Giving Thanks Part 2: Grateful for rural America

Thanksgiving is here, and I’m looking forward to good food, football and looking through the Black Friday ads. Each year, my mom, sisters, aunts and cousins meet to go shopping on the biggest savings day of the year. However, this year, I’m planning to stay at home and take advantage of deals online, to avoid the crowds and spend the day with my kids.

Earlier in the week, my husband Tyler and I sat at the kitchen table to go over our budget for the remainder of 2016. With the added expenses of the holiday, it’s important for us to pencil those items in and plan ahead. Showing Tyler my gift list felt a little bit like a tough negotiation. For every extravagance I wanted to shower on our two kids, Scarlett and Thorne, he matched it with an expense or bill we have to pay for the ranch.

Fisher Price farm set or land rent payment? Barbie doll dream house or feed bill? Battery-powered Jeep or buy more hay? Toy chutes and corrals or real ones?

Thankfully, we carved out some money in the budget to spoil our kids a little bit, but the financial discussion was also a reality check that calf prices have fallen, markets are down and as millennial ranchers, we’re heading into our first low experience in the cattle market cycle.

So we do the only thing we know how — we buck up, put on our big boy pants and get ready to weather the storm, knowing that if we play our cards right, make sound investments and live frugally, we’ll probably do just fine.

While our kids are still too young to learn about the value of a dollar, this upcoming holiday season we’re going to practice gratitude for what we have instead of yearning for the things we want. This year, I want to start a family tradition of counting our blessings and repeating the mantra — we are thankful, grateful and blessed.

First, Tyler and I are thankful. We are thankful for our freedom and the people who serve our country to protect that freedom. We are thankful to live in a democracy where we have the power to vote, the power to speak freely and the power to pursue whatever version of success and happiness that suits us best. We are thankful to be Americans, and when we wake up and breathe the fresh air on the ranch each morning, we don’t have to fear persecution for personal faith or beliefs.

Second, we are grateful. We are grateful to have the opportunity to ranch in a multi-generation operation with my folks. We are grateful for our health, which gives us the ability to have careers which require manual labor. We are grateful for our education — earned both at college and the school of hard knocks — and we are grateful for books, news and other sources of media, which allows us to continue learning and growing as individuals. And we are grateful for our careers, which help us carve out our own slice of the American dream at home on the ranch.

Third, we are blessed. We are blessed with two beautiful children; they are the reason why we work so hard, and they bring us immense joy every day. We are blessed with productive, healthy cattle that make us happy, pay our bills and fuel our passions. And we are blessed that our shared passion in the beef industry is what brought Tyler and I together in the first place. We are blessed to have access to rolling pasture hills; they are the cornerstone of our cow-calf operation. We are blessed with fresh rural air and clean water. We are blessed with this simple, quiet life we live, and we wouldn’t want to raise our kids anywhere else.

Finally, we are thankful, grateful and blessed to live this humble life, in this quiet corner of rural America. We are so fortunate to have people in America working on farms, ranches, oil fields, coal mines, timber, manufacturing and other industries who provide the food, fiber and fuel to use in our daily lives. To all of them, I am thankful.

I guess what I'm trying to say is we don't need much underneath the tree because the best things in life aren't things; they are the people you get to share life with. And for that I'm very thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving from our ranch to yours!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

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