Be kind. Be patient. Be present.

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

We aren’t the infirmed left worrying about a virus for which they couldn’t prepare. We aren’t yet the hotel or stadium workers or many others left with sudden financial insecurity. We are, however, in the eye of a storm.

We will be attentive to the moments we’re in because we must. We will disconnect as we can. We will look for joy and happiness because doing so will keep us going.

So, enjoy our preemie calf and my dopey dog. These two were exactly what I needed today. They’re cute, kind of funny, and right in front of me several times a day.

Be kind. Be patient. Be present. #WeAreRanchers

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Reality and Romance

“I do not believe there was ever a life more attractive than a life on a cattle farm.”

~ Theodore Roosevelt

I’m guessing Teddy was referencing the romantic notions of cows grazing an open plain while calves buck about playfully, and he isn’t wrong. There’s an awful lot to love about this life we choose.

Reality rarely means all sunshine, green grass, and ease though. The preemie in my porch and chain currently required to feed aren’t all that attractive … I mean, the baby’s adorable and all, but they’re a lot cuter outside😉

I chose to be a rancher and willingly accepted all that means. Most days, I’d choose it all over. BUT, there are days when it’s hard … when the reality adds difficult stress to a marriage, to a family dynamic, to a life outside of cows and land.

It’s all still worthwhile. Yet, if you’re living this life, don’t think you have to love every single minute and don’t think you’re alone. And, if you don’t live this life, please remember the grass isn’t always greener and the babies don’t always make it.

#WeAreRanchers

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Put your head in the clouds

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

~ Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds

We’re ranchers, so this quote doesn’t fit all the time … No one watches clouds better than a rancher with hay on the ground or calves making their way into the world😉

BUT, one of my most treasured things to do on the ranch is to cloud gaze. Sometimes, I find clarity for big decisions. Other times, I reflect. Most of the time, though, I just sit. And guess what? No matter how I felt before I started watching clouds, I feel better, more grateful when I’m done.

The work, the good fights, the hard battles, the responsibilities don’t seem quite so heavy after all. #WeAreRanchers #bepresent

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Light the Candle

Thank you, Audra Scheel, for inviting me to visit with Teen Leadership Academy members yesterday! 🍀 Part of me wants to share all the things I’m not, but in the interest of taking my own advice, I’m sharing my gratitude for the opportunity to meet a few of our next promising leaders. 🍀 We all have gifts, strengths, and talents, and I firmly believe we are meant to share them with others. My perspective, experiences, and advice aren’t “right” or for everyone. You and yours aren’t either. But, that’s the beauty of it all. 🍀 I learned more from these kids than they probably did from me. My outlook for the future of our agriculture industry is renewed. My belief in the power of human connection is strengthened. 🍀 I don’t know where these young leaders will go in life, but I do know they are well on their way to traveling with grace, purpose, and skills. Thank you all for becoming part of my network and helping me light my candle in your knowledge! 🍀 #WeAreRanchers #teenleaders

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Ripples of Kindness

“There is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”

~ Scott Adams

Our sons are some of Mason’s teammates. We experienced this story in real life, and I’m telling you, IT WAS SPECIAL. 🤼 I know it’s easy to get wrapped up in the discord around us, but I’ve personally experienced two of these selfless acts of kindness by young men in a span of about 10 days. The first was with my nephew’s basketball team. ❤ There IS good out there. Kids ARE still kind, caring, and thoughtful. I’m not saying bad stuff doesn’t happen or need addressed swiftly when it does. However, I am sharing this because I firmly and wholly believe the ripples of kindness can and do overpower the bad. #kindnessmatters #bekind #WeAreRanchers

https://www.capjournal.com/…/article_94939212-574a-11ea-a11…

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Ranch Dates

“Married people should not be quick to hear what is said by either when in ill humor.”

~ SAMUEL RICHARDSON , ENGLISH NOVELIST

😜 Tonight’s photos are brought to you courtesy another date night with Mr. Romantic himself! By the time office work, cattle sorting, chores, and a visit with our auction man were done today, there wasn’t much daylight left for hay hauling. But, we’ll be ready for the hay grinder come morning, and we might even be talking to each other again by then😂 Owning, managing, and working in a business with your spouse isn’t the easiest or wisest choice sometimes, but if both of your hearts are in the dream and your relationship is clothed in mutual respect, even the tough stuff is worthwhile. Stay safe, my friends! #WeAreRanchers #ranchdate #frosty

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Beauty Lives Where We Look

“We are so busy watching out for what is ahead of us that we don’t take time for where we are.”

~ Calvin and Hobbes 

After a full day with chores, wrestling, and even some football, the rancher and I ended the daylight putting hay out to cows and fixing a tank that gave the kids trouble. Thank goodness for a crockpot and helpful kids!

It’s awful easy to get caught up in the busy of our life’s season. Tonight’s gorgeous sky and calm–though wicked cold–air was a good time for us to connect, to pause, to enjoy where we are and who we’re with. #WeAreRanchers #sdbeef

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Writing for the Brand: A note to you, Rancher.

South Dakota rancher overlooks green pastures and the Missouri River.
“Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” ~Psalm 37:3

Dear Rancher,

Yes, you—the one who cares for livestock and land. The one who gets up and gets to work every day. The one who ponders the possibility of a beach vacation or night out with friends but refuses to make plans because, well, cows.

Welcome to a new decade!

It’s a time when you’re encouraged to leave behind last year’s baggage and move forward with purpose, with hope, with a blank slate. However, you’re also coming off one of the most difficult years you’ve ever faced. Your baggage clings to you in the form of upgrades you couldn’t make, maintenance you couldn’t perform, progress you couldn’t accomplish.

By the time you got done fixing or recovering from whatever the latest round of weather or markets brought, it was time to face the next round.

You’ve been kicked in the teeth repeatedly; yet, like the steadfast, honorable person you are, you don’t stay down. You get up, dust off, and keep moving.

And right about now, when it feels like the rest of the world is celebrating with a kind of joy you can’t muster, you wonder if it’s really worth the wear and tear. After all, once you dealt with the stress of a ranching business you couldn’t control, there was still the stress of health, relationships, and life in general. It’s ok to wonder if what you’ve been doing remains something you want to keep doing.

But, before you go further into the year, I want you to know this.

Crops across South Dakota, like this corn field, were spotty in 2019 due to a wide range of weather challenges.
Gratitude for a crop, for health, for safety, for God’s beautiful landscape doesn’t mean there’s no frustration.

Rancher, you are seen, and though the weight of what you’re feeling is heavy, you are not carrying it alone. It’s ok to be proud, be sad, be tired, be worried … but please, take care not to get stuck in those feelings.

Many of us are moving into a new decade carrying old burdens. Burdens we minimize by saying things like, “Well, that guy over there has it tougher, so my troubles are just silly.” I know quite personally and oh so intimately the pitfalls of glossing over those burdens … avoiding the feelings around them … getting stuck in their heaviness.

I can also attest to the power you possess when you share those burdens with someone. Your someone might be God alone, a pastor, a partner, a best friend, a best dog, a favorite horse, or even a professional listener. No one else in the world needs to know. However, you do need and deserve to express and address what weighs you down.

Rancher, read this and know it in your heart.

You matter. You are seen. You are not alone. You deserve to be surrounded by people who believe in your greatness; yet, people who will also fearlessly and lovingly call you out on your BS.

The new year is ours for the taking, Rancher, and I hope we take it all, even if only one day at a time! From our ranch to yours, happy new year; may it be full of hope, strength, and growth.

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Wishes from Our House

“The days are long. The years are short. A village it does take. Gratitude, faith, and friends like you mean a blessed life we do make.”

~ The Writing Rancher (2020)

🎉 Happy wishes for a blessed new year from our house to yours! #WeAreRanchers

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#WeAreRanchers

Green grass and the ole red, white and blue

In 1961, President-elect John F. Kennedy addressed the Massachusetts legislature and became remembered for saying, “For of those to whom much is given, much is required.”

I’m a fan of JFK’s ability to share elegant, intelligent prose; however, in this instance, I prefer the original source for his inspiration:

“From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.”

Luke 12:48

You can interpret the verse with your heart or brain … neither perspective is wrong. My personal interpretation tends to vary depending upon the circumstance currently requiring me to draw from my stuffed vault of quotes!

Lately, I find this verse speaking right to the heart of today’s cattleman (or woman if you prefer).

We farmers and ranchers are entrusted with land and livestock, but we also have responsibility to future generations … to the children who no longer help milk the cows but rather think butter comes from butterflies.

Go ahead, laugh; I know some of you at least chuckled. But, I’ve lost my sense of humor when it comes to the disconnect between today’s consumer and producer.

Attend most any conference, and you’ll learn not to call yourself a “producer” or your business an “operation”. After all, the consumers may be reading, and you’ll sound like a disconnected bureaucrat whose only interest is making a buck.

What?!

Those of us who make a life in production agriculture know the difficulties and rewards, so I’m not going to take space preaching to the choir. However, I do believe the choir needs to start singing.

Sharing our rural life with those who don’t live it is an important step in bridging the gap of understanding and respect.

It’s fair season across the Midwest. Whether you exhibit livestock, participate in 4-H and FFA events, or simply attend your favorite fair as a vacation day away from the ranch, you attend bearing the responsibility of being entrusted with the lifeblood of our country. Whether you’re out in Wranglers, a well-worn pair of boots, and your favorite hat or you’re most comfortable in shorts, tennis shoes, and a cap, you are the face of today’s agriculture.

And yes, I do encourage you to tell your story. Tell it through your genuine, patient words. Show it through your respectful, kind gestures.

You don’t have to shout your value from the rooftops, document your every step on social media, or debate your worth from a keyboard. I’m not suggesting you go-all-out with some grand gesture of agri-tourism. But, I hope you know your value and appreciate your place at the global table even if no one else really understands it.

I hope you take time to listen when asked a question … to hear the yearning for reassurance under the veil of fear. I hope you don’t avoid eye contact with the family who has clearly never been in a barn but desperately wants to “pet a cow”. Don’t tolerate disrespect or look for a fight, but also don’t hide who you are and what you contribute to your community, your state, and your country.

There will be times when the best course of action is to bite your tongue, walk away, agree to disagree. After those encounters, find a friend and have a good, long undocumented discussion about today’s world.

But remember, there will also be times when the kindness you show or the time you take makes a positive impact … when the little girl proudly shares with her friends that she knows real butter comes from cows.

We “country folk” are a dying breed in a growing world of well-sanitized hands. Yet, we are entrusted with more than ever before.

Friends, I’m not all doom/gloom. I don’t consider my husband and I exempt from this little “pep talk”. For all the very real and dangerous stressors in our industry, I view agriculture as ripe with opportunity, but we must stay united.

We can’t lose sight of all we’ve been given, and we can’t lose ourselves amidst all that is—and will be –demanded of us.

We are ranchers. We are strong, capable leaders invested in the future through our land, our livestock, our families. Fight the good fight, friends. And, as the seasons change, I hope you’ll keep one of my favorite Irish blessings near:

May there always be work for your hands to do.
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine upon your window pane.
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near to you, and
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

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