I Say Ranch Life, You Say…


“Beef!” At least that was my step-mom’s answer. (In her defense, she was in the kitchen.) What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Ranch Life”?

Hope ya’ll had a great Easter weekend with family, friends, and good food. The older I get the more it seems I rely on funerals and holidays to make a trip home to see the family. This was actually the first time in 3 three years I have been able to make it home for Easter. Though this year I walked right in the door as the food was being set to eat. I had to get an early start Sunday morning, check the cows, tag new calves, and feed the horses, before making the 2 1/2 hour trip to the grandparents house. Ranch life does not take a break for holidays, sometimes we just have to work harder to fit everything in.

I’ve got a neighbor that just moved to our little town from Tulsa. She’s lived in town all her life and has no idea of what ranch life is like. She caught me for a chat when I was driving out of a pasture one morning. One of her questions was “Do you ever get bored working by yourself out here?” (I had to take a moment to process) Boredom? In ranch life? Guess I never considered that.

This past week was everything but boredom. We had several rounds of thunderstorms, 6.5 inches of rain, and gave vaccinations to a herd of cattle. On top of that we had two separate fences that someone drove through and had cattle out on the busy U.S. highway through town. The resulting traffic jam was the talk of the town. Then there was fixing fences and trimming fallen trees after the storm, and giving my horse an impromptu workout when he decided he didn’t want to be haltered one morning. This week is bound to be just as busy.

Ranch life is anything but slow-paced. Now that we’ve finished calving season, we’re working cattle for Spring vaccinations, soon we’ll be baling hay in the summer, then will come weaning time, and before ya know it fall calving season will be here, then Christmas will come and we’ll be feeding hay. So when those lil ladies at church say “things should be slowing down soon for you on the ranch,” my response, maybe for a week, then we’ll be moving on to the next season.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say  “ranch life.” (Better not say long, lazy days soaking up the sun…)

Help me out with a future post: How would you define/differentiate the following:

  • Rancher
  • Cowboy
  • Farmer
  • Cattleman
  • Or other words related to those who work in Agriculture…
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5 Comments

  1. Ryan, you should have asked that lady if there is anything to do in town which relates to life. Even when I was a kid I would go to town, get done with what I needed to do, and get the heck out of there. To me, ranch equals life and working with life and living things, town equates to shopping for manufactured things, with most of the rest of it being artificial stimuli having nothing to do with life.

    Cowboy: Non-licensed veterinarian, willing to be on call 24/7 for low pay who will also perform plumbing, carpentry, welding, fencing, and minor mechanical repairs. Must be willing to occasionally work 24 hour shifts with no breaks, surviving on the “Ine” brothers Caff and Nicot. Needs to be smart enough to out think several hundred cows at the same time they outsmart their horse. Must also be willing and able to work in environments from double digit, sub zero temperatures to triple digit above zero temperatures. Must be mentally stable enough to work alone without seeing another person for months, and able to perform minor medical procedures on self such as splints and stitches without local anesthetic. Ranches are equal opportunity employers…If you are smart enough to do it all, yet dumb enough to do it for the wages we pay, you’re hired….

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  2. Well when I think of ranch life I think of all the times of getting up in the morning feeding bottle calves before school and then coming home after school and doing it all over again or the times out checking cows and finding a prolapsed cow. Or feeding the animals in the tractor at the different feeding spots. The thing I remember most is praying everything will be ok on the ranch and on the farm getting crops to grow and everything. I am sure missing it working in town to pay off student loans and being 2 hours away from the family farm where my father could use all the help he can get since his health is failing.

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  3. When I think of ranch life, I think about my roots.

    My favorite time of year is always calving season. The preparation – I was always fascinated by the hundreds of numbered tags hung neatly on the wall waiting to be tagged on the correct calf; The troubles – pulling a calf for the first time with my dad, losing it and seeing the frustration in my his face; The sacrifices – late nights in winter storms making sure coyotes weren’t bothering the herd…picking up a 1/2 frozen calf and putting it in the cab of the pickup to warm it up, helping feed an abandoned calf milk replacer. The funnies – You always knew when it was calving time at our house. My dad’s hair would get a little shaggy, because he would be so busy on the ranch, he couldn’t make it to town for a haircut. And my favorite – When it finally did warm up, nothing beats seeing those babies run and buck in the pasture with their tails in the air.

    Ranch life is one of the hardest lives to live, but it IS rewarding. I am thankful for my roots. Growing up on a cattle ranch/grain farm, has truly made me appreciate the food I eat and the people that put it on my table.

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  4. Definition of a rancher has me scratching my head. The old ranchers did what they could to make money with their cattle while making improvements to water etc. They worked from can’t see to can’t see right along with their hired hands.

    There is a new breed of rancher out there now. They have made their money in a totally unrelated field, and are unsure of which end of the cow is intake, and which end is exhaust. The buy ranches on a per acre price rather than animal unit cost, with no thought as to whether cattle could ever pay back the purchase price of the ranch.

    They then develop the ranch, not with an eye for cattle flow or efficiency, but aesthetics. Environmentally conscious, they buy into nearly any new fad on fencing or water systems for wildlife, with not a thought to cost, practicality or the fact that wildlife will water at the same place the cattle do.

    They have no concept of horsemanship or stockmanship and consider a cowboy on an $100 horse to be impractical and costly compared to one on an $8,000 dollar four wheeler. If on the off chance, they do want to do things horseback, chances are the only experience they have is from watching Gunsmoke, Bonanza and John Wayne movies. Because they are the ones who have all of the money, they figure the combination of money and westerns make them the authority on everything “ranchy” and tell their hands with decades of experience how to work cattle and train horses. Possibly the most important thing is that if you get in a situation, say, your horse goes down, rolls over the top of you and you come up hung up…They will chase your horse (even if he is standing still to begin with ) until you either get out of it on your own or are dead. The list goes on, but I think you get the point)

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