just about ready to quit when Mike rallies everyone together one last time to join him to see the PROFESSIONAL scarers in real life. He asks them one question, "What do they all have in common?" And it is at this statement that they all struggle to find a similarity and they answer "I don't see anything" and Mike says "EXACTLY! They use their differences to their advantage!" And of course, like most Pixar movies, this is the turning point that everyone really starts to believe in themselves and leverage what they DO have rather than focusing on what they don't and trying to mimic what they thought they were supposed to be like and do.
If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it. One, for pure enjoyment for yourself but two because there will probably be a few more blog references to Monsters University in the coming days, ha.
But really, how many times have we become our own worse enemy by comparing our own abilities and ideas to those around us and have instantly been discouraged enough to not even try.. because it's not what is "traditionally" done.
I'm here to say, I love a traditional pine plantation rotation! Truly... it's my bread and butter... and it's a lot of forester's bread and butter! It provides a profitable management regime that also makes operations every easy and allows for flexibility to leverage different opportunities more efficiently. But if that's not what you desire to manage, if that's not your land type, if that doesn't help you meet YOUR goals... that's okay too!
A lot of forest management systems have been built to support that style of management, but that doesn't mean your goals isn't possible... it just may take a little more time, a little more organization, and... probably a little more searching to find the right forester fit for you to help you reach those goals.
Sometimes a forester's advice is true... if you're trying to create a plantation out of a bottom hardwood, and they're telling you there's no way to create a quail savanna from it... that's the facts... but that is when you have follow up of what IS possible with my land type and how can my goals fit those options. Perhaps it means selling this piece of dirt to find a better land type that DOES meet your goals. Sometimes it means reevaluating your goals to better reflect environmental suitability. And sometimes it's simply finding a different forester that's willing to look out of the box with you...
But this is me telling you today, if you have or are likely to inherit land, and you're feeling under qualified and ill-suited for the role, don't let ANYONE tell you that you can't be a landowner, that you can't make management decisions appropriately... not even yourself.
And if you don't really want to take advice from a Pixar's movie, let me share another source who is also telling you to step into your role confidently.
1 Corinthians 12:15-19
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?
We are meant to be different, to look at things different, and even to manage our land differently.
God has ordained us all with different thoughts and perspectives, for us to manage this land more effectively for him. If we were all the same, if we were all like ears... where would the diversity of landscape be, how would that impact the ecological systems we have and rely on... where would the diversity of income opportunities come from for our own financial sustainability on the land that not only allows us to support our families, but also management in the forest.
Let this be a sign of encouragement if you are feeling out of place and under-qualified for your role as a landowner that it is time for your to step up to the plate, get informed and start taking action by leaning into your ability to look at things differently.
It starts by asking the RIGHT questions... to help you find the RIGHT resources... and then seeing the RIGHT results. Doing these three things will increase your confidence GREATLY as a landowner.
If you need help to start asking the right questions, let me recommend to start by leaning into your WHY! And you can do that HERE.
Find Out the One Thing I Ask ALL My Students When Just Getting Started as A Landowner.
Whether you plan to inherit land, have recently inherited, or perhaps you're just now ready to get involved, I have a secret to help you make the right decisions no matter your experience, acreage, or location.
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