Have you ever thought about the definitive moment in your life that solidified your passion for something? I was asked that question recently about the time in my life when I first found my passion for agriculture. As I think back to my childhood, there is one story that stirred my passions to continue my path in agriculture. Let’s head back to 1994, and I’ll share my tale.
In 1994, my grandpa had a bottle calf. He told me that if I fed that bottle calf every single day and raised it until he was big and strong, he would give me his best replacement heifer in return. I had always wanted my very own heifer, so I took the deal. Everyday after that, I went outside with my bottle of milk and fed my baby calf. Once he was grown and weaned with the rest of the calves, Grandpa gave me my first Limousin heifer, 510C. I named her Breanna.
Breanna later had her first calf, a black bull. His name was Jack, and I was absolutely smitten with him. I was so excited when my dad chose Jack to sell at the Black Hills Stock Show. Everyday after school, I would help my dad work on Jack and another bull, Jake. As an independent little girl, I insisted that I do everything with Jack. I fed him, brushed him, and led him around every night in the barn.
In February, my parents and I made the journey to the Black Hills Stock Show in Rapid City, South Dakota with our bulls, Jack and Jake. I felt like such a grown up kid, skipping school to be in the beef business. I was only seven years old and going to sell my first bull at a real cattle show! I was so proud of Jack, and I couldn’t wait to lead him around in the ring to show him off.
In reality, this was my parents’ business, and I was just the little kid. My determination and independence didn’t understand this concept when my parents told me that they would show Jack in the show and sale, not me. I could only watch as my favorite bull was paraded around the ring.
As Jack was led through the ring during the sale, I could hear the cries from the auction as the bids came in. The ring men raised their hands while the auctioneer sang his song. Finally, Jack sold. My parents were excited, and I was so proud of my bull. Then it hit me: Jack was sold. He wouldn’t be coming home with me in the trailer. He wouldn’t be in the barn to play with when I got home. We wouldn’t run to the fence to sniff my hand or lick my coat. Jack would leave with a stranger from Wyoming, and I would never see him again.
As we said goodbye to Jack before leaving our adventure at the Black Hills Stock Show, I cried and gave my friend a big hug around his neck. The lesson I learned that day was that agriculture isn’t for the weak hearted. The beef business takes sacrifice, dedication, hard work and most importantly, passion.
I truly realized my passion for the beef industry that day. Since that sad day in 1994, I have sold my fair share of bulls. I have learned that agriculture is a business, a way to make a living off the land. However, passion should be the driving force in anything we choose to do, and I'm sure that's why most of you are still in this business. What better job can we have than to feed our world's people? So how about you? When did you decide you loved the beef business?
God Bless Farmers and Ranchers!