Try life on a ranch first

I always wish that the people who are so hepped up on reintroducing wolves and ferrets and such would be required to ranch — not just the work but the financial aspects also — for five years before they seek to infest it with such critters. Maybe they wouldn’t change their minds, but at least they would have had a chance to know something besides book learnin’ and bad “science,” before they tried to push their romantic notions down the throats of the ranchers who are forced to live with the trumped up ideas.

Being a successful farmer or rancher is very complicated these days anyway, and the people who have no idea in the world what it’s really like to be in production agriculture are the ones who are either pushing their agendas or actually making the rules and regulations.

A farmer/rancher has to be a scientist, an accountant, know animals and their behavior, a gambler on both price and yield. He must keep up with the newest technology and sort out what is necessary and what is nice to have. Many of us live with debt. If that bothers you, farming or ranching is not a good career choice. We write and receive really large checks, but we know that the money is just passing through our hands, often on its way to the banker. It’s real money, but it’s not often ours to spend, a fact of life in this business.

Contrary to what many city people think, farmers and ranchers do not want to kill every prairie dog nor every coyote we see, but the animals do need to be controlled. If the people who are coyote or wolf lovers knew what the animals do to one of the cows while she is calving, they might realize that there are too many predators and they are too bold. But they will not know because it is too graphic and horrible for me to publish a photo of the damage in a family newspaper.

Our own federal government and several of its agencies have had a large responsibility in these problems. On one small scale, think of all of those trees in the Black Hills, dead from pine beetles, and since they are not viable, of course they should be removed. So, the Sierra Club or one like it brings on another lawsuit to keep those dead trees standing and use even more of our tax money to fight the fires in those dead trees, which should have been logged long ago.

The farmers and ranchers who live on the land, who, along with the loggers, make their living from the land, who need the land to be productive, are the best stewards — and the most knowledgeable people — about the land. Let us live our lives in a peaceful and productive manner.

Sanders writes at her family ranch in southwestern South Dakota. A national award winning columnist and author, she can be reached through her website,

Peggy Sanders


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