Ranching has gone to the dogs…
10 Jul, 2014 at 7:39 am | Written by: Leah Peterson
This is Sunny. I love her, for many reasons. We adopted her through our local shelter efforts in Broken Bow. In the almost two years we have had her, she rarely has a bad day. Each morning she rises from her dog house, stretches, and approaches whoever is leaving the house with a “What a great day this is going to be!” expression.
Except for during storms. Last night as the storms raged on, I went to check on her and the ranch cats. Huddled together, they stared back at me with fearful expressions that screamed “Please make it stop!” If not for how wet and stinky they were, I may have invited them in to the porch. Not even that place would have eliminated the sounds of the howling wind and thunder and lightning that cracked and flashed above our heads. I offered words of comfort, and returned to the house to wait for it all to end.
Sunny’s expression last night, reminded me of how I have been feeling lately. Anxious, worried, scared, and waiting for the storm to pass. You see, we are in great transition as a family. We are praying for peace as we come to terms that we will remain a one child family. We are almost through one year of living as “self-employed” and working through the growing pains of living on one income and adjusting to paying enormous rates for our own health insurance, and we are part of a multi generation ranch family that is going through epic changes. Last week we were honored to be named NTV Farm Family of the month. Not ones for recognition or public praise, it still felt like a soothing balm on the backs of people who have been aching under the weight of bearing the load of stress that comes with ranching. Are corn prices going to come back up? Will we even see harvest as these hail storms rage across Nebraska on a weekly basis? Will the cattle ever stay in the pastures as they ought to? Will a pink eye epidemic break out again? How will we keep paying these sky rocketing property taxes? And my worst fear of all. What if something happens to dad? How can we do this without him?
My father is healthy as a horse. Rarely a day has come and gone where he has been unwell enough to keep him from the ranch work. But, my faith was rocked this week when some people who are dear to us lost their patriarch, suddenly and unexpectedly. It’s the stuff that makes anyone do a gut check. On top of the worries I already had, it was a blow. How I hurt and ache for their loss, cannot be put into words. Their loss reminds me that our time on earth is really but a snap of a finger, a breath of wind, a whisper in the grasses. None of us will get out of here alive, and none of us know how long it will be until the day it comes for us.
I have said many times before that ranching and farming isn’t for the faint hearted. Admittedly, my own heart has been faint many a time in the past two years since we moved home. I love this life so very much, which makes the joys and successful times all the more beautiful, but also makes the bad times more painful. How one learns to navigate these ups and downs, requires a lifetime. If you see an “old timer” you recognize that they have done it. Back stooped, faces full of lines from worry and time in the sun, hands that are calloused and bearing the scars of time. But usually, a beautiful twinkle in their eye, and a grin that tells the story of overcoming the worst. It’s where I want to be one day.
Sunny is wearing her smile this morning, memories of last night gone. Just like the birds that are singing, and the cows that are bunched together to greet the morning sun. It’s a new day here, clean up to do, cows and bulls and fences to check…but it’s a break from haying and irrigating too. And, it’s a story that so many of you can tell in your own words as well. It’s why I am thankful for this community, because we share this journey in common.
And, I know your ranch and farm dogs will inspire you today too.