What qualifies us to ranch?

Perhaps I should answer with fact: My husband has degrees in animal science and agricultural business, as well as a Masters degree. He has twenty two years of experience in various states. Together, not one moment of our married life has separated us from agriculture. We’ve made money in cattle sales. We constantly read: new studies, stats, economic projections…

A plaintiff could argue: You grew up in town. Your family name isn’t present in generational agricultural heritage. No one gave you land or cattle. Start-up funds are minimal in comparison. You’ve lost money in cattle sales.

Both perspectives are true.

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.”Abraham Maslow

What fuels a musician, an artist, or a poet fuels us.


Many think we’re crazy. Hard work, fencing, manure, gain/loss, time, money, effort…it all adds up. Last year was our hardest year ranching. We’d done well in years prior, but last August we sold short-term pairs the day the stock market crashed. At that point, we berated ourselves for our stupidity, questioned our sanity, and at the very best, doubted our hopes. We considered selling everything and never buying another cow or horse. Our pendulum swung in opposition to our desire.

It took time before we saw the light again. As we imagined life without cows, urban sunrises, and our children growing up without any ranching, the thought crushed us more than the blow of loss

We didn’t feel like continuing. We lost steam. Yet passion kept us from quitting.

Feeding, first calves 2016 026

The first baby this year.


Right now, our small little herd is calving. (To read why we chose spring calving, click here.) Spring brings the gift of life. In the morning, we head to the window to watch the calves bopping through the field. Do we get irritated? Yes. Do we grump? Sometimes. However, we desire to grow in thankfulness and keep fueling our passion.

How do you fuel passion?

Sometimes you don’t have to, it just naturally flows and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Lately though, in my personal goals, I’ve let a voice slip in: You’re never going to make it. Others will do it better than you. What are you thinking?

 It’s very difficult to press on listening to the ugliness of doubt. Doubt steals my energy, my hopes, and my dreams.

Thus I’m convinced: to fuel passion, I must ignore doubt. In addition, I must give myself permission.

I know that sounds basic. Give myself permission. How many of us, though, feel like we need permission just to live? How many people long to know their intrinsic worth outside of performance? This is a bigger topic than today’s blog, but allowing myself to have permission to breathe, to live, to love, to dance, to dream, and the freedom to pursue what I enjoy… Well, it’s added a few logs to the fire of my passion.

Here in our cyber connection, I am unaware of the challenges each of you face. Just know something: You are worth it. Your passions are needed in the world, just as ours are needed in the pasture.


I’d love to hear your comments on how you keep passion alive. Or your current challenges.







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!!