Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Family Farms... a dying breed?

In the last couple months, Hoag has hung up his suits donned his chaps to start the process of running the ranch for his parents.  He has always had the dream of settling on the land and continuing to raise Black Herefords the way his parents did but that doesn't seem to be the case in all family farms. 

When we were in Montana in June, a couple that was attending the same feedlot conference asked Hoag and I, "what is it that made you want to go back? We have two sons and they want nothing to do with the cattle..." You could literally feel the pain in their voices as they realized without one of their son's coming over to the ranching side, their feedlot's future was fading. 

So what is it that drew him back? Well, the happiest Hoag is are the days that he's worked 12-14 hours out on the land, checking cattle, working the cows, mending fence, building mineral feeders...anything that gets him out on the land. He loves to see his end result that day and he loves to see the end result of the year each calving season.

Of course, there are plenty of kids that grow up on their family ranches, work the land, go off to college and never come back.  Maybe they fall in love with someone who has no interest in living in rural America or maybe they always wanted to pursue another career. 

97% of all farms and ranches in the US are run by families but of our parent's generations.  My generation has been tainted with media, HSUS, and dollar bills.  We are the next generation but it's taking us a little longer to come on home.  It's not as common of practice for the kids to go straight from school back to the farm.  Ranching is not a glamorous job.  You likely wont get rich from it. You work 365 days a year, at least 12 hours a day, rain, snow, Christmas and Easter.  Everyone wants to be a "cowboy" but nobody is willing to work for it. 

But you know what we get that those office jobs will never provide? That fulfilled feeling at the end of the day knowing we did the best by the animals, earth and environment to provide a healthy and safe product for the nation and the world. That thanks to us, a few more people are going to eat well.   That we are instilling into our family an unshakable work ethic and understanding about the planet that will travel with them on whatever path life leads them on.  An innate sense of responsibility for all living creatures and respect for mother earth.  That when it comes right down to it, we are providing the fuel for what makes our nation run. Without the Farmers and Ranchers of America, America simply is not. 

So no, we may never be rich, we may never take a two week vacation to the Riviera and we may be viewed as simple by those who are. And I can understand how, to my generation of instant gratification and easy roads, that is just downright as unappealing as it gets. But I challenge you to spend a couple days living the life of a rancher and tell me that it's not the most alive and fulfilled you've ever been.  That, that is what life is about. Dying breed? No way -- but only the strong will survive.

1 comment:

  1. WOW! What a wonderful tribute to Farmers and Ranchers of America. Very well written and dear to all of our hearts.