Great Father’s Day Message from Our Friends at Stetson

With Father’s Day around the corner, it is our pleasure to share this post from Stetson. Our relationship with the Tom and Robin Green has evolved from prospect to client to close friends. This post represents what we wish for all our clients…a place for family with all the experiences that it entails.

Father’s Day in Bozeman, Montana – by Courtney Green

There is a humility and resilience developed through hard work. I grew up on a farm in northern Michigan watching my parents work tirelessly to build a life and keep our farm running. I remember when I was very little, walking out of my bedroom before dawn in the early Spring, and often seeing a new calf laying in the middle of the kitchen floor. The snow in the upper peninsula of Michigan makes Spring calving quite challenging, so if they needed help, the babies often ended up in the house to stay warm.

When your childhood starts that way, it is nearly impossible not to grow up with a certain respect, work ethic, and compassion for animals and the land on which they are raised.

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You grow up learning that you always do what needs to get done. That’s it. You do it, and you do it with respect, honesty, and not a little work ethic.
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We now live in Montana, not far from my parents working ranch just outside of Bozeman. My children have the opportunity to grow up hearing stories and learning life lessons that you don’t learn in school, and can’t be found on an ipad.
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There is a reverence and an appreciation for this place, cultivated through working hard and caring deeply for the animals and the land. They follow my dad everywhere on the ranch… on foot or horseback, fixing the fence, checking cattle, caring for horses, and of course, sneaking in time to play too. They are learning lessons and creating memories that run deeper than they know.
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Happy Fathers Day to all of the wonderful Fathers and Grandfathers out there. Especially mine.
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Hall and Hall Auctions Does More Than Sell Real Estate

By: Rob Hart

As popular as Farm and Ranch auctions have been around the country, live auctions have been a mainstay at charity events for years and years. As with any hard to value asset, charity managers have known donations sell best via auction. Hall and Hall loves to give back and contribute to as many great causes as possible.  Here is a list of some of our favorite charity events that we work and support.

  • The National Western Stock Show’s Junior Livestock Auction: Considered by many to be the National Championship of the livestock showing circuit, the Junior Sale is an opportunity for the best and brightest of our youth to show off their agricultural expertise and raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in educational donations.

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  • Weld County Junior Livestock Sale: Where the top 245 animals from the county are sold to support youth education, FFA, 4-H, and the local food bank.
  • RamStrength Lubick Foundation: When cancer victims are not in the position to both fight the fight and manage day to day financial responsibilities, look no further than RamStrenght; the only local charity providing financial assistance for all types of cancer survivors in Northern Colorado.
  • Colorado State Volleyball: Even at the best universities, it’s not possible to fund every sport to the necessary level without community support.  The Season Banquet has become one of the great opportunities for Ram Volleyball fans to give back and support the volleyball team.
  • UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies: The Spring Benefit is one of the biggest live auction events in Northern Colorado. Raising hundreds of thousands of dollars each spring to help the less fortunate better manage medical expenses.
  • St. Jude Evening of Hope: The signature fundraising event in Denver, Colorado, supporting the lifesaving mission of the Children’s Research Hospital. St. Jude Rare Whiskey Auction: Another great event to both add to your high-end liquor collection, and raise money for Children’s Medical Research. St. Jude Annual Toy Auction:  Each year auctioneers from around the country descend on the hospital to perform the National Auctioneers Association’s annual toy auction.  Millions have been raised over the years and every child goes home with a toy.
  • Pearl Harbor’s Pacific Aviation Museum Gala Fundraiser: Developing and maintaining an internationally recognized aviation museum that educates the young and honors the aviators that defend our freedom.

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We donate our time and expertise to these great charities for various personal reasons.  However, there are many more which deserve time, money and attention. We encourage everyone to pick a great organization that means something to you and support it to the maximum of your ability.

 

 

 

Ranches are Rarely “Iconic” & “Quaint”

By: Jim Taylor

As the chief editor of much that is published by Hall and Hall and as an avid reader of much that is published by others in our industry, I am struck by the overuse of certain words that I believe were meant to be used sparingly to describe something very special and unusual.

In my last blog, I talked about the true meaning of the word “legacy.” In that instance, I objected to the use of the word rather than the overuse of it but there is no question that it is overused as well.

My current targeted words are “iconic” and “quaint”. These are both words that appear in virtually every ranch brochure I have seen and frankly, they are both words that should be reserved for something that is very special.

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Let me begin with the actual definition of quaint. “Quaint means strange and unusual in an old-fashioned and charming way”. Usually, it is used to describe a town. Well, frankly I have yet to meet a town west of the Mississippi that fits that definition! Quaint towns can be found on occasion in New England but certainly not in the American West. The truth is that we have hardly been around long enough to even qualify to be old fashioned much less charming. We do have some old structures and some of them are charming but I have yet to see anything that fits the definition of quaint.

The best definition I can find of iconic is: “Someone or something regarded as embodying the essential characteristics of an era, group, etc. If you describe someone or something as an icon, you mean that they are important as a symbol of a particular thing.” In my mind for something or someone to be iconic, it or they must be quite special and unique if they are to embody the essential characteristics of whatever it is. Nowadays it seems the standards have been lowered and at least half of the towns, mountains, rivers, and ranches in the west have become iconic. It leaves one asking the question: What essential characteristics do they embody? More often than not the answer is quite simply “none”. It is a shame because “iconic” is a term that should be reserved for the very best and it has been cheapened and abused by overuse.

Perhaps I am hypersensitive as a wordsmith, but I do mourn the loss of great and meaningful words that have been destroyed by overuse. I do not object to people using common descriptive words like “beautiful” or “spectacular” because these are terms that are more personal. Something might be beautiful to one person and ugly to another and vice versa. These words do not necessarily lose their value by being used a lot. They are expressing someone’s opinion. It’s the words that actually specifically describe something that loses their value when they are applied inappropriately.

 

The Value of Having Wealth “Tied to the Land”

By: Tyler Jacobs

What does it mean to be “tied to the land”?

Once you have sold farms and ranches for 20 years and enjoyed much of the same lifestyle yourself, there are certain observations and conclusions that are easy to come by. Our past and current clients are all “tied to the land” in some way, whether it is by their hard work or by their investment in the land.

One of my favorite men of the past generation is Will Rogers, and I think he put it best when he said, “What the country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds.” The virtues of dirty fingernails generally apply to those that are responsible for the production or care of something else.

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For most people, owning farm and ranchland involves them as a steward and caretaker. Your tree fell on the neighbor’s fence, so someone needs to know how to run the chainsaw. When it’s time to ship the calves, somebody must be responsible for the cut gate. Somebody is prepared to help that first-calf heifer. Somebody will have to clean up the turn row and fill the planter. Sounds like pretty simple stuff, but the virtues of the knowledge, problem-solving skills, and appreciation from tending to farm or ranch land are in high demand.

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These skills can be exponentially leveraged in life decisions outside of land stewardship or agrarian economies. I have a friend and a client that was required by his parents to graduate with an agriculture production degree, further his education with an MBA, and do post-graduate work in ranch management before he could go to into the family business of investment banking. Firm handshakes, hard work, reaping what you sow, and living with failure are certainly virtues better taught on the family ranch than at Harvard.

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I am grateful to have my kids “tied to the land” and learn these valuable lessons, as I know they will serve them well, whether it is on the ranch or in the boardroom. Accordingly, one of the ideas we promote significantly within the partnership is the terminology of “Investment Quality Rural Real Estate”, or the simple idea that placing or leveraging wealth into farm and ranch land can serve as an investment vehicle.

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Will Rogers also used to say, “Don’t wait to buy land, buy land and wait.” Many of our clients are motivated to build a legacy for the next generation through the purchase of a farm or ranch that is less “liquid” of an asset than other investments. Patience, land improvement, long-term appreciation, and the cyclical nature of real estate all serve to educate the next generation’s investment principles. Having wealth “tied to the land” brings mature balance to a youthful worldview that is accustomed to instant gratification.

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The Role of a Ranch Management Company

By: Justin Bryan

Historically, the most reliable predictor of a successful farm, ranch, or recreational operation is a competent, honest, and qualified management team. This team should have the owner’s interests at heart and possess the attributes necessary to effectively manage the property. In the end, their oversight of the property and relationship with the owner will have profound long-term implications toward the success of the property and ultimately influence those who may desire to purchase it in the future.

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The real pleasure a landowner receives from ownership is obtained when he/she is confident that the property is being properly supervised.  When this occurs, the owner, family, and friends will be able to enjoy it as intended both from the operational and the recreational point of view. The enjoyment of ownership is what we term the “psychic return” and is a significant part of the “return on investment” derived by the landowner. Each landowner has his or her own unique needs – large and small – and matching those with the correct management system is the key to successful property management.

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For the on-site landowner who is consistently present and knowledgeable regarding rural property management, the ability to guide the daily tasks and develop valuable relationships with the staff creates a healthy environment to thrive upon.

In contrast, many rural properties are owned by on-site individuals who lack a real understanding of the unique aspects of rural property management. This can often result in poor overall performance of staff at which point ownership ceases to be enjoyable. A common example of this would be a situation in which the principal managing family member passes away and an inexperienced family member is required to fulfill the duties. Then there are the true absentee landowners. This inherently creates the most challenging situation for staff and owners to communicate clearly. Often the managing director of an absentee-owned property is an estate executor or a successful business person who, although accomplished in their chosen field, lacks knowledge in real-world rural property management. Procuring the right people in place who “ride for the brand” and perform their job as expected can come in a variety of forms to meet the requirements of each type of landowner.

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In terms of management, each type of landowner is afforded a few options regarding administration and on-the-ground labor. Their requirements might involve simply livestock and/or agriculture, or they might involve a mix of livestock, wildlife/fisheries and the maintenance/restoration of buildings. These choices include traditional staffing, farm and ranch team consultants, or a hybrid mix of traditional on-site staff with consultant oversite. Each of these staff options have pros and cons and must be evaluated by landowners whose needs are unique unto themselves. The selection of the system that best fits the owner provides the opportunity for the “return on investment” – either psychic or financial – that is desired.

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Traditional Staffing

It is a unique individual who chooses to be a beneficial source of labor and knowledge on a rural property. Ranch employment is not your average everyday eight-to-five job and, therefore, necessitates a high-level of personal commitment.  Be it a livestock guy or gal, wildlife biologist, or all-around ranch hand, reliable and competent employees are a must. To alleviate poor hiring choices, those individuals who are well-vetted by someone who truly understands what is required on the property and knows the owner’s expectations often have the best opportunity to succeed. These individuals provide a stable platform upon which a property can thrive. The relationships that can be built between an owner and long-term staff are rewarding as both entities work in conjunction to develop the property and see it flourish over time. Staff turnover, when it occurs, can, unfortunately, be the most expensive, stressful, and time-consuming issue in farm and/or ranch ownership causing the enjoyment of ownership to begin to wane.  If and when employees leave, they take with them the comprehension of what is actually required to permit a property to operate efficiently and effectively – from water systems to haying, livestock to bill paying, to hunting operations. Their knowledge of the property derived from a long tenure can be challenging to replace.

Farm and Ranch Team Consultants

Acquiring the services of a rural property management firm is an option available to landowners, especially absentee landowners or estate executors who desire to immediately have in place a proven team focused exclusively on their needs. This independent focus allows the firm to work with and typically mentor the on-site staff, and it allows them to always be part of the solution for the landowner and never part of the problem. A firm such as this can effectively manage the increasingly complex federal and state environmental regulations, changing national and world markets for livestock, crops and timber, critical water and mineral rights issues, and tax considerations on any given property. The firm’s experience with multiple successful operations gives them a high level of current knowledge and practical expertise for these details to be dealt with correctly and in a timely and professional manner. In this situation, the owner/executor is assured that the property is being taken care of properly. In addition, a history of professional management is, without a doubt, a major advantage if and when the decision is made to sell a property.

Hybrid Management

A hybrid management scenario occurs when a landowner desires to have competent staff on-site in combination with supervision expertise from a management firm. This allows for the management company, which has extensive exposure to a diverse array of operations, to provide operational oversight on a broad spectrum of ranching enterprises while the boots on the ground fulfill the daily tasks. A hybrid system is commonly utilized by all three types of landowners who desire to maximize profits and minimize potential headaches.

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Desirable Management Services

  • Budgeting, accounting and bill paying
  • Creation and execution of natural resource development and business plans
  • Asset evaluation including land, equipment, structures, herds, crops, fish, wildlife, and other tangibles such as the human resources available
  • Product sales and marketing services
  • Recruitment and hiring of management level personnel
  • Direct management and/or consultant services to staff
  • Periodic oversight of operations
  • Direct management of deeded properties, leases, and grazing allotments

Such services are most often chosen a la carte per the landowner’s needs. These can be as complex as the cost-benefit analysis of financing farm equipment, restoration of wetlands and/or native grasslands, or habitat mitigation credits. Or as simple as periodic oversight, bill paying and monthly reports or consultation with or mentoring of staff.

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Managing quality rural real estate properties, be it commercial farms or ranches or prime recreational retreats, can be a daunting challenge. This is particularly true for absentee owners, but even full-time resident owners can often benefit from the outside perspective of an experienced farm/ranch management firm. Ultimately such services should ensure that details of the property are being properly taken care of to allow the landowner to fully enjoy his/her property with family, friends, and business associates.

Hall and Hall is one of the few companies that provide management services and the recruitment of management level employees on behalf of landowners across a broad geography and property type. Please feel free to contact one of our offices if we can be of help. It is the stated purpose of our management group to make the ownership of rural land a positive and worry-free experience for our clients.

 

Chasing Gentleman Bob – Quail of the Rolling Plains

By: Justin Bryan

Bobwhite quail are a boom and bust species. With an average life expectancy of one year, their reproductive ability must be able to make the most of a good situation. For us in the Rolling Plains region of Texas, a “good situation” is defined by maintaining 100% usable quail habitat on any given property. This includes an abundance of nesting sites, escape and loafing cover, and praying for cooler than normal, wet summers. Fortunately, we can control the range conditions (i.e., quail habitat) through proper grazing, unfortunately we cannot control the weather.

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Below is data collected by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which represents the mean number of quail observed along defined routes per year for the Rolling Plains.Notice the “booms” and “busts”? Those once again are tied to range and weather conditions and more importantly represent years you can hunt and years you likely should not. As quail enthusiasts, we would like to hunt good populations of wildlife quail every year.

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Our goal as quail managers is minimize the drop in the “busts” and maximize the increase in the “boom”. We do this by implementing mechanical, chemical, prescribed fire and judicious grazing techniques to enhance the habitat and then pray it rains. For more information on quail habitat management in Texas, contact Justin Bryan at 325-260-5883.

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