Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 5-30-11 |

Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 5-30-11

Shelli Mader
Hays, Kan.

When I was in high school, a lot of kids thought I was pretty strange for a variety of reasons, but mainly because I wanted to move to Kansas. My friends couldn’t believe I would voluntarily go to such a boring state.

To me, Kansas wasn’t boring at all. It was like the Biblical Promised Land. In my mind it was a place filled with friendly people, good values, agriculture and plenty of opportunity.

I can partly blame my rose-tinted view of Kansas on my parents. When I was growing up my dad wanted to farm. My parents thought that they should move away from the hustle of the Colorado Front Range and go somewhere with fewer subdivisions and more agriculture. During my elementary school years they started looking at farms in Kansas. Many of our weekend “vacations” were spent there scoping out farms.

It may have been a coincidence, but it did seem like the people in Kansas were friendly. The folks in coffee shops, restaurants and gas stations impressed us all. After a few trips to the state, it really began to grow on me. I could picture myself there, blissfully happy.

I fell in love with Kansas one spring when my folks went to look at a place south of Scott City. I can’t remember much about the place except that there was a gorgeous 9-year-old buckskin gelding in the pasture. The man who owned the place told my parents that if they bought his farm, he would give me that horse. That sealed the deal for this horse crazy girl. Kansas people were the most amazing people on earth. I knew it had to be a sign from God for my parents to get that place. To my disappointment, they didn’t wind up buying that farm, but that trip confirmed in my mind how wonderful Kansas was. I knew that it was the state for me.

After all those trips to Kansas, my parents never did end up living there. They started farming a place south of Strasburg, Colo., just a mile from where my dad grew up. I graduated high school in Strasburg, went to college in Wyoming, moved back to Strasburg for two weeks and then got married. My husband and I moved to Colorado Springs after the wedding, but I didn’t give up on my dream of living in Kansas. Fortunately, my husband shared my passion for agriculture and Kansas, so after having two kids and living there for five years, we moved to Hays, Kan.

Our move to Kansas in 2009 was exciting. It felt like years of dreams were finally coming true for me. My husband and I were fortunate to find a house in the country to rent and had the help of my grandpa, grandma and two brothers to haul stock trailer loads of our stuff to Kansas. I was eager to get unpacked and settled when we got there. I couldn’t wait to get those wheat-embossed Kansas license plates on our pickups.

Surprisingly though, after the excitement of moving died down, life went back to normal. My husband went to work full time and his job was just as stressful as it had been in Colorado. My 3-year-old girl was still into everything and my 4-month-old son was still colicky. Life was just life. Hays was a nice town, but it was still just a town filled with the same sorts of people that are everywhere. The license plates in Kansas were even ordinary. A few months before we moved from Colorado, the state discontinued those beautiful wheat license plates in favor of ones that were just plain blue and white.

I am embarrassed to admit that I was shocked that life in Kansas wasn’t really any different than it had been in Colorado. Not much had changed for me except the scenery. I had spent all those years putting my life on hold, waiting to move and now that I had gotten just what I wanted I wasn’t any happier.

We have been in Kansas for two years now and life here is good. We enjoy living in the country and have some wonderful neighbors and great friends. But I regret not fully living when I was in Colorado. I was so eager to leave Colorado Springs, live in the country and have a ranch that I didn’t appreciate all the things living in town had to offer.

I am thankful for Kansas. I needed to move here to realize that I have to enjoy my life now. There is not one perfect place, state or even season of life.

So what is your life on hold for? Are you waiting to enjoy it until you move, get a promotion or start ranching? It’s good to have goals for the future – I still have them – but don’t forget to enjoy the journey because you aren’t going to find any “promised land” this side of heaven.

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