July 2020 480.632.7373 jensenlawaz.com
I Wasn’tMeant for Ranching
What I Learned at My First Job on Grandpa’s Ranch
T he end of the school year was always the greatest feeling. Growing up in Wyoming, when that final bell rang around noon on that last day of school, I was finally free to spend my summer roaming the fields, shooting soda cans, and playing on our family’s small cattle ranch. But by junior high school, the reality of what summer really meant for a ranch kid sunk in: It was time for work. My grandfather owned a small ranch in Wyoming on the same property his grandfather before him used to ranch. Back then, it was much larger, but my great grandfather gave all of his property to his five sons when he died, leaving them each an equal part of the ranch. By the time my grandpa was working the land, it was a modest ranch, but that didn’t mean we worked any less.
to put into it, we still found ways to have fun. Plus, Grandpa was always sure to give us “a little spending money” for our efforts. My uncle — who’s more like a brother to me, since he and I are the same age — and I would often take our guns with us whenever we were fixing the fence or moving the water and shoot cans. We rode horses, went fishing, and explored the land. There was never a dull moment! When your yard is acres long, there’s no shortage of what you can do as a kid. It was the best place to grow up.
“If you want to experience real freedom, then try driving a tractor across wide-open land.”
Looking back, I miss the days of backbreaking, sweaty work on the ranch. Today, I sit behind a desk all day, and
I know my boys have never experienced work quite like that in their lives. I do believe they are hard workers, but ranchers are some of the hardest working, strongest people I’ve known. My grandpa could lift 80-pound hay bales well into his old age — right up until he died, actually. He was the strongest person I knew, and he put so much of himself and his life into that land and those cows. Despite the dread I felt some mornings waking up on the ranch, I look back on my childhood and I can’t help but smile. There was hard work, but it was also filled with many great memories that I still enjoy to this day and that taught me two of the greatest lessons in life: the value of hard work and that I was not cut out to be a rancher.
Even as a little kid, I was expected to work hard. I can remember the dread of hearing my grandpa say we had to go repair a fence or that the irrigation needed fixing. We didn’t live on a ranch with a sprinkler system, so this meant we were moving water from one ditch to the next all summer long. We were also expected to milk the cows and tend to their needs, and in August, we spent a few days haying. Those were always my favorite chores. If you want to experience real freedom, then try driving a tractor across wide- open land. Of course, we only enjoyed a few moments of glory before an adult would kick us off to do the harder labor. We were usually up each summer day by 7 a.m. and worked through midafternoon. There were days when it was really hard work and it didn’t really feel like a summer vacation, but for as much effort as we were expected
Still, I wouldn’t change a thing about growing up on Grandpa’s ranch.
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