It’s in my roots
As a recent graduate of South Dakota State University, I’m ecstatic to pursue my dream of returning to the family cattle operation, in addition to a career as a self-employed agriculture writer and speaker. It’s a long journey that brings a farm kid to the cross roads of adulthood, and the decisions aren’t always easy. So often, there is a strong pull to stay close to agriculture roots, and at the same time, there is a desire to pursue a big city career. I feel so fortunate to be able to have both a career and a rural lifestyle, but that choice didn’t always seem possible. In the next four weeks, I will relive some of the highs and lows of a young person in agriculture. I hope you’ll join me for the adventure.
Every Sunday as a little girl, my mom would put curlers in my hair and dress me up in frilly dresses before church. Although my mom tried hard to teach me to be a lady, I was always my daddy’s little tomboy. My grandma always tells the story of a time when I wore my church clothes out to feed the bulls grass through the fence. I had on white shoes and lacy socks, and every time I tried to pull a handful of grass from the yard, I would fall back on my bottom with only a few blades of grass in my hand. Nevertheless, grandma said I would eagerly get back up to let the bulls lick up the grass with their slobbery tongues.
Soon, I realized that feeding blades of grass wasn’t enough. I wanted to be like daddy, and I quickly graduated to filling up an ice cream bucket with corn to give to the bulls at chore time. Time passed, and before long, I was helping dad sell bulls to our customers. Yes, I was convinced that country life was the life for me, and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.
However, that all changed in time. Years passed and middle school came and went. I had started to get teased at school for being a cowgirl, and the summer before high school, I decided that I was going to hide from my new, cool friends that I had cows at home. It was settled, I was no longer going to be a cowgirl, and agriculture had no future for me. After all, I knew I could make WAY more money pursuing a career in something else, and I was convinced that I would be WAY cooler at school if I was interested in the same things as my friends.
Despite my intentions, my secret life as a farm kid didn’t stay a secret for long. Often, I had to skip movie nights with friends to help with farm disasters like the cows getting out or a cow needing assistance during calving season. Every time I went to a sleepover, I had to wake early to get home and help with chores while my friends slept in late. During the summer when all of my friends went tanning at the lake, I was busy fixing fence, chopping thistles and washing my show calves.
As a dramatic teenager, it seemed that I had “no life.” I was such a loser, and it was all because of those stupid cows. How could ranchers want to invest their entire lives in a bunch of dumb animals? Not me, of that I was certain. And, as I spent my junior year of high school looking for colleges and searching for the perfect major, agriculture studies was definitely not in my game plan. Yet, fate has a funny way of stepping in. Little did I know that something would soon change my life forever. Soon my perspective and attitude on life would completely spin around.
To be continued…
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The road has been long, but saddle bronc rider Wade Sundell hasn’t lost his passion for rodeoing.