I have completed my first full year of blogging! While I was not the most diligent blogger, I learned a lot, met some great people, and had some great conversations. My social media goals and expectations were exceeded! Many thanks to you, my readers for your interest. I have new ideas for blog posts and delivery methods in 2015, so stay tuned!
Next week I head to California to spend Christmas with my family and friends. And I am pretty excited! In all of my years in college and living away, I have yet to miss a Christmas at home. Yes I said home, as that is where my heart is… My heart loves the mountains, trees, rivers and lakes, ranches, livestock, and of course family and friends. And I get to see these people…
Where is home for you? Is that where you are spending Christmas?
This a humorous, yet realistic post on the fact that farmers/ranchers have many skills needed to do their daily jobs. It makes me chuckle to think what a business card created by my Dad, a rancher, would look like… would he include things like animal nutritionist, livestock reproduction guru, animal care expert, or fencing, building, and equipment repair specialist?
I was shocked and saddened to hear that you had entered into a relationship with the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) after six years together. I even called one of your customer service reps hoping they would tell me you had revoked your new relationship status (or at least change it to “it’s complicated”). The HSUS promotes itself as an animal cruelty prevention organization, and unfortunately many people donate to them believing they are helping animals in need. In actuality, in 2011 HSUS spent LESS than 1% to help shelter animals in need! If people made donations to their local animal shelters, the donations would be way more effective and helpful.
Discover Card, you should also be aware that the American Farm Bureau reports that approximately 97% of all farms and ranches in the U.S. are family owned, not factory farms as is suggested by the HSUS! Like my family, these ranching and farming operations have been in the family for decades and even centuries! Agriculture is our business! Since when has having the skills, knowledge, and resources in your respected profession been a bad thing? While people in agriculture have been accused of making boatloads of money and sacrificing animal care in the process, did you know that the 2012 Census of Agriculture reported that the average farm only netted $43,750 annually! That is below the national average wage index of $44,322 for 2012. Farmers and ranchers do not raise food because of the money, they do it because they love it!
Finally, Discover Card did you know that the HSUS’s credit rating was docked this year? Yes, after some unethical behaviors on their end they were dropped from a 4-star rating to a 3-star by the Charity Navigator which monitors charities to protect and inform donors. The HSUS was put on the Donor Advisory list on June 10, 2014, and will remain there for at least one year.
Discover Card, if you want more information about your new partner I suggest checking Humane Watch, a HSUS watchdog group. Until then, I too will find a new (credit) partner, as our interests no longer align.
Disappointed customer cutting up my Discover card
If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything ~ Malcolm X
I recently attended the AgChat Conference in Austin, TX and had the privilege to be on a panel with two other persons, a mom who is food writer and a local chef/restaurant owner. Then there was me, a life-long agriculturalist. While our experiences, views, and beliefs differed, I left feeling like at the end of the day we might all agree on the following message: Agriculture is important, no matter who you are or what you do – it is essential for survival!
One of the talking points that came up during the panel was a rich farmer versus a poor farmer and where the line is drawn. I have been thinking about this for several days now and I wanted to get my thoughts out.
Growing up on a ranch we had access to horses, 4-wheelers, irrigation ditches to swim and play in, fishing holes, goose and duck hunting hot spots, and acres to learn to drive manual vehicles and ranch equipment on – it was essentially a 300-acre playground! We raised 4-H animals, our own food, sewed our own clothes, and could hunt and fish. We also believed strongly in family dinners, family projects on weekends, life celebrations, and good friends and neighbors. While we played hard, we also worked hard, very hard. We fixed our own vehicles and bought new-to-us equipment. We didn’t watch much tv, play video games, go out to dinner, or go on many vacations. In high school I could arm wrestle and beat the first-string football players and I could certainly hold my own in the weight room; all of the bale bucking and good ol fashioned hard work made me tough 🙂
I thought my childhood was awesome!
At no time did I ever think my family was rich. Monetarily rich that is. Wealth isn’t necessarily measured in number of cows, acres, or amount of equipment owned. We were rich in our knowledge, skills, work ethic, family legacy (my sister and I are the 4th generation), family and community love and support, and so much more.
I was my class Salutatorian, and was banking on the fact that good grades and some money in savings from the sale of 4-H animals would get my through college. It never dawned on me that other people thought my family was rich until I started applying for college scholarships as a high school senior. Several people wondered why I would need the scholarship money, my family was “rich ranchers” and could afford to send me to college! I was shocked that was the perception others had of my family. We weren’t (and still aren’t) fancy or rich people. But in the eyes of others my family had money, and lots of it because we had land, livestock, and various vehicles and equipment. Perception is an interesting thing…
I also never thought my family was poor. In our family, and with many others in agriculture, money is tied up in land, animals, equipment, and other assets. Ranch income was spent fixing up and/or making purchases of things that had been neglected over the past year. Because in ranching, you may only get one or two paychecks a year – when the calves and any open (non-pregnant) or crippled cows are sold! Talk about budgeting. So as a kid, and still today we knew that some months would be financially tighter than others. We also knew how to differentiate between wants and needs.
So as you can see, I struggle with the rich vs poor in agriculture. I think food production is one of the hardest professions, but also one of the most rewarding. And it doesn’t matter if you have 10 acres or 10,000 acres. The time and financial commitments, the long hours, hard work, and dedication are all similar concepts just on different scales. There are certainly those who are rich in agriculture, and kudos to them for making a profit with their livelihoods. But does that mean a person who may not have much money in agriculture is poor? Not necessarily, they could be rich like my family – rich with all of things that are hard to touch, see, and measure. You see I always thought my family was rich…