• If you are having problems logging in please use the Contact Us in the lower right hand corner of the forum page for assistance.

Are Ranchers a dying breed?

Help Support Ranchers.net:

Sandhillbilly

Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2005
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
I saw this on the front page of the "Omaha World Herald" awhile ago and bought the paper just to read the article. It ended up being about a big rancher in western Nebraska who is trying to get his kids to come home to the ranch and how an area teacher is tying ranching to her curriculum in order to have her students more interested in coming back to the ranch.
Is the problem that the kids aren't coming back?
I came back been here for 15 years now dad, aunts and uncle are selling the place.
It seems to me that the interactions in a family business have more to do with the success or failure of a family ranch.
It also seems that in a lot of family operations exploiting your kids for labor is a tradition that keeps getting handed down.
What do you all think?
 

ranchwife

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
3,990
Reaction score
0
Location
ennis, montana
Sad, but true!! :( Many of the family ranches out our way are giving up the ghost and selling out to real estate agents who are only interested in sub-dividing and making a bundle!!! Too often, kids leave the ranch, head off to college and realize there are "easier" ways of making a living....ways that include health insurance, paid vacations, paid holidays, weekends off, retirement plans, etc. etc. etc!! Out of 21 kids in the hubby's family, only 3 are still involved in agriculture!! The others left the ranch and did not much look back! How very, very sad!! :cry:
 

mn

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 20, 2005
Messages
134
Reaction score
0
Location
Minnesota
Here it's all farming, the livestock is gone, The kids coming back do not have any idea what livestock is because dad got rid of that in the early 80's. Alot of people here start April 15 finish Oct then do not know what to do.
 

katrina

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 14, 2005
Messages
8,776
Reaction score
2
Location
East north east of Soapweed
College is manditory at our house. I don't encourage our 15 year old to come back. Maybe if we lived in a differant area I might not be quite so adimant about him not coming back. Farming and ranching is really hard on the family and I know I never even thought about schooling for our kids when we got married. I am in the same boat as my mother 35 years ago. I have two kids in two differant schools in two differant states. We have two houses, one in town and our home. I keep up two houses, two laundries, plus with hubby trucking I'm responsible for feeding cows, calves and other livestock. It's lonesome out here and I'm not sure I would want our son's wives in the same boat. I've started working one day a week in town and I love it. I like the people, and I think they like me too. It's nice to be able to wave at people in town and know who they are. Times are changing and I don't want to ever think my daughter-in-laws think because I did it they have too. JMHO.
 

Faster horses

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Messages
28,832
Reaction score
73
Location
NE WY at the foot of the Big Horn mountains
I was a town kid (but not a big town, about 300 people is all, and it was VERY rural Wyoming). I always knew I wanted to marry a rancher. I did, and I've never been sorry. It was a huge adjustment for me, and times were different when we married than they are now (that was early 60's). However, I think they might have been better then as far as committment, seeing things through, learning to cope, working to achieve things TOGETHER.

From 1977 on, I worked in town part-time out of necessity. And like Katrina, I found I liked it. I am a people person. Not everyone is, but if you are you need to satisfy that need. I guess what I am saying is that you can have the best of both worlds, but there are ALWAYS trade offs. When our daughter was in high school, she and two other girls were the first girls in FFA in that school. A lot of the programs were held on Tuesday evenings. I had to work late Tuesday evenings developing negatives. I missed everything that went on Tuesday nights all through her high school. Would I do that again? Never. At the time it was a choice I made to have a job. I thought then that I needed to do that, but the things I missed out on with my daughter will never be recaptured. Those days will NEVER come around again. I try to tell my daughter now how I feel so that she doesn't make that mistake with her son. Thinking back now, I made some trivial things over-important.
 

katrina

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 14, 2005
Messages
8,776
Reaction score
2
Location
East north east of Soapweed
Good insight FH. I still have that lump in my stomach I had when I was 10 as I do now when we leave to go into town on Sunday nights. Does that sentance make sence?? :roll:
 

Jinglebob

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 14, 2005
Messages
5,962
Reaction score
0
Location
Western South Dakota
As long as there are ranches, there will be ranchers.

I have a son and possibly two who want to come back to the ranch. They are learning that they need to leave this area and go make a stake and then they can get a start, by sending those dollars home, that Uncle Sam will tax, so I can buy cows for them, that I will run on a per head or share arangement.

My wife left the ranch to get work when the boys started high school and she is still working off the ranch. If we were bigger, she wouldn't need to, but she provides us with insurance and it has been good for her. She used to worry what she would do if I died and now she knows that she can run a business.

It used to be because of distance and cost, that the wife of the rancher always moved to town to educate the children. I don't see that it's changed all that much. My mother stayed home, but did teach school in the rural areas. My dad taught me how to cook and clean house and do dishes.

It all comes down to what you want to do and what trade offgs you are willing to make.

For every ranch kid that leaves there is another kid out there who wnts to cowboy and/or ranch, who would be glad to do it if offered the chance. IMO
 

PPRM

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
1,951
Reaction score
0
Location
NE Oregon
I think one point that has been subtly brought up.......Take time to get away and refresh yourself. A morning at the coffe shop, breakfast in town, an annual trip, part time job in town that lets you interact with others in a different setting.....Don't let the ranch become a prison. It is a great place, do some other things so it stays that way.

Sometimes I think that is a value of the state cattlemans convention or the NFR. It was mentioned in this thread about places where the parents gave up cattle in the 80's. When I first came to the Hermiston area, there were cattle on almost every circle in the winter. Now, it is rare. The kids tat run the farms don't even want to rent the ground out. NO CATTLE. They don't wantto deal with them.

Why? Potato Famers that work pretty long hours from Feb thru October. They take the wife and kids to Cabo or Hawia for two weeks. They go to the kids school functions. They take trips to Home and Garden Shows, they go to Ag Expo's.....

Anyway, I think the point is to get away enuff that once you do, you don't want to leave for good......

Jinglebob is dead on right. Either doing this resonates with your being or it doesn't. The kid is either like a border collie or a lab. Wants to go do cattle work or go hunt and fish when not in school, ready on the porcjh to go one way or the other. There's a lot of kids whose folks don't have a reanch that want to be the border collie.

Is ranching dieing? i don't think so. Will it change, you better believe it. Most of the chnges in the last 30 years have been towards things that allow you to get along with less help....The biggest cash outlays tend to be feed and labor......that is where most change has occured IMHO. Probably will continue to change,


PPRM
 

MsSage

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 27, 2005
Messages
4,716
Reaction score
1
Location
NW Panhandle Texas
I agree with Jinglebob. I spent the first 11 years of my life on a farm. We moved to Charlotte with IBM cuz Dad had to make ends meet. I have missed it every day of my life and given on opportunity I would go back to farming in a heartbeat. Yes it is hard but life in the city is not easy. You have to decide what is important to you and your family.
I do see a decline in farming & ranching but I also see an awaking in "city" people to what all this progress is doing.
I have also seen a harsh line drawn between city & country people. I am not saying anyone on here has been that way to me but think about how you react to "city"people asking questions. How do you feel when "city"people come out to the country. How often have you taken the time to help or teach them the right way to do something. How many times have you had your feathers ruffled by them asking"stupid" questions?
Farmers & Ranchers have alot to share and there are alot of people would love to have the knowledge you possess. Most just dont know the "right" way to ask. I am the first to say and apologize for my way of asking but when I am trying to undestand something I ask questions quickly since I have learned to get as much info as fast as I can before they get mad.City folks are use to being stright out and to the point since they are on a time clock. To them everything is the end result or the bottom line. Yes alot come across arrogant.
If the family farm is gone then everyone suffers. We need to work together to keep farming & ranching alive.
 

mtn_90

Well-known member
Joined
May 24, 2005
Messages
187
Reaction score
0
Location
SD
I, for one, think they are a dying breed. If you take a look at stats from 30 years ago to now, there are less and less of the family type farms/ranches and more and more of the conglomerate farms/ranches.

For someone to try to get into farming or ranching today and make a full-time living at it is impossible unless you just won the lottery or you have "old" family money you inherited. The market prices vs. cost to raise don't support a black line ending on the books.

There are two things on this earth that are in great demand with the population continuing to grow -- space and water. As with everything, those two things are sky-rocketing in price and not likely to come back to $500/acre for quality land that was seen a "few" years back. I'm not saying that there isn't quality land for $500/acre anymore (don't know where you'd find it, but I'm sure someone knows where it's at possibly), but if you are going to sustain yourself, let's say raising cattle, usually those pieces of land only support 1 animal unit per every 5 to 10 acres. Multiply that by the number of acres you'd have to buy in order to create enough cash flow to be self-supporting and you've got yourself one heck of a debt to start out with, not to mention all the daily costs of raising cattle and supporting a family as well.

Most ranches and farms I see surviving these days are from existing ones where the children come back and take over the operation and buy the operation from the folks over a long long period of time at a reduced cost than what they could sell the operation for to an "outsider".

It's a shame to see it happening, but you can't hide from the truth. Maybe with more education and more ranchers/farmers involved in legislation to stop the big Corps from coming in and taking over in more States, the family farm/ranch might make a comeback. I guess I'm not too optomistic of that happening especially with the ever increasing thought of city folks and their "two acres" of happiness type thinking driving the cost of land beyond the reach of the folks most likely to care for it the best.

Just my 2 cents, for what it's worth. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving Day...
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Reading through some of the comments on the topic 'Are ranchers a dying breed' has been of some help to me...I am one of many who've heeded the 'calling' to come out west, to (replace ?) one of those who've felt the 'pull' to the big city life; actually I was hired as a direct result of an older rancher who literally died behind the wheel of his pickup, after 74 yrs of doing that which he was born and raised to do best...raise cattle. Unlike the vast majority of the 'dudes' and 'buckaroo wanna be's' who come and go...I stayed; for me there was simply something inheritly 'good' about learning how to take on the responsibilities typically given a hired man on an outfit who takes the chance and welcomes one into the 'family'...and that's what it is really, is'nt it ? A ranch is not a job, a career or 'means to an end'...it's a FAMILY...and that knowledge has taken some time...more than necessary perhaps, to fully sink into my cranium, and change the way I view things in this rapidly changing rural economy most of us in this 'Bull Session' are continually learning to come to terms with. It is changing...but the changes come from within, not 'without'. The ranch kids are indeed leaving because there IS the irresistable urge to chase an 'easier way' of making a living...but as eating too often at McDonalds and Burger King has clearly shown, 'Suburban-America' is getting overweight and lazy, and almost completely unable to function as 'humans' were at one time able to. We now know that our fore-fathers out here had a life expectancy of perhaps 40-50 yrs...the more 'enlightened societe' we live in forces us to look past the fact that that was a direct result of working themselves to death, just in order to SURVIVE out here.

My own family back east has recently gone through some loss, and leading up to that loss, I kept hearing all about the drugs, painful treatments and expenses related to those treatments necessary to revive all too many people who grew up in, and indulged in the 'sedantary' lifestyles one commonly sees back there...and although I was honestly upset over the loss, a growing part of me has been saying that I should consider myself awfully fortunate to be counted among the few of you who remain out here, working my butt off every single waking day, from sunup to sundown...dragging myself in every day with the full knowledge that I accomplished SOMETHING with my time, even if it was only putting up a quarter mile of fence or keeping the cows fed.

I know now that I'll probably end up slumped over the steering wheel myself someday...but at least I'll have used up my life doing something important and worthwhile, helping some rancher out here hold onto his spread with what little I can accomplish. I never headed out west with 'romantic visions' of what it would be like out here...hell, all I was after was a job title of: 'Dude Wrangler', little did I know that there was so much more, and I'm thankful to God or 'whatever' to show me the whole picture.

It ain't the money...it never was and it never will be, 'cause I know I can't take it with me; it's the simple knowledge that I finished the race...because I chose instead to take it slow and steady.

...perhaps that's the lesson some of us are neglecting to sit down and share with our kids ?

You cannot give up, no matter how bad it seems...it was the quiet, humble, respectful 'nobility' of the rancher who brought me out west to begin with...I knew whatever it was, was something I needed in my life, and I'm thankful it was there for me to pursue.

I'm still here, 14yrs later...and I'm unable to go back, not with the full knowledge of what is quite obviously and literally just around the corner.

Stand tall...be 'Noble'...they all look to us for example and direction, I know I surely did...and I always will...
 

Jason

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
1,994
Reaction score
0
Location
Alberta Canada
There have been some nice sentiments about ranching being a lifestyle and if were only true it was just a noble way of life. Fact of the matter is ranching is a business.

There are some big outfits with little debt and kids that want to carry on and I say have at 'er. They have a good shot at living pretty well. Maybe not as well as if they sold out but who cares as long as they are happy.

However the fact is people on the land are getting older, and many kids don't want to take up a non workable debt load.

I have always said there is a possiblity for older well healed ranchers to "adopt" a young feller that has the fire in his belly. Nothing wrong with that either. Get the experience from an old hand, yet get young blood into the deal. Human nature of greed and what not is the biggest problem with this. Kids see the ranch is worth 3.5 million and want their inheritance even though they work in the city.

Someone mentioned big corps buying up the land how do you tell the rancher that is done that he can't sell and retire? That he has to struggle through his retirement even though he has no one to take things over?

Limiting who can and can't own land isn't going to work.

The business of ranching is changing. To survive ranchers need to understand more of the world and what is happening everywhere, not just what they see from the front porch.
 

Faster horses

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Messages
28,832
Reaction score
73
Location
NE WY at the foot of the Big Horn mountains
I have had a fairly simple idea for years that should work to put younger 'wanna be ranchers' in business and help the retired ones out as well.

My idea is to give the retirees a TAX BREAK to sell to young people. It's taxes that has a lot to do with prices. Older folks need a certain amount left after taxes. Who really pays the taxes? The people who have to pay more for the land, that's who.

We managed to get started on our own, years ago. I have sympathy for those who want to ranch and have no way to get started. We would love to help someone, but that someone has to have a lot of intestinal fortitude. Where we live now, I know one or two couples who DESERVE to have a place of their own. It would be nice to do something for them.
 

mtn_90

Well-known member
Joined
May 24, 2005
Messages
187
Reaction score
0
Location
SD
While I agree that Ranching is a business, it's not all it is...it's a way of life. They live it, work it, feel it, breathe it, it's a passion for every rancher I've ever had the fortune to meet and befriend.

Big Corps are just that -- an entity, doesn't feel, doesn't care...but it's one of the only things that can afford to buy a rancher out these days and come out in the red.

No one can deny a rancher selling out and retiring. I think the topic isn't about selling out to retire, it's about educating those in our families about this way of life and getting the "fire in their belly" so that family ranches continue -- and they don't get sold out to the big Corps whose only agenda is putting money in its pockets instead of food on the table and good cattle in the pastures.

It's not about whether someone has the right to sell or not, no one can deny someone that right. Fact is, if there was more kids valuing the way of life, wouldn't be too many reasons to sell out.

And to suggest that ranchers don't know what's going on beyond their front porch is an assumption based on little education about ranchers to begin with. That's an uneducated comment if I've ever heard one.
 

Jason

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
1,994
Reaction score
0
Location
Alberta Canada
Check out the reality of these corps...many are family farms that have expanded.

In my situation right now I could sell out and split the cash with dad, taxes paid and make twice as much from a 4% investment.

Why don't I? Somedays I wonder. I do like living in the country, I like being my own boss. I could take that money start a business and make 10 times what I do now. I would like to have the land free and clear to retire on in a few years.

I wonder how many young fellers that have the desire to work cows now will still feel that way at 35, 40 or 50. If they get a tax break to get started then they decide it wasn't their life's calling, how does the subsequent sale get treated?

Lots of worms in this can.
 

Denny

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
5,632
Reaction score
0
Location
Mn usa
There are getting to be less ranchers but each has more cows.I started with nothing and still have most of it.You have got to want it bad enough to do what it takes you will succeed I dont place blame on other people if I do a shitty job it's mine to gain or lose.Alot of the ranchers here are self made very few are 2nd generation sure its tough but if it were easy everyone would do it.The long hours and hard times is what makes the reward that much sweeter.There will be ranchers for years to come the sky is falling attitude has went through every generation and there will always be whiner's and winner's which do you want to be.I wanna be a WINNER.... :lol:
 

greg

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
1,064
Reaction score
0
Location
Alberta Canada
**** they have been sayin' the cowboy was a dyin' breed as long as I can remember.I was raised in in prime wheat growin' country in Cental Alberta.and my old man made sure I had a horse to ride when gettin' milk cows in?.He gave me the talk when I went rodeoin'-about it not payin'--turned out he was right,but he NEVER stopped the cowboy in me .So I am NOT givin' up yet,I will put them damned RFID tags in every one of them to keep goin',like it or not-and work out,at coal mine to keep the family ranch,till the bank takes it.Ranchin' tradition,just new hurttles,son will have to figure out the scary ones?? Greg
 

Hanta Yo

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Messages
3,653
Reaction score
13
Location
South Central Montana
I have so much to say...

I, too am a city girl, always wanted to marry a rancher and work with the land and the animals. I didn't get it quite right with the first marriage, he's a millionaire now I could care less. My second marriage I married a rancher. I would never trade this life for all the gold in the world. Our daughter was pretty much raised on this place, we managed this place for an absentee owner, moved here when daughter was 1 month old. She is a good hand. Her older brother and sister have been on and off ranches throughout their lifetime, they think ranching is too hard. Since our Marine has been in boot camp, however, he's listened to those in his platoon, he's figured out that he's taken this place for granted.

This year, our boss doesn't want to be in the cow business any more. Offered us an offer we couldn't refuse. We bought his cows, and now lease the place. We are our own bosses and I love that. We have the best of most things, but water is a problem. Not enough of it. We have probably some of the best wildlife and scenery around here to make a professional photographer drool.

We had neighbors whose dad inherited the ranch free-and-clear, had one son come back to the ranch. They split up, the son wanted nothing to do with the ranch and bought some irrigated land south of Billings, the mom and dad sold the ranch and moved north of Roundup. That son could have had the ranch himself, just like his dad, free-and-clear. I would have given "my left nut" (I don't have any though) to have that ranch. sw has some things to say about his family ranch in Idaho, 4 kids and 250 cows....

Most of the ranches out here have sold to those people who want to hunt. We have very few rancher neighbors any more and it is sad. Used to be we had to get our dates in for branding (this is when we spring calved) early, early, early, or we wouldn't get help. We branded from the last weekend in April to Memorial Day. IMHO, the small family ranch will survive, they will still be there until the end of the world. Maybe not in large numbers, but we will still be here. At least I plan on still being here.
 

sw

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 14, 2005
Messages
1,373
Reaction score
0
As long as there is land there will be somebody caring for it. Things have changed so much during my life time. Grandpa could make a living weaning 400 pound calves off of his 200 cows and pay land payments. You cannot do that since land has gone up 1000%, wolves are eating your would be profits, the neighbors have all sold out to subdivisions, the environs are watching your every move and sueing at the drop of a hat. The family farm can only support so many, and at the inflated land prices, you cannot get bigger, brother is the golden child so I left. I refuse to give up, this is all I have ever cared to do. Got to the end of grad school with a Masters in Animal Nutrition and I had offers that paid well to get a PhD with a good guy and a guaranteed job for wifey. All I could see was once I have that piece of paper, we would be stuck in a college CITY forever. Don't be so fast to criticize Corps or out of state owners, they want people like us to take care of their land for them because we know how. That is why most of the people that I went to grad school with are running ranches. Are they not families? The ranch to our north is the same as this one, hunter bought and paid for but leased out to a FAMILY to run cows on. The family ranch will never go away, the ownership of the land is changing. We cannot buy land at $500 per acre, where it takes 30 acres to run a cow but we can lease it from someone and make it. Unlike the normal person, even ranchers, we grow all of the food that we can, it just takes some effort from us. We just spent 4 months of time working with our wonderful FSA to secure loans for this lease. That stupid a#####e had put into our budget $48,000 for our personal living expenses. They are suppossed to be there to help the "family" ranch stay in business. If I lived on 48K a year you would be seeing me at the NFR for all ten nights eating lobster. I better shut up now but I am going to leave you with this poem.

Why I am a Rancher

A friend of mine stopped by the ranch, out from the city for a day,
I was just finishing up the chores, and feeding my cows some hay.
First thing he asked me, “why do you work so hard, why do you do this you fool,
You don’t even use the degrees you have, from all those years in school.
Why every time I see you, you’re working at that or this.
You never have time for any fun, something you surely must miss.
You need to come with me, and go back into the city.
What you’re doing here for money, quite frankly it’s a pity.
I can get you a real good job, with pay that’s really high,
With days off and benefits, and there will be nothing that you can’t buy.”

You just listen to me, and I’ll tell you just what living in these hills is all about.
That’s when I told him so that he could maybe understand,
Wealth Yes all these things you tell me are true, I said, that I‘ll never doubt,
isn’t just something that you can hold within your hand.
Yes we do work hard, sometimes way past dark thirty,
And yes some days can be ugly, and well some, their just not pretty.

Yeah, it would be nice, not to worry about paying bills and such,
But I love being outside, and working with the animals too much.
There’s a thousand mouths awaiting, every morning to be fed,
It’s a very humbling feeling, without you they’d probably all be dead.
There is a simple satisfaction, working with animals and the land,
Good ole Mother Nature, she at times can be so grand.

Out on this ranch, I have the privilege, of working with my wife and kids,
When we were working cows yesterday, you should of seen what the youngest did.
Her and that old cow horse, they cut that cow just right,
Put her where she belonged and closed the gate up tight.
That girl had me so puffed up with pride, I could hardly speak,
Had to ride away, so she wouldn’t see me wipe a tear off my cheek.

Poor kids, they have to ride that bus, a little over an hour to get to school,
And being this far out, they don’t get to do all the things that are cool.
Funny thing, their friends from town, they all want to come out here,
They get to play with all the animals and see the elk and deer.
On second thought, I guess my kids aren’t that deprived,
They get to experience real living, not TV, and they know how to ride.

Now many people will tell you, never to work with your spouse,
And I will have to admit, sometimes I can be such a louse.
Cause sometimes working with cows, they don’t follow directions all that well,
They can be quite dumb, and they can even make some people yell.
But being in the calving barn, bringing a new calf to life,
The only one I want next to me has got to be my wife

You know, this is a hard life, wouldn’t trade it for anything here on earth,
it’s all of the simplest things that give this life it’s worth.
Like eating foods that were grown, nurtured from your own hands,
Seeing the rains, watching the green grass, grow upon the lands.
Sometimes it is so hard, you feel like giving up,
That is when you need some little thing, like a Corgi pup.

Oh, look at that sunset, all red and blue and gold, now coming into place,
You should see it from the back of a horse, with a cool breeze upon your face.
Listen to all those birds singing and hear those coyotes howl,
Being able to listen to the cows bawling, and the plain silence, just as well.
Sit on the back porch with your wife, and listen to those owls hoot
Being able to look up at the stars in a clear night sky, you see, to me that’s real loot.

Well friend I guess you should be going, get on back into town,
Stop in again, should you happen to be coming around.
Oh, and thanks for reminding me of all the wonders I have witnessed,
And for all that have been given me, I am most surely blessed.
By the way, as for money, little am I worth,
But with real riches, I am the richest man on earth.




there are so many people kids included that would love to have the chance, too many of the kids that have grown up on the ranch want something different. Son wants to come home to the ranch now that he has seen boot camp as does others in his platoon. JB is right about the kids need to go out and make their way so they see what they have and where they came from, there are so many kids that want the chance and never get it. I got it, I will not squander it. Probably the best thing that has happened to me in my life is my granny running me off to make sure her golden one got the ranch, it made me get what I have by hard work and determination, JUST GIT HER DONE.
 

Latest posts

Top