Spending time off the ranch

My daughters listen to speaker at general session of National Cattleman's Beef Association meeting.
"If you're a full time rancher, how can you leave the farm to go to all these meetings and events?"  This is a question I've heard asked on twitter to other ranchers, but it is also a question I've asked myself--many times! But the answer is easy: my time spent connecting with legislators, consumers and other ranchers is as important as the time spent on the ranch. 

As a rancher, it is my duty to be involved in legislative decisions and industry organizations that decide how I run my ranch, and that directly affect my ability to pass the ranch down to my children. Laws and regulations are being passed that may have unintended consequences or misguided intent. If ranchers like me don't get involved, we may be legislated out of business!

Believe me, it is not easy to leave the ranch for any length of time. The cattle need fed every day, there are always problems that arise, and the weather makes everyday chores difficult.  So when I prepared to head to Denver the first of February to attend that National Cattleman's Beef Association convention, I questioned my decision to leave many times.

My daughters received scholarships at National Convention. Presented by Baxter Black.
In order to be gone, I worked hard to help stockpile feed for the cattle, roll out extra straw for bedding to be prepared for bad weather, and organized ear tags and medicines that might be needed. Then I did the "mom things" like making a couple casseroles to be warmed up for dinners, sent lunch money to school, and checked grades to make sure everyone was on top of their work. It is a hassle to prepare to leave the ranch. Then while I was gone, a major snowstorm hit and I worried the entire time about the health of our newborn calves, as well as my husband and kids who were feeding and caring for the cattle.

When I returned, you can imagine that the work had piled up...actually the cattle were well cared for, but the house was TRASHED! I know that no one had time to vacuum or mop the floor, let alone wash towels (remember I have a 7-person family so we use a lot of towels), but after six days away, I realized that they do need me!

I do not like to be gone from my ranch, but the events and meetings that I do attend are important to our business. They are not only a chance to be involved in the regulations and laws that affect our ranch, but are also a vital opportunity to connect with people who re-energize me. I am a social being--and the cows don't like much conversation (at least they don't reciprocate when I talk to them), so these events are a chance to connect with people who have the same concerns and joys that I have. We talk about what is going on at our ranch, and share ideas about how to be more efficient or effective.

I bought Richard Picciotto, Dept. Chief, NYFD, a drink after his presentation about the tragedy of  9/11. He was trapped in the rubble at the World Trade Center.
I also meet people that I would never have the chance to meet on my ranch. Richard Picciotto is one of those people. He told an amazing story at the general session for NCBA. He was the highest ranking Fire Chief to survive the tragedy at the World Trade Center on 9/11. He was buried in the rubble and seriously injured. After his speech the 5,000 rancher in attendance gave him a standing ovation. That evening I saw him walking through the hotel lobby, and I asked if I could buy him a drink. He agreed and my friends and I visited with him at the bar for at least an hour! He is an amazing individual and I came away from our conversation feeling good about our country.

I don't make many trips off the ranch, but the ones I do make are important to my future and my children's future. That doesn't mean it is easy, but the work is always waiting for me when I get home!


  1. There is always work waiting wether it is outside or inside .Glad you got to go Saw some onRFD-TV

  2. Excellent post on a subject I often encounter, keep up the good work and the faith in this business and congrats to your daughters on their awards received at the Best of Beef Breakfast!

  3. How nice! Do you know Monty & Diane Weston? Owners of the WineCup Cattle Co in Utah? They were at the convention as well! They are my in-laws. My hubby is partners with them.

    I love your blog :)


  4. So glad to connect with you and what a cool site!! Hope to keep in touch

  5. Hello! I just stumbled on to your blog today and just LOVE what you are doing! My family has always been farmers. I am a 24 yr old hog and grain farmer. I farm with my mom, dad, 2 brothers, and 1 sister. We raise corn and soybeans and have a farrow-finish hog operation. I would love to be able to do what you do in your world, in the hog world, but dont have a clue were to begin! Thanks for all you do for the ag world and keep up the good work! May God Bless you and your family!!!

  6. Sarah, it is easy to set up a blog--it is the promoting it that gets hard! I'd be happy to visit with you about it, if you like. Email me and we'll talk. debbie@blytheangus.com


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