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Reflections on a year worth celebrating

Billy Whitehurst for Progressive Cattleman Published on 07 December 2016
Whitehurst family

The Christmas season marks the end of the year and is a great time to reflect on our year and to look forward to the next. It's a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior and the new covenant the book of Jeremiah promised. It's also a great time to reflect on the blessings of the past year.

In this past year, we as an industry have seen prices normalize back to price levels that at one time we thought were wonderfully high prices. For those who haven't been in the business that long, I remember being tickled when 500-pound steers broke $1 per pound. Let's be thankful for the good run we had, and if we steward our resources in a prudent manner, we will all stay profitable in the future as well.

As a nation, we saw rural America speak out to Washington that we were tired of the political status quo, and boy, did they hear us. For many, hope has been restored that government overregulation will be stayed for the time being. As for us in our operation and family, we have seen a year of blessings to include great calves, solid direct consumer beef sales, young colts turn into great saddle horses, the loss of great stock dog, the promise of a new pup, the blessings of the wonderful medical care at the Mayo Clinic while our kids stepped up and ran the ranch for almost a month while we were gone. The try and effort put forth by our kids while we were gone was enough to leave anyone awestruck and proud.

I think we in agriculture, the livestock industries especially, breed an appreciation for the land, the animals and honest work ethic like no other industry in the world. While we may grumble about markets, range conditions, critters getting out while we are on our way to a Christmas Eve church service and the whole host of things that can go awry, we stockmen are pretty fortunate.

Looking back on the year, I'd say overall for most of us there was a lot more good than bad if we stop to think about it. If we put things into perspective and realize how lucky we are, the future seems to look better too. At our place, we are in full fledge expansion mode right now and are enjoying getting to know new stock that is coming in weekly. Whenever we get in new stock, be it bovine, equine or canine (sorry, I draw the line at feline), there is always a spark of hope that comes with it. There are new adventures to be had, new memories to make and expectations of a positive future. Don't lose that; it's part of what keeps us going when the weather is below zero and things are breaking down.

As I reflect on the past year and look forward to the new, I have high hopes for our industry and our nation. The lessons I have learned over the past year, some of them not being fun but were valuable nonetheless, have inspired me to go into the new year with a fresh perspective and a commitment to a healthier way to approach life and livelihood.

I'm putting a little extra effort into making my work more fun and enjoyable, and have realized that if I don't get it all done today, the operation won't fall apart. I'm taking more time to hunt and enjoy activities with the kids while I can, knowing that chance won't be there in just a few years. We've set goals for the operation as well and are going into a new year excited to work together as a family and see how it all unfolds. I am more optimistic about the coming year than almost any I can remember.

I would encourage us all to look back on the year and the lessons we learned, and use them to our advantage in the coming year. Let's focus on the positive side of things and remember how blessed we are to be involved in this industry and maybe stop once in a while to smell the roses as we work. Merry Christmas and happy New Year to all.  end mark

Billy Whitehurst
  • Billy Whitehurst

  • Extension Agent
  • Montana State University
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PHOTO: Merry Christmas from the Whitehurst family and the crew of Makale Livestock. Photo provided by Billy Whitehurst.

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