Like Whispers in the Wind

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I chanced upon an interesting documentary this evening. It was about the American Cowboy; the life, the land and their deep unfailing love for them both. No matter what the day brings, the harsh weather that makes it challenging to get day-to-day chores done or the cold that can kill a newborn calf in a few minutes, they wake up each day feeling part of a proud, strong past. They seem hidden though, out of sight of normal people, tending to cows and horses; bringing food to millions of people every day. We may not see them, but we revel in their hard work and dedication every time we grill a steak, buy a burger or put on a pair of leather shoes.

It was fascinating listening to these hard chiseled men with their long mustaches and weathered faces talk so eloquently about what it means to be a cowboy. These are not the rough riding, gun slinging, hard drinking, trouble making men we see in the movies, but soft spoken sometimes shy men of few words. When they do speak, they speak with tenderness and conviction and a deep seeded love for what they do that many of us may never understand.

They worry too, same as we do. These are not ignorant men, spending their life in vast, sparsely populated areas of the country cut off from the troubles of our modern world. They speak profoundly about their concerns for the country, the land and their way of life. They fear the disconnect between themselves and the people who consume the product they raise, and the consumers ignorance of how their food gets to their table will, in time, destroy the cowboy way of life.

It was during one such interview that a gray-haired cowboy in his mid-fifties referred to a quote by William Jennings Bryan, “Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.” The cowboy looked sad and a little forlorn staring off into space, as if he could see to the end of the trail and it was desolate.

I think we get so caught up in our every day lives that we forget about this different world out there—ranches that stretch out for hundreds of miles and the quiet life of men who tend stock. As homesteaders, we know that beef comes from cattle, but do we really understand or appreciate a life lived in quiet isolation. These men and their lifestyle are like whispers in the wind; seldom heard and rarely seen, but their existence is felt in every restaurant and fast food joint and grocery store in the country.

And, since I’m not at a point where I can raise my own beef, I for one will be sending up a silent prayer of gratitude and thanks tonight.



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