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There's Hope In The Air

It’s bull sale season, which means if you’re house is like mine, your mail box is stuffed with catalogs; DVAuction is constantly running in the background; you’ve studied EPDs and pedigrees; you’ve made your selections; and it’s fingers crossed that your tastes in cattle match your budget.

Sadly for me, I quite often have champagne tastes on a beer budget, but hey, at least I can find the good ones, right?

Anyway, last week I had the chance to attend a live cattle auction. Thanks to online bidding options, most of the time, we are able to bid from afar and keep up with the ranch work at home. Calving in the recent blizzards we have gotten has kept us quite busy, so sneaking away for a sale isn’t too practical at the moment.

However, on this lucky day, I found myself in the stands at a bull sale. It was a full house with ranchers stacked hip-to-hip in the bleachers. The excitement in the crowd was palpable, and it was one heck of a good sale.

(Photo by Chris Earl, CK6 Consulting - Let's Play "I Spy!" Can you find me in the crowd? Ha!)

I didn’t take anything home that day. My wallet wasn’t deep enough. However, what I did take home was something even better — a renewed hope for animal agriculture and my future in it.

It’s no secret that with rising input costs, increased land prices, volatility in the marketplace, regulatory pressures, and the capital risk required of being in the beef cattle business, it’s often a hard and challenging life. 

Ranching isn’t for the faint of heart, and yet, how often do we find ourselves feeling weary? A calf that doesn’t make it. The tractor breaks down. The snow keeps piling up. We push ourselves beyond our physical limits to take care of the stock. And these pressures and heartaches can take a toll on even the strongest among us. 

Yet, on this particular day, as I drove home from the sale, I felt excited. I shifted my perspective beyond the heartaches of production agriculture, and began to focus more on the blessings that this life offers to families just like mine.

Raising your kids in the dirt and mud has real, tangible benefits. They learn the value of hard work, integrity, risk and reward, responsibility, handling loss, pushing themselves beyond their comfort level, sticking together as a family, and having a shared goal that can continue to grow and evolve with each passing year. 

Despite the challenges of agriculture, it’s a rare thing to see multiple generations working together in family business. The wisdom that is passed down from great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, and children is pretty incredible, and this lifestyle is something every generation should feel empowered and inspired to fight for.

Making a difference doesn’t mean going viral on social media apps. It’s sharing your story in your community. It’s inviting people to be part of this agricultural life we love. It’s volunteering. It’s serving on the school board or attending a county commissioner meeting. It’s taking your kids along for the ride, so they know how important engaging and outreach is, too. 

At the end of the day, if you love agriculture as much as I do, your mission is clear. We must continue to work to protect this way of life, our food security, our agricultural industries, and rural America, too. We must instill strong values in our children, so they can withstand the challenges that this way of life presents, as well. And we must do it joyfully, with a fire in our belly and love in our hearts — to continue to tend to the land and the livestock and the people we aim to serve. 

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