A Rancher and A Vegetarian



Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.

James Thurber

Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, huh? The Santa Fe Ranch recently had an opportunity to share what we do and who we are with a Journalism major at the University of Arizona interning with an outdoor adventure/travel writer/engineer. The pretense of this meeting was for her to spend the day in the “life of a cowboy”. After several emails, we arrived at a date and plan of work for the day. We were going to ride and fix fence and work with cattle. In all fairness, our guests probably had a better idea of what they were in for than we did. It is funny how we do have preconceived ideas of how a day will go or how conversations might go. None of those turned out to be true.

We started with introductions and saddled up. Bobo was assigned to our intern because he usually takes good care of our visitors. Our first task was to sort and move some recently calved heifers to the corral for tagging and then to a larger maternity pasture. We talked about low-stress livestock handling and how it was usually better on the both the cows and our help to move efficiently, quietly and with purpose. We got the girls sorted and moved into the corral. Once the calves were sorted off, our intern enthusiastically tagged them as I held them for her. We then moved them out, talking all the way about how we raise our cattle and take care of them. Once the cattle were placed at the water, we headed out to check another pasture where we have been having some water issues.

On the way to the solar pump, our intern informed me that she was a vegetarian. This came as somewhat of a surprise to me because aren’t all vegetarians anti-cattle/cowboy/ranching? Shouldn’t she have been horrified at the idea that we were raising these animals for an eventual harvest? To her credit, she was very open minded to the why and what we do on a cattle ranch in Southern Arizona. As we moved further away from the headquarters and approached the solar pump, the conversation turned to environmental issues. I told her about the love ranchers have for the environment and how we need to sustain it for not only our livelihood, but for future generations. I showed her a fence line contrast of managed versus unmanaged grazing. The point was well made.

As I reflected on our day, I hoped that she had a fun, educational experience. We in the ranching community need to be at the forefront, telling our stories. The story of the Santa Fe Ranch is a powerful one that is repeated on the majority of ranches across Arizona. The Sedgwick family has a long commitment to the land, the livestock and the people. Beginning with Cabot, he was a strong advocate for the beef industry and for proper stewardship of our resources. Paula was a staunch environmentalist that brought her heart into the way the land and wildlife were treated. As the second and third generations of their legacy, we need to hold true to that mission and share it with our neighbors and friends. As for me, I can now enthusiastically add one more vegetarian to the list of people I really like.