When Rachel asked me what I thought of the idea, I was excited. This would be a forum for women in agriculture throughout Colorado to express themselves. I did not plan to participate – just read and watch. Then Rachel said she wanted me to write also.  Oh no! That is not my real cup of tea.

 The thoughts ran through my head by what seemed to be the hundreds. What would I write about? Who would want to read my thoughts? (Well, John would like to sometimes but he wouldn’t really.) What did I have to offer? I still have those questions, but I committed to Rachel to at least try. She has a way of getting a yes in a very sneaky way.

 Maybe I should say a little about who I am and how I am involved in agriculture. I was born and raised in the north end of the Sacramento Valley in California. My parents came from Idaho and Michigan but spent most of their adult lives in California. Mom and Dad farmed and ranched until my Dad’s passing. Dad ran his own cattle, mostly polled Herefords, but there were always a few odd ones mixed in. Dad’s mother and step-father also ran cattle and we worked them together. Those activities hold fond memories and lots of laughs for me. There were the not-so-fun times. But, hey, I was a kid then.

 But, then as now, many worked off the farm to make it possible to continue the love of the farm and livestock. Dad was a partner in a sawmill when I was born. Of course, Mom was at home tending to the cattle and sheep and kids. Then Dad sold out to buy a ranch in Modoc County. Here they farmed and ranched until he had to move from the area for health reasons. So he worked for an olive orchard owner (This is where the mule was named after me! No need to tell that family story though.) Then he became a ranch manager allowing him more time for his livestock. After the unexpected, untimely death of Mr. Gunn in an airplane crash, Dad went back to growing olives until his death.

 All the time, Dad and Mom had their own cattle operation. Many times Dad would get off work and he and Mom would drive over to check our cattle while on summer pasture. Or it was “up the hill” to the winter pasture. And he always checked Grandma and Jack’s cattle that were pastured close by. Weekends, which were Sundays only, usually involved meeting the needs of the cattle operation.

 So I was a cowgirl with boots and hat and holes in my jeans. But I was also an olive picker and irrigator. Well, I probably played in the water ditches more than I helped. As with most farm/ranch children, by the time I was in high school I had many responsibilities to help Mom and Dad.

 When John and I married we moved onto a small olive orchard to be out of town and we got our rent for free to care for the orchard. Soon we moved to Colorado so John could help his Dad with the salvage yard at Bovina until RB’s death. We lived in Kansas for a couple of years then returned to Colorado. We leased a farm/ranch until he went to work for CDOT. Then we bought 80-acres near Punkin Center and soon had our own sheep operation. After a few years John wanted to get back into cattle, and we did. John also did some custom farming. He got into honeybees, too. All the while he was working a full-time job for CDOT. I tried to pick up those tasks that I could when he was not available.

 In 2004 John inherited his great-grandparents’ homestead near Thurman and we moved here and are still farming and ranching. We have always been the small farmer/rancher. But, we all play a vital role in production agriculture and supplying the food needs of family and the people of Colorado and America. We are proud to be one of those “little guys”.

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