Hollywood has a way of romanticizing some career paths. Citing the Spaghetti Western genre, one can quickly see how Clint Eastwood and other heroes of Western cinema have inspired generations of movie-goers to put their popcorn down and pick up a lasso as they resolve to become cowboys and cowgirls like their fictional hero. Although true American cowboys and cowgirls exist today, anyone who has ever spent real time on ranch or farm properties can tell you that the work isn’t for the faint of heart. Here’s what you need to know about traditional Western living before looking for farm and ranch real estate of your own.
The Resolve for a Hard Life
Spurs, six-shooters, and ten-gallon hats do not embody the spirit of the Wild West — they are simply tools that were used to represent that spirit in entertainment. The real spirit of Western living is genuine hard work, determination, and a resolve to live off of one’s own labor. Becoming a rancher is not a job, but a lifestyle; not a phase, but a full-time commitment to doing something that you love. Before spending more money than you should on ranch real estate, consider whether or not you have what it takes to stay committed to your herd and the true, non-romanticized sprit of the Wild West.
Putting on Your First Cowboy Boots
Without a doubt, ranchers and farmers have a sub-culture of their own that reflects the personality required for this kind of work. Dressing and speaking the part does not make one a cowboy or a cowgirl; experience and knowledge is what really defines a farmer and rancher. Those who own cattle ranches must be innately connected with the environment as they realize that they have the ability to impact the ecosystem as a whole. To this end, ranchers utilize light and moderate grazing in an area to encourage the growth of plant life that benefits natural wildlife populations and likewise helps to prevent over-grazing that could devastate a land. By definition, light cattle grazing utilizes less than 35% of primary forage species while moderate grazing utilizes around 35% to 45% of primary forage species. Learning one’s place in the ecosystem is the difference between co-existing with the land and raping it of its natural resources — a difference that must be mastered by anyone aspiring to become a rancher.
Finding Ranch Real Estate
The Great Plains are where most ranchers ended up settling as they took their cattle on long drives across the country to graze and eventually sell at market. Although modern transportation has helped to make rancher’s jobs easier, a great deal of old and new ranch real estate alike is located in these states. Montana is perhaps the state best known for its beautiful ranches set against the rolling plains and gorgeous slopes of the Rocky Mountains. As the population of Montana is projected to grow up to 14.1% between 2013 and 2043, real estate companies are now converting fertile land into cattle ranches for aspiring cowboys and cowgirls to take up the reins and embark on this hard and rewarding way of life. Only those with a serious love and appreciation for hard work and self-reliance need apply; for those willing to put the blood, sweat, and tears into what they do, becoming a cowboy or a cowgirl might just be the calling you have been waiting for.