In the quiet of the blustery March night, he looks over at the calendar. While warming his hands between runs through the herd, it occurs to him that it is Ag week. A chuckle escapes his chapped lips, as he turns his weary eyes to the quiet scene in the ranch shop. How humorous it is, that National Ag Day begins after a night such as this.

While most of America slumbers, the cattlemen and women of America toil through the night in pursuit of the dream of each one this time of year. To help usher new life into the world, without too much stress and worry. Some years, the days of March bring sunshine and gentle temperatures to greet the millions of babies that begin to arrive across the heartland. Other years, blizzards and bone chilling temperatures greet them. And in those throes, most every producer goes through at least a moment of time where they question their life’s pursuit. 

The agriculture community is in pain and tumult these days. Corn, bean, wheat, and cattle prices are in the tank. Prairie fires have ravaged the middle of the country to the tune of Millions of dollars in loss. But, you won’t see that on the evening news. What happens between coasts often goes unnoticed. Silently, we have circled our wagons and lent aid in forms of hay and feed and wire and posts and hard earned dollars to bring a bit of relief, a token of support, and a helping hand to those who are in the trenches with us. How ironic, that our own version of “Katrina” happened in the month of March when we are to be recognized for our commitment to feeding the world.

In the dimly lit shop of our ranch, this scene unfolded in the early spring days of 2013. A spring blizzard came roaring across the plains. It was “all hands on deck” for days, and in my exhaustion I checked the time on my phone tucked into my coveralls. The battery was almost dead, but enough charge remained to capture this image that will remain imprinted upon me forever.

You see, our family homesteaded this bit of Custer County in 1878. We survived through the World Wars, the great depression, the collapse of the farm economy in the 1980’s and countless other tragedies. It was in those times, that we in the Ag community leaned on one another to survive. The internal fortitude to survive is sometimes only held together by the bond with one another, and the grit to see another day. I grew up watching my father mend fences with what he had, and watching my mom scrape together the means to feed us through the hard times. And on this night, it reminded me that their examples have never been in vain. That on each and every Ag week of my adult life, I will tell our story and the story of other families like ours. 

That no matter the circumstances, we will carry on. 

Because, we love this life, and we are honored to do our part in helping feed America. We don’t want your sympathy. We don’t care if you ever thank us. We just ask that as you push your cart down the meat and dairy aisle of your favorite store, you think of people like us. And you do your part to tell our story too.

Happy Ag Week to all the producers out there. I salute you.

Leah Peterson

Leah Peterson is a native Nebraskan, living on the ranch her ancestors homesteaded in 1878. She and her husband Matt, met at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and returned to the ranch in 2012 after working and living in Central Nebraska the past 12 years. They are parents to two daughters, Maggie and Lucy. Leah has an undergrad degree from UNL in Communication Studies, and a MA in Leadership from Bellevue University. Aside from her work at the ranch and opportunity to be a stay at home mom, she enjoys writing, photography, community involvement, spending time with friends and family and trying new recipes in her kitchen. Leah published her first children's book in 2011 titled "An Apple for Dapple" and enjoys traveling throughout the state to share her book with children and raise awareness about the importance Agriculture in Nebraska.