Earlier I wrote about trying to get a sense for ranching culture "in the understory". That is, through the up and coming ranchers who have grown up with more technology in their lives. At long last, a contact through our research partners made me aware of Jeff Fowle. I feel comfortable writing about him here since he has a facebook page, twitter account, blog, and linkedin account.
Though the person I met with last Friday was very computer saavy (he has scanned, emailed, and forwarded me over 15 documents since our first phone call) interacting with people like Jeff will provide a forward-projecting perspective on change in management and information flow. There is an interesting literature out there about the geography of information. The way european fishery information, for example, is portrayed by the media in British Columbia and the extent to which "ground truthing" still remains important. I wonder if the same concept holds for ranchers?
While I await a meeting with Jeff, I will be marveling at the 6 hour expedition that was my second interview (the first lasted the expected 2 hours). It was very interesting to hear about how shifts in ranch operation tied to changes in family dynamics. As a result the interviewee and his wife decided to enroll in marriage counseling to improve communication. This helped assure that future-oriented planning stategies were sensitive to all familiy members. I got the impression that settling on an acceptable way to include farm stays was a point of contention.
Also interesting was his perspective on why people calf in the fall: to be able to brag about selling weights at the bar in the spring. I'll definitely be thinking about how these social dynamics interface with ecological constraints (like changes in forage rates as a function of breeding time and season) a lot.