Farm Here, Ranch There? 

A lot of people say that “X is the best place to ranch in the world!” So, naturally if you are like me you are attracted to the “best” places for doing the thing we all love, grazing, healing the soil, raising animals etc. However, the “best” places for ranching/grazing/farming are not places that I want to live. What about you?

Everyone has their bias as to what, where and why their part of the world is the best for grazing. So when someone like this writes a book or article and tells you why, and they make a convincing case, you might be inclined to try and move there and make a go out of it. I know I am.

But, ultimately what it comes down to is this. Will you be happy there? Do you even know what makes you happy in the first place?

This is something my wife and I have been struggling with for the past year. “Where should we go?” We would ask ourselves. I would say, “I don’t know sweetie, what about Texas or Missouri!?” She would say, “OK, let’s look into it.” But the more and more we started looking into moving out of our home state of Colorado the more we realized how much we like it here. Our family is here. We grew up here. We love Colorado. I can’t imagine living somewhere without mountains and lakes and snow and hiking trails and elk hunting. I know there are a lot of places with all that stuff, but Colorado is our home.

I’m reminded of my time at Ian’s ranch. For those of you who don’t know South Africa has a lot of crime. Theft is a big problem and something Ian and his son William always have to be on top of. One day I asked Ian, “Why the hell don’t you move to America? All of this theft is crazy!” Ian said “Because this is my home.” I never really understood the gravity of his words until I came back home and was considering moving. Ian’s family has been on that land for 5 generations, it’s ridiculous to think he would just pack up and move!

So, where should YOU start farming or ranching? I don’t know. But it better be somewhere you love and can envision yourself living for a good long while. This is more important than the amount of precipitation or market access or the quality of the grass/forage or availability of livestock etc etc. All of those problems can be solved with management and creativity. Being away from the place you truly want to be cannot be solved by those things.

I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong and trying to legitimize my stubbornness of wanting to stay in Colorado. Or maybe I’m not. I know of a lot of opportunities around the country where I could make a lot of money. Is money the most important thing? Not to me.

My wife made a really good point when we were talking about all of this. She said “If we moved, we’d only be moving for your job or for us to start a grazing operation. Thats it. What about all of the other things we love here in Colorado?” What a great point she made. Ultimately my wife and I need to be happy to be successful. Haven’t you turned on the TV and seen all of the reality TV people who are filthy rich but are terribly unhappy? I’m not saying we’d end up like them but there is a lot more to life than money and the “more” part for us is in Colorado. I reckon this is where we’ll stay.

Where is the “more” for you? Why are you living where you do? I’d love for you all to share your stories with us. Thanks.

Chris Stelzer

Chris Stelzer is a published Author, founder of Agricultural Insights and creator of many resources that help family farmers and ranchers grow their businesses. His flagship courses are the Grazing Mastery Program and The Farm Marketing Mastery Program. 

Chris Stelzer

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