BEEF Daily

Is Stress Wreaking Havoc On Your Family Ranch?


Manage stress to make better farming decisions.

Do you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Yesterday was one of those days. After my husband got home from his day job, he had a list a mile long of things he wanted to get done before dark. He was in a hurry, he was stressed, and he was crabby about it.

“Mandy, we’ve got to bale up the hay I’ve cut before it rains. I’ve got to get this fence fixed, so we can move pairs to the south pasture. We’ve got to finish filling out your new health insurance forms and get them in the mail. I need you to run to town for parts. Stop and bring me some bug spray and iced tea in the field before you go, okay?. And, oh yeah, my sister is coming over tonight. What’s for supper?” Sound familiar?

Typically, it’s on nights like this where you’re trying to do too much with too little time, that stress builds up, and accidents happen or mistakes are made. North Dakota State University (NDSU) Agricultural Communications recently offered advice for producers on how to manage stress to make better farming decisions.

The article reads, “Some of the most pressing concerns faced by farmers and ranchers, such as weather-related issues, can elevate personal stress and disrupt sound decision-making.

"Producers and their families should think family first and keep current challenges in perspective," says Sean Brotherson, NDSU Extension family science specialist. "Weather-related stress and other sources of concern in agriculture can put persistent strain on farmers and ranchers operating in today's agricultural economy. However, what farmers and ranchers want to be careful about is letting their personal stresses pile up so that their management practices and decision-making become negatively affected. When you're under stress, you may communicate less with others, become more disjointed in your thinking, and make decisions based on anxiety or anger."

Brotherson has these suggestions:

1. Identify key values important to the well-being of you and your family. The same holds true for the farm or ranch operation. Discuss these values and then develop goals that are specific and clear that will guide your family and business decision-making.

2. Identify personal and interpersonal resources, such as creativity or communication, which cost little but can aid in your decision-making. Also, identify tangible, concrete resources such capital or equipment that are important in making decisions. Seek ways to access or create these resources.

3. Evaluate the costs and benefits involved in making a particular decision to each member of the family or business operation. Then evaluate the costs and benefits to the couple or the family as a whole.

4. Examine your decision-making style and then think about what decision-making process will work best for the family and the farm or ranch operation in a particular circumstance.

I have added a few pieces of advice to add to the list (and I hope my family members are reading this blog post, today).

1. Share your plans for the week with family members before the week begins. This is a good thing to do after Sunday lunch when you’re all sitting at the dinner table together. Make a list and communicate that list with family members. That way everyone is on the same page.

2. If things change, and you know they will, communicate those changes on a day-to-day basis. A quick text, “Remember the vet is coming at 3 to semen-test bulls,” sent the night before or that morning (instead of an hour before the vet shows up) means that extra help will be around when you need it.

3. Don’t micromanage. BEEF reader Jesse Larios from California sent me a quote yesterday that read, “A manager says ‘Go!’ A leader says, ‘Let’s go!’” Don’t be afraid to spread the workload around, instead of doing it all yourself. Trust that others will be able to handle the job and get it done on time.

4. Finally, know that there is always tomorrow. Sure, you might not want the hay to get rained on, and, yeah, it would be nice if we got everything done before dark, but there is always another day. Don’t make costly mistakes because you’re in a hurry.

Do you ever feel stressed on the ranch? How do you cope? What advice do you have for managing stress?


You Might Also Like:

3 Beef Industry Challenges That Won't Go Away Soon

Beef Packers Stymied By Shortage Of Working Capital

Readers Share Their Best Of The Worst Ranch Moments

7 Ranching Operations Personify Environmental Stewardship


Discuss this Blog Entry 8

Tana Beckstead (not verified)
on Jun 13, 2013

Thanks for this article Mandy! This time of year is always very stressful, we are trying to get 1st crop hay up and it takes everyone's help! I am going to print this out and put it in the pickup for my husband! He needs to learn that communication thing! As a ranch wife I just know that this is stressful for him and try to have more patience with him and help him where I can. I good meal always helps!!!!!!

Emma (not verified)
on Jun 13, 2013

Oh my gosh, thank you! I'm sending this to my dad. haha

Neb Farm/Ranch wife (not verified)
on Jun 13, 2013

The key to a smooth operation is that nobody is a mind reader and to never assume anything. Technology has become so advanced that a lack of communication should not really be an issue anymore. Unless you live where there is no cell towers. And if each person could slow down one degree and make sure everybodyis on the same page and working together, it would amaze a lot of people how much more effeciently the operation will run, and possibly leave a little time left over for some much deserved relax and family time.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 13, 2013

You certainly "touched" on an important topic that most families involved in farming & ranching deal with. I have certainly struggled with attempting to run our operation as a business - I find it frustrating dealing with my older parents & husband in conducting the operation as a business. They're getting better & with these adjustments has come less stress. Sure appreciate all topics.

Lindsay (not verified)
on Jun 13, 2013

This blog come in handy this time of year. It could've been a week earlier, hahaha. I'm going to use your advice in the next conversation with my husband. We are at this point now: hasty, rush, and slacking on whats truly important just to get everything accomplished before dark and now our relationship and rest of the family suffers. Although, I have found until my husband's stress level is down, my ideas could be compared to manure (they stink).

Andy (not verified)
on Jun 13, 2013

Thanks Amanda! I am going to try really hard to communicate more effectively and be kinder to my wife.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 14, 2013

Menfolk need to remember that the woman is usually the pinch hitter and they need to ask reasonably instead of in a yelling mode. "It is all in how you go about things"!

on Jun 16, 2013

I'm so glad this post resonated with others, as well. (It's a good feeling to know I'm not the only one!) Flattered, as always, when so many chime in on personal topics like this one. Thank you.

Please or Register to post comments.

What's BEEF Daily?

BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×