I know people traveling down the highway get irritated. Everyone has somewhere they need to be – and when we slow them down, well, we are not always their favorite people. However, there are some people, usually tourists, who are fascinated and take pictures. We don’t mind; we want folks to see ranching as an exciting thing. Also, we want them to see us taking good care of the animals.
During one of our cattle moves this summer, we had a lady who didn’t see us at all. We had a line of traffic backed up because summer is a busy time in Montana, especially the last couple of years. She was probably the sixth car approaching the line of stopped traffic while the cows and their calves crossed. And she wasn’t slowing down.
The next thing we knew, her car had crossed lanes and had plowed through the fence. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The driver and her passenger walked out of the car with no injuries, except the car was a little scratched up. Thankfully, it wasn’t the fence on the pasture where the cows were going. It looked like she hadn’t seen the traffic and did 60 miles an hour through the fence. That’s the only problem we’ve had with a highway crossing, but it concerned us that she didn’t see the stopped traffic, the flags or the cows.
Sometimes it also feels like we aren’t seen.
Do you ever feel invisible?
It depends on where I am and who I am with – that’s probably the case for everyone.
We have an amazing industry that uplifts producers – there are groups, classes and roundtable discussions you can join just about anywhere in the country. So I don’t mean seen by each other. We each, hopefully, understand what the other is going through and, if we don’t, we have a decent idea. We can lift each other up when we are down and celebrate with each other when things are on the upside. This is a gift. A true gift. One I am continually thankful for – we have resources for connection that generations before us didn’t have.
However, sometimes I wonder how it would feel to walk in someone else’s shoes … uh … boots. Would they feel the same intensity and passion I feel?
One of my favorite things is seeing a property cleaned up and brought to its full potential. When land gets cleaned up and produces well, fulfilling its design – what joy there is in seeing that happen. If someone swapped places with me (Watch out reality TV – country/city swap is a grand idea. Except I do not want to be on TV.), would they feel the same? Would they:
- Think about the animals in inclement weather? Drive around and try to see how the animals were doing?
- Want to feed everyone in the vicinity who helped work cows?
- Lie awake at night trying to remember if they closed “that” gate?
- Wake up earlier than needed to check and double-check supplies before processing cows and calves?
- Get nervous about doing it “right”?
- Overthink things?
I’ve heard people say to me it must be nice and relaxing to live on a ranch. Yes, some days it is that – there is satisfaction in seeing healthy animals and land. There are beautiful sunsets and sunrises. And yet, as we all know, there are long days, long-range financial planning and budgeting, and there is concern for life that comes with a long to-do list.
However, if I were to walk into someone else’s life, perhaps I wouldn’t understand their worries either.
We are all very different people, but we validate each other by taking time to see one another and to hear about each other’s lives.
Yet, maybe more importantly, we must see ourselves.
If I don’t value what I do, then no one else will either.
God didn’t create us to be validated only by what others say or see, but rather by what He sees. And sometimes stopping to ask the question, “What do you see, God?” can alter my day for the better.
I’m learning to begin my day with truth and thankfulness.
Thank you for the day I get to live today.
Thank you for the good things I will see today.
Thank you for the blessings.
Gratefulness changes my perspective. It helps me see a lot more than I used to see. It may not change whether others see us moving cows or not, but it will change us.