By Shelia Grobosky
I honestly cannot think of a better way to have grown up than to be raised on cattle ranches. Although I no longer have cattle of my own, I still get to tell the stories of beef producers and help provide them educational pieces through the written word, all while seeing the neighbor’s cattle out on pasture through my office window. I’ve often heard it said, it’s not about the cattle, it’s about the people, but the two rely on one another and I’m so grateful for the people and the lessons I’ve learned in the beef industry.
From the lessons learned on the ranch in the Nebraska Panhandle to those learned whiled working for members at two very different member organizations, the cattle industry has taught me some unique things and provided me some wonderful opportunities. We all know that the industry doesn’t go without challenges from environmental to markets, but during a time of thanksgiving, I wanted to share five things I am thankful for, especially this year.
Delicious, Nutritious Protein Source
I will always prefer beef at the center of my plate. Oh sure, those who know me really well, know I also like seafood, but what’s better than a good surf and turf? Growing up in an area where cattle outnumbered people, beef was definitely what was for dinner! With so many varieties of cuts and cooking methods, a good steak or burger just simply satisfies, and tastes so delicious. And, think about the high-quality protein, along with all the other nutrients you are getting from it!
Original Land Stewards
Cattle and cattle producers take care of the land. Can you imagine how overgrown the land would be without cattle to graze? And good cattle producers understand that taking great care of their animals make them good stewards of the land. There is no doubt in my mind that our landscape is better off with cattle and other natural grazers like sheep, goats and horses to groom the countryside.
Some of my earliest childhood memories are from ranches in the Nebraska Panhandle and Nebraska Sandhills, where my dad was a herdsman on Hereford ranches. Preschool for me was riding around in that old feed truck – not in a car seat or even buckled in. I learned to count by counting Hereford bulls at the bunk or by counting fence posts in a fence line. The birds and bees’ talks weren’t necessary because that happened in the barn at A.I. and calving seasons, and ranch kids just “knew” things, and I can’t imagine not having those memories.
When you grow up in the cattle business, the world becomes very small. Friendships are formed and made to last. The first time I showed a calf was at the Hooker County Fair. Today, I get to work with one of those people who was also showing at that same fair. Even though we went our separate ways for a couple of decades, we have a common background, know many of the same people and today share a camaraderie that includes asking about each other’s families when we talk. A wise former coworker once advised me to meet two new people at each event I go to, because you never know who will become a friend or customer.
Young people in the beef industry are amazing! Most of them know the value of hard work, aren’t afraid to talk to adults and have some common sense. I have had the opportunity to work with different groups of young people during my career, and regardless of if they return to production ag, the majority of them make great leaders and spokespeople for our industry. They might become politicians, lawyers, teachers, medical professionals or communicators, and they share a common bond. They are passionate about the memories they have of the beef business and the industry and they will share that love with others who might not understand the industry.
No, the beef business might not always be glamorous. It’s long days, some short nights. Wondering what regulations are coming down the pipe next and when the next rain is coming. However, if we take time to think about the big picture, there are definitely some things to be grateful for in our industry. I hope you will take a few minutes as we approach this Thanksgiving holiday to reflect on the blessings in your life and what the industry has given you. Count your blessings. Give thanks. There is always something to be thankful for.