Our farm and ranch kids are tomorrow’s leaders. They will know how to work and they will want to work. This will be done by getting up before the sun, saddling a horse and riding with us to move cows. It is by spending 8 hours on a tractor raking hay under a clear blue sky. It is by mucking out stalls, and by taking a shift in the middle of the night to walk through a calving barn or lot. It is by helping rebuilding a stretch of fence that has been torn down. We take our boys with us everywhere. We don’t ask them to do anything that will hurt them, or that we wouldn’t or haven’t done ourselves. When they go to bed at night, they sleep, and they sleep well because they have had an active day. In the morning when they wake up, they ask “What are we going to do today?”
I wish that people understood that our cattle have to eat first. It doesn’t matter what the occasion is, we need to get wells started to pump water in the summer, or hay loaded and pitched in the winter, other activities can’t be done until this is done. If we have a sick animal, we take care of them before taking care of ourselves; we take pride in knowing our animals are well cared for. Farmers and ranchers miss special occasions if something on the ranch needs to be done first. We don’t sleep in, we wait to enjoy dinners until our livestock are taken care of. It isn’t an 8-5, Monday through Friday job. We don’t take sick days or even vacations in some cases. It is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The pay isn’t great in terms of money, but worth more than all of the silver and gold in the world for pride and satisfaction of a job well done. Even though today might be the worst day ever, we are up again tomorrow morning before the sun rises, ready to do it all again.
We want our boys to be passionate. Passionate about doing a job and doing it well. Passionate about life. We want them to have respect. Respect for themselves, each other, and life. All life. We want them to feel wonder at the miracle of birth and sorrow with death. Any death, but understand that it is the cycle of life and just as animals are born they also die, like people, and plants. As hard as that maybe, it is essential for the order of things and a part of life. We want them to love life and live it to the fullest. If they choose to follow in their parents foot steps, wonderful. If not, that is okay too. We hope that we are teaching them the skills they will need to succeed in any life they choose for themselves. We want them to be confident, self assured, assertive, and just. To stand up for themselves, and for others when they see injustice.
I sincerely hope that when my boys are adults they look back on their childhoods and fondly remember the hours spent on a horse moving cows, pitching hay, calving cows, raking hay, and even fixing fence with their parents and know that we chose this lifestyle to raise them the best way we knew how. Knowing that their parents loved them more than anything else and chose a lifestyle that included them. That we didn't wait until they got home from school at night, or weekends to do cow work for the free labor, but because we wanted to spend time with them doing things we love and hope that they do too.