I had another story lined up to share – but yesterday an event occurred that changed everything. I received a phone call from one of my dearest friends that her family ranch in Kansas had been devastated by the fires that have been sweeping across the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, and Kansas. I say my “friend” called – but I think of her and her family as MY family. And isn’t that part of who we are – a community of ranchers that thinks of our friends and our neighbors as family.
The Giles family and the Gardiners have lost homes, cattle, horses – and suffered indescribable property damage. These historical ranch families have some irreplaceable losses and some losses that only time and hard work can fix. In the days and weeks ahead, they will have to make decisions and perform acts of humane kindness that will only lead to more heart break. But although their spirits may be dampened – their souls are intact. Their hearts may be broken but not their resilience or determination.
So I want to speak to a few things this day. In today’s fast paced – aggressive – competitive world we become fixated on technological advances, marketing strategies, forage production, genetic advances and so much more. The wealth of information now is overwhelming. Our ability to “connect” is vast and unlimited. But at times I think all that information and social networking only isolates and disconnects us as human beings. Now don’t get me wrong – I see the benefit and the value but not when it robs us of our heart-to-heart connectivity – compassion or kindness. It is the people that make it all work and yet we talk about all our advances as if they just happened by some stroke of good fortune. So let’s not forget about the people……I’m just saying!!
Ranching takes courage. It takes hard working people who act with urgency, kindness, and compassion. And sometimes that compassion takes the most difficult action – like having to terminate the life of a suffering animal. Yes – we grieve but we know that ranching requires persistence – determination – fortitude. But here is the best part of who we are – no matter what difficulties we face we know that we are part of a community – a family – of other farmers and ranchers. It will be other ranchers who arrive in difficult times with comfort – food – and a work ethic. We will arrive with much needed supplies – equipment – hay and water for livestock. We will bring our knowledge and expertise – our ability to get the job done. We will go to work without hesitation – working tirelessly behind the scenes until the job is finished. And the best part of who we are – we are not looking for payment; gratitude; or recognition.
When the fires are out – ranches are restored – hearts are mended there will be plenty of time for the good times we share – a good cup of coffee – a home cooked meal – love and laughter – stories told – memories shared – celebrations of life. Those are the times that build the foundation that makes us grab hold of each other so tightly when adversity comes. No – it won’t be Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or whatever that has the arms to hold – the voice to comfort – the hands to help out – the courage to step up.
So that’s who we are… that community of farmers and ranchers that understand and are ready and willing to stand with you. We are your neighbors – your friends – your family. We will be the ones who answer your call to come home.