4 things I’ve learned from growing up in agriculture
By Paige Martindale
|In this week’s opinion, a seventh-generation rancher reflects on takeaways from her childhood. |
Appreciate the little things.
You get to grow up in God’s country, with wide open spaces as far as the eye can see.
Where else would you get to spend as much time outdoors? Even better — where else do you get to ride around for hours on end in tractors, rangers, pickups and horses while hanging out with your family. You always hear people say, “take time to stop and smell the roses.” Sometimes you have to stop and look at the view. It’s something that words can’t even describe.
There’s always something that needs to be done. I’ve always had chores or “helped” dad before I was big enough to do it myself. I knew when things needed to be done and grew up feeding cattle before I fed myself in the mornings. Whether it was getting home from school in time to work cows, or in the summer, while my friends slept in, getting up to do chores in time to go to a concert with my friends later, it was important to learn how to get things done and work hard to accomplish goals.
My friends always thought that it must’ve been horrible to work this hard. It’s rewarding to know that you’re contributing to the productivity and success of an operation. Those of us that grew up in agriculture don’t know lazy. It’s not how we were raised. We learn to put others before ourselves and take pride in the fact that our work involves being responsible for other living things. Learning to be responsible for something other than yourself is an extremely important lesson that has been a great benefit to me now that I’m older.
Dying is a part of living.
We are responsible for the life cycle of an animal and strive to make sure that while they are in our care, they have the best and happiest life possible. But sometimes, not matter how hard we try, it just doesn’t work out.
Growing up on a ranch teaches you at an early age to view death as a part of life. Losing livestock, crops, or loved ones never gets easier, but it does start to become less shocking. Nothing about losing them was easy, and nothing about losing them made sense. You’ll become familiar with death, and maybe even start to accept it. You look back and realize that you did everything you could.
Family is everything.
There aren’t many jobs that teach as much about your family and their value as ranching. You work with them and put up with them daily, but they are also your leaning blocks when things go wrong and your support when nothing goes right. With all of the craziness in the world right now, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. In a way it is a blessing, doing what I love with the people I love.
Martindale is the seventh generation on her family’s ranch and feedlot operation. Her family focuses on bettering the operation from the land to the cattle and making sure it’s better for future generations. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Kearney, with a degree in agribusiness. This column was originally published by Nebraska Farm Bureau.