Ranching Requires Working Smart AND Hard

Attention parents of prospective college students: If you, for some strange reason, would like to expose your young to the type of propaganda they peddle at the universities, you will find copies of Trotsky, Marcuse, Gloria Steinem, and the Washington Post in most any second hand book store. These and a supply of Dramamine will provide 80% of a college education in about a week. Add a beer truck and you will have finished the job. – Extracted from The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other Misfits, Chapter 22.

Amanda Radke in BEEF Daily

Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” encourages kids to work smart and hard to be successful in life, and to avoid one four-letter word: debt. 

I recently read an interview on The Blaze featuring Mike Rowe from the TV show “Dirty Jobs.” Rowe appeared on the Glenn Beck Program to discuss his thoughts on “the absurd belief that a four-year degree is the only path to success.”


Rowe told Beck, “We’re lending money we don’t have, to kids who will never be able to pay it back, for jobs that no longer exist. Today, skilled trades are in demand. In fact, there are 3 million jobs out there that companies are having a hard time filling.”

Rowe was inspired to begin his campaign after he saw a poster in his high school guidance counselor’s office that encouraged students to work smart not hard. It encouraged everyone to go get a four-year degree, and as a result, fewer and fewer young people pursued technical degrees for skilled labor jobs.

His advice — work smart AND hard.

“I’m not against a college education. I’m against debt,” he said. “That was the only four-letter word in my family.”

According to Rowe, of the roughly 3 million jobs that companies are struggling to fill, only 8-12% require a college degree.

I graduated from South Dakota State University in 2009, and I greatly value my college experience. However, I do believe I’ve learned more practical knowledge in my last four years in the “school of hard knocks” on my family’s ranch than I did in university classrooms.

Of course, 2009 offered a huge wake-up call to many of my peers, as the national recession was in its full fury. I was lucky to be able to continue my freelance relationship with BEEF, which was an outgrowth of a summer internship I did with the magazine. During this internship, I helped research and develop the concept of BEEF Daily, which launched that fall of 2008. I also was fortunate to have the opportunity to join our family cattle operation when I graduated in spring 2009.

Some of my classmates weren’t so lucky, however. It took many of my peers a few years to find jobs in their chosen field. Even then, many of them were forced to live with their folks in order to make ends meet. Others found jobs that were totally unrelated to their major study of choice. And some opted for graduate school as they waited for the job market to improve. However, even after acquiring advanced degrees, many found they couldn’t command the starting salary or the advancement potential they had hoped for. Plain and simple, with the recession, there just weren’t many jobs out there.

I tend to agree with Rowe that while college is a great choice to expand your horizons, gain a great network of friends and colleagues, and explore new interests, it isn’t the only path to success. And, the idea that we only need to work smart and not hard is simply ludicrous. The best ranchers I know are those who work tirelessly on their craft day-in and day-out. I really like Rowe’s campaign to help reward kids who are willing to work hard and smart.

“Why don’t we reward kids who are willing to learn a new trade, a useful skill, and prove that they’re willing to get up early, stay late, and volunteer for every crappy task there is? Let’s reward the thing we want to encourage,” he said.

What do you think about Rowe’s comments? What did you do after high school? How have your choices helped or hurt your success in your operation? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

You might also like:

A Calving Checklist: Everything You Need To Know (& Have) Before Calving

10 Best Christmas On The Ranch Photos

4 Tips To Cut Your Winter Feeding Bill

Bale Grazing: Let Your Cows Feed Themselves

How To Manage Cattle, Equipment In The Cold


Books by Dr. Jimmy T. (Gunny) LaBaume

Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual by Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume.

This guide is a detailed book review of sorts, but perhaps it would be more accurately described as an abstract that condenses 864 pages of detail into 189 pages of concentrated information. No more excuses for failing to properly plan your grazing. The booklet is available from Amazon.com in both soft cover and Kendall versions. Click here. 

CoverA Handbook for Ranch Managers A Comprehensive Reference Manual for Managing the Working Ranch. Click here to buy the paperback version from Land & Livestock International’s Rancher Supply aStore.

Digital media products such as Kindle can only be purchased on Amazon.com. Click Here to buy the Kendall Version on Amazon.com

To purchase an autographed copy of the book Click Here


The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other MisfitsThe Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other Misfits.  Click here to buy the paperback version from Land & Livestock International’s Rancher Supply aStore.

Digital media products such as Kindle can only be purchased on Amazon.com. Click Here to buy the Kendall Version on Amazon.com

To purchase an autographed copy of the book Click Here

About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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1 Response to Ranching Requires Working Smart AND Hard

  1. I’ve found that most of my friends graduating with masters degrees were completely incapable of doing the job they were “trained” to do. A few years ago I sat in a wildlife club meeting, promoting the job market for available degrees in the agriculture / wildlife industry, I asked one question that not only stopped the presenters in their tracks but also prompted an immediate change in discussion. What is the current availability of these jobs and what is the starting and maximum salaries of these jobs?

    Liked by 1 person

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