Cowboy Wisdom

There’s an old saying, that Cowboys live poor and die rich. I am more inclined to think it’s the Cowboy’s definition of wealth that makes him what he is. I don’t reckon you could call Cowboyin’ a career. The pay’s not great, there are no pension plans, no unions, no benefits, and early retirement is sure-as-hell out of the question. So why do they do it? Because they love it! And for some, its just in their blood.

Photo credit: Unknown
Photo credit: Unknown

Not sure where I got that quote, but I found it in the drafts of my blog. I googled it and could not find its source, so here’s my kudos to whoever said this very true statement.


  1. If you read some Salatin you’ll inevitably come up against the notion that farming and ranching is by it’s nature a profession that doesn’t pay well. His argument is that if our profession is truly so important, if we’re truly “feeding the world” then consumers should be beating down our door. Plus we should invite them in, instead of retreating out to our farms and then complaining that they don’t know the “real story.” As a group have outsourced our marketing to the corporations, and all that has gotten us is low prices and less farmers. What’s the stat, 800,000 less farmers in the past 40 years?
    Perhaps we have such a hard time retaining our young people because they repeatedly hear that all they’re worth is commodity prices?

    Not trying be negative, just got a different take. Good luck out there in your new life!

  2. I think agriculture is losing its young people because they’re not willing to work extremely hard their entire life for the “chance” at becoming successful someday. But, the funny thing is, many of the older generation of farmers are extremely well off because they learned about sacrifice and lived well below their means in order to make their operation’s bottom line equate. Our society is now raising the generation of instant satisfaction. That is not possible in farming and ranching and that’s why the young generation does not want to be involved anymore.

    Also, Joel Salatin has some great ideas, but they are region specific. I think it’s wonderful that he has had so much success with his diversified “grass” farm. However, out in cattle country (where real cowboys live) there is no population base for his type agricultural reality that occurs on the eastern sea board. I believe the quote is right on. Plus, you must always remember there is a huge difference between a cowboy (hired labor) and a cowman (the boss)!

    1. My husband was a cowboy first, then the boss – he ran things, was a cowman, cattleman – whatever you want to call it. He ran the herd, bought, bred and sold cattle, ran the feedlot, made decisions, etc. He loved what he did and it was a good life for him and his family. Cowboys (cattlemen) don’t make much money unless they are lucky enough to be born into it, to be the owner. The rewards are great, but not the kind you can spend at the mall. “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!” and neither would he.

  3. I plan on farmin in the future and Joel Salatin, Ron Peterson and Jim Gerritsen are my role models.

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