Tuesday, March 19, 2013
My Favorite Things
Guess what came to feed this morning?! Yep, the first three beautiful, feisty baby calves of 2013. Here comes one with his mom to check things out. Seeing the baby calves of spring is among my favorite things in life. Having three of them to oooh and aaahh over today was a perfect way to celebrate what is a big holiday in my world: National Ag Day. While I have a jam packed day of ag-related tasks that run the gamete from writing about the industry to feeding the cows that comprise it, I wanted to take a few minutes and share a few of my favorite things about agriculture with you in honor of this holiday. I have been trying to narrow them down in my head, so this post doesn't turn into a novel - we'll see how I do.
I love cows. From feeding them to working them to breeding them to excel and be among the best there are, I have what will be a lifelong fascination with raising exceptional cattle. From watching them trail into feed in the winter and mentally listing the traits they excel at, and what needs done to make them better, to marketing them and watching them exceed your expectations, to days like today, when over a year's worth of work sees its reward in the first new life of the year, there is an unending array of tasks and rewards involved in cattle production that is a key part of my family and I's happiness.
The land. When you're raised on a place, personally involved in improving and upgrading it, and especially when you know what those before you sacrificed, and that they worked harder than you'll ever have to work to give you the chance to have it someday, the land gets in your blood. I have helped build miles of fence that is close to perfect in post and wire spacing, put in numerous tanks and miles of pipeline to provide water and improve grazing, rebuilt corrals after the freshly weaned calves tore them down, bogged a horse down in a snowbank, saved numerous newborn calves lives and watched mother nature at her gentlest and most destructive on this land. You can't buy that, and while it would probably be easier in many ways if the emotional attachment wasn't there from a management standpoint, it's the connection to the land that makes us so good at what we do in many ways.
I love my family. I have the best family out there, and I hope all of you can say that with equal sincerity. They are God fearing, honest, hardworking people who lead by example and do a good job of it. They're perfectionists, and doing a mediocre job because of some excuse like it's a fence no one will see hasn't ever flown, or even flapped its wings, around here. They raised my generation to be nice, sincere and fair, to work hard and help people, to stand up for what we believe in and that no one can take our education away from us. They pray at every meal, and among my favorites is thanking God for putting us so close to his creation and giving us a job on earth that we love so much. It is often said in the middle of a pasture or corral, when we're covered in dust or mud, manure and grime, and it is said from the bottom of our hearts.
The people. In addition to my family, I also get to make my living writing for the people in agriculture. I meet new folks in this industry almost daily on the phone or via email, and they don't come any better. I've interviewed people while feeding cattle, calving heifers, and while stopped along the side of the road while shipping cattle, and have had the folks I'm interviewing take the time to talk to me in many of the same situations. I've sat at tables that hosted famous politicians, celebrities and outlaws, talked to families that can trace their history farther back that you know what to do with, and have been welcomed by all. They are the most gracious people I interview, and almost every one will go above and beyond what I'm asking about to make sure that this reporter that called understands the big picture in relation to whatever specific topic I called for. I love that.
I love the work. I love having the sun rise while driving or riding to gather cows, and I love that it doesn't happen that way every day. I love riding great horses, building good fence, watching it rain and the grass grow, completing annual tasks and having it go smoothly, seeing animals born, caring for an animal and having it make a full recovery, and writing about all the things that make this industry what it is. Even better is that sense of exhausted accomplishment that follows a day spent branding big calves, sheering ewes, installing a tank and watching it fill with no leaks, or riding all day and having your equally exhausted horse step out and stop that cow before she cuts back when you're almost to the barn. Agriculture work is hard work, but it's also the best work.
This is just a glimpse into what I love about this huge, diverse industry that ultimately feeds the world, which is another big perk of the job I do. I am very, very blessed, and very thankful to be a part of the ranching and agriculture industry. Happy National Ag Day!
If you would like to know more about agriculture in my home state, click on this link to get started.