Amanda Radke: A Cowgirl’s Perspective 5-9-11
The Fence Post would like to introduce our newest monthly columnist … Amanda Radke. She is a South Dakota cattle rancher and agriculture writer. She was the National Beef Ambassador and National FFA Extemporaneous Speaking Champion in 2006. She travels the country speaking to producer groups and works hard to connect rural communities to urban America.
As a rancher’s daughter and wife, I can relate to the 2009 Brooks and Dunn song, “Cowgirls Don’t Cry.” The lyrics of this country hit go something like this:
“Her daddy gave her her first pony, then told her to ride. She climbed high in that saddle; fell I don’t know how many times. He taught her a lesson that she learned, maybe a little too well. Cowgirls don’t cry, ride, baby, ride. Lessons in life are gonna show you in time. Soon enough you’re gonna know why. It’s gonna hurt every now and then. If you fall get back on again. Cowgirls don’t cry.”
Growing up on a cattle ranch in South Dakota, I was taught that lesson many times over, with Dad constantly reminding me to buck up and be tough. After all, there’s work to be done, and I had responsibilities to tend to. Anyone outside of farming and ranching might think that’s a harsh lesson for a young kid to learn, but to me, it gave me a strong foundation for my adult life.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Amanda (Nolz) Radke, and I’m excited to introduce this first ever column, “A Cowgirl’s Perspective.” I’m a 2009 graduate of South Dakota State University, where I studied Agriculture Communications, and upon graduation, I set up shop close to home, where I could play an active role in my family’s Limousin seedstock business. In October 2010, I married my best friend, Tyler, and together, we are pursuing our dreams of raising cattle and continuing the family’s long-standing tradition in agriculture.
Through this column, my hope is to inspire you with my personal stories, motivate you to serve as an advocate for our industry, and keep you on top of the movements of political activist groups who are lobbying each day to regulate us out of business. I know it’s a lofty goal for a monthly column, but I hope you’ll saddle up and enjoy the ride!
Now that you know a little bit about me, let’s get back to that Brooks and Dunn song. You see, the lyrics of this song had new meaning for me last March, when my dad was placed in the Intensive Care Unit with heart complications. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time – calving season was about to start, the winter frost was going out, the lots were muddy, our basement was flooding from all the extra rain, and I had just gotten engaged and was stressed about where life would take me in the upcoming months.
During the day, my mom and I would visit my dad, my hero, in the hospital. It was hard to see him looking so thin, pale and weak. The doctors couldn’t figure out how to regulate his heart, and his intense worrying over his girls and his cattle wasn’t helping the situation.
In the evenings, Mom and I would head out to do chores. We would start up the tractor and pray we wouldn’t get it stuck. Then, we would check for new calves and pen up those getting close. After more than a week of the weather and my father wreaking havoc on my heart, I broke down and cried out, “God, why are you doing this to us? It’s too tough! Please, stop this rain. Please, bring my Daddy home!”
As I wept in the tractor seat alongside my mother, that Brooks and Dunn song came on the radio. Even as a grown woman, I needed the reminder that, “Cowgirls don’t cry. Ride, baby, ride. Lessons in life show us all in time. Too soon God will let you know why. If you fall, get right back on. The Good Lord calls everybody home. Cowgirls don’t cry.”
The end of the story is that, much to our relief, my Daddy came home after two weeks in the hospital. During that time, we didn’t get the tractor stuck, and we didn’t lose any new calves in the snow and rain. Certainly, there are seasons in every rancher’s life that are tougher than others. The weather, cattle markets, feed prices and government regulations can create a stressful environment for us to work under. Here’s a cowgirl’s reminder, that no matter what you’re going through, keep your head held high and, “ride, baby, ride because cowgirls don’t cry.”
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