Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 3-12-19 |

Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 3-12-19

It’s been just over three years since we moved from Colorado Springs to Kansas. It’s hard for me to remember myself in 2009 – I was a young girl with big dreams, a brand new baby and a 3-year-old. Back then I thought that I had life all figured out. I was sure that moving to Kansas – my self-proclaimed “promised land” – was the key to happiness and ranching dreams.

But I was mostly wrong. We never did reach our ranching goal in Hays. Sometimes it doesn’t even seem like we are even closer to ranching than we were in 2009. But the good news is that I have found greater happiness since I’ve lived here and I’ve learned some valuable life lessons along the way.

When I lived in the hustle and bustle of the front range of Colorado I thought that life in Kansas would look a bit like life in the town of Mayberry from the Andy Griffith show. It sounds crazy, and I’m not even sure how I came up with the idea, but I just assumed that life here would be easy and wonderful. In reality though, when I moved here I had much of the same life and the same struggles as before, it was just at a different address.

It’s true that some places truly are better to live in than others, but the problem for me was that I had that grass is greener syndrome. I thought that if I just had a new place to live I would be happier. I’ve done it a thousand times on other things too. It’s easy to think that a certain product, relationship, job or dream (like ranching) will give you ultimate happiness. While you might enjoy those things and they may make your life easier or better, I’ve learned that you can’t base your happiness on them.

A more superficial, but still important, thing that I realized about myself is that I don’t want to live somewhere that gets more rain. I grew up in the flatlands of Eastern Colorado and I have always wanted to live in a place that has lots of beautiful trees, mild temperatures and green grass. But I don’t want that anymore.

Though Hays doesn’t get much more rain than Eastern Colorado, it gets enough to have chiggers and ticks. Last year the chiggers were so bad we couldn’t let the kids outside to play in the yard. Even walking through the grass a few times would give us at least a few itchy bites.

Be thankful if you haven’t been around chiggers. They aren’t microscopic, but they may as well be because you can’t see them. They like to bite in sensitive places and their bites are much like a bad mosquito bite, except that they can last (and keep itching at the same high intensity) for a week or more. I will not be missing those. I like Hays and wouldn’t mind living here forever, but I can’t imagine what kind of bugs live in even warmer and wetter climates. The beauty isn’t worth it to me – I had to move to Hays to realize that.

When I look back on my life in Colorado Springs and the first couple of years in Hays, I regret all the time that I wasted with a bad attitude. When we moved to the Springs my husband and I couldn’t find anywhere affordable to live in the country, so we ended up living in town the whole time we were there. But instead of enjoying life and all that city life had to offer, I complained and focused on the fact that we (a cowboy and cowgirl) were totally out of our element. I felt the same way again when we moved to Hays and life here wasn’t as easy as I expected it to be.

Thankfully, in the past year I’ve learned that I need to look at the positive, forget the regrets of the past and choose to be happy. That attitude frees me up to take the lessons I’ve learned and be excited about what God will work out for us in Scott City.

You can follow Shelli on her blog at

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