Wednesday, January 30, 2008

YF and R Notes

Chris Dalley is the chairmen of the Idaho Farm Bureau YF and R. I met up with him at the leadership conference in Burley and I asked him why he ranched. He sent me a very well written email, it gave me a glimpse into life on his Blackfoot Ranch, here's what he wrote:


Have you ever walked in the house around dark:30, hungry and tired, filthy dirty, and pissed off at the world and everything in it? I seem to do that quite often. It is then that I ask myself, “Why am I trying to be a rancher? Why do I do the things I do?” Some of my friends keep telling me I should get a real job with paid vacation, days off, 401k, insurance, and other luxuries. A job that ends at 5 O’clock and you can leave stress and worries at work. These are the same friends that seem to have plenty of time and money to go on vacations, go to the movies, and do what they want to do. So why don’t I leave the ranching life and get a real job? Why am I doing this?

Let me recap the previous events that led up to this point. I am sure that a lot of you can relate.

My banker has been riding me like a rented mule because my budget is pretty tight, nothing new there. Half of the calves on the place seem to have some kind of sickness running through them and we can’t seem to get a handle on it. The vet bill is getting pretty high and the calves still don’t seem to be getting any better. The semi is in Cheyenne stopped at the port with the driver out of hours on his log book, looks like he’ll be late for the next load of cattle. Can’t wait for that phone call. The desert is dry and the yearlings are running out of grass fast. We sure could use some rain. But I’d like to get one crop of hay baled without any rain. I was really looking forward to a couple hours of sleep tonight but the baler is broke down and this hay needs to be baled by morning.

So where do I start? Which one of these wrecks should I tackle first? Again I ask myself the question, “Why am I doing this?” Is being a rancher really worth the headache?

Since we didn’t get any rain, we are out of grass on the desert. It is time to move the yearlings to summer grass. So we planned a couple of days when we could get the whole wild and wooly crew together to gather the yearlings. The crew consists of some of the toughest hands in the valley. Everyone is up before the sun getting ready for the day. My Dad and I start by catching and saddling the horses. Kimmel, my lovely bride, gets lunches ready along with getting three of the cutest cowhands west of Blackfoot out of bed and ready for the day. 8 year old Naomi, 6 year old Quinci, and 2 ½ year old Saydi, get up and help where they can. My Mom and sister Sara tidy up a few loose ends and we pile in the pick-up and horse trailer and head to the desert range.

It was a nice day. It wasn’t too hot and the wind wasn’t blowing too hard, yet. Everyone gets unloaded and mounted on there horses and heads out for a long day of gathering cattle. Dad, Mom, and Quinci head south. Kimmel, Sara, and Saydi head north. Naomi and I head west.

After several hours of riding, we all meet up with the yearlings, ready to head down the road to the loading pens. We started down the road and it hit me. I stopped and looked around and it was becoming clear. There was my wife and sister in front of the heard, walking their horses talking and laughing. Dad and Mom followed with Naomi and Quinci doing the same. They all had smiles on their faces and couldn’t be happier. Saydi and I were bringing up the tail end. For that brief moment, everything in my world was perfect. I was with the people I love doing what I love. No banker hounding me. No trucks stopped on the road. No equipment broke down. Heck, my cell phone didn’t even have service. My troubled mind was at ease for the first time in a while.

That was the answer. That is why I want to be a rancher. It’s not for the money, days off, 401k, or any of those things. It’s the simple things in life that may only come around once in a while. It’s about a way a life. The life style that I love and want my kids to grow up doing the same. It’s teaching my children about the simple things like a new born baby calf. It’s the smell of the sagebrush on the desert after a gentle spring rain. It’s getting a hug from the three toughest and cutest cowhands in the valley. It’s checking cattle with my lovely wife watching a beautiful sunset. It’s being able to spend time with my family while working. It’s teaching my children the value of hard work.

I tip my hat to all those who continue to work hard. Who struggle through the hard times, who stick it out when the going gets tough so that their children can learn to enjoy more of the simple things life has to offer.

So when I am having one of those days that seem to last for weeks, or let myself get down I ask the question, “Why am I trying to be a rancher? Why do I do the things I do?” That’s why.


Jake Putnam said...

Excellent answer to the question, why? I hope everyone associated with Farm Bureau would give this a look!


Sherrilynn said...

Nice story Chris. I hope a lot of farmers read your message and hang in there.

Lorraine said...

Oh, how sweet!!! This story just about made me cry. I think no matter who you are or what you do, anytime you are up in the mountains and surrounded by God's creations AND your family, we ALL can relate to this story. Thanks for reminding us of what is most important.

Shari K. said...


Well said!! I can't agree with you more on the "why" we stick with it. Thanks for reminding me. I too hope many others will read this and remember "why".



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