Hello friends! I have been working on this post for a long time. Then life got busy and I didn’t get it finished, but I’ve been so excited to share this with you!!
Today is the first installment of a new series I am so pumped to be writing. In this series I will highlight people whose passions inspire me. I am so happy to begin today by introducing you to my friend Annie.
How We Know Each Other
Annie and I met in college at Brigham Young University – Idaho. My first impression of her was that she was so down to earth and very fashionable!! Annie was always so put together. She is gorgeous on the outside and the inside. She has such a beautiful soul!!
Natalie and I hit it off pretty well considering we liked cowboys, horses, and the great outdoors. She in fact helped me get over my fear of talking to a really cute boy whom I’m now married to, by inviting him to a super lame bonfire we thought would bring in half the town. Thanks Nat!
The funny thing about that bonfire was that Annie and I worked for hours to take a bunch of pallets apart (we had to get all the nails out before we could burn them) and I had organized the bonfire for one specific guy to show up!! He didn’t make it…but my friend Ethan did, and he and Annie later got married, so I guess it worked out!!
All About Annie
Annie is a real life Cowgirl!! She and her husband work on his family’s cattle ranch.
I have to quote the best book I’ve read. It’s called Cowgirls, I bought it in a little shop in Casper, Wyoming.
“Cowgirls. I hesitate to use the word at all because it seems so frivolous. It makes us think of little girls in fringed felt skirts or big eyed sweeties in tight blue jeans and high heeled boots. But the term is a valid one that should carry more weight management. Women on ranches and in the rodeo is after all a clumsy phrase. But more significantly cowboys hold a place dear to our hearts their independence, self assurance, and pragmatic Savvy render them to us as heroes. A cowgirl is not just a woman who lives on a ranch or hangs around the rodeo. She is the female counterpart of the cowboy. Cowboy in its purest form means an its errant hired hand who works with cattle but our sense of the word is much broader. It presupposes a knowledge of horses and stock and a daily confrontation with the elements “
Annie grew up in Central California and has loved agriculture all her life.
I was born for it. As a kid I was always outside. Always looking up at the airplanes, and down in the dirt catching rolly polly bugs. I had a knack for getting a tan face, and sun bleached hair. I was in 3rd grade when I found a horse riding school and from that point on my parents helped me dedicate my whole life learning various styles and disciplines of horsemanship. What would lead me into having an interest in cattle, and more specifically, ranching.
Annie also owns her own business training stock dogs.
My husband Ethan and I had the wonderful opportunity to intern at the Sheridan Ranches owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for a school requirement. There we worked 2,000 head of cows in the beautiful middle of nowhere Clearmont, WY. Though the sites were breathtaking and the job was more of a passion than clockwork, those cows we managed were so gentle you could more or less scratch them behind the ear! It was frustrating and tiresome for both me and my horse. From that moment on I decided I needed a dog. But not just any ‘ol “herding class” dog. I needed a good dog! So I had a month before leaving Sheridan to find my mentor. And from that nerve racking, nonchalant phone call to Todd Ericsson in Rigby, Idaho on is history.
The past few months I’ve been taking my best dog Scout to cow dog trials. We just competed in the Mountain States Stockdog Association finals and we placed 7th out of 24 in the average. And I’m certain if I fixed my mistakes I would have placed a lot higher! And the next trial after finals we placed 2nd and pulled a check. So I am working hard to win my first stockdog buckle and its going to be the best day ever.
Why Annie Inspires Me
I have so much respect for the agriculturists of this country. They are the most underappreciated profession and the most hassled by their consumers. I loved studying animal science in college and am so grateful I was able to get to know Annie.
I asked Annie to share with me some of the biggest challenges she faces as a rancher, cowgirl, and dog trainer.
“Now is not the time”. Now is not the time to be cold. Now is not the time to be thirsty. Now is not the time to be tired. When we get to the truck you can be cold, and we can turn the heater on. When we get to the truck you can be thirsty. So long as we filled the cooler with water the night before. When we get home you can be tired. A hot shower and cozy bed is waiting for you there. But out in the middle of nowhere on the back of a horse and behind a cow is not the time to be anything you can’t control. There are no more clothes than you put on your back, there are no McDonald’s to grab a coke and a burger, there are no seats or beds to take breaks. Be prepared even when its 20 degrees in the morning that turns 90 degrees at 3 PM. But being able to enjoy Heavenly Fathers creations. The views, smells, how the warmth of the sun feels paired with a chilly breeze is unreal.
One of the number one things my eyes were opened to as I studied agriculture in school is that consumers are ill informed and overly judgmental about their food. Sitting in class I remember thinking, “How come I have to declare this as my major to learn these things? How come people are so afraid of GMOs? How come no one knows the way our meat is processed and that the majority of animals aren’t mistreated? How come I believed everything in Food Inc, all these years?” I asked Annie what she wished people knew about her profession.
As ranchers, we love our animals. I wish people knew that the animals we tend to aren’t just there to make us money. They’re there to teach our children how to be tender with babies. What dirty hands feel like. How much feed and water and space a living being needs. How to revive a cold calf, or medicate a sick bull, or shoe a work horse. They’re there because we enjoy taking care of them. We don’t do it for the money, we do it because we’re needed.
The Nitty Gritty
Cowboys and Cowgirls, like Annie and Ethan, throughout the United States are a dying breed. Crushing commercialization, government land laws, and increasing foreign imports are controlling the market. The people of our generation aren’t quite made of the same stuff as our farming and ranching counterparts. I admire their drive to work through every condition and feed the world. As a consumer of their product, I am so grateful for the sacrifices they make for me and my family. What if one day you showed up to the grocery store and they didn’t have your steak or your chicken breasts or your turkey bacon? That’s the power people like Annie have. They are literally feeding you. But we never think about that. We just grab our groceries and head to the register. I think people like Annie should be spotlighted and celebrated! We need them!!
So what can we do?
Buy local. Support your local farmers markets and fairs. Educate yourself on the laws of the land. Vote for appropriate land sharing and trade laws. Don’t believe everything you read and every expose from health class.
Special thanks to Annie for letting me highlight her! I can’t wait to continue with this series and introduce you to more people who inspire me. If you liked this post, be sure to share with your friends!
If you want to see more from Annie, follow her on Instagram and Facebook
Don’t miss a beat! Make sure you are following me on Instagram (@nataliesmith72717), Facebook (The Utah Born Texan), and here on the blog. If you want to get email updates each time I post, make sure you fill out the form to follow the blog!