How many people honestly love what they do for a living? I would guess the true answer to that question would be less than the number of people who say they love what they do. And of those who love their job, how many of them do a good job, day after day, and look forward to doing it all over again tomorrow? My current day job as a customer care specialist at the local phone cooperative definitely does not make my face glow with happiness, nor does my heart swoon every time the phone rings, but I choose to do the best I can, every day.
I have worked in the banking industry, giving out consumer loans and handing out cash from a drive-up teller line. I have sold clothes in retail, stocked shelves at the farm and ranch supply store, and managed the books for our trucking business. You know – nice, clean, tidy jobs where I worked a few weekends here and there but never had to guess when it was time to clock out. But I have also been a bronc buster, an irrigation ditch weed burner, fence demolitionist, pen cleaner, riding instructor and bale bucker – all of which taught me more about myself and life than any office job ever could. These jobs, obviously all related to agriculture in some way, shape, or form, taught me discipline, respect and how to appreciate a hard day’s work. The harder the work, the better the results.
Co-workers and friends always ask me why I would rather get dirty, be outside in the weather or risk getting kicked by a cow than sit in a climate-controlled office riding a desk chair. Personally, I think the answer is pretty simple: Being able to take pride in an honest day's work is more satisfying than climbing a corporate political ladder. For me, that will always be my answer. Well, that, and the view outside the office is a heck of a lot more beautiful.
Whether you are a farmer, a rancher, tractor mechanic, veterinarian, teacher or consumer, you play an important role in American agriculture. From the beef on the table to the milk in the fridge, agriculture is everywhere. It is easy to be proud of an industry that allows parents to raise their children with work ethic and values. It is the most fulfilling career that is spent growing crops and animals of the highest quality, for the rest of the world to enjoy. You might not become a millionaire cropping the land or raising livestock, but knowing you can go to bed at night having spent the day accomplishing something tangible is worth a lot more than fancy clothes and made-up titles.
Being a part of agriculture isn't for the faint of heart. The hours are long and unreliable; the pay is not great; and if you aren't cussing out Mother Nature, you are praying to her for rain or sun. People in agriculture are persistent, creative and resilient; hard times are as cyclical as the weather; and we have learned to ride the tide and adapt to the ever-changing world around us.
I am proud to be a rancher's daughter and am proud that my husband and I are carrying on my family’s traditions. We chose this lifestyle, and we are committed to making positive contributions to the industry. I am proud of all the lessons our girls are learning at home. Most of all, I am proud to say I love what we do. After all, that's what life is really all about.
Richelle Barrett is a part-time cattle rancher and full-time wife and mother on a north-central Montana operation. You can learn more about her on her blog.
PHOTO: When you get down to it, agriculture is all about family. People, livestock and crops. It is about the circle of life, and we all play a part in that, and we are proud of it. Photo by Richelle Barrett.