When I was a little girl, I spent my days running around a farm north of Hawk Springs. This was my little slice of heaven.
I lived off of shows like “The Horse Whisperer,” “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,” “Flicka” and “The Saddle Club.”
I grew up living my best life.
These shows instilled in me a desire to spend the rest of my life in a manner which followed the cowboy way.
Now, when I was little, the idea of fixing fences was simply something that I thought was just something that my parents did because they needed something to do – I know better now.
Fixing fences is one of those things that must be done to ensure the safety and organization of the herd.
My dad’s favorite thing to say was, “If you’re bored, go fix some fence. It builds character.”
Oh boy, does it ever.
It builds character and instills work ethic and it also gives you time to contemplate life.
My fence building led me to the thought of the true American Dream. Some may dream of the white picket fence and a blue collared job, some may look to living on the road more than half the time as a welder and some look to acres upon acres dotted with cattle and horses.
I think about the last of the three, and that’s where I see happiness.
Cowboys have been around as long as the world has had agriculture.
“The Horse Whisperer” gave me dreams and “Flicka” gave me reality. Robert Redford in “The Horse Whisperer” shows the solitude and acceptance of a simple life while teaching about it. He allows the dream of running a cattle operation in the mountains of Montana with rope-and-drag brandings and horseback riding any time of the day. “Flicka” tells the story of a fiery young girl who just wants to spend her days on a farm in Wyoming, but it also addresses the struggles of the American rancher who worries about whether his product will keep his family fed and the rest of the bills paid. “The Horse Whisperer gives viewers a dream of what ranching could be and “Flicka” shows more of the struggle of those ranchers.
In a time where the cattle market is down due to large corporations not being able to get their product out to the closed doors of businesses, I have to wonder how everyone in this lifestyle will keep themselves going. The government has issued stimulus checks, but looking at the bills that pile up on ranchers including feed, veterinary bills and keeping their herds on a rotation, is it enough?
The future looks bleak.
Farming and ranching is the only occupation that has business owners happy to just break even at the end of the year.
It is also one of the most rewarding fields anyone can be in. No one goes into ranching looking to make a fortune. Some do end up doing very well for themselves, but one cannot farm and ranch without passion.
Passion for their operation, passion for their product and passion for the legacy they will leave behind.
My husband jokingly asked the other day why we bought a farm. Don’t let this fool you, he was all in from the beginning and is probably going to want to be buried on this land. My response to him was that we were not working this land to get it to, “finished.” We were working this land to teach our children the importance of our American Dream. We were building this place to have a legacy to hand down to them when we are gone. We are building our family one fence post at a time.
This is the Cowboy way – putting in an honest day’s work and working the land to make something. Sometimes you have to make something out of seemingly nothing, but that is where pride and passion come in. You have the ability to take pride in the legacy you create, and you do it with passion day in and day out.
Does the future look bleak with prices going every which way other than the way we want? Absolutely. But the future can never look bleak when you know that your children are learning how to be productive and useful future members of society.
The farm was my teacher and my playground growing up, and it will be the same way for my children.
Someday they will be able to come up with their own ideals for this place and they will have to struggle, but they are also going to know that while the struggle is hard, the struggle is worth it.
The future is theirs, but they will always know that their past is being brought up in the cowboy way.