DON’T COMPARE! There is no other you.

This is a continuation of last week’s blog. Sort of.

Last time I threw out my vulnerability in a blog. I had a day when I felt I wouldn’t measure up. This isn’t the norm, but I had a moment and wanted to use what was really happening: Comparison. When I look at other ranch wives, am I good enough?

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I didn’t do it because I’m depressed or insecure. (I used to be years ago, but that’s a blog entry for another day.)

I didn’t share because I felt inadequate, although it has happened before.

I shared because recently I’ve heard a lot of women and girls talk about how they couldn’t do something because someone else was better than them. I’m sure we all feel that way sometimes, but we should never let that drive our actions. I was hoping that by sharing what I felt, it might change something.

When things are shared, their power is often broken–like a secret that’s no longer a secret. We are all in this humanity boat together and I can’t imagine there is a single person who hasn’t compared themselves to someone else and fallen short.

I wanted to share the reality of comparison in the hopes that by being real, its power would be broken. I desire to be authentic and raw because I just can’t do fake. It’s exhausting.

Lisa Bevere in her book, “Without Rival”, states, “In life there are no neat categories. Life at its best is messy. The truth is that everyone’s life is much more complex than what we see.” She speaks of the dangers of classifying people.*

Classifying people (in my mind) puts them in places they may never want to be. In school there are popular groups and if you aren’t in the popular group the message is…well, you just aren’t as good. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There aren’t people who are better than anyone else. We are all human.

There are people who are more driven. People who work hard. People who love one activity more than another. But at each of our cores? Human.

Why do we do it then? Why do we compare?

My belief is that we do it to belong.

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We were created for relationship. Humans long to have a place to belong–a place where they feel comfortable and “fit in”. When we look at others, sometimes it is simply trying to figure out our place. “Is this person someone I feel good being around?” We don’t have to share the same interests or have the same opinions to befriend someone, but our closest friends will be the ones who know the true us, our authentic selves. These are people with whom we must feel safe. My circle of friends I go to bat for, stand up for, and I know they’ll do the same for me. I can’t compare myself to them. They need me to be me and I need them to be them.

The same is true for others outside our inner circle. Not everyone will be safe. Not everyone will understand you. I know people who don’t understand me. That doesn’t mean I mold myself to what they need me to be. It doesn’t mean I hide from them either. It means that I hold on to my identity and be me. Without comparing. Without measuring my talent against theirs. We all have strengths and weaknesses and they aren’t going to be the same as someone else’s.

My friends, ranch wives and city friends alike, you and I were made for a purpose. There is much we CAN accomplish. It will never be fulfilling through the eyes of comparison.

Let’s stay strong. Life isn’t easy. But I’m so glad we’re in it together.


*Lisa Bevere’s book is a great read for Christian women looking to embrace their identity.

WHO AM I? Confronting the ME I want to be…

 Sept. 2017 moving cows to Cramp Springs 021

Recently I’ve felt uncertain of myself.

More than likely, it’s because I’ve been out of my comfort zone. I’ve had to do things in the past six months that I’ve never done. I’ve even had to pretend I was stronger than I really am.

Here’s the deal: I am a ranch wife and there are things that happen here that don’t happen anywhere else. There is laundry that needs to be washed, re-washed, and the machine disinfected. There are bizarre injuries, land issues that couldn’t be dreamed of, and I…


Well, I feel inadequate. I’ve seen other ranch wives who take pictures of solutions they thought of in less than one second. I’ve tasted perfect dishes that when I ask for the recipe I hear, “Oh, a little of this and a little of that…” As if they never had to try. I’ve seen ranch wives throw on their husband’s flannel shirt and a pair of jeans first thing in the morning and look like they could be ready for a cover shoot. I’ve watched amazing women saddle up and outride their men.

I… Ugh.

That’s not me. Google and Pinterest are my resource solutions. I use recipes with real measurements. And if you see me first thing in the morning, well, I may need to identify myself, let alone be ready for any kind of picture. As for riding, my mount usually has a motor and four wheels.

Maybe I just need to get all this off my chest so I don’t give you any false impressions.

Or, maybe I’m writing this because in church yesterday I heard this phrase: “We live according to who we think we are.”

Insecurity says, “What’s wrong with me?” and you live trying to make something happen. Some things you can make happen–others you can’t. Trying to force things though is controlling and it really doesn’t help anything.

Ranching is tough. So is life. Things don’t always turn out how we think they should. BUT…that isn’t all life is. It’s beautiful and hopeful.

Last week I watched my oldest daughter ride some rough country with a bunch of old guys. Her perseverance and tenacity made me proud. Beautiful.

She inspired me: To try new things. To quit letting myself feel “less-than”, especially when it comes to ranch wifery. I even “dumped” supper in the crock pot.

Inferiority and insecurity aren’t new; but they are downers. Someone is always going to be better than me. There are going to be things that take me longer than someone else.

But someone isn’t living in my house. Someone isn’t occupying my thoughts. I am.

Maybe you’ve never struggled with knowing what it’s like to not measure up. Maybe you’ve been invited to every party. Maybe you’re at the top. However, I bet we all have areas where we feel “less-than”. Perhaps bad circumstances scar our identities. I could rattle off a few. However, if we live out of those thoughts of hurt and failure, we never begin to live out of who we really are. I’m imperfect, but still a ranch wife. Not a shiny buckle cowgirl, just regular ‘ol me. But I’ve learned a lot. I can cook for a crew. I can vaccinate cattle. I can irrigate. I can run a house and a four-wheeler. I love animals. I help my husband who is a full-on rancher. I have a passion for agriculture. So, maybe I can’t quilt. Maybe I won’t break any colts…

I’m still a ranch wife. A cowboy wife.

I think Dr. Seuss’s words may be timeless on this subject:

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The Important Reality of Ranching


It’s heart wrenching to watch your child hurt.

Near the beginning of March, we started a month long process of watching our thirteen-year-old daughter be very sick. We were in and out of doctor’s offices and the hospital. It acted like appendicitis to some extent, but the tests didn’t confirm that diagnosis. She had a non-traditional presentation of acute appendicitis and it made her sick for weeks (thankfully it never burst) before an appendectomy was performed to see if it cured her. It turns out, she had chronic appendicitis. Her organs and lymph nodes were inflamed throughout this process, making a “normal” day impossible. Thankfully, surgery confirmed what was eventually suspected, and she is doing well. Recovery takes time, but she actually feels better than she has in months.

Of course our hearts are entangled with our children.

Not surprisingly, they are also intertwined with our cattle.

I’ve heard the accusations of the brutality of the cattle market. That we are inhumane, that we treat cattle without regard for their feelings, that we just want a steak on our plates… The list continues.

This breaks my heart.

We are calving right now and to see the babies run around the field brings me delight. Watching a newborn bond with its mother is awe-striking. Observing animals connect with the land, each other, and us is humbling.


We do not look at a baby calf and think, “YUM! There’s my steak.”

Quite the contrary.

Most of us ranch wives enjoy the lives of our herd. We may get teary if something happens to die. There is sorrow if something gets sick. We rejoice with twins. We laugh as calves race each other while their moms graze.

There is no disconnect from the clumsy baby to the harvested beef. We do not delight in death. We cherish life.

Prior to harvest, the beef industry as a whole, which certainly includes individual producers, works to ensure that their cattle have high quality of life. We provide good water, valuable feed, and suitable living conditions. We watch cattle movements and proceed accordingly to reduce stress. While we do have to make a living, we are concerned with their well being as well as profitability.

We are aware that our world needs food. With our growing population, we must be efficient stewards of the land and animals to bring food to tables–now and for future generations. Beef is a viable food source providing several vitamins and minerals. It’d be irresponsible not to help feed the world–it is a joy to source food.

It isn’t a pendulum that swings one way or the other. It is a careful balancing act–allowing the animal to live the fullest, quality life and being thankful that its life feeds me, feeds others.

Like raising kids, raising cattle is a matter of the heart, mind, will, and emotions. We need to be tough and tender, balancing life with the greatest of care.



Top 5 Ranching Myths


If you haven’t lived it, you don’t know it.

I don’t have a clue about hailing a cab…or traffic in cities… Or selecting wine…Or hoola dancing. There’s more, but if you are going to read about everything I don’t know how to do, well then my friend, you need more hobbies.

It’s interesting to be on the other side of the fence though: hearing someone talk about ranching as though they know, BUT… they’ve never lived it. I think it’s helpful to share life experiences to round out our perceptions, so here are 5 ranching myths, busted wide-open:

1. We’re not environmentalists.

Environmental issues are of grave importance to ranchers. Stewardship of the land is paramount to the future of agriculture. We assess riparian areas and maintain healthy land balances. We recycle. We put back into the land whatever we take out; and more so when possible.

2. It’s subsidized.

Ranchers do not receive any kind of government subsidy. Yes, there are subsidies for farming and they are used ONLY when appropriate, but ranchers do not receive funding. There are no guaranteed yearly payments or buyouts.

3. You ride off into the sunset.

As my daughter says, if you ride into the sunset, you’ll end up riding in the dark or making camp somewhere. Ranching is a lot of work. It’s worth it, but horses don’t come when you whistle, like they do in the movies. You have to fight the elements: frost bite in the winter and heat stroke in the summer. Predators are a real threat to us and our livestock. We grieve if we lose an animal.

4. Ranching doesn’t take intellect or education.

If you’re going to make a living and survive in agriculture, you need to study market trends. Cattle prices hinge on the stock market. You need to be able to budget large amounts of money and live off a once-a-year paycheck (when you sell your calves). We have spreadsheets and bookkeeping galore to keep records and make good business decisions.

5. It’s like rodeo.

Ranching is nothing like rodeo. Ranchers may enjoy attending a rodeo, but what you see in the arena is wild compared to what happens in a field. Cattle producers move slowly and quietly in their daily routine. We use low-stress handling techniques for herd health and safety. We do not whip or shout. We wish to work with the animal and what is natural for them.

I think the myth I hear the most is that ranching is like a rodeo. It’s nearly opposite actually!

No matter what you do or where you are, I’m sure there are myths in your lifestyle or profession. Whatever we do, may we do it well and do it with purpose. The world needs our passion.


FOCUS! 5 Questions to ask yourself to get you closer to your goals

Truth time friends. I have a problem prioritizing. I want it all done and I want to still have time for fun and family. Also, I am a former people pleaser (as in, I just quit five minutes ago, unless… did you need something?) Helping people is fantastic and has its place, but it can run us ragged if we aren’t careful. So here’s what I’m working on, seriously, you can ask my husband…

I’m learning to look at what will move me forward, what keeps me stagnant, and what will pull me behind.

  1. Is my ranch (or job) working for me or am I working for my ranch (job)?

I know, we have to work. It’s a fact of life. However, sometimes we work to simply fill a paycheck and sometimes we work because we believe in what we are doing. Is our ranch (job) taking more out of us than it is putting in? No job is perfect and ultimately we will sit on both sides of the fence at certain times, but if I am doing more for my ranch or job than it is doing for me, I need to fix that. Am I so tired I can’t do anything else? Am I stressed, sick, hurting all the time? Ultimately, does my job or ranch own me? It might be time for a change–either of jobs or just in the way we do life around the ranch.

     2. What drains me?

Maybe you know what zaps your energy. Is it big crowds? Too many activities? Lack of connection with friends? Be aware of the things that drain you and allow extra time, sleep, space for them and/or cut some out.

     3. What fuels me?

Sometimes we forget what we enjoy. If you know what fills you up: date nights, playing pool, cranking up the radio, reading a good book–make space in your day and your week for things that fill up your tank. If you’re not sure, go back to your childhood–what did you love then? Good movies, riding bikes, shooting clay pigeons? Find a way to bring your childhood self into your current life.

     4. What is the purpose (of this activity)?

If your day feels so full you’re not sure whether you’re coming or going, narrow done your activities and evaluate their purpose. Does this meeting help you get to know someone better? That’s good. Remember the reason behind what you’re doing. Is this simply a hoop I have to jump through to get closer to my goal? That’s ok too. If you have no idea why you’re doing something or if you’re doing it because no one else will or you think you should…let it go. If the activity makes you long for blood pressure medicine, see if you can cut it out.

     5. How can I simplify?

Ranching is busy and  there are so many unexpected surprises. Value the expected activities: a fence you know you’ll rebuild, the pastures you’ll seed and hay, the cows you’ll be moving…but also cut down on things that aren’t as necessary and regroup what you can. Take your fence stretchers when you move the cows, just in case, but also think ahead and get what you need ahead of time. Many of us do this already to minimize our trips to town, but can we do it in our fields? Instead of going to that pasture twice, can we do it in one trip?

In addition, clean out clutter. I did not realize how stressed I was by simply not being able to find things. It does not mean the house is always clean, but throwing out things I didn’t use and having specific places for many things has helped. The fencing pliers go in this drawer, those old clothes go to Goodwill, etc.

I’m not perfect and I never will be, but looking deep at what I’m doing and how I’m doing it is helping me decide what will make it on my to-do list. What helps you prioritize?

Taking the fishing poles out is therapeutic. Even if it’s to cast a line after moving the cows…


Black Lives Matter! Warning: This Isn’t What You Think It Is…


Momma and baby in the spring of 2016.

However, so do red, brown, and white…

Cattle crazing in 2015

Hopefully no one is offended by my use of this phrase in regards to cattle. I do not wish to create division or start a rampage of negativity. I truly value all life–human or animal–and all variety. History is full of atrocities; I do not make light of things that have happened. Never-the-less, we must be aware that different people are going to give voice to that which they value. I love hearing perspectives varying from my own because it challenges me to think beyond the perimeters of my reality. I wish to honor others.

As someone who values cattle and the longevity of agriculture in the US, I posted this to show the importance of the beef industry. I know… we get a bad rap sometimes. There are producers out there making bad choices and videotaping their inhumane ethics. It’s sick. But just like other groups worldwide, there are extremes among cattle producers. Fortunately, the few bad apples do not represent the industry as a whole.

Most producers want quality of life for their stock: Fresh water, clean fields, high quality feed. We are in this business because it’s a life style that connects us with the land and animals. We seek to better the planet we live on, to be good stewards of our resources, and to increase productivity to support future generations. We use humane treatments: quiet voices, calm movements, and respect. We are not putting on a rodeo or looking to “dominate” the cattle. We are looking to be a blessing to God’s given resources and do our best for our families, our fellow producers, and those who consume beef.

There aren’t corporate ladders to climb in the cattle market; there are lives that depend on our care. (Although according to the IRS, we do not have 250 dependents.) We take this responsibility as a blessing, even though there are long hours.

The beef industry in America is important:

It’s provides a viable and wholesome food source.

It care takes land and livestock for current environmental needs with awareness of future needs. (There are studies available on the benefit of cattle to sage grouse, natural forage, and wildlife.)

America was dubbed a “melting pot” decades ago because we welcome all backgrounds. May we continue to see the importance in each other and the things we deem valuable. All lives do matter–bovines included!

Top 7 Ranch Resolutions

Photo by Katie Whitehurst
We started the new year with some hiking! Ok, we were checking cows, but still we hiked.

Welcome 2017 and the month of New Year’s Resolutions! According to a recent news release, the top seven resolutions for 2017, compiled via Google searches, are:

  1. Get healthy.
  2. Get organized.
  3. Live life to the fullest.
  4. Learn new hobbies.
  5. Spend less/save more.
  6. Travel.
  7. Read more.

I usually look forward to the New Year. However, I’m not one to make resolutions. Perhaps it is because they rarely seem to fit our lifestyle. Maybe what we need are Resolutions, Ranch Style.

Top 7 Resolutions, Ranch-a-fied:

  1. Get more healthy=Get more zzz’s. Sleep equates to getting healthy for ranchers because we know cattle producers get exercise: forking hay, moving snow, running fence lines, riding horses, moving pipe, just to name a few. (My friend refers to her lifestyle as “rancherobics”.) We eat what we produce, so our diets are fine. BUT, we could use a few more minutes of shut-eye. Black-out dates include calving season, planting season, harvest time, summer grazing, and most major holidays. (See number four.)
  2. Get organized=Remember where we left supplies. Ranch families tend to be “organized”. Tools are in the shop, tack is in the barn, files are in the house–what I could benefit from is remembering what truck I left the wire cutters in, which kid used the wrench last, and what pasture I left my favorite shovel in. I try to stick to the adage of put it back where you found it, but sometimes it seems better to leave them where you used them because you’ll probably need them there again.
  3. Live life to the fullest= Live life. I feel like ag folks live life to the fullest. After all, what other profession and lifestyle allows you to witness the miracle of birth, the wonder of seeds producing crops, and has you connected to animals and nature on a regular basis?
  4. Learn new hobbies=Rekindle past hobbies. Ranch work often moves around the clock leaving little free time. Yet, past generations knew how to pick up a fiddle or guitar, or throw a neighborhood shindig. We tend to be too tired at the end of our day to feel like picking up an instrument or inviting the neighbors over. I know I tend to click on the TV or browse Facebook before dusting my piano or even cranking up the tunes. I need to remember what I loved to do as kid and make time for those things that fuel my heart. However, there aren’t many spare minutes in a day, so it usually cuts into sleep. We may need to alternate our focus on number 1 and number 4.
  5. Spend less/save more. This is a good one, so I didn’t alter it. It was in reference to money on the news, but ranchers are always trying to spend less and save more. It’s just that there are so many things to spend money on: equipment, feed, cattle, horses, fuel, etc. These are not tiny expenses. Cutting out a cup of coffee from the local coffee hut isn’t going to fill the account for tractor repairs, although every little bit helps. Instead, I’m referencing it to time. Spend less time doing things that don’t pull me forward and save more time for things that do.
  6. Travel=Go somewhere other than a different pasture. Sure it’d be nice to travel to Hawaii or go overseas, but it’s hard to leave animals or land. It’s not like asking the neighbor to feed your dog. There are bovines out there! Yet, we could take a deep breath and visit local sights or make arrangements to get away when it’s convenient.
  7. Read more. This is a good one all around. Whether it’s trade magazines, books, on-line or off-line, reading does everything from educate us to help us escape our current reality.

If we wanted to really fine-tune resolutions, we could count things like move the shovel before we run it over and fix fence after we find the fence stretchers, but I’m pretty sure those can appear under “Ranching Common Sense”. Not that I’ve ever needed any extra common sense…

Happy New Year!

Hope in Christmas 2016


Are you excited this Christmas or worried? The cattle market isn’t for the faint of heart. Prices were lower this year and some are worried about how to keep going. It isn’t just for the cattle market though–this time of year depresses many in other occupations as well. What do you do when things are hard? How is Christmas still bright?

“Fear not, for I bring you good tidings and great joy, which shall be to all people.”

I have a lot of faith in those words and in the God who makes things possible. I hope that when I speak of my beliefs, no one feels pressured or offended. Each person has a free will and I want to respect an individual’s right to choose. Yet at the same time, when something makes your life better, you naturally want to share it.

The last year has been difficult for us. If it could break, it has. If it couldn’t, it’s found a way to break anyway. Projects that should take five minutes take five days. We encountered several health challenges. It has felt like we were walking upstream. In the spring. After a winter full of snow…

But that’s not all. We have also enjoyed time with family. We’ve seen our kids’ sports games. We’ve had plenty of food in the fridge and heat in the house. We all have clothes. We even were able to do more remodeling on our house we’re fixing up.


I have a dear friend who knows my love of words and each year on my birthday she gives me a word. I love it. A couple years ago, she gave me PERSPECTIVE painted on a piece of barn wood. It’s hanging above our piano. It reminds me that what I focus on grows inside me. So either my problems loom larger and larger or my blessings keep piling up. I forget that I choose my perspective. But I’m so blessed. And there is hope. Even when prices are low. Even when things look dark. There is always something for which I can be thankful.

We are buying more cows. It’s risky. Every time we do this, I wonder what the future holds. But being in the cattle business involves risk. There are times when money is lost and times when money is made. We pray and do our best, but it does involve risk.

I don’t know what your situation holds this year. I hope it is bright and full of optimism. However, if Christmas makes you feel like you never have enough money or you are worried about the future, I hope you take comfort in the words of Christ. “Fear not, for I have overcome the world.” I know, words don’t pay the bills. BUT, since He created the universe, I’d have to say He’s the most creative being ever and He isn’t surprised by the decisions we’ve made. His love is unconditional. Which means, if we’ve made poor choices (I know I have); He is STILL waiting and willing to help us. How? Ask Him. Maybe you’ve never talked to Him before. That’s ok. He’s there. Maybe you’ve talked to Him a lot, but don’t feel like He’s answering; He’s still there.

Still need practical steps? Me too. How do we make the holidays better?

  • Look for things you are thankful for. Make a list. Tell someone. Practice thankfulness.
  • Look at assets. What can we sell? What should we keep? Maybe we hold on to a few more cows this year, but sell that trailer we never use.
  • Make Christmas presents. I’m not crafty. AT ALL. Yet, I love baking and bake for people at Christmas. Do whatever you like to do and share it.
  • Spend time with someone rather than opening your wallet. A special outing can be more memorable than a wrapped gift.
  • Write notes as gifts telling people how you love them or how they make your life better.

Christmas isn’t something we have to get through. It’s a new beginning. Close your eyes and see the baby in the manger. It didn’t look “right” at all. But all those things added up to make something remarkable and out-of-this-world. Our frustrating and odd puzzle pieces in life are never wasted in the hands of God. He used death by conquering it to bring LIFE. May Christmas bring hope and life!


Happy Thanksgiving!


My mom gave me this Thanksgiving decoration several years ago. I laughed when I saw it and it still makes me smile. As beef producers, we sure want to promote the industry in any way we can. We believe in it and value the longevity of agriculture.

Yet, we also like poultry. And pork. And even fish–although not on Thanksgiving.

I imagine the first Thanksgiving dinner included fresh caught fish, but our table will be filled with turkey and ham, veggies, sides, and dessert. We have the joy of gathering with friends tomorrow, so our table will be full.

We are thankful for so many things this year: improving health, joy, family, friends, food, etc. I’m thankful for my neighbors, the mountains, the grass. I appreciate what others do for me and I love how my life story connects to others. And while yes, I’m thankful for our beef, I’m also thankful for variety. Beef is incredible, but it tastes best when varied. I don’t just mean  variety in how beef is cooked; I mean variety in what we eat. Other meats are fantastic too.

Perhaps this year, in light of changing circumstances, I am thankful for variety. I’m grateful we don’t all have the same ideas or opinions. How boring that would be! Rather the beauty, the full flavor, and the greatest peak come from appreciating other things: be it other foods, other people, or other ideas. Our beef tastes amazing because we are always listening, always learning, and striving for quality of life and production. Likewise, if I only associated with those who were like me, it wouldn’t grow me or stretch me to new places and better thinking.

Happy trails and Happy Thanksgiving!

Nose Clips, Part 2


It’s been two days since we removed the nose clips from the calves. Our pastures are quiet.

I wasn’t sure that just putting clips in would truly complete the weaning process. I’m quite sensitive actually, so I was more concerned about whether the clips were hurting the calves in any way. I watched them, but none of them seemed bothered by them at all. Behavior was calm during the ten days they were kept in place.

When we removed the clips, we separated the calves from their mothers. The momma cows lingered near the gate for a short time, but the only mother that balled was the mom of the calf whose clip fell out.

This was the easiest weaning we’ve had.

We used these clips on a small group of cattle. In this group of twenty pairs, we had one loose its clip early on and still ball. Another one lost its clip prior to us removing them, but I’m assuming it lost it after several days because this calf doesn’t seem to be vocal about weaning like the other pair.

Overall, ten percent of our group lost their clips early. The rest of the group remained calm and content. They went out to pasture like nothing had ever happened.

While this method worked well for us, we did it with a small group. I believe the biggest downfall would be the labor involved in placing clips in a large group of calves.

As with other things, it seems it is best to evaluate your needs with your cattle and choose what works best for you. Happy Trails!

A few calves (plus steers in the background) that came up for water and mineral this morning.