Recently, I saw a post by some ranchers that are kinda “Internet Famous”, if that’s the correct term, and it kinda stuck with me. It was about days getting shorter and colder weather coming on. Essentially, the message was “ranchers are up with the sun and finished when it gets dark or the work is done. Time changes don’t matter when you are on nature’s schedule.” – Oh please. Just. Stop. – As family ranchers we want to be transparent and honest. We don’t want to paint a utopian picture of a life that seems so foreign and unattainable to most people. We love what we do, but this Thoreauvian idea is just not correct. We watch the clock too.
I usually get up before sunrise; I often hit the gym, although sometimes it is right to work, so the part about “ranchers are up with the Sun” is true, but here is what bothers me… Kid wake-up starts around 7:30, because we are “distance learning” in 2020 our kids have Zoom calls –, these calls starts at 8:00, 8:45 and 9:00 depending on which kid and continue throughout the day. The post office opens at 9:00am, if I need to check the mail. The bank opens at 9:30 and closes at 4:30 (reduced hours due to COVID). Our truck is scheduled to pick up a pallet of meat at 10:30, but you have to give them an hour of time on either side of that, so we need to have that truck on the road by 8:45 or so. My part-time warehouse help, shows up at 11:00 on Monday, 12:00pm Tuesday or 9:00 am on Wednesday. We pack online orders every day and these need to be done by 2:30 because our courier shows up at about 3:00. On the days I need to sort cattle, I need to get going on that by 3:30ish, unless I want to load cattle in the dark! Ballet practice is at 4:30 on Wednesday and Water Polo is from 4:00pm to 6:00pm on Tuesday and Thursday (and sometimes Friday). On the days I’m up at one of our various ranches, I should leave by 4:30 so I can make it home in time for dinner (side note: I almost never leave by 4:30).
Of course, this is not every day and schedules flex and change and we adjust. Here is what you should know: as a rancher, we don’t just ranch, we also have a business to run and family schedules to manage. The clock matters. It matters because even ranchers have to live in the world with everybody else and have to work with other people and other schedules. But too many “Insta-Ranchers” are giving the people out in “Social Media Land” the impression that all our days are spent communing with nature and living some kind of ultra-simple, yet ultra-fulfilling, life. A life where you and your family and dogs and horses and llamas and whatever else just pass thru the world being blissful in every way… this unfortunately is simply not true. To my fellow ranchers… Please stop. It’s a myth.
We live in the same world as everyone else, we have our times of stress and times of joy. We struggle through times of sadness and enjoy times of immense pleasure and gratification. There are real triumphs and real challenges every day. Maybe our job as ranchers, is different than most, but we are people with many of the same struggles as everyone else. Stop trying to “be your brand” just be you.