Country Girl in the City

Our daughter recently had an opportunity to attend a track camp in LA. I drove her and we stayed for a few days while she attended camp.

Everyone kept asking me why I would want to go to LA. I actually like the city as a place to visit. It gives me fresh perspective. Most of us are afraid of what we don’t know. We build a case around unknowns in our minds, while never having seen it. We form judgments without experience.

This happens between city and country folk I think. We tend to imagine what the other’s life is like and then form our thoughts and perceptions from that imagined baseline.

I actually found quite a bit of beauty in the city. It was far from my normal, but I found that I could appreciate people and places that weren’t like me. I also could see how easy it would be for city people to form judgments about ranching.

In fact, two girls mentioned to my daughter how cows were ruining our environment. My daughter offered her perspective and how we live. It was difficult for the girls to imagine. They could only view cattle as biohazards.

We could become frustrated or we could understand their current mindsets and seek to build bridges. Unfortunately, some of the population sees ranching as cruel and harmful. Sadly, there are some who give ranching a bad name. However, overall, ranchers take pride in caring for cattle while simultaneously stewarding the land.

We’d love to be a part of creating a healthy mentality toward the cattle industry. We work diligently to provide the best for our cattle and land–we’d like others to know that it isn’t a cruel animal factory, but a nurturing environment.

The city and the country have the opportunity be a thriving, symbiotic environment.

Happy New Year! Leaving the old and walking into the new…

December 2016 030
Feeding the steers.

I’ve always loved the symbolism attached to New Years. New beginnings. New hope. I’ve often hung my hat on new things happening as December 31st turned over to January 1st.

The practical side of me says it’s just another day. Really it is. But there is a hope on New Years that things will be just that: new.

Yet isn’t every day a new beginning? Why doesn’t March 1st–or any other day of the year–feel like a fresh start?

Perspective.

I think it has everything to do with my perspective.

The reality is that as one year changes to the next, we all hope for something fresh, but most of us–myself included–still bring everything old right into the new.

I believe our pasts are never wasted, but I also believe they don’t have to define the future. Just because I was hurt, doesn’t mean I need to stay hurt. The things of the past may have brought structure or plot twists, but we are only defined by that which we allow.

Will we allow the hurts, unforgiveness, or betrayals to define who we will be? Or maybe we’ve had great success: will our identity be wrapped up in our accomplishments?

2017 wrapped up an extremely difficult time for us. If you’ve read previous posts, you’ll know we encountered drought so severe (despite doing everything possible!) that it affected the health of our cattle. Of course it affected the pocket book, but when you’ve been entrusted to care for something and everything you did just wasn’t enough…it’s heart wrenching. However, tough situations usually lead to deep thinking and intense prayer, so it wasn’t wasted. There is much good that is beginning to come out of this situation: my husband and I are communicating better. Our kids know we welcome their ideas. Our family has pulled closer together. We’ve met new people. We’re looking at things differently and seeking creative solutions.

We were never meant to just feed cows and let them grow. Those are byproducts of being called to bless land, animals, and people. We want land to be better, more fruitful, after we’ve been on it. We want to bless the people around us. We want our animals to thrive.

Only God knows what 2018 will bring and I will trust Him in it. But as I walk into this first day, I’m choosing to toss some baggage, some old thinking and welcome the newness of this fresh start. A new year comes in winter, which is also refreshing. Yes, there is feeding and chores each day, but the land is resting. It is waiting. May our new beginning also we a time of resting and waiting and then proceeding in natural progression.

Blessings my friends!

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The beauty of land resting for the winter.

Entrepeneurs

Out to Summer Pasture
Photo by Janice Cartwright

Yesterday I was able to attend a class about Growing Food Businesses sponsored by AERO. The day circulated around produce and Farmer’s Market opportunities. I’ve not been one to delve into Farmer’s Markets yet, but with our homegrown beef it is something we wanted to know more about. Additional information is almost always helpful for obvious reasons, but it also triggers new thoughts.

There’s something about being in certain groups of people that get your wheels turning. I didn’t know any of these folks and I won’t be seeing them regularly, but the energy present from a group of entrepreneurs certainly was fun. Being with others who want to create something new or use things they have to produce a product that will benefit others reminds me of the fact that we too are entrepreneurs.

I realize that as beef producers we aren’t classically seen as entrepreneurs, but really we are. The definition of entrepreneur is “someone who initiates or finances new commercial enterprises.” (Encarta Dictionary) Some don’t think of ranching as a commercial enterprise, but cattle are bought and sold as a business, so it classifies. Thinking about things in this way makes me want to mull over new ideas, see new perspectives, and dialogue about what’s been working and what hasn’t.

Since we are small scale, the idea we currently have implemented is selling beef directly to consumers. While this isn’t a new idea, what we finish them on isn’t average feed. Our beef are finished on natural forage. Last year they grazed on a cover crop of radishes, turnips, triticale, and sunflowers. When we do grain the steers, we give oats and barley. The cattle that grazed on the cover crop alone (without grain supplementation) gained an average of three pounds a day.

We love seeing things from different angles. It seems imperative to make it in our day and age. What about you? How would a new perspective shift your day? What new ideas can you implement?

Let’s not be afraid to try new things!