My favorite blondes did not have school last Monday so I had company as I headed north to get feeder cattle near Halsey, Nebraska. My girls spent many years traversing across Nebraska visiting ranches and getting cattle before they were old enough to be in school. With my “baby” being a 5th grader, I have made many treks alone since those days.
The drive from Cozad up to Halsey is a beautiful one full of wildlife and picturesque scenery. I know that wherever their lives take them, my girls will take those memories of quiet beauty with them. This vast land where cattle and wildlife greatly outnumber people brings a sense of peace that refills my cup.
As I drive around my farm and then head north to the Sandhills, I always wonder why our urban countrymen worry so much about sustainability. The healthy ecosystem balance found in out-state Nebraska is readily visible to any passerby, and the farmers and ranchers that tend to the land do so with a blend of natural passion and stubborn pride.
I think that perhaps many urban folks would feel better about where their beef comes from if they spent a day driving around rural Nebraska. It might be hard to find the farmer/rancher in all the vastness of the countryside, but his/her hard work and dedication is apparent from the car window view. If you happen to come across the human caregiver, his/her quiet manner and aloofness will give testimony to the fact that caring for the land is a solitary job.
The trip from Cozad to Halsey takes about 2 hours, and is full of deer, turkey, grouse, ducks, hawks and an occasional eagle in addition to the bovine population. They all live in harmony with a bit of human help under the influence of Mother Nature. Just as cattle are known as the great recyclers turning inedible plant products into vitamin rich (and tasty) edible protein, the people that inhabit my beloved adopted countryside share the same dedication to stewardship — wasting little and carefully managing the natural resources found on the land.
Those of us that make rural America home are a small and unique group. Our pride in country is evident. Our dedication to community shines brightly. Our responsibility to stewardship drives a life filled with both challenge and fullfillment.
With each day that passes, I am coming to realize that now (more than ever) we need our urban counterparts to take the time to learn about our lives prior to judging the validity and sustainability of both our daily work and our legacy. Beef production is much more than the steak that creates a great tasting eating experience. It takes care of the land and fuels rural economies, while its farmers bring a steadfast patriotism and a dedicated work ethic that provides a necessary pillar for our country.
Perhaps it is time to head for the hills to learn about “Where your beef comes from”! You might be surprised at what you find 🙂