Over the weekend, I went into town to drop off a couple of packages at the post office. We only get our mail 3 times a week out here in the Sandhills of Nebraska and I missed Friday’s mail. While I was in town, I stopped by the little grocery store. Because when you live where we do, you never leave town without milk and gas.
As I was walking down the aisle toward the milk, I spotted the Grant County News with the words “Special Beef Edition Inside” written in big bold letters right at the top of the paper (not surprising since May is Beef Month and Nebraska is The Beef State). Naturally, I bought one because I’m old school like that – I still read the occasional paper and we raise beef.
When I got home, I put the cold groceries away then got busy/distracted doing a few other things before I got around to putting away the rest of my grocery haul. And to be honest, I had kind of forgotten that I’d picked up a paper until I found it in the bottom of the bread bag.
I hurried to finish the task at hand and eagerly grabbed the paper. I opened it up and found not one special beef edition insert, but five – five inserts dedicated to beef and the men, women, and their families who raise it. Within the pages of each insert were stories, salutes, pictures and poems, journal entries from old time ranchers, and even a letter to Paul Harvey written in 1998 detailing what raising beef means to ranchers and the Sandhills.
As I flipped through the pages of our small town paper, I couldn’t help but be filled with a sense of pride, nostalgia, and awe all rolled into one. Beef is a big deal here in Nebraska. I mean, seriously – they don’t call us “The Beef State” for nothing. Cattle out number people here four to one. And when it comes to our state’s economy, beef is in the driver’s seat, bringing in more revenue than any other business.
Beef – it’s more than what’s for dinner. It’s more than just a big deal. To so many of us here in Nebraska, beef is our livelihood. It’s our passion. It’s what lights our fire and gets us out of bed in the morning. It’s our calling.
It’s also, on occasion, a thankless job. It’s the heartache and devastation that come when we have blizzards in May, years of drought, and other events that are beyond our control. But we’re a stubborn bunch and we love what we do. Because it’s also bearing witness to some of God’s greatest gifts.
It’s watching a wobbly calf get up for the first time and witnessing your children learn and grow in their passion for our way of life. It’s knowing that caring for the land and livestock, and bringing delicious nutritious beef to tables across this country and abroad is so much bigger than ourselves. So, we keep at it every day – rain, shine, sleet, or snow.
As this Beef Month draws to a close, I am asking you to think of us – the farmers and ranchers raising beef here in Nebraska and across the country.
Think of us when you’re standing at your grocer’s meat case trying to decide which package of beef to buy because there are so many options to choose from. Think of us at the next backyard barbeque when beef is on the menu. Think of us when you’re enjoying a taste bud tantalizing T-bone at that fancy steakhouse you’ve always wanted to try.
And most importantly, think of us when you have questions about what we do – questions about beef. Then seek us out and ask us those questions. We’re here. And we’re happy to help because beef is more than just a big deal.