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Ranching Reality Check

nolz.jpg In May, I shared with you my struggles as I turned down exciting jobs to take a risk and move home to join my family's cow/calf business while also working as a self-employed writer and speaker. Yet, I realized over the weekend that I have hardly written about my post-graduation transition back home to my family's cattle operation. I've been keeping busy informing you about my travels, hosting fun contests, reporting on HSUS activity and covering the movements of bills in Congress. However, I have said little about what ranching has actually been like as a next-generation cattle producer, and over the weekend, I had quite the reality check in what this life truly entails.

It was Friday night, and I had big plans to meet my friends in town for a last night together before they all headed back to college. However, my plans went up in smoke the second Dad broke down with the grinder-mixer. So, instead of having a fun night out, I was stuck under the big machine, covered in grease. I'm not complaining about having to work; I just noticed how much I have yet to learn. Over the past three months at home, I feel like I have had a more intense education than I had in the last 16 years of school. I've learned that there are reasons behind why my dad does certain things on the ranch, so I shouldn't try to change everything in the first couple of months. I'm not afraid to admit that if something were to happen to my parents, I would have no clue how to run the place. I've quickly discovered the economics of being in the cattle business, and it's not easy money to make by any means. I've realized that I'm only 21 years old, and my future is just beginning; I'm just hoping the future brings me wisdom to be able to handle the cattle business on my own.

Yes, these were all revelations I had underneath the belly of a grinder-mixer wagon on a Friday night. However, the biggest thing I realized as I was playing mechanic was that I truly respect anyone in the beef cattle industry. We are facing volatile times right now, but even in the best of times, raising cattle is still a tough job. I admire all of you for dedicating your lives to this career path, and I thank you for your support and readership of this blog. Thanks for sticking with me as I continue to learn the ins and outs of this business. Most importantly, your advice and expertise is always welcome. I love hearing from you. Happy Monday!

BEEF Daily Quick Fact: It takes just 40 days for most Americans to earn enough money to pay for their food supply for the entire year. In comparison with the 129 days it takes the average American to earn enough money to pay federal, state and local taxes for the year.