Every year, right around the time of harvest, the sandhill crane begin their migration from Canada to the south.
Anyone who has lived in or near the nation’s largest cotton patch has seen and heard them. They fly in a perfect V formation, in unison, making their way to warmer pastures. Leading the perfectly-chorused flock is always the oldest and wisest of the birds. The leader is the one who has earned his feathers, so to speak, because he has made the trek so many years before.
If you watch closely, toward the back, there are always a few cranes who seem a bit out of line. They are still learning, but working just as hard as the “old bird” at the front.
To slow down and watch these flocks is comparable to family. The wisest is always the leader, and the youngest – while often out of line – watches and learns in order to be stronger next migration season.
PCCA Co-op Board Member and New Home, Texas producer Dahlen Hancock last week referred to himself as “one old bird” in his closing remarks as chairman of Cotton Incorporated and passed the torch to a new chairman who will begin in 2019.
His comments, however, weren’t boastful. They were meant to emphasize the meaning of family. He more openly discussed how he used to be the bird often out of line many years ago, and how he looked to the leader to be the best he could be.
His words were meant for the younger grower-owners who are just finding their way of service in the cotton industry.
“We all have different strengths,” Hancock said. “And what a great family it is … to be part of the vertically-integrated system that is the co-op system.”
During this Christmas season, Hancock reflected both personally and professionally on family. As for his personal family, his heart is filled with pride and admiration for his wife of 32 years, Jody, sons Zach and Matt and his only granddaughter, Cora.
“I have so much for which to be grateful,” he said. “This time of year – and every day – is important to reflect on our blessings.”
Like the sandhill crane that mates for life, yet works with extended families to complete its goal each year, Hancock cannot discuss his personal family without extending gratitude to his co-op family.
“During Christmas, all families work around things. Whether part of the family is out of town, who’s going to make dinner, how gifts are going to be exchanged, the list goes on. It can often be stressful,” Hancock said. “It’s the same thing across the supply chain. Not everyone gets Christmas Day off. Someone is always working. Whether it be you, or someone on your behalf. But like your own family, the co-op family is always there. Not just on Christmas Day, but all the year through.”
Now finishing his 38th crop season, Hancock said he believes Christmas is a time for all those along the supply chain to reflect and have joy.
“Balance is sometimes hard,” Hancock said. “But being part of the co-op system is a blessing, and one never to take for granted. So much work is always being done behind the scenes day in and day out. I am very blessed to be part of this great system and I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.”
Humble, wise and always a peaceful leader, Hancock is one “old bird” who sets an example not only for his flock, but also for The Co-op Advantage®️.