Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 6-25-12
My parent’s farming and ranching story gives me hope that the ranching dream is still possible. My folks didn’t start out with much, but today they are doing what they always dreamed they would do. Here are some things that they did right:
• Live Below Your Means: Though my parents admit that they haven’t always been good savers, they’ve never spent more than they’ve made. Overspending is a serious problem (and ranching roadblock) for many people – especially those my age and younger. Whether you are religious or not, if you have ever been in consumer debt you know that the Proverb “the borrower is servant to the lender” is so true. Staying out of unsecured debt helped my parents more than anything else.
• Make Sacrifices: When I was growing up my parents rarely took more than a weekend vacation and they usually drove older, used vehicles. Instead of buying a house, they lived in old, inexpensive rental houses so that they could put money towards their goal.
• Live by Farming Family or Friends: My parents always wanted to move out of the Strasburg, Colo., area, but ultimately living in the area they grew up in was the best way for them to start. My grandpa lived nearby and helped run the tractor when my dad had to check oil wells. Neighbors knew my parents, so that gave my parents a better chance of getting land to lease from them.
I didn’t follow this advice, but I wish I would have. Staying by farming family or friends (if you can get along with them) is the best way to get a start.
• Don’t Dwell on Mistakes of the Past: My parents will tell you that they’ve made lots in mistakes in life. There are places they wished they would have bought, things they wish they wouldn’t have bought and opportunities they missed. Ultimately though, today they try not to focus on all of the “what ifs” and just look forward.
• Take Your Dream the Way it Comes: If it would have been up to my dad he would have started farming right after he got out of high school. Instead, he was in his 30s before he got his farming start. Today he’s in his 50s and still has to work a job to support the farm. His road to ranching isn’t what he would have chosen, but he’s wise enough to focus on the fact that he is getting to live part of his dream.
I encourage you enjoy whatever part of agriculture you are in now (even if it is just reading the Fence Post!) and have hope that if everything aligned for my parents to get a start, it can for you too.