Why Be A Rancher?
Why go through all the hardships that are associated with ranching just to provide food for people who don’t understand where their food comes from and try to make life more difficult for you? Why even bother especially when the majority of the people that you provide food for don’t even care about you?
I can’t tell you why other people are ranchers, but I am a rancher because I am tough. My family has been living on our ranch since 1880 and that means something to us. The land is tied to us. My family has sweated over that land and bled over it until it has become a part of us. We don’t get any vacations, we don’t ever get a break. While we may technically own the land, in reality, the land owns us. We have struggled to keep the land in our family through hard times. When I was really young, we had to sell half of it in order to pay off the loans that we have to take out every year just to keep it running. My family has around 300 head of cows but very rarely does the money that we get for selling the yearlings ever cover the cost of feeding them through the year. During the winter months, we have to feed the cows hay every day because there is no grass for them to graze. Generally this takes around half a day. We also have to drive out and check the cows that are pregnant with their first calf every three hours from about February until the middle of April. We do this so that if one of them has problems calving, or giving birth, we can be there to assist them. People who say that ranchers are abusive to their animals have never seen one struggle for three hours in the middle of the night trying to save a cow that is having problems calving. The cows and the land have control over our lives.
During the summer months, we are busy cutting, raking, baling, and stacking hay. We never get the opportunity to really leave the ranch for more than about half a day because there is so much that needs to be done. We pour our lives into raising beef and trying to make sure that they are always well fed and healthy. In return all we get are people who act as though ranching is one of the worst things for the land and cattle. Without farmers and ranchers there would be no food or most cloth. We do our best to try and practice sustainable agriculture and to take care of the land. In all honesty, we have to take care of the land if we expect it to be usable for future generations of our family. We have to take care of our cattle if we want them to sell well. Ranching is not a career or even a job. It is a way of life, it is our own culture. My only goal for this post is to make people stop and consider where their food comes from, think about the people who make their food, and maybe think about thanking them for not giving up when times are hard and it’s difficult to financially keep a ranch or farm running.