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Resilience, in all its forms

Erica Ramsey Louder for Progressive Cattle Published on 29 September 2021

I’m always on the lookout for inspiration for this blog. I listen and watch with ears and eyes wide open for funny things my fellow ranchers say, conundrums with our cattle and sometimes inspiring asides.

Initially, with this specific post, I was going for the latter. I’d decided that it would be about resilience, the resilience the cattle industry presented in the face of drought, wildfires, roller coaster-like markets and, of course, the global pandemic. It seemed fitting, given that we are in “unprecedented times.” But it was also dull and repetitive and something we’d all been hearing for the better part of a year.

What I want to tell you about is only loosely related, if you follow my train of thought. It’s about a farm cat. And if there is one creature on this earth that can be called resilient, it is a farm cat. For thoroughness’s sake, I googled it. King Google says resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” And as a second definition, “the ability of an object to spring back into shape; elasticity.” Now, doesn’t that sound just like that cat hanging around your ranch?

The cat hanging around my ranch, my daughter found in the haystack when it was just days old. Its mother abandoned it, or her resilient nine lives expired. He was pampered in the house for months, but not by me. I kicked him out to be a real farm cat, but he never lost his taste for the finer things. A coyote nearly ripped his tail off, and the end of it is permanently notched because he’s tried to slip through the door one too many times. Last year, my husband tossed him off the porch, and he landed cattywampus and broke his leg. Despite being a bonafide animal doctor, my husband ignored the break, justifying his negligence to his professional oath by saying, “If the legs are even in the same room together, they will mend.” It did, but the cat liked us less than ever. Yet, he still has a soft spot for counter-softened butter and leftover cereal. They are probably the only reason he hasn’t abandoned the household outright.

Yesterday, the cat played his latest card in this resilient game of tug-of-war. I went outside bright and early to grab my checkbook out of the pickup. As soon as I opened the door, Resilience bolted out, and I was hit with wave after wave of feline-fragranced ammonia. After a very eloquently placed curse, I cleaned the pickup the best I could, but I think only a $200 detail will do the job. I will be reminded of Resilience for weeks to come.

With that lengthy insert, here are my inspiring words. Be like Resilience the farm cat. And by that, I don’t mean defecate in someone’s pickup, you nasty. Be scrappy, tough and elastic. Look for opportunities in the industry and fight for your place. Don’t let them forget about you, about us. Agriculture needs folks like you, especially now. Even if times are unprecedented, you are too often underestimated.  end mark

Erica Ramsey Louder is a freelance writer based in Idaho.