BEEF Daily

The Value Of Growing Up In Agriculture


A video and a poem describes how growing up on a farm or ranch is beneficial to young people.

I’ll never forget how I first got my start in the cattle business. I was four years old and Grandpa told me if I helped him take care of a bottle calf, he would give me my very own heifer for payment. I took his business proposition seriously, and I accompanied my dad to the barn each day to offer the bull calf his bottle of milk. That fall, Dad and I looked over the replacement heifers, and I made my selection. She went on to have a bull calf that we took to the Black Hills Stock Show and sold in the Limousin sale. Shaking the customer’s hand and collecting my first paycheck, I was hooked. The rest is history.

Growing up on a cattle ranch was a valuable experience for my sisters and I. Like many farm kids, we learned how to work hard taking care of the land and the animals.

Reader Jackie Ulmer recently sent me a poem written by her son, Lucas, that she wanted me to share on the blog. Ulmer’s poem celebrates the cattle business, where his youthful enthusiasm for ranch life is evident. Ulmer is an eighth-grader and dreams of being a rancher one day.

“Making Money” by Lucas Ulmer

I wake up at the crack of dawn,
Slide on my boots as I yawn.
I shut the door and head outside,
I hop on the four wheeler and begin to ride.
Off the four wheeler to open the gate,
I’ve got to hurry before it’s too late.
There’s a problem no rancher wants to see.
A calving heifer buried to her knees.
I finally manage to get her out,
But in my mind I had lots of doubt.
I lock the heifer in the chute,
I pull the calf, which is so cute.
The calf starts sneezing, “achoo!”
This is just like us humans do.
The black, blazed, baldy faced calf,
Quickly learns to follow his mom on the cow path.
He must survive storms with hail,
Because one day he will be at the sale.
The trucker loads up my product, I am the winner,
Because soon it will be, “Beef it’s what’s for dinner.”
To you my one cow may seem funny,
But that’s my way of making money.

What did you think of Ulmer’s poem? What are your first memories as a kid on the ranch? How did you get your start in the cattle business?

Finally, I wanted to share this video of Rod and Laurie Ferguson, Chippewa Valley Angus Farms LLC, Rittman, OH, who talk to an audience of food media about the benefits of children growing up in the livestock business.

By the way, the purebred Angus operation was a farm stop for media during a grand opening weekend of events for the Certified Angus Beef® Education & Culinary Center in Wooster, OH, May 4-5. Here’s a slide show of some of the festivities.

Calling all summer grilling recipes! Send your best recipe with a photo to me at to be entered to win a $125 boot gift certificate, courtesy of Roper Apparel! Check out the details here.

Discuss this Blog Entry 7

Bill Armey (not verified)
on May 16, 2012

“I was four years old and Grandpa told me if I helped him take care of a bottle calf, he would give me my very own heifer for payment.”

Slaveholders would often give slaves as payment to their family members. With this simple act, your grandfather demonstrated that you, too, can treat other living creatures as personal property. Yes, he indoctrinated you in the custom of slavery before you could think for yourself, and you’ve beenfaithfully following his guidance ever since. Like racism and sexism, specieisism links personhood with an irrelevant criterion. Discrimination is ok, as long as we can profit from it.

The callousness demonstrated toward the end of the “poem” makes me shudder:

He must survive storms with hail,
Because one day he will be at the sale.
The trucker loads up my product, I am the winner,
Because soon it will be, “Beef it’s what’s for dinner.”
To you my one cow may seem funny,
But that’s my way of making money.

He’s the “winner” because his calf survived a harsh winter long enough to be taken from his mother and slaughtered for profit.

on May 17, 2012

I'm sorry your idea of who cattle ranchers are is so off-base. I would love if you would return to the blog and explain why you feel the way you do about beef production.

Cattle ranchers are some of the most caring individuals on the planet -- they do fight Mother Nature and her battles to protect and provide for their livestock. It's not fueled by greed; it's because it's the right thing to do. And, I don't think it's wrong to be profitable when you're in a business, but that doesn't mean we sacrifice animal welfare. In fact, because it's a business, it drives our need for those cattle to be healthy and happy further.

Unlike you, I don't put animals in the same category as people, so I can't agree with the slavery analogy, anymore than I can stomach when people compare the slaughter of animals to the crimes committed to human beings during the Holocaust.

I think the best quote for this is by rancher Trent Loos, "Everything lives, everything dies, but death with a purpose gives true meaning to life."

Our animals are cared for in their lives and respectfully harvested to nourish people with steaks, burgers and by-products.

Mathena (not verified)
on May 18, 2012

Those soybeans cry every time you eat them in your tofu, and thousands of living animals die just for 1 acre of soybeans. If you want to talk about someone killing and enslaving animals it's all you tofu lovers. Also those poor animals can't get a way from their in pending death.
You AR's are all the same, blinded by BS your other vegan friends feed you. While you kill more animals every year then people that eat meat.

jeff Horn (not verified)
on May 16, 2012

In 1940 my grandfather gave me a purebred Hereford calf. I was 7 years old and I raised that calf with a Jersey nurse cow and lots of tender care. On my wall is a clipping from the Fort Worth Star Telegram reporting that at 7 years of age I was the youngest 4 H member in the state of Texas along with a picture of me and that steer. It also stated that he was Grand Champion at the Texas Fruit Palace show and that I got a $15 prize and sold him in the sale for $100. My 11 year old sister cried and cried because I was rich and she was poor. I ended up giving her half the money! The next year I showed the Grand Champion Bull yearling and sold him for $250. I bought 2 bred heifers with that money and I was in the cow business. By the time I graduated from highschool I had a herd of 45 cows that were supposed to send me thru Texas A&M. The famous drought of the 1950's wiped me out and as a result of that I spent many hours roofing houses and laying azrock flooring(nobody told me that the asbestos I was breathing sawing that tile would kill me) but I graduated in 1955. My grandfather left me the key brand that his grandfather gave him. I've used it in Louisiana,Texas,New Mexico,Oklahoma,Kansas and presently in Blaine County Nebraska. Growing up with cattle,horses and hard work is a priceless gift for children. Lets get rid of the idiots in Washington before it's too late. We owe that to our children and grandchildren no matter where they live!

Bobbi (not verified)
on May 18, 2012

The beauty of poetry is that it is open to interpretation and perspective. I being a cattle rancher can see 1 meaning in the words of this poem, while someone else may see a different meaning in the poem based on their perspective. Here is how I view this poem.
"He must survive the storms with hail" - I read that as the calf must be strong and healthy, the care giver is making sure he has the tools he needs (healthy immune system, shelter from the harsh reality of mother nature) to live through mother natures nastiest of temper tantrums. Cattle live outside and have to be strong to survive mother natures worst. We can give the livestock shelter to minimize the effect of the storms that mother nature throws at us but we can not stop her from trying to distroy our way of life.
"Because one day he will be at the sale" - those of us producing food (meat, veggies, fruits) have to make money in order to buy the things needed to take good care of our land and livestock. If we do not make money we can not make improvements (more shelter, provide the best feed/water, buy vaccine to keep them healthy) and provide for their basic needs. If we do not make money by selling our products we will have no products to sell.
"The trucker picks up my product, I am the winner" - The boy is the winner not out of greed for dollars and cents, but the winner because he worked hard and was rewarded by having a product to sell in the end. Refer back to the beginning of the poem where he struggled to help the heifer and calf.
The beginning of the poem talks about the boys struggle and emotions of giving everything he had (emotionally and physically) to get the heifer who is having problems giving birth in the barn and help her give birth safely. If he didn't care about her or her unborn calf he would have left her stuck in the mud to die.

I am not sure that it is discrimination to work hard to take care of the land and livestock in order to put food on the tables of millions of people who would rather work "in town" instead of producing their own food. I think your perspective may change if you didn't have a fridgerator and pantry full of food or a grocery store down the street open 24 hrs a day.

Terry Church (not verified)
on May 20, 2012

The poem shows that this young man has learn that hard work does pay off. Growing up in agriculture gives kids an education that they could never receive anywhere else. Kids that grow up in agritcultural backgrounds learn many valuable life lessons as well as responsibilities,work ethics, and values. Ag life is different from working a job in a factory or some high rise office building where you never really see what you've accomplished. Farmers and Ranchers get to see their accomplishments, no matter if its growing row crops or building a fence. Agricultural is an important part of our lives each and everyday. I know many people no longer realize the importance of agriculture, but it is important because it feeds and clothes us each day. I thank God for the people involved in Agriculture.
It appears that Mr. Armey( that first commented) doesn't have the realization or satisfaction of a life in Agricultural.

on May 22, 2012

I always welcome poems, videos and photos describing the great lifestyle we get to enjoy in the cattle business. Farm and ranch life teaches many life lessons. For me, it was a great way to grow up, and it's awesome to be able to connect with folks who feel the same!

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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...

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