A slight cool breeze brushed across my face as the sunshine peaked through the clouds, warming my skin. Beneath me, the sorrel gelding kept a steady pace as he jogged smoothly through the brown prairie grass, with the slight tingle of spur rowels keeping time.
Looking out across the rolling hills, there was nothing but untouched land for miles. Ahead, my parents trotted their bay and buckskin horses together to start gathering cows. Beside me, Jerad cracked jokes from his new grey gelding while Martin made fun of his Spanish from the back of a yellow dun.
Last Friday was perfect as we drove 90 head of spring cows across 10 miles of open prairie – not a telephone pole, road or house in sight. Last Friday was soul gravy, spent in the Kansas Flint Hills I call home with people I am blessed to have in my life.
“Why do you do what you do?” A question that is relevant to every single one of us on this earth, whether we’re producing beef cattle, harvesting crops, teaching in a classroom, serving for our country, or any other occupation. For most people, their “why” is based on some sort of fulfillment. But no matter what that reason may be, we all have our days – the days my dad says he would have been better off staying in bed all day and throwing hundred bills out the window. Days where my mom is waist deep in paperwork until the middle of the night trying to keep up with records for the purebred herd. The kind of days when the pipes in the feedyard’s well house freeze, the best herd bull gets stuck by lightening, five cows die of nitrate poisoning, a log gets sucked into the hay baler, your best ranch horse gets a nasty stone bruise or a new pen of calves breaks to a respiratory disease.
You know the days, we’ve all had them.
While sitting at my desk in the third floor open news room in one of the many Kansas City metro towns, I’ve lost track of my “why” a couple of times. Maybe it’s a beautiful day and I’ve been surrounded by concrete buildings for a month and am aching to be in open range and a slower paced environment, or a late night before deadline and the words aren’t flowing productively.
And that’s why it’s important to take time and reset when you can – to remember your “why.”
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work under editors who not only understand the importance of remaining connected on a production level of the beef industry, but have encouraged me to take advantage of any opportunities I can.
As you finish reading this and look through the recent cattle drive photos of my “why,” think about your own and ask yourself, “Why is it I do what I do?”