February 13, 2013


A graduate of the apprenticeship program, Nick now manages the MP Ranch in New Mexico with his wife Amy.

Duke tasked Amy with certifying the Beefmaster cows. The Beefmasters are a pure bred group of cows (Beefmaster is the name of the breed). We haven’t registered this group for the last eight years. And now it’s time.

The re-certification process involves going through years of calf records (lists of numbers indicating a momma cow and her calf) & matching the current group of cows, to the ones we had certified 8+ years ago. Some records are incomplete, and numbers are repeated here & there.

On Monday, Amy called Maycamp around (Dan, Stuart and myself). After a week of sifting through the records, she’d come up with one match. At that rate, it would take her two and a half years to register the remaining cows. She asked us all, How can I possibly make sense of this still daunting stack of papers?

I asked a few clarifying questions, related to the system she had thus far created, trying to slowly in my slow way make sense of her series of excel spreadsheets.

Stuart & Dan rapidly assessed her spreadsheet, and offered an excel formula (“VLookup”) that, with a little more data entry, could do the matching for her. I faded into the kitchen to cook dinner, poking my head in to watch the three of them bounce organizing principles &, structural ideas off of each other.

By the time they had landed on a plan of action, a formula, a new group of spreadsheets, dinner was a little cold, and I had moved to the couch where I had a comfortable vantage where I could watch &listen as the dynamic discourse unfolded.

I was impressed by the selfless way in which Dan & Stuart dove into helping Amy, and by the trusting & open way in which Amy asked for help.