Top 5 Ranching Myths

riding-crew-2

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.

 

The Future of the Industry

We just got back from the Idaho Cattle Association’s summer gathering. Since we are fairly new to Idaho, it was encouraging to meet new people. My husband has had the opportunity to mingle with other producers, but this was my first time. There is a desire here to promote the industry and share our stories with those not familiar with cattle. I love this because sharing the heart behind the industry is vital. We want consumers to know that we work hard to protect the resources under our care.

Our land practices must provide for our cattle, native wildlife, and future generations with great efficacy. This includes not only maintaining pasture health, but promoting it. Many of our habits today are proactive rather than reactive. Water resources must be protected rather than salvaged. Nutrition programs encourage cattle health, for gestational wellbeing and birth, as well as longterm viability. Our desire is that what is witnessed in our fields will not only sustain our families, but our environment for years to come, while at the same time, providing a food source for the billions of people on our planet.

It goes without saying that ranchers desire to supply the world with sustainable beef. Not just because it is good business, but because it is good practice. Although the “law” of sustainable beef has yet to be written, there is a code that the majority of producers follow: provide the best life possible for the animal as it provides life for us.

Many consumers buy meat, not knowing the practices behind the product. Hopefully this will change. As the word gets out, may the population know that producers are enacting practices such as crop and grazing rotations, fencing off riparian areas, and animal health procedures (just to name a few) that seek to promote the health of land and animals alike.
We are blessed with the opportunity to take part in ranching and look forward to the future!

august 2010 030 The Future Generation