Ranching v2.0

Steve appears to be slowly but surely self-destructing before my very eyes. His last child-support check bounced. Despite his earnest assurances two weeks ago that he had refinanced his truck loan in his own name and it was all taken care of, when I asked someone at my credit union to confirm that for me yesterday she said that no, the loan is unchanged and mine is still the primary name on the account. Steve has also mentioned several thousand dollars in credit card debt, and I suspect that when he has maxed out his current card he will simply acquire another one and keep going. Three out of the past four days he has not gotten home early enough for the kids to go see him, and I don’t think it’s work that’s keeping him out late.

And the big one…yesterday he told me that after the first of the year he will be selling all his cows and getting out of the cattle business. If it’s true, this is mind-boggling. The whole time we were married Steve saw himself as first and foremost a cattleman; even in the dry years when it made no sense to run a large herd and we were losing thousands of dollars hay-feeding them, getting Steve to sell a single head of breeding stock was next to impossible. And the cows have always been His Thing; despite all his lip service to the contrary I never had any real say in how the business was run. It all had to be done his way, because he was The Cowboy and I was just a girl.

Well. In all honesty, this will complicate things for me, maybe a lot. Steve has the truck and the stock trailer and all the cowboy friends who know how to rope calves for branding and castrating, and he always handled finding a fresh bull every few years so the herd doesn’t become inbred, and there’s probably a dozen other crucial details that he never troubled my pretty little head with.

To remain in the cattle business without him I will have to completely restructure the way we’ve been doing it, is what I’m saying. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, if I can pull it off; I’ve thought all along that Steve was running a mighty inefficient system based on hundred-year-old traditions that don’t make much sense in this day and age.

Right now, between the global food shortages, the skyrocketing cost of corn (that puts a heavy squeeze on big commercial feedlots), and the surging interest in organic, locally-grown food, I think this is an IDEAL time to be raising natural grassfed hormone-free beef. If I can find enough local buyers I can even bypass the (very far away) livestock auctions completely and do my part for the environment while I’m at it. And with Steve apparently in full crash-and-burn mode I will absolutely need to have a backup income and the sooner the better.

It’s kind of scary for me, but in a good way. It will require me to stretch myself in new directions and take some risks, but if I can make it fly it’ll be so worth it. I’ll not only be that much closer to supporting myself and the kids, I’ll be helping others in the local community who want organic, cruelty-free meat. I’ll need to make new, preferably non-Silkotch-related connections: people who have trucks and trailers and bulls and so on. I might even get really ambitious and form some sort of co-op, where several families can pitch in on fattening, butchering and dividing up a single steer. I totally think there’s a local market for that if I can reach it.

This is big and complicated and slightly intimidating, but if I’m up to the challenge I think it could turn out to be a real blessing in disguise.

Wish me luck!


Categories: Animals, environment, Family, food, frugality, Life, Ranching, Self-Sufficiency | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Ranching v2.0

  1. Dani

    Im so sorry to hear about steve! (((Hugz)) but I think you’ll do a fine job, Honey.. You’re smart and adaptable and willing to work hard. Those three qualities will make you a success 🙂



  2. Jera

    My family has done the bit with the paying to have a steer fattened and buthchered for the last few years. The meat is always much higher quality and much better tasting than what we can get at the local meat market. Seems to me that it would be very profitable to do that in health-conscious CA!


  3. kendall

    I’m wondering just exactly where the money has gone. An audit might be in order.

    Hopefully not a gambling habit or stock options.


  4. Debora

    Steve eats every meal in restaurants and leaves $20 tips because it makes him feel prosperous. He hangs out in bars drinking all night and buys beers for his friends because it makes him feel prosperous. He buys every cool new piece of band equipment that catches his eye and drives a $30,000 diesel pickup that gets 16 miles to the gallon and cost $150 to have the oil changed and $1000 for new tires because it makes him feel prosperous. For some reason that has always baffled me, if he has to choose between true financial security or the showy trappings of wealth, he’ll go with the public image every time.

    Steve is like a walking metaphor for why America is collapsing in on itself right now, if you’ll pardon the political reference. I do try to avoid those on this blog but this one is RIGHT THERE.


  5. Seems tome that the sooner you are free and clear of this guy the better. How exciting is a future without being yoked with with someone pulling in the wrong direction.

    Pastor Bill


  6. Debora

    VERY exciting, that’s how! 🙂


  7. Mia

    I wish you the best of luck! I’m only worried about that truck debt. Are you going through a court for the divorce? May need some official severing there…or you could always call up the loan company and tell them to pick it up and take it back. 😉


  8. julia

    Good luck, Deb, this is a blessing, and you are going to do great.


  9. Debora

    Mia — it’s not really the truck debt that worries me most; I think Steve loves it too much to risk letting it get repoed. The fact that he is half-owner of my HOUSE worries me a little though. I can see him eventually wanting to sell that to pay off his other debts if things get too bad. But I can’t worry about the things I have no control over, I have to leave them in God’s hands.

    Julia — thanks. :^) I’m sure going to try!


  10. Mia

    Well you know you have our prayers…


  11. Debora

    I do, and they are profoundly appreciated. :^)


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