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Across the Fence: Get rich overnight for a rancher’s delight

Marci Whitehurst for Progressive Cattleman Published on 11 October 2018
girl walking beef cow

It is fall and most of us are getting pretty excited for a paycheck. Come November, we'll be selling calves and putting money in the bank for the rest of the year. We budget, like most ranchers do, but then the skid steer broke, our main truck died and one of the kids needed her wisdom teeth out.

I'm not sure the emergency fund we set up is deep enough for ranching surprises.

Oh, it's been a pretty decent year; I'm not complaining. It's just that come this time of year, many start to wonder, “How can I pinch the pennies?”

That's why I think we all need a get-rich-overnight, fail-proof option. I know it doesn't exist, but wouldn't it be nice? Certainly a lot of people dream about overnight wealth – or there wouldn't be so many “Make-it-Rich-Quick” titles floating around. Stuffing envelopes isn't the answer. I've attempted to sell stuff, but I'm not good at selling because I don't want to buy the stuff either.

Ranchers need something true to their nature:

  • As a side business, we could advertise fresh compost, spread on-site, to town folk … but I suppose city council wouldn't approve of cows in a backyard. Apparently, there are ordinances against such things. Plus, after we pay for the flowers and trees the cows eat and trample, the "fresh" compost business would cost money.

  • We could get into the recycling business: We already recycle vegetables and turn them into meat.

  • Perhaps child care is the way to go, but the liability waiver would be long. Haying and horses are much different than a playground.

  • Who needs a gym membership when you have ranching? We could save people money at the gym and give them a workout with purpose: moving pipe, chasing cows and bucking bales.

  • We do know how to grow things, but if I used grow lights, I wouldn't feel ethically right about making money that way.

  • I'm sure many of us could become YouTube sensations with some our ranch videos, but usually no one is around to video our amazing moves, or the moves are over by the time the camera gets rolling.

  • I know … liquid gold! That thing that wakes us up in the morning, coffee! Now where would a rancher be without coffee? We could start our own brews:
    • Two-shot espresso = Achy Americano
    • Four shots = Branding nerves
    • Six shots = Haying happiness
    • Eight shots = Calving coffee
    • And for those of us doing the laundry, especially after preg checking or A.I.’ing: a crappuccino.

I suppose we don't have time for moneymaking schemes anyway. Really, ranching is a fine income; it just isn't a monthly check. Besides, what ranchers offer to the world is quality food for quantity living. You can't beat that, and nothing about it is a gimmick. It's earned with hard work and motivation.

Yet it's always fun to dream. I mean, if we ranchers could sell magic beans, a money tree or golden eggs, I suppose folks would have to buy them hoof, line and stinker.  end mark

Marci Whitehurst is a freelance writer, ranch wife, and the mother of three children. You can follow her on her blog.

Marci Whitehurst
  • Marci Whitehurst

  • Cattle Producer
  • Montana

PHOTO: If we're looking for some more ranch revenue, maybe showing our cattle moves could make a buck on YouTube. Photo by Marci Whitehurst.

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