Ranchucation 101

Months before we moved here, I decided that it might be a good idea to learn more about ranching besides what I knew: nothing. After all, something is better than nothing, right? Little did I know that it takes more than a pair of Wranglers, some fancy boots, and the perfect drawl to be a real rancher…just kidding, I realize it takes more than that. 🙂

In a nutshell, I’m an overachiever. It’s not enough for me to just read a book and learn something. I need to get certified and KNOW my subject. Maybe that explains the plethora of fitness certifications I raked up within a 1 1/2 year career as a fitness instructor in Las Cruces. I think I ended up with 9 before we left for the ranch. Or my years in high school Junior ROTC when I competed so much in air rifle that I was the ’98 Ladies State Champ and contributed to a huge table of trophies and medals our company won in our first year. Some of those medals are currently in our 20 foot container in a box somewhere. Or the current obsession with learning all things animal and ranch related. Seriously, there’s A TON to learn.

So where does a city girl begin? Well, I became a frequent shopper of Feed and Supply stores. Tractor Supply, Horse ‘n Hound, Mercantile stores – went there, browsed, took notes on what this was and what that did and bought books to research more. I watched videos on YouTube. Cattlemen to Cattlemen is one we stalked as well as the library of BEEF Magazine. The University of Nebraska has a pretty neat podcast here that interviews professionals in all types of agricultural sectors. There are magazines for the discerning farmer, horseperson, or rancher, including: Farm Journal, Western Horseman, and, my personal favorite, New Mexico Stockman. This is a big shock for many of you that my favorite site is BackYard Chickens. My username is Cow Chips; let’s connect!

Here’s a rundown of the books I’m currently perusing for more information:

Storey’s Guides to: Raising Beef Cattle, Raising Chickens, and Raising Pigs . All different authors, still great guides.

Guineafowl: The Complete Owners Guide by Adrian Marks

Modern Livestock and Poultry Production by Flanders and Gillespie. This is actually a textbook and my father-in-law had an older version he referenced often. It’s interesting to see how much things have (and haven’t) changed when comparing the older to newer version.

Raising Beef Cattle for Dummies by Scott and Nikki Royer. No joke. This book exists and it’s on my Kindle!

How Not to Go Broke Ranching by Walt Davis. It’s funny and perfect for greenhorns like me who have no clue about ranch life.

Not that I’m going to have them any time soon, but in the future I might decide to raise alpacas and sell their gorgeous, warm fleece. So our friend from Minnesota, Joanie, sent me a few books to read.

Alpaca Keeping by Harry Fields and The Camelid Companion by Marty McGee Bennett

Let me not leave out the webinar I’m currently attending – Generation Next – organized by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension nor forget that I am Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Certified. Freakin’ rockstar of ranching over here.

But here’s the thing: just like music and fitness, everything I’ve read, learned, studied, means nothing until I’ve had to apply it in real life. There’s no certification or degree earned when you fix a leak in the pen or lead a stray cow home in a blizzard or bottle feed a calf whose momma can’t or won’t nurse. Those are all things learned “on the job”. The resources above and the willingness of seasoned ranchers, family, and friends have combined to make our dinnertime talk so much more productive. We’ve been extremely blessed to have people so open and honest and willing to help us! Let’s be honest, though, I get to read maybe 5 pages before something else happens or I realize the laundry isn’t folded or we need to start dinner and then I get sidetracked. However, when it’s blah and cold and windy and snowing outside, I am going to have some time to sit by the roaring fire and pick up a book. At least I have a nice selection!


By the way, I receive no compensation for referring these links. They’ve just been helpful to me. Besides, the next time you ask yourself “What the hell is she talking about?” there’s a good chance I got the info from one of these resources.


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