Ranching: A Good Life For Sure, But Still A HARD Life!

Ranching is not a job for the faint of heart. Beneath the romance of riding across the wild plains in high-heeled boots and a broad-brimmed hat lies the plain reality of sweat and dirt and unremitting hard work. The life of a rancher is not easy, but for those who consider it their calling, living off the land is worth every ounce of the difficulty it entails.

The Stereotypical Ranch Lifestyle

The modern ranching business is, in some ways, surprisingly like the images conjured up by old westerns. The yearly cycle of breeding and calving and branding and haying that takes place on modern ranches is the same cycle that took place on Bonanza season after season.

The duties of the modern ranch hand still include rounding up cattle, riding fence, and chopping firewood. But success on the modern ranching scene requires an increasing amount of adaptability and business acumen, and today’s Ponderosas utilize technology of which Ben Cartwright and his sons could only have dreamed.

State of Modern Farming

Entrepreneurs looking to make a livelihood in the ranching business understand from the start that they are taking a step of faith. In an article on the state of modern farming, Iowan farmer Steve Anderegg explains that living off the land leaves you susceptible to the vicissitudes of the weather. “Your livelihood is in the hands of Mother Nature,” he says.

For ranchers, the ever-looming danger of hostile weather is joined by a host of difficulties particular to the era: government regulations and policies, rising land prices, competition with industrial beef and grain producers, increasingly costly energy, and constant technological developments. Keeping abreast of the competition is as much a part of the ranching life now as it was during the days of range wars. However, more options are available to aspiring ranchers than ever before.

An Insight into Modern Farming Tech:

The Sustainable Ranching Movement

A growing trend in the ranching world over the last several years has been the sustainable ranching movement. More and more ranchers, from multi-billionaire Ted Turner to fifth generation Montana cattleman Zachary Jones, are abandoning the old method of letting cows loose to roam at will across vast swathes of pastureland to crop the ground bare.

At one time this was the only reasonable method, but gone are the days of barbed wire fencing that took several ranch hands days to string. Portable electric fencing allows ranchers to contain cows easily in a smaller space, moving them frequently to protect the land from overgrazing. This new system marries efficient cattle production with responsible stewardship of the land and ultimately cuts down on the cost of pesticides, antibiotics, and hay.

New Techniques

New techniques like the continuous grazing rotation keep the ranching business from stagnating. For ranchers who live in constant competition with huge industrial beef factories, that is important. They are not only trying to secure their own financial survival, but preserve a historic way of life.

“Of course, modern ranching is a business,” admits Joe Guild, a lifelong rancher and former president of the Nevada Cattleman’s Association, “but like so many things in human history which have lasted, there is also a culture.”

Guild feels keenly the need to be an ambassador for the traditional ranching life, which he considers an inheritance of many centuries, tracing it back to the farmers and horse-tamers of Arabia, North Africa, and ancient Mesopotamia. “There aren’t many of us,” he lamented in an address at the Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive in 2005. But his enthusiasm for his fellow ranchers is unmistakable.

Everyone from cooks to cowboys has the same attitude here, he claims. “They have a sense of humor…there is an honesty and a straightforwardness about them you can almost feel. They want to be on this land.”

Plain Hard Work

But for all the excitement of doing battle with a continually developing market and for all the pride of carrying on a time-honored way of life, the everyday reality of ranching is plain hard work. A typical year in the life of a ranch hand requires experience in countless areas.

No other job demands one person to be an expert in pasture management, seeding, irrigation, fence-building, riding, calving, weaning, medicating, herding, branding, haying, mowing, snowplowing, woodcutting, pipe maintenance, machinery operation, and engine repair, as well as physically fit enough to do manual labor from sunup to sundown. For the boss of the operation, add a few more qualifications like computer literacy, business savvy, and legal fluency. Balancing account books, feeding livestock, and fixing broken tractors may not be romantic, but they are the fabric of which the ranching life is made.

Parting Words

ranch house on a beautiful night

The ranching life is undoubtedly a good life. The satisfaction of working the land and providing food for countless people is no small reward. But make no mistake: its demands, both physically and mentally, are as intense as they have ever been.

Camping, Hiking, Lifestyle

10 Essentials for Hiking & Camping in the Country

Packing for a hiking and camping trip in the country can prove tricky for someone who isn’t a seasoned outdoors man. You start by putting the basics like sleeping bag and tent into the car and before you know it, you have packed more than you need. The key to avoiding overloading lies in knowing what you need and what you don’t. Before loading up on your favorite books, pricey gear and snacks, here are 10 essentials you simply can’t leave out.

1. Navigation

Getting lost in the woods will certainly spoil your camping trip. The two main components of navigation you will need are a map and compass. You can also toss in a wrist altimeter or GPS to replace either of the above.

If your trip involves a long, frequently visited nature trail or impossible-to-miss footpath, carrying a topographical map is a must. Combine your knowledge of reading maps with a compass and you never have to worry about getting lost. Consider purchasing a compass with a sighting mirror as it will help you flash sunlight to a rescuer or helicopter during an emergency.

2. Insulation

It is always good to pack an extra layer of clothing to protect yourself from the elements. This is particularly true because the conditions can turn chilly, wet or windy abruptly. You want to be protected in case something expected prolongs your exposure to the elements.

The extra clothing you pack should be dictated by the time of the year. Ask yourself what you would need to survive the worst conditions that could occur during your trip. Common sense dictates that you pack extra socks, an insulating hat, a layer of underwear as well as a synthetic vest or jacket.

3. Fire

You will need to cook or keep warm during the night. With that in mind, ensure that your pack a box of matches and a firestarter. The matches should be of the waterproof variety or at least stored in a waterproof container. Rather than convenient store matchbooks that are poorly constructed and flimsy, consider mechanical lighters.

As for the firestarter, you need something that ignites quickly and sustains the heat for at least half a minute. Suitable options include dry tinder, chipped wood clusters dipped in resin, priming waste, and candles. Lint trappings from a household rack are also a good idea.

4. Sun protection

A pair of sunglasses will be indispensable. A key function of quality lenses is blocking 100% of ultraviolet light. This offers additional protection against cataracts. If you will be walking on ice or snow, go for a pair of glasses extra-dark glacier glasses.

Don’t forget t pack sunscreen, preferably a formula that offers sun protection factor of at least 30. It should also be able to block UVB and UVA sunrays. Reapply your sunscreen every 2-3 hours depending sweat, time of day and other factors. If you can get a SPF-rated lip balm, carry it with you.

5. Hydration

The average man can survive up to three days without water. Always carry at least one bottle of water and a collapsible water reservoir. Don’t forget a means of treating water for when you refill the bottle at a stream or lake. A chemical treatment or filter should suffice. Before you embark on your trip, consult your map and identify any possible water sources. Refill your water reservoir before beginning a long stretch of unpredictable availability of water.

6. First-aid supplies

While pre-assembled first-aid kits take the guesswork out of putting together your own kit, personalizing your own first-aid kid is an effective way of ensuring that it suits your needs. The ideal camping first aid kit should have adhesive bandages of different sizes, blister treatments, adhesive tape, over-the-counter medication, gauze pads, disinfecting ointment, pen and paper. Don’t underestimate the importance of nitrile gloves.

The main factors that will determine what contents and how much of each you park include the number of people as well as length of the trip. Carrying a compact guide is a good idea as it will help a great deal when dealing with emergencies.

7. Nutrition

It is always a good idea to pack an extra day’s worth of food. Many people usually opt for freeze-dried meals but no-cook items with long a long shelf life like dried fruits, energy bars and jerky are just as good. The type and amount of food you pack will depend on how long the trip as well as how many people are coming with you. You may want to munch something before going to bed on a cold night since the process of digestion will keep the body warm.

8. Illumination

While a fire may provide plenty of lighting at night, having some kind of backup is recommended. Many backpackers opt for headlamps as they allow for hands-free operation and have a long battery life. They are also lightweight. Consider a headlamp that offers a strobe mode since it prolongs battery life, hence invaluable during emergencies.

Other alternatives worth considering include packable lanterns and flashlights. Modern LED Lanterns & flashlights cast very powerful beams that you can use to signal rescuers or a helicopter during emergencies. Make sure that you pack an extra set of batteries for your headlamp or flashlight. If hiking in a group, everyone should have their own light.

9. Shelter and Air Mattress

This is an absolute necessity for any overnight hiking trip. The thinking is that something is better than nothing if you’re stranded and have to deal with the rain. There are many options when it comes to camping shelters such include an ultra-light tarp, hammock or bivy sack. Some manufacturers offer tents that accommodate as many as 6 people. A tent that accommodates several people may be a better option if you are hiking in a group and need to reduce load. On the other hand, a hammock makes more sense if you are hiking in rugged countryside where finding a clearing to pitch a tent is nearly impossible.

While a tent will protect you from the rain, it won’t offer much comfort. You will need a quality queen air mattress for a comfortable night’s sleep. It will provide additional protection from the elements.

10. Communication

You never know what happens in the country and in case of an injury or emergency, you need to be able to communicate with the outside world. Carry your fully charged cell phone in a waterproof case to save batteries. A whistle will carry the sound further as compared to your bare voice. Consider packing a personal locator beacon if you will be hiking into extremely remote terrain.

While this list is far from exhaustive, it’s important to note that these are the bare essentials you can’t leave behind. You should also consider carrying some form of protection, perhaps a survival knife. Now that you know what to pack for your camping trip, we hope that you have the best experience out there.


Life on the Ranch: The Illegal Immigration Problem Far from the Border

Migration has always been a part of human society, but the growth of cities, towns, and countries makes it harder to migrate for some. At some point, borders would be put in place, and illegal immigration soon followed.

It is estimated that 11.3 million undocumented people reside in the United States, which is a number that has stayed relatively the same for eight years. Contrary to popular belief, illegal immigration has slowed down, but it is still causing issues beyond the border.

Why do People Immigrate Illegally?

Illegal immigrants are met with all sorts of obstacles, from insufferable terrain to border patrol. Furthermore, there are some people in the United States that feel apprehensive about people who immigrate illegally. Still, many people continue to try their luck and migrate into this country without papers. The following are some of the reasons they do this:

  • Extreme poverty and looking for opportunity
  • Problems with overpopulation in their country
  • Wars or fear of persecution
  • Reunification with family who are already residing in the country
  • They believe they will help the country, and see border laws as immoral

Granted, these are just some of the reasons people migrate here, but they are enough to propel illegal immigration.

Problems Immigrants Encounter

It might seem that illegal immigrants only encounter problems at the border with the border patrol, but problems with illegal immigrants continue. One of the biggest issues that many undocumented people face is unlawful working conditions.

An unlawful working condition that some illegal immigrants are forced to undergo is working without safety regulations. A regular American would be given the proper safety gear to work in an area where the risk of contamination is high, but an illegal worker will not be.

These migrants are also forced to work way below minimum wage and cannot unionize within this country. Granted, some of these rights were written for American citizens. Illegal immigrants are not citizens, but that should not give American business owners or companies the right to abuse human beings.

Illegal immigrants can be overworked without expecting overtime pay and are sometimes forced to work through breaks. These migrants usually do not have anyone to complain to and, when they do, they risk being deported.

The problems that immigrants face continue from there. For example, many immigrants are victims of crime in the United States, including domestic violence that could even affect children. Immigrants also fear reporting sexual assaults, which can put others in danger since the sexual predator is not apprehended when he or she should have been. Most immigrants do not report these crimes because they fear that the police will report their status in the United States, which will result in deportation.

These are just some of the issues immigrants who choose to cross the border face in this country. This is on top of other issues like not having medical support among many others.

Unlawful Immigration and the United States

Yes, the illegal immigration population faces issues but so does the United States as a whole. For one, it is estimated that illegal immigrants cost the United States about $99 billion. This seems like a large number, and it includes money spent on medical emergencies and educating some of these individuals.

The number does seem large, but it does not take into account all the money that illegal immigrants put back into the system. These individuals are spending their money in the country, supporting local businesses and the economy. It is easy to say that deporting them would be the best solution, but people should consider how much the US actually depends on illegal immigrants.

It is sad that these individuals are exploited at work, but this exploitation grants other Americans discounts. For example, homes are built cheaper and sold at a more reasonable price with the help of illegal immigrants and the same can be said about other things like produce.

There are many issues associated with produce since 50 to 70 percent of the labor force tasked with picking produce from a farm are illegal immigrants. This means that produce could see a spike if all immigrants were deported. Some Americans would say that US workers would pick up the slack, but most Americans just do not want these jobs, which makes immigrant workers vital.

It is clear that the problem with illegal immigration is a lot more complicated than some might imagine. The recent animosity against illegal immigrants is not new. Citizens of different countries have turned against immigrants at some point. The animosity is usually linked to work, and it tends to happen when the country is not doing too well economically. Illegal immigrants are blamed for the problem, but the issue might just rest in the way income is distributed rather than immigration.