Growing up, I will admit I didn't always love being a cowgirl, especially when my friends made fun of me or when I had to miss a sleepover to do ranch work. Those challenging teenage years had me counting down the days until I would graduate from high school and leave cattle behind me forever. I couldn't wait to be free, and I vowed to never marry a farmer! I dreamed of having a big city job, working in a skyscraper as a lawyer and wearing chic suits and heels to work every day. In college, I actively pursued these dreams, trying new jobs and traveling to new places. I never imagined that my heart would call me back to the ranch, where coveralls and boots would be my work attire, and cattle would be my life.
The way my life path has twisted and turned reminds me of a Bible quote found in Jeremiah 29:11. "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
There's no doubt about it; God has a funny way of revealing our hearts and guiding us in the right direction. I was reminded of this by a reader email, who is seeking advice for his daughter, not much unlike myself at that age, who has lost heart in the ranch and is trying to abandon her roots in agriculture.
Here is an excerpt:
Good morning, Amanda. I have a question for you and your readers.
We bought our ranch in Bee County, TX, about four years ago. It’s primarily a recreational ranch and is only an hour from home. We have exotics in a high-fence tract and hunt, and we run commercial cattle in the low-fence area. We also have some big longhorn steers for decoration!
Our daughter is 15 and has enjoyed being at the ranch up until now. She no longer has much interest in the ranch. She would rather spend time in town and with her friends. Do you have some suggestions on how to ignite some genuine interest in her in being at the ranch? Will her interest return at some point? How can I make being at the ranch fun for her and her friends?
Thanks for the help.
Today, I’m seeking your advice to help JD in his problem. My best advice would be to let his daughter drift and dream, while always reminding her that agriculture is the heart and soul of America — no matter if you live in a big city or a small community. I would encourage her to have friends come out and experience the ranch, and I would offer her a project with the livestock, giving her a set of responsibilities that would give her ownership on the operation. Most importantly, I would advise a lot of patience. Teenage girls are apt to explore new things, but if their heart is truly in agriculture, they will eventually find their way home.
What would you tell JD about his daughter? Have you experienced this before yourself or with your children? What advice did you give that young person? How can we help young people fall in love with ranching again? Your insight and ideas are greatly appreciated, by JD, myself and this entire community. Anything you can offer on this topic can and will influence lives. Thanks in advance for your words of wisdom, and thank you for sharing your passion for agriculture with all of us in this blog.
And don't forget to check out our photo gallery of all the lovely cowgirls and cattlewomen, our tribute to country gals in the runup to Mother's Day next weekend. Vote for your favorite among the finalists today! Voting ends May 7, with the winners to be announced May 9.