By Jennifer Dorsett
Hunting and fishing guides, private chefs, hiking, paddling and fishing.
Doesn’t sound like the lifestyle of many ranchers I know.
But How to Feel Like a Ranch Owner for a Weekend, a story in Texas Monthly, seems to promise a transformative experience to readers. A chance to reconnect with nature and experience real ranch life.
Sounds fun. But does it hold any water?
The article promotes a luxury ranch rental company. As I looked at the website, I noticed something. Despite photos of happy people dressed in their finest ranch chic attire, none of these getaways include the core concept of ranching: livestock care.
Early mornings and late nights checking cows weren’t listed as weekend experiences.
Fixing fence, checking water and feeding cows didn’t make the list either.
In fact, livestock aren’t really mentioned at all.
A rancher’s primary job is to raise healthy livestock that will bring good prices at market. Truly feeling like a rancher for a weekend would include a whole lot of animal care.
Delivering hay or feed and busting ice in water troughs are necessary winter activities. Inspecting forage conditions and checking windmills or water pumps are equally important in the summer. And there’s no heater or air conditioner when you’re horseback.
Sleepless nights are common during calving season. Looking for cows that slipped away to give birth, pulling calves from cows who need help and aiding newborn calves in distress take a rancher’s undivided attention and time.
Running a ranch is labor-intensive, sweaty and dirty. Animals don’t take weekends off from eating, giving birth or getting into trouble. Ranchers are on-call 365 days a year to ensure their herd’s health and safety.
There’s time in a rancher’s life for recreation and relaxation, sure. Like all of us, ranchers enjoy spending time with their loved ones and enjoy a variety of hobbies. But only when the animals are fed and all the work is done. That doesn’t fit into a 9-to-5 schedule or even a five-day workweek.
If you book one of these weekend ranch excursions, please, enjoy yourself. The scenery is stunning, and it’s fun to be pampered and have guides lead you to the best fishing hole or deer blind.
A weekend at a rural retreat may leave you feeling countrified and refreshed. But it’s safe to say you won’t feel like a rancher.
Let me know if you’re interested in feeling like a true rancher this weekend. I know plenty of people with animals to care for who would love some help! They’ll even leave the light on for you.