The Heart and Soul of a RanchHer

October 03, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Guest Post by Kim Waltman of Delbridge Cattle and Full Circle Ranch

As if leaping off the cliff from my rather comfortable, suburban life as a wife, mother and boutique public relations firm owner into the cattle ranching business wasn’t far enough outside my comfort zone - along comes Marji and FarmHer.

For the last handful of years – ever since I couldn’t answer my own question (“How does a person walk away from 100 years of a family’s heritage?”) – I’ve been learning what goes into raising the beef I’ve so much enjoyed indulging in for as long as I can remember.

Documenting my journey into cattle ranching in a blog allowed me to capture numerous life altering experiences in a very personal way. Little did I expect my words to reach others. It turns out that my lifelong obsession with horses combined with my new-found passion for cattle and the land compelled a complete stranger to reach out to me and request a chance to photograph an event at my family’s southern Iowa operation – working calves (which entails, branding, vaccinating, castrating and de-worming).

As one who finds much discomfort in front of a camera lens, the first time I spoke with Marji, I recommended she visit Landi McFarland of Hoover Angus Farm, a woman I befriended along my journey whose family’s operation is also located in southern Iowa.  I perceived that as a win-win-win. A win for Marji because she had another woman in ag subject, a win for Landi because as the fourth generation operator, it was a unique opportunity to share her story and a win for me – no camera lens pointed my way!

Underestimating Marji’s persistence was where my win-win-win theory backfired. After photographing Landi, Marji repeated her request to experience the ranch where we honor and preserve the Western Heritage (the way of the west).

Last May, Marji showed up sporting her FarmHer T-shirt, a camera (a few lenses) and an adventuresome attitude. Thankfully, she didn’t even blink when I introduced her to her “partner” for the morning – my most treasured horse, Dolly.

Marji embraced challenge of traversing several hundred acres on Dolly to round up cattle while attempting to steady her hand and the camera well enough to snap photos of the action – ranch team members, neighbors and friends rounding up the cattle horseback. Everytime I checked on Marji, she was taking it all in, smiling from ear-to-ear and genuinely enjoying each moment.

I feel fortunate to say that Marji and I have become friends - and cheerleaders for one another’s passions.

When we talk, whether it’s on the phone or in person, there’s an energetic dynamic.

Through my public relations firm, I collaborate with her in raising the visibility of women in ag through FarmHer.

Through FarmHer, she reminds me that as a woman in ag, I have incredible opportunities to connect people with where their food comes from while sharing how much heart and soul goes into raising beef, practicing land and water stewardship and learning how to humbly work alongside Mother Nature rather than against her.

Hands down, it’s a win-win – in a much unexpected, but beautiful way.

 


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