Ranching is a trade that is deeply rooted in history and tradition as well as being on the forefront of progress and innovation. It is a trade that can be photographed 50 years apart with little to no noticeable change. A “timeless trade” not just stylistically or aesthetically, but in that its practices, rooted in caring for the land and providing for the people, are as relevant now as they were 100 years ago.
I did not grow up ranching. I can only speak to my own experiences, limited as they are, and my perspective as someone from the outside looking in. I did grow up rurally, in the mountains on the outskirts of Tucson surrounded by horses that were my own and free-range cattle that were not. When I started interning for Ranchlands it was a world equally familiar and foreign. I feel that on some level no matter how much time I were to spend here I would always to some extent view this life through the eyes of a child that watched too many westerns with her dad.
Public perception of ranching is something that has always been interesting to me. I have seen a dichotomy there; the culture around ranching is so often romanticized at the same time that it is vilified and blamed for climate change and negative animal welfare practices.
There is a through-line of tradition at the core of ranching, not just for tradition’s sake alone, but because the practices passed down generation after generation are enduringly effective. There is a respect for tradition that is upheld without being at the expense of progress. Ranching as a practice readily adapts to advancements in technology, renewable energy and sustainability while staying true to its roots.
At the heart of ranching is people relying on the land, and the land in turn relying on the care of those people. As time goes on, and people are taking up more and more space, conservation is becoming more important. Ranching as a trade has the opportunity to be the future center-fold of a healthy relationship between nature and civilization. A timeless partnership.