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Confessions of a Gate Getter: Are the Good Times Really Over

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

By M.P. Cremer

My great-grandmother, Ma, had incredible taste in music. She loved all of the great country artists of the Western Swing and Outlaw Country eras and had a pile of vinyl records with hits from Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn.

She loved them all, but the one whose face popped up the most when I flipped through her record bin was Merle Haggard. 

Ma loved Merle almost as much as she loved my great-grandpa, and she’d sing his songs to me when she was cooking or hanging clothes on the line. Of all Merle’s hits, her favorite was “Are the Good Times Really Over.” 

As I got older and our conversations shifted from whatever was in the funny papers to whatever was in the actual news, she’d reference the song frequently. 

“It’s just like Merle says, Mayzie Brooke, are the good times really over for good?” she’d ask. 

You know, for a while there, I questioned it myself. 

I’m 26 years old, about to be 27, and I have never heard one good thing said about my generation or the generation below me. People say we’re entitled, lazy, too emotional, fragile and expect handouts. In short, everyone thinks we’re whiney bums. 

If I was only paying attention to negative news stories centered around mass shootings and heated political debates, I might agree with this statement. But I’m not. I’m out here living my life amongst the younger generation and working alongside them, which is why I don’t believe the good times are really over for good. 

I know there are still some young, whiny bums out there, but you can’t let a few bad apples ruin the whole cart. I bet there are more good apples out there than one might think. 

I submit the participants at Beartooth Stock Association’s calving workshop as evidence to plead my case. 

The Beartooth Stock Association is a branch of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. They recently put on a calving workshop for all ages as part of their Heifer Futurity Contest. 

The Heifer Futurity Contest is held at the county fair, and contestants are judged over the course of two years. The first year, they show a heifer set to be bred and bring her back the following year to be shown as a cow/calf pair. They keep record books and complete interviews.

Under the umbrella of the contest, the association tries to provide educational opportunities for their contestants and other members of the ag community. 

This year’s educational opportunity consisted of a full-fledged calving course where attendees learned calving basics and the proper way to pull a calf via a life-sized, artificial bred cow. 

Hearing about the high attendance and success of this workshop gives me high hopes for the future. I saw multiple photos of kids who had to be somewhere between eight and 10 years old getting their hands on some chains and pulling a calf. 

They asked questions, took instructions and practiced so they could go home and do it themselves – talk about being eager to work. 

The real kicker for me is attending this workshop was completely optional for participants, and deciding to actually get up in front of everyone and pull a calf out of a giant, faux cow was totally voluntary. 

These kids didn’t have to be there, let alone get their hands dirty. Yet, they and their parents took time out of their day to learn a valuable skill. These are the “good apples” in a generation which gets a pretty bad rep.  

It puts a smile on my face to know there are young, hardworking individuals out there, ready to keep our industry alive when it’s their turn. My grin gets even bigger when I see parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles investing their time and effort into teaching these kids, ensuring a bountiful future for the ag industry. 

It’s instances like these that make me realize those farm and ranch kids will grow up to be THE farmers and ranchers one day. They’ll be responsible for feeding, clothing and fueling the world, and I trust them to do it. 

The kids from the Montana Stockgrowers Association’s workshop give me confidence in answering Merle and Ma’s question – no, the good times aren’t really over for good.

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