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Across the fence: Happy days

Marci Whitehurst for Progressive Cattle Published on 24 February 2021

Anyone else watch the show Happy Days? It was a depiction of life and family in the Midwest. It wasn’t mysterious. Life wasn’t “on the edge” in each episode. Yet at the end of the episode, there was resolution and something to smile about.

It showed the joy in each day through “normal” life.

Are our days happy?

Recently, a pastor we listen to said, “If you’re not excited about why you’re alive, you’re not really alive.” He was talking about this in light of staying in the same boat Jesus is in, not being swayed by circumstances and setting our minds on things above while we live out our lives here on earth. He also mentioned many other things about change and growth – all of which were good when looking back on 2020 and looking forward into 2021.

That statement about being excited about why you’re alive really hit me.

Anyone else ever hit autopilot?

Sometimes in the midst of challenging or stressful times, we just wake up, do what’s on our list and hopefully get some sleep. Then we do it again. And again.

Being in cattle production, our lives are not in quarantine. Cattle still have daily needs.

I’ve read accounts online of people who have stayed in their city apartments for months. They order their food. Their lives look different than ours.

However your life looks right now, at this moment, what are the things that bring you joy?

  • Are you happy to get outside and feed cattle?

  • Do you need to be horseback?

  • Do you need to be learning and growing – maybe taking a class (there are so many online options right now that are fantastic) or reading books at home?

  • Maybe you love working on equipment and you feel best when you have tools in your hands.

  • Can we each define that thing that makes us feel like us?

I like cows, but I feel most alive and most helpful learning and writing about the industry. Sure, I don’t mind moving cows, feeding, cooking or, gulp, even fixing fence when needed (although fixing fence is my least favorite.) Yet at the end of the day, if I haven’t had time to read or write, I feel like something is missing.

I wrote last year about discovering our design – that is important to our daily living because when we know the thing that we thrive in, we will contribute best to our operations working within that design. However, how does this look every day? How do we be happy every day?

Gratitude is obviously key. It’s hard to be happy when we are complaining all the time. I get it – there are things to complain about. Our world is uncertain. Our rigs break down. The cows get out. People don’t follow through on commitments.


Even on those days when hydraulic fluid squirts in your face, we can take time to do something that cultivates joy.

The hardest part of this for me is slowing down – and when I do slow down, not feeling lazy. There is always work to be done, right? How can we do that work with joy? How can we make how we spend our time each day something that excites us?

  • If we have to, we can change production models.

  • We can alter the order of how we do things.

  • We can incorporate music or podcasts into our routines. If we have to use a fence stretcher, crank up the tunes.

  • Bring things with us to infuse fun into chores. Grab the camera. A paint set. A rope to practice roping.

Thrive Global offers seven things to do to enjoy each day:

1. Stay healthy, eat healthy, and exercise. (My friend calls her daily life “rancherobics.” I think exercise is normal for most cattle producers.)

2. Be other-centered. Be kind.

3. Forgive yourself.

4. Do something you love.

5. Be free-spirited. Learn to let go. (No holding grudges.)

6. Live within your means.

7. Start living today – today is not a replacement of yesterday. Enjoy every moment.

Each day is an opportunity to take steps toward something. Even if we take small steps every day, we will create something to look forward to rather than wishing the day was over or waiting until …

  • We had more money

  • More time

  • Fewer problems

  • Whatever “something” we are waiting for to make us happy.

Celebrate. Life is worth enjoying, despite circumstances swirling around us. We are never without hope. end mark

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