Why did I choose agriculture?
Why am I a farmer?
Why am I a rancher?
Honestly, I was born lucky. Born to have this opportunity as a 6th generation farmer and rancher on a place that was homesteaded by my family back in 1893.
Growing up, my parents always made it clear that there would be room for all of us kids to come back to the farm if that is what we wanted. No pressure to come back, but the door would be open.
I envied the kids that had clarity in what they wanted for their futures. The ones that knew from an early age they wanted to be a nurse or an engineer. That clarity never came for me. I'm not even sure I have that clarity now...
High School was simple. All the rungs on the ladder were there, all I had to do was climb them. Join the clubs, take the college credit classes, and be involved in activities; boxes checked.
There still wasn't a solid feeling of clarity for the direction of the rest of my life as high school graduation neared and I felt immense pressure to find the "light my soul on fire, burning passion" for life then commit to it for an entire lifetime.
I chose to major in Agriculture Economics in college and fast tracked my way through a 4 year Bachelor of Science degree in 2.5 years. As college graduation approached, there was still no giant billboard of clarity so I entertained two job offers.
Begin working at an agriculture lender or an agriculture equipment dealer?
Thinking back now, I don't have words to describe the pull toward the equipment dealer group, but that felt right. I went with it. During my four years, I created and scaled a data management department, one of the first of its kind in the country. Then was able to climb the corporate ladder to sit in big meetings working on big ideas with incredibly talented minds. It was the ultimate opportunity. It was challenging and fulfilling.
I could have kept climbing. It was an amazing company with plenty of opportunity to keep scaling.
But I started to have a tug in my heart surrounding legacy.
Building something that would continue what had been started generations prior and that could be passed down to generations to come is what weighed on me.
While I was working at my equipment dealer job, I had expanded my cowherd and continued to be at the farm daily. The flexibility of my job allowed me to be fulltime on our harvest crew. They were often 17+ hour days, but that was good preparation for the sleep deprivation of motherhood.
When my grandpa decided to mostly retire, there was room for my brother and I to pick up land at the farm. Coincidentally, that same year we also had the opportunity to purchase land which made farming and ranching fulltime a possibility that financially penciled.
Our priest once said what a gift it was to be surrounded by God-made and it's a sentence that I now think of often.
What a blessing it is to witness the miracle of life as we have calves born and seeds emerge from the soil.
What a blessing it is to be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves.
What a blessing it is to raise our kids to know how the world around them works because they've been able to be a part of it.
I'm a farmer because I love the challenge of finding opportunity.
I'm a rancher because I love the lifestyle it affords my family.
I'm a farmer because I love being a part of the miracle of life.
I'm a rancher because I love the purpose of what we are doing.
I'm a farmer because it fits well with running cows and I'm a rancher because cows fit well with farming.
I wanted to be a part of something that was started here generations before me and give my kids the opportunity to be involved in something bigger than themselves. I continue to choose to put my future at the mercy of many factors outside of my control, including the markets and the weather, because this is such a special way to live.
It's special to spend my days in the sun with the wind in my face.
It's special to smell the freshly turned dirt and the grass after a rain.
It's special to be able to physically work with my hands while also running a capital-intensive business that requires a mental sharpness. It's special to have a business that demands such high levels of personal growth, adaptability, and perseverance.
It's special to be able to have every day be bring your kids to work day. Even as adults, my brother and I are still working with our parents!
I chose to be a farmer and a rancher because I chose this way of life.
This very special way of life.