This post is a collaboration with Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. on behalf of the Beef Checkoff. I received compensation, but all opinions expressed here are my own.
Today, March 23, 2021, is National Ag Day – a day set aside for “recognizing – and celebrating – the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives.” And on this National Ag Day, I can’t help but think about how agriculture, specifically ranching and raising Beef, doesn’t just contribute to our everyday lives, but actually is our everyday life.
For Mr. FFB and me, it’s been our everyday life for all of our lives. He was raised on a family-owned and operated, diversified farm raising row crops and cattle. And I spent my childhood on the same small feed yard where my dad grew up and my family has been raising Beef cattle for more than 50 years.
Ranching and raising Beef is our livelihood. It’s our passion. It’s what lights our fire and gets us out of bed in the morning. It’s our calling. And it’s not lost on us that what we do every day, caring for the land and livestock and bringing Beef to tables across this country and abroad, is so much bigger than us.
But when I’m asked what my favorite part of ranching is, I have to honestly say it’s raising our kids in this way of life, taking them along, and giving them front row seats to hard, but rewarding work.
It’s an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to be raising our kids in the same way we were raised. And it’s important to us that our kids know what we do and why we do it. We don’t want them to just know that we calve in May, move the herd every three to five days year-round, measure pastures, and test forage samples, but why we do all of that.
We want them to know that calving in May helps us better match our cows’ nutritional needs with the forage growth in our area. We want them to understand that moving our herd often on a holistic rotational grazing plan helps us improve soil health and more efficiently utilize the range and resources to feed our cattle. We want them to know that measuring pastures and testing forage samples helps us estimate how much and what quality forage we have, so we can better care for the land and livestock.
We try to always feed their curiosity and encourage them to ask questions about all the things, especially ranching, if they don’t understand. I personally love watching them try new things and learn by doing. There’s not much better than seeing the giant smile spread wide across their faces when they’ve been working hard at something, like getting on their horse by themselves, and finally succeed.
Mr. FFB and I want our kids to have a healthy respect for nature and all God’s creations. As a result, we don’t keep much from our kids. We show them how to celebrate new life and how to remember those lost. We don’t hide the struggle that sometimes comes working with livestock and nature. We let them see the hardships and show them the determination it takes to persevere in ranching and life.
It’s truly one of my greatest joys in life watching our kids grow up here and seeing their love for what we do grow right along with them. Even if they choose completely different paths and don’t return to the range, this will always be my favorite part of ranching.