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Things to Know About Ranching

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

ranch in summerContributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman

When I was asked to write an article about ranchers and ranching, I started my research the right way. I asked a Texas rancher. I don’t know what I expected, but his answers were amazing.

This story isn’t about what I thought ranchers did or felt. Or what some website told me ranching was about.

This is the story from a man whose family has owned their ranch for generations. He is rancher and a true cowboy poet.

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So are you ready for ten maybe-you-didn’t-realize things to know about ranching? Here it is…ranching from the rancher’s point of view.

10. Ranchers are botanists

Monkshod Poison plant

A rancher needs to know exactly what’s growing on their land. All of their land. Was that plant there yesterday? And what about last year or decades ago? Is it invasive and a threat to grazing, or even dangerous to animals?

9. A rancher is a grass farmer

longhorn grazing in pasture

There are the plants…and then there are the pastures. Is this being grazed too much? Is this pasture ready to rest? Ranching is knowing how to see the big picture, and keep the grasses thriving even if it means keeping the cattle out of a entire pasture this year to let it recover.

8. A rancher is a veterinary tech

caring for cattle with vet

When an animal is sick, a rancher is the first responder, watching for symptoms, stocking and giving medicine, acting as midwife — and offering comfort. When the vet is called, the rancher is still there, helping and assisting as much as possible. These aren’t just animals — they’re the rancher’s life.

7. Ranchers are mechanics

I am a mechanic

When a fence needs to be repaired or the windmill is broken, it’s the rancher who’s out there fixing it. A rancher is a jack-of-all-trades, keeping things running even when ordinary people would have given up on that machine or tractor or truck.

6. Being a rancher is being a gambler

ranching I am a gambler

Nothing in ranching is certain, so ranchers are gamblers. They’re the people trying to guess when the market will be good to sell. And the ones trying to read the market for the signs that they’re selling the calves at “just the right time.” It’s part knowledge, part research, part gut feeling. And part just taking a deep breath and going for it, hoping it comes out right.

5. Ranching is about a place

ranching I am a place

For a second or third or fourth generation rancher, ranching is about the place. It’s about knowing that this is the land where Dad grew up. And feeling like the ranch is home even when they have to be away. It’s a tie to the land itself that runs through veins and swells the heart with pride when a rancher talks about it.

4. Ranching is about water conservation

I am a water conservationist

Water is life or death to a ranch. Life or death to the livestock. So ranching is about being a wise steward of water. They do not want to repeat the mistakes of the 1920s and plow up the land. They do not want to relive the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

3. Ranchers are part of a tradition

ranching I am a family

Today’s rancher is a part of a tradition. They are a link between the ranchers who came before, and those who will take up the role in generations to come. They are a spot in time between the past and the future, trying to use the best of what they learned, while moving forward into new technology, new methods.

2. Ranching is not a job, it’s a life

Ranching I am a life

The workday on a ranch doesn’t begin and end with a punch on a time clock or the blow of a whistle. The sick horse in the middle of the night, the pre-sunrise drive to market, and the sweltering afternoon spent repairing a gap in a fence are all part of the job.

1. A rancher is a keeper of memories

ranching I am memory

A rancher is someone who probably remembers their grandfather when the ranch was theirs. They remember their grandmother working beside him. They remember this cow’s mother and that one’s grandmother and what the ranch looked like from three year old eyes. They are keepers of memory, as the ranch is passed from generation to generation.

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I know there are so many more things to know about ranching and ranchers. But getting an idea of who these men and women are from day to day gave me an insight I never imagined. (And if you’re a rancher, I hope I got it right!) Thank you, Texas rancher. I couldn’t have done this article without you!


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