I never thought I’d be a cattle rancher, but life is hardly how you plan it. Here’s to celebrating the cattle ranches across the US raising beef for our communities!
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 are my own.
The American Cattle Rancher
Before I moved to our ranch in 2014, I had really never been around cattle before. I never thought this would be my story…but here we are. Today I want to share our story with you to give you some insight into what it means to be a cattle rancher.
There’s so much more to it than raising cows, and I feel that it is an important story to tell, especially in light of the current events. I think now more than ever, we realize how important agriculture is to our daily lives.
Let’s go back to 2014… My perspective on food has dramatically changed since I moved to our family ranch in Northern California. Prior to being involved in agriculture, I never really stopped to think about the care, time, and energy that went into producing the food I purchased at the grocery store. It was just there for me on the shelf, and in exchange for some money, I could bring it home.
Now days we hear a lot about farm-to-table and knowing where our food comes from. I think this is great, but I think it’s important to take it one step further. Rather than thinking about where my food comes from, I have come to appreciate how my food got there.
Fast forward a few years… I’ve learned how to doctor a sick animal, and pull a calf. I’ve been up before sunrise and worked well after sunset. I’ve spent countless hours out on the range moving cattle to greener pastures, and watched and waited while calves mother up in some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen. I’ve learned the importance of hay, and that if bailing twine can’t fix it, it probably can’t be fixed.
As I write this I think about my neighbors that raise beef alongside us. I think of the mom with three little ranchers learning how to rope and ride since they could walk. I think about the ranch wife that serves as the teacher, cook, accountant, and ranch hand, usually all in the same day. I think about the sons and daughters that walk in the footsteps of those before them, sometimes many generations deep. I think about this and know that this isn’t just in our town, this is the farming and ranching community across the country.
I now have a deep appreciation for the daily care that goes into getting our food on the shelves. I think it’s so important for us to stop and really consider the fact that a person, just like us, spends their entire life feeding, watering, and caring for our food. Food doesn’t magically appear on the shelves.
You see cattle ranchers don’t work sun up to sun down. They work around the clock. Calving season? We’re up every couple of hours checking our heifers. Hay season? We’re out there harvesting til the wee hours. It never stops, but we’re not complaining, it gets us like a bug, and becomes who we are.
Husbandry is a term I quickly learned when I moved up here. Both animal husbandry and land husbandry are two of the most important day-to-day promises a rancher abides by.
There’s a lot of talk about factory farming and antibiotics these days. The truth is: 91% of beef comes from family owned ranches.
The whole antibiotic thing? I personally have strong opinions on this, and I won’t get too deep into it, but just know that ranchers don’t administer antibiotics unless absolutely necessary. We truly care about the animals, we wouldn’t give them something that wasn’t for their health benefit. One, because it’s expensive!
Ranching is already a slim margin industry, and we’re not going to spend money on something that isn’t necessary. I think I can speak for all farmers and ranchers: we take our animal husbandry very seriously. Cattle do sometimes getting sick and consulting a vet and following Beef Quality Assurance guidelines judiciously using antibiotics is important.
With this story I hope that the next time you purchase beef you take a moment to think about the family that raised it for your family. The rancher that skipped dinner to make sure that cow calved okay. The rancher that wakes before dawn every single day to get the animals fed. The rancher that works a second job to make ends meet. The rancher that’s raising babies on horse back. The rancher with a small herd and the rancher with a couple thousand head.
We do what we do to provide you with quality protein to feed your family, and we couldn’t be more proud to call ourselves cattle ranchers.