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How Did You Get Your Start In Farming, Ranching?

img_7132.JPG I was sitting in the bleachers watching one of the many cattle shows during the 2010 South Dakota State Fair this past weekend when the emcee caught my attention with some of his questions he asked the crowd. Among the questions he asked the attendees was a show of hands on how many years they had attended the fair. “How many of you have been coming to the fair for 20 years? 30 years? 40 years?” As the decades progressed, there was only one man with his hand still raised. He was a rancher who had been attending the fair for 71 years.

I got to thinking about that man and how he had been involved in agriculture production for more than half a century. I wished I had his knowledge, experience and expertise on how to weather the storms this career brings in order to have a sustainable operation to last the decades. With only a month left until I get married, I’m amazed at how many folks offer up their stories to myself and my husband-to-be. They talk about the lean early years of marriage and how they have been able to grow strong operations with such modest beginnings.

I’m so intrigued by these stories, and I often find that I gain new perspectives on the beef cattle industry by sharing how these married couples have worked together through thick and thin to reach their goals. One of the best stories is told by my grandfather who always says, “In 1952, I got the two loves of my life: my wife and my first Charolais cattle.”

Today, I’m wondering how you got your start in agriculture? How many cattle did you buy the first time you went to a female sale? What did your first acreage look like? Who did you work with? Which breeds did you start with? What has changed over the years? How long have you been in the business? I would love to hear your stories. Thanks for the privilege.