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Finding Joy & Purpose In Agriculture

Calving season is in full swing, and it’s an exciting time of year as we welcome new babies to the ranch. 

The kids squeal in excitement with every new arrival, and they love helping to make ear tags, collect weights, and be part of every step of the process.

Amidst all of the feed bills, tax preparation, and tedious to-dos on my desk, I didn’t share the same excitement as the kids. 

Motherhood has ushered in a new role for me, much different to life before children. Now instead of being a part of the every day chores, I’m taking care of little ones inside. It’s a blessing, but there is still that feeling that you’re missing out on what’s happening outside. 

As the kids have gotten older, it’s been easier to bring them along and take them with us as we do cattle work, but things have shifted all the same. It happens to a lot of women in agriculture, and I can relate with them in this season of life that I’m in with four children under the age of eight.

And on the days where I think about how I used to be able to “cowgirl up” anytime of the day, enjoying the freedom and fresh air that only a cattle operation can offer, I sometimes wonder, “Am I still the same person I once was?”

The answer is surely not. Change requires growth. Parenting requires sacrifice. Running a successful agricultural enterprise calls for as much desk work as it does feeding and tending to the stock.

Yet, we can all get lost in the mundane tasks of life, and we can lose that sense of romanticism and wonder that we carry for this lifestyle we get to enjoy.

Then, when I read the news from USDA that the United States is at the lowest beef cattle inventory numbers since 1962, I wonder if there will be any cowgirls and cowboys left in the future?

Certainly there are challenges — rising input costs; interest rates going up; land prices going sky high; regulatory burdens; a push for plant-based and lab-created meats; negative media headlines blaming climate change on the cows; animal rights activists doing their best to lobby producers out of existence; and the list goes on.

If we let it, it can be mighty easy to get down on the cattle business with all of the challenges facing us; however, it’s in these hard times where the greatest opportunities present themselves.

Per the USDA, beef cattle declined 3.6% to 28.9 million. With much of the country receiving moisture this winter, I’m hopeful that there will be a reprieve from the devastating drought. Green grass, sunshine, and available feed is going to shift things a lot in the cattle business, and I think we’ll soon see a rally in prices and a desire for cattlemen to restock their depleted cow herds. 

With that hope in mind, I was awake for the midnight calf-watch duties one evening, and on our barn camera, a first-calf heifer was in active labor. I watched for awhile, and figured I would go pen her up to give her some space to do her thing. Laying down fresh straw, I moved her in the pen and stood back to watch and see how things would progress. 

And as I witnessed the birth take place, I grinned from ear-to-ear. I felt just like the kids seeing this baby born. The joy that felt lost for me in this business was found once again, and it was in the stillness of the barn that I realized how important my role really is on our operation. Raising the next generation is no small task, and what an honor it is to get to nurture our children on a ranch where they can learn lessons of resilience, determination, grit, kindness, respect, and the value of hard work. 

Our roles may change through different seasons of life, but there is purpose in every inch of it. Find your joy today, my friends, even if you’ve got a mountain of bills to pay, a sink full of dishes to wash, and barns to clean. There’s happiness and meaning to be found, and it’s yours for the taking. 

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