Having a ranch to go back to after college is an opportunity that many wish they had. It seems like a no-brainer, easy decision. But I’m a month away from time to move home, and I find myself full of anxiety over the situation. I have so much left to learn and I’m nervous about my ability to fit smoothly into ranch operations. The ranch and family are going to see some adjustments as we go into this next step.
There’s truly no place else I can picture my life happening. Growing up on the ranch gave me so much and I want to raise a family in the same way my parents raised me. But its nerve wracking to imagine that one day I’ll be making decisions by myself about the management of the operation my dad has put so much time into. Here are just a few of the thoughts that are running through my head as the day is quickly approaching….
1. Can I live up to my Dad’s dream?
- Dad has worked his entire life to build his dream. When he was 9 years old at his first 4-H meeting, he was asked what he thought he’d do with his life. He stated that he would spend his life raising Angus cattle and selling bulls. And, as he was preparing to go to his first show, with his first heifer, he also had a goal of exhibiting cattle for 50 years at that particular county fair. Well, its 53 years later and he’s grown the operation from that one heifer to a 350+ cow operation that merchandises 130 bulls annually to cattlemen in the Pacific Northwest states. He’s also beat his goal of 50 years at the county fair and moved on to a goal of 60 years.
- When I was 9 years old, I thought I would be an artist…I drew a mean stick-person and I could almost draw a straight line. My career goals have definitely changed since then but I’ve never been as sure of my life as my father was and still is. I’ve toyed with the idea of going back to the ranch since I changed my major to agricultural sciences my second year of college. I took it further and transferred to a school with a great animal science program to learn as much as I could about the cattle industry. But I wasn’t on board for the idea of moving home until I applied for and was offered a job in the cattle feeding industry this past fall and realized there was no place I wanted to be instead of the ranch.
2. Is this fear or just excitement?
- I absolutely love living on the ranch and being around our cattle. My nervousness doesn’t stem from a lack of passion for this choice of career. It’s just hard to imagine myself being as good at this as dad is. He’s been a superior role model as far as career goals go. His love and knowledge of our cowherd is reflected in everything he does and I think you’d be hard pressed to find many people that truly know their cowherd like he does. I’m excited for the opportunity to go home and start truly trying to soak in everything he has to share about what it takes to keep a ranch running.
- After expressing my doubts in my ability to do as well as my father has, I’ve been told countless times that I’m wrong to be unsure of the opportunity that many wish they had. But I don’t think that a little fear is a bad thing. Cautiously going into something and realizing I have a lot to learn, and it’s going to take time sounds better to me than blindly jumping in believing nothing could go wrong. I’m incredibly thankful to my father for believing in my ability to be part of this and asking me to return to the ranch.
3. Why let anything stop me from getting what I want?
- I think dad should serve as an example to many young people with a dream of having their own livestock operation. He worked for everything he has after starting with a single heifer purchased by his parents. No one handed him anything, he didn’t have a ranch to go back to. He set his dreams and goals and worked hard for other people until he had the ability to work for himself. There are many stories about him going to work all day and then coming home to work his own cattle in the dark. He found ways to promote his cattle to other producers in the area and built his reputation through hard work and honesty as he went.
- Being the first generation of anything, especially an agricultural operation, isn’t easy. There were a lot of times that my parents could have stopped and cut their losses. There was an unsuccessful female sale early on that cost more than it profited. There were far too many months/years spent eating nothing but beef from the ranch and potatoes given for a trade. My dad’s two favorite things are ketchup and Pepsi. He talks about the hard times being extra tough because they couldn’t afford the soda and simple condiments that we don’t think twice about now.
It’s easy to believe that you can’t do something because you lack the time and money necessary to accomplish it. I think that anything can be accomplished if you set your mind on it and have a person next to you that believes in and supports that goal. I know this because I’ve heard and seen how hard my parents worked together to build the operation that dad is now giving me the opportunity to return to. There’s no road thats going to be an easy ride, and if you’re looking for an easy ride through life you’ll find yourself unhappy in the end. I’m nervous but excited for this next step in my life. It’s a blessing to be able to go work beside dad and learn from a person that stopped at nothing to accomplish what he wanted out of life.
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