Growing up around agriculture, you tend not to think about it too much. You know that the fence is not going to mend itself and there is no way you are eating dinner before the animals are fed, but you don’t stop and think about how it makes you feel or what it took to get to where you are today.
When I was a little girl, my great grandfather used to tell me this story; the story of how he acquired our family ranch. I would sit down cross legged on the floor and stare up at him with wonder in my eyes and desire burning in my heart because I wanted nothing more than to feel the passion and love that he did, not only for the land, but for agriculture itself. He used to ask me, “Alli, look out the window, what do you see?” Back then all I saw was pasture, fence posts, and horses, but now, it is so much more than that.
Like most typical adolescents, I went through this phase where I wanted nothing to do with the life I was being brought up in and didn’t understand why I couldn’t just be like a “normal” kid where the only care was what movie they would be seeing that Friday night. I didn’t understand why my parents pushed me to be involved not only in my academics, but through sports and 4-H as well. Quite frankly, I saw no point in preparing a livestock demonstration and I had no idea why it was so important for me to partake in livestock judging if all I was going to do was poke the sheep with my pencil to see which one I thought was the fluffiest. Now don’t get me wrong, I have always loved animals, but constantly caring for them was not always my cup of tea. Then, somewhere around middle school age something clicked inside of me. Whether it was me remembering the words of my great grandfather or finally coming to my senses I can’t say, but what I do know is that to me, agriculture was different.
Now here I am, a junior in college, pursuing a degree in Veterinary Technology. Although I am not constantly home on the ranch anymore, our ranch is still very much alive inside of me. Just ask my friends. Chances are, they will tell you that I get more excited over spending time with cattle than I do with people and that if I was given the chance, I would gladly put on my chore clothes and go spend time out in the barn.
It is funny how life changes us. If my great grandfather was still here today and he said to me “Alli, look out the window, what do you see?” I would tell him that I see hard work, dedication, and love. I would tell him that I am so thankful he pursued his dream of owning a ranch and that I now get to call it home. I would tell him that I am so grateful for the way he cared for the land and his animals and that that work ethic was passed down to me. I would tell him that never in a million years would I trade the way I was raised and live today for anything in the world.
For me, agriculture is, and will always be a part of who I am, because to me it is more than cowboy boots and tore up jeans. Agriculture isn’t just a way of life, it is a state of being.