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Written by Ginger Cheney

Ranch Rules from Our of the Blue

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway,” – John Wayne. It takes courage to be in agriculture. It doesn’t matter where one lives, there will be trials. I haven’t found an “easy” job in agriculture, especially ranching. Where we live, we face a glut of predators from lions and bears to coyotes and wolves. I’ve been stalked by a bear, had an exchange with a lion (my cowdogs stopped it), and had wolves come right up to our camp and others have had the wolves parallel and/or stalk them. That is all more than a little unnerving. I was visiting with a friend who ranches on the border and they’ll wake up to their vehicles stolen, illegal immigrants sleeping on their lawn, water tanks shot up, the list goes on and on and can be much worse. Agriculturalists also face droughts, floods, fires, animal diseases…where does it end? It takes courage to go on day after day.

Those are physical forces, but it doesn’t stop there. Ranchers also face frivolous lawsuits from radical environmental groups. Instead of getting out on the ground and doing something to actually help the environment like developing waters (which ranchers do), these groups make a lot of money through lawsuits. Ranchers also face antiquated decisions that tie their hands when it comes to trying to be proactive in utilizing and protecting the natural resources. It isn’t helpful when things like NEPA are 15 or more years out of date and the data is over 25 years old. Trials can come from any direction.

We want to be the best stewards possible during our tenure, but we are constantly facing battles. I hope my children will carry on and I’m doing my best to show them my passion and hopefully cultivating theirs for truly caring for the land. People have to love what they do in order to work this hard; it takes someone special to be in agriculture. Most of the kids in these photos are 6th generation ranchers and they are all facing their fears. I hope the generations to come will have the courage to saddle up and continue what we all love.

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