Getting to grow up on a ranch makes me feel like I was one of the “lucky ones.” I didn’t always know that I wanted to come back home to our operation, but I always knew that it was something special. My unique upbringing taught me values and lessons I couldn’t experience in another lifestyle and I truly believe growing up around agriculture has made me a better person.
Of course, there are days where my current ranch life isn’t so glamorous, but I am so thankful to not only have grown up this way, but that I still get to live and work on it every day. Below are a few lessons I learned growing up on my family ranch that make me so appreciative of the way, I grew up.
When you make your living through any sort of farming or ranching, you learn to work HARD and LONG hours early in life. The livestock need fed and the crops need care before you can even consider binge watching shows on Netflix. As young people in agriculture, we’re driven to succeed via hard work because the older generations instilled that value in us. Hard work always pays off and the reward makes the long days worth the struggle.
I’ve always had chores to take care of or tagged along while my parents did chores before I was big enough to help out. I knew when things needed to be done and grew up feeding cattle before I fed myself in the mornings. On ranches, we learn to put others before ourselves and take pride in the fact that our work involves being responsible for other living things. In ranching, we are responsible for the life cycle of an animal, and strive to make sure that while they are in our care, they have the best life possible. Learning to be responsible for something other than yourself is extremely important and this lesson has been a great benefit to me now that I’m older.
I am so proud of the ranch that my father has built and it’s an honor to get to be a part of our family ranch. It’s OK to be proud of what you do for a living and to openly share what you do or why you do it. I’ve never been ashamed of how I was raised and there will never be someone talking poorly about agriculture that brings me down with them. We may not always agree on how to do things or what the proper protocols are, but the health & safety of our families, animals, and the consumer are always at the core of our decision. I take great pride in the American agricultural industry and I’m thankful to get to live it every day.
I’ve tended to livestock when they needed extra attention and always try to make sure my cattle are healthy and comfortable. Those experiences have also taught me how to treat the people in my life. When you’re working with livestock, they can’t tell you what’s wrong. You have to study the situation and think about what the issue may be before you act. I think we can apply that same way of thinking to our relationships with people and come out on top every time. Being able to take a step back and figure out why someone’s acting in a certain way before making snap judgments and speaking without thinking is a valuable skill.
With life comes loss and pain. I’ve lost people that meant the world to me and cattle that I couldn’t save. I’ve always been mentally tough but I believe the ranch has helped me learn to grit my teeth through hard times. The work never stops and the cycles never end; calves keep coming, sales need planning and cows need fed. It’s never been an option for me to take the hit of a loss and let it knock me down because I always have something to look forward to. We’ve seen tough days, months & even years on the ranch, but there’s always something to look towards and the goal of being better than we were to drive us forward.
There are so many other things that growing up around livestock or farming operations can teach us. While everyone’s experience is different, I know that some of the best people I’ve met are fellow cattlemen and farmers. I’m proud to have been raised by a hard-working, honest, tough cattleman and I’m thankful for the set of values I’ve developed as a result.
Did you grow up on a ranch? Tell us what unique lessons it taught you in the comments!
Editor’s Note: This blog post was written by Tierra Kessler, Account Manager for Ranch House Designs.
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