I truly believe we are a product of our environment, and I do pride myself on knowing how to work hard and power through, even when times are tough. I grew up on a cattle ranch in northeast Kansas. People have asked me in the past what’s so different about being a farm wife vs. living/working on a ranch. There are a few stark differences that I can glean from my time doing both. One of the biggest differences is that growing up, my family’s ranch didn’t have much for row crop (wheat, milo, corn, soybeans). That was something that was new for me when I moved to western Kansas.
Another aspect of farm life that I had ZERO experience with was irrigation. My family, like I said, did not farm a lot, we mostly ran cattle and put up hay. Irrigation was brand new to me. The first time Ty and I hung out, I actually asked him if irrigation pivots are put in the shed for the winter. I think he thought I was crazy (hint: they don’t take irrigation pivots down, like…ever). Ty’s family has been irrigating for well over 35 years, but more about that to come in a different post.
My jobs on our family’s ranch varied as I grew up. When I was really little, it was my job to feed the cats, play with the kittens and puppies, get muddy in mud puddles and every now and then my mom would make us pull weeds in her iris bed, and that…that I hated! As I got older, I mowed the lawn and around the barns, worked with my 4-H calves, helped work cattle when we had to vaccinate and doctor them, rode around with my dad to check cattle, and did whatever my mom needed me to.
In the last few years as a resident on the Moser Ranch, I got to stack a lot of large, round bales. My brother used to refer to my dad and me as the “little old ladies” chattering on the 2-way radio. Thinking back to that now makes me giggle.
One of the best highlights of growing up on a ranch, though, was the early morning wake up calls to go gather cattle. In the summertime in northeast Kansas, it gets very hot and very humid very quickly; so we would have to get groups of cattle gathered in the early morning to avoid getting them too hot and sweaty, plus it was easier on horses and help to do things while it was cooler. On mornings when we’d have to gather cattle, Mom would wake me up anywhere between 5:30-6:00 am to get ready for the day. Thankfully, my dad or sister normally caught my horse and had him saddled. I wasn’t and never have been a morning person, but on those summer mornings when I knew we’d be horseback and I’d get to soak in the early morning, it wasn’t so bad. Looking back now, I wish I would have embraced the mornings more. At the time, the only thing that kept me excited about getting up to gather cattle was the donuts and juice we’d get to enjoy afterward. Nothing better to enjoy than a Dillon’s glazed donut and ice cold orange juice on a hot summer morning after you’ve been on horseback for two hours.
Another highlight of those early morning wake up calls was that I got to hang out with one of my best friends, because her dad always came to help gather cattle. So naturally, Steph came along to help too. Stephanie, her little brother Tyler and I normally brought up the rear of the herd of cattle. Nine times out of 10 we were jacking around and talking really loud. Oh the memories! I think that should be a post on its own sometime soon.
There were always jobs around the ranch that none of us kids enjoyed. Sweeping out feed bunks, opening gates, chopping thistles and cleaning out the calving barn were not my favorite things; but most of the time, after a little grumbling, we got them done to our parents’ liking. We did have a lot of fun growing up in the country. When I was in grade school, one of my siblings and mine’s favorite games was jumping big round hay bales. We’d essentially play tag on the bales. We also had an awesome old “summer kitchen” that we made into a playhouse. It was a little ways away from my parent’s house; my sister and I would pretend to cook and have our own little house. When we needed “groceries” we would walk to my mom’s house and “go shopping.” I remember it was a pretty big deal to get an egg, flour, and noodles to pretend to cook with. We made all sorts of concoctions. When my brother wasn’t too busy helping my dad, he’d come by our playhouse and hang out in the loft portion. He had an old 2-way radio he’d pretend to talk on. Really kind of sounds like Mayberry as I type this. I do feel blessed to have had so many awesome experiences growing up.
One of the funniest memories I have growing up with my siblings was when it was snowy and we’d ride the sled behind the 4-wheeler. My brother was ruthless. He’d seriously drive so fast and sling that sled all over hell. There were numerous times where there could have been (bad) injuries, but the Good Lord was looking out for us. I vividly remember one time, in March, when we decided to get the 4-wheeler and the sled out. There might have been a skiff of snow on the ground, but definitely not enough to be sledding. I didn’t want to ride the sled but my older sister Kendra decided she would. So, Cameron (my big brother) was driving, I was riding behind him, and Kendra was on the sled.
We were out in a big alfalfa field. There were cow patties everywhere and it was frozen enough that when Cameron drove over them, they didn’t completely splatter, but they did kick some cow poop back. (I’m seriously laughing as type this). Anyway, Kendra ended up getting a lot of cow poop to the face. All three of us were laughing so hard, the laughter was contagious. Cameron seriously drove that 4-wheeler for probably 20 minutes and the entire time Kendra was laughing, with her mouth open. By the end of the “sledding” fun, Kendra was a mess. Cameron and I could not stop laughing. And needless to say, we still get a chuckle out of it to this day.
The biggest take away I have from my time living and working on my family’s ranch was that if you take care of the land and your animals, they’ll take care of you. Having pride in a job well-done and giving 110% in everything you do is essential.
My family’s ranch is still owned and operated by my mom and dad, and my brother Cameron and his wife. It’s in good hands. I love taking my kiddos back to visit and am so glad I had such an amazing upbringing. I know my children’s life experiences may differ, but I think in regards to all agriculture — farmers and ranchers everywhere do their absolute best to care for the gift of land and animals. The agriculture world isn’t for the faint of heart, but I don’t think my family would have it any other way.
I’m sure I’ll share more posts about my childhood in the future because I had a blast sharing these with you all, but for now I’m going to get back to laundry, harvest food prep and changing diapers!
Happy Wednesday and God Bless!
P.S. Be sure to follow along on my Instagram stories for updates regarding wheat harvest in south central Kansas – I’ll be documenting it all on there!