Living or Dying?

April 2015, Cardwell Hike, Billy cattle class 054


“Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live.”

                                                      –Henry Van Dyke


America is home of the free, but it is also home of the stressed-out, fast-paced, daily-grind type of living. Not everyone, mind you, operates at break-neck speed, but it is certainly a temptation in our culture. Whether our personalities thrive with on-the-go living or not, it is important to consider what promotes our living style.


It seems like no matter where I go, people offer me their stories. I love this because I enjoy connecting with others and hearing about their lives. Often in the middle of another’s journey, we find some resemblance to our own. Lately I’ve noticed and been introduced to many people who have worked decades in jobs they detest. They do it because they need to provide for their families, or it provides a better income than what they really wanted to do, or because they felt like someone else needs them to do it.


Do we do this in ranching?


I’d like to think not, but I’m leaning towards assuming that we all do it sometimes. Certainly there are times in our lives when we have to do things we don’t like or wish not to do. Early on especially, there are hoops to jump through or classes to take. (Have you ever said, “I don’t see how this will ever apply to me?”) However, those menial jobs, the classes, the hoops–they all help lead us somewhere…


Where is that somewhere though?


Are the things we are going through leading us to a place of discovering more of who we are? Are they uncovering our talents or weaknesses? Most importantly–are they promoting passion?


It is a lot easier to keep up the pace, when we are motivated by desire or passion and enjoy what we are doing. This isn’t an excuse to go out and quit your job, but an invitation to see how you can bring joy or desire into your position. Maybe it will include changing careers, but first know who you are and what you were meant to do and pray for the right time.


As for us in ranching, it means we have a mission statement and a vision of what we’d like to see happen. This includes our desire for a symbiotic relationship between land and animals. It encompasses good stewardship. It definitely includes failure.


Whatever we are willing to get back up from time and again is a good indicator of desire.


We’ve tried things that didn’t work, downsized at the right times and the wrong, and made a lot of money or just a little bit. It is always after things don’t go that well though that we reassess. This isn’t punishment, it is a gift. Reassessment leads to defining moments and a stronger operation. How many times after a failure though is it hard to take a risk? It’s the most difficult time to risk, yet probably the most important. Sometimes we are so afraid of dying in our ag production, that we never really come alive in the caretaking of it. That’s why the quote above hits me so hard. If I’m afraid to die, then I’m never really free to live.


Of course there is balance necessary in all arenas in life, but there is also a strong need in our communities and country to live out our giftings and talents. What do you think? Are you really living? May we all be in the place, or come to the place, where life blossoms out of us. LET’S LIVE!!



What Do You Have Right Now?


February 2016. Are you where you want to be? Thinking back five years, are you on the path you thought you’d be on at this point in your life?

Yeah, me either. Although I must admit my life goals have been somewhat ambiguous. “Do more writing. Be a better ranch wife. Choose joy above all.” These aren’t bad things, but they are hardly quantifiable. Have I reached them? I don’t know, how much is more? What is better?

What if I’d said, I’d like to be writing four pages a day. Or I’m going to study the cattle market weekly. If I have a target, I’ll know whether my aim is on.

I realize it is February and usually it is January that beckons for resolutions and goals, but the year is still young. In previous years, January’s been full and February starts to feel like the New Year. January’s been a time of dreaming and casual thinking, while February brings details. What do you want for the upcoming year?

My goal is to be writing a couple pages a day and studying market trends. I’m tackling health issues and looking forward to resolution.

When we first started out and had nothing, we operated day by day, reassessing what we had to use it to further what we wanted. We are in the same boat again. Due to relocating, we are starting over again. We chose to do this because letting go of a smaller dream allowed us to pursue a bigger one. Now we are evaluating our assets. What do we have? How will it help us grow? What other tools do we need to achieve a larger herd?

The obvious is money. No one would turn away more money. Yet this isn’t the heart behind our life. So what can we do now with what we have?

We have desire…vision…a tractor…land…new fences…Grass…Water Rights…Kids that want to help…We have knowledge.

We need to reseed pastures…to plant new cover crops…to bring in goats for weeds on the river…

These things are all doable. Yes, we’ll need to buy a few things, but we have the ability to complete the work ahead of us.


What do you have already that can help you get to where you want to go?