No Cookie Cutters in Ranching
One of the beauties of ranching is that it takes all kinds of kinds to raise beef and to care for the land. Some folks are born and raised on a ranch and stay there their whole lives. Others take a different path to this way of life. Regardless, the passion and dedication is the same. Meet Pamela Griffin, Arizona cattlewoman and current Arizona State Cowbelle President.
You never know when you may find yourself in the beef industry and I’m living proof. I was born in Anaheim, California surrounded by orange groves and strawberry fields. We moved to Arizona in 1974. We had sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, horses, a steer, my pheasant named “Peeps” and a few dogs. I left Arizona twice, but returned and was never able to shake this beautiful state. I spent most of my working life managing large scale communities with multimillion dollar budgets in the infrastructure and construction phase of those communities through transitions. You wouldn’t think that would easily translate into becoming a beef rancher, but it in fact does. I rearranged my tool box and used my tools in a different way.
As I fast forward to today, I’ve found myself as an Arizona cattlewoman. Not in a tremendous scale, but a rancher nonetheless. I met my husband about a decade ago, and he convinced me he was the one, and his family’s historic ranch was the place. The family business has been in operation for over 100 years, passed down through generations. He and I began our own smaller venture raising beef in hopes to provide some additional benefits for our combined children in the future and to subsidize our income.
Having some livestock growing up and being on a full-time beef ranch are two different worlds. There is never one day that’s like the other and each day provides opportunity to meet new challenges and situations head on. There must always be a plan “B”. Personal plans sometimes cannot be kept due to a change in circumstances at a moment’s notice and vacations are sometimes few and far between. I do learn something new every single day on the care of the cattle, the wildlife, the land and its resources. My husband is a great teacher and a wonderful resource.
My participation in becoming a rancher came with some added responsibilities and some passions. It was important for me to participate in organizations that work hard to provide scientific and proven strategies for management of the cattle, the wildlife and the land. An additional responsibility is sharing information as often as possible on our practices, how we run our ranch and how we care for everything living on the land. We are providing a product for customers who in many cases 3-4 generations from the farm or ranch. We cannot expect that they know or understand what we do or how we care for our product and its resources, or what our days are like unless we share that with them.
When you love what you do, the sacrifices you make to live remotely, not having some of the modern conveniences, to be flexible in plans, work long days, get up before the sun, and to bed well after it’s down, are priceless things. I love my life. There is beauty everywhere. You learn to turn work moments into an adventure and it’s always a treat. A late afternoon of checking waters can become a lovely nighttime drive home. I do get in some gardening, some canning and a little quilting. It is definitely a choice you must love and I wouldn’t change a thing…except for more fishing, I could always do some more fishing, in Alaska!