What is a rancher? He is the epitome of the American ideal.
Written by Larry H. Humphrey, January 1968
Ranchers are usually found where there’s cattle-feeding, dehorning, branding, trading, roping, and doctoring. Bankers hate to see them coming, little boys admire them, the Secretary of Agriculture confuses them, city people visit and don’t understand them, meals wait on them, other ranchers compete with them, barbed wire cuts them, television glorifies them, but nothing discourages them.
They like fairs, rodeos, auctions, dogies, hounds, dances, neighbors, forty-dollar boots, Saturday in town, poker, good weather, fist fights and rank horses.
Ranchers don’t care much for poodles, dudes, government men, fixing fence, screwworms, cold weather, lightning, dairy cows, sheep, brush, or weak coffee. They put up with relatives, worms, flies, floods, blizzards, feed salesmen, drought, bad luck, and bad weather.
Today a rancher must be a salesman, animal nutritionist, vet, biologist, weather prophet, and a banker’s calculated risk. He handles more money than most businessmen and makes less clear profit than a paper boy.
No man is so far from church, yet so close to God. No man gets as much genuine enjoyment out of running water, television, a good game of pool.
He carries in his pocket at one time: Bull Durham, pocket knife, staples, tally book, one-inch lead pencil, business cards of at least five competing politicians (all of whom he has promised to vote for), cattle ear-tags, fencing pliers, piggin’ string, $1.98 watch, billfold (empty), and a currycomb.
No one gets kicked, run over, stepped on, bruised, cut up, or as mad as he does in a single day’s work.
He is overly optimistic in: the cattle market, next year, the ten-year-old cow that’s never calved, range conditions, the hay crop, and his twice-renewed livestock loan.
No one is as generous, big-hearted, friendly, dependable, wise or honest, and he will swap anything except his spurs, ropes, or bits.
He trusts his fellow man.
The rancher is the producer of meat, the hope of the future, the self-made man of today. Big business doesn’t fear him, the government doesn’t subsidize him. He relies on free enterprise and the hope that next year will be as good (or better) as last. He doesn’t cry on shoulders when hard times hit, but resolves to do better if he can.
He is the epitome of the American ideal, and knows that he either must survive without government or perish with it.