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We handle it differently.

The stress.

It’s the sight that initiates it. That dry brown ground.

I start at a simmer, anger quickly rising up. Soon, I am at a rolling boil, and then I explode. Tears streaming down my face, I scream out my frustrations and end up dredging up every hurtful thing that has ever happened. I am rip-roaring mad at the entire world.

I have been told I am too emotional like it is a badge of dishonor

“Knock it off.” “Get your act together.” “Hold it together.”

But it is just who I am. 

He knows I need to blow a top so I can then calm down and process. He stands there calmly. He listens, and only when I am ready, will he then quietly speak words of clarity and encouragement. He reels me back in.

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Then, I am fine.

I am stronger.

It’s just the stress.

It’s because of the dry, brown ground where the grass just won’t grow.

You can’t turn cows out on grass that won’t grow and expect it to last.

A few days later, it’s him.

He withdraws. His face is solemn. He won’t talk. He is quiet. I know now I need to just let him be. He needs to process it.

“Can I do anything to help?” I ask him,

“No, I’m fine, just irritated,” he quietly says.

Unlike me, he is able to self-talk himself out of the hole.

It always drove me crazyhis silence. I would hound him with “What’s wrongs?” Thinking I could speak and make it better. But now I know, silence is what he needs.  In a day, he will have it mentally sorted out.

Then, he will be stronger.

It’s just the stress.

It’s that same blasted ground, again. Those cows haven’t seen a green blade since June.

So, this is how we cope . . . with the stress.

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This is not what we like to see. We want to improve, make it better. That is what drives us deep down to be in this occupation. But before our eyes, we don’t see that.  The fact of the matter is that we aren’t making things better this year. You just can’t when it doesn’t rain. You can’t in a drought. You can only get through it.

We are in an August’s “No Man’s Land.” Everything is up in the air. We don’t know anything. 

We don’t know when the calves will be able to leave.

We don’t know if we will have cornstalks for the cows.

We don’t know how long the grass will last.

We don’t know if the cows bred up.

We don’t know when it will rain.

We just don’t know.

The cards will eventually fall.

But sometimes all of it just overwhelms us, especially when we see that dry, brown ground.

So, we cope, with the stress.

Originally published on the author’s blog

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Megan Messersmith

Hello! I am a third-generation rancher who lived most of my life in the Sandhills of Nebraska. My husband, Tyler, and our four girls, Ava, June, Paige, and Brooke run a cow/calf operation in the canyons of southwest Nebraska. Three years ago, we moved from my family's ranch in the Sandhills to the canyons of southwest Nebraska. Here, my husband and I are striking out on our own trying to build a ranching operation from the ground up. I hold a deep love for the land and for the cattle that graze it. My husband and I try to be the best stewards we can to all that God has blessed us with. I also have a small blog where I detail our crazy, beautiful life.

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