A Breath of Fresh Air
By M.P. Cremer
I consider myself a pretty positive person. “Borderline too bubbly” is actually what I was once told by someone who didn’t jive with my attitude. However, I’m also someone in the ag industry, and I have to be realistic.
Sadly, the reality of farming and ranching isn’t all milk and honey 100 percent of the time. I mean, how can it be? Our livelihood is dependent on many factors everyday farmers and ranchers simply cannot control.
I mean, you have a few screws loose to depend on the outcome of the next political race and the policies changing every few years. You’d have to lose your mind to depend on the ever-so-fluctuating livestock and commodity markets.
You’ve got to be insane to work in an industry whose entire outcome is dependent on the weather. Name one other industry where you can file crop insurance for too much rain one year and turn around to file it again the following year for too little rain.
The point I’m trying to make here is agriculturists have every reason in the world to complain. Speaking as someone who has interviewed a handful of ag workers over the years, the occasional down-and-out comment will be spoken into my recorder. In the past few years, it happened a few more times than normal; but that’s understandable considering the rollercoaster the ag industry has been on since 2019.
But this past week, I got to interview a rancher who told me he had absolutely nothing to complain about. As I said at the beginning of this column, I’m a pretty positive person, but let me just say, this guy puts me to shame; I want whatever fresh air he’s breathing.
This rancher told me he’d had one of the best years he could remember for haying. He said he had lots of rain. He was proud of his calf crop.
He was confident in the decisions he and his family made on the ranch over the past year. He was pleased with the cattle market. Overall, “it’s just been a good year,” he said with a laugh.
He added he could always find something to complain about just like anyone else, but in his 70-some years on this Earth, he’d learned complaining did nothing but make him feel worse.
I share this story because it’s nice we, in the cattle industry (in our area), are in a position where we’re hard pressed to find something to complain about. Lord knows we’ve had a few hard years, but I think we’ve finally hit the light at the end of the tunnel.
The second reason I tell you this is because I admire this rancher’s attitude, and I wish everyone I know had a little more of it in them, myself included. Life has had a weird way of knocking me down and helping me back up this year; it’s one step forward and another one back.
Although, I’ve always tried to see the good in most situations, lately, I just can’t see it, or rather, haven’t seen it yet.
However, after my interview, I realized life is a lot like the cattle market: It may go up and down, but it always seems to even itself out; and in the end, it’s got to be up, or else we wouldn’t be here doing what we’re doing and have done for so long.
As we near the end of the year, many producers (like my family) are almost to the point where things slow down for a while. This is a time of relaxation and reflection to ponder the year we’ve just experienced and mull over our financial income and operational outcomes. I know it’s easy to harp on the bad, but I encourage you to focus on the good.
Let go of the things you can’t control, learn from the things you can and push forward. It’s easier said than done, but if it can work for a seasoned rancher in the Northwest, it can work for you and me too.