I have had a variety of New Year’s Resolutions over the years. They vary from the unattainable — a couple favourites are drink more water and just be a nicer person already — to the more realistic goal of having more haircuts in 2014 than the solitary cut I had in 2013. (Totally nailed that last one, by the way!). For this upcoming year, I thought I would appeal to my literary side and decided to read more books than I had in the previous year. It seemed like a good plan until not one, but two family members reminded me that I had actually made that resolution last year.
My favourite resolution of all time however, was in 2011 when I randomly resolved to do a better job at promoting the beef industry. I would love to say that there was a deeper meaning behind my goal, that perhaps I was concerned about the growing disparity between the farmer and our urban consumer counterparts, or that I had just had an altercation with a vegan, but there was no real method to my madness. It was just a New Year’s Resolution.
But I really meant it. For most of the year leading up to January 1, 2011, I was on maternity leave with my twin babies and on our ranch full time. For the first time, I was finally able to be involved more in the 7am-6pm aspects of our daily ranch life instead of just running a second shift after I was home from my day job. Being more present, both physically and mentally, on our operation reminded me that cattle ranching is important to me and that it’s a valuable part of the food system and our economy as well. Hence my subconscious was thoroughly promoting my beefy New Year goal.
My resolution also coincided with a new program called the Cattlemen’s Young Leader that was just getting off the ground. This national mentorship program, through the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, was accepting applicants to participate in a yearlong journey of learning, leadership and networking in Canada’s beef industry. I was intrigued so I thought I would apply and see what happened. The fact that I actually clicked the online application button with about twenty minutes left to spare before the midnight deadline perhaps would point to a need for a procrastination resolution someday but that might be better in 2017. Or 2018.
I was a lucky CYL candidate and my experience was second-to- none. I was reacquainted with old friends and classmates, met several inspiring people, and toured some amazing facilities. It reinvigorated my appetite for learning and my love for all things beef. I gained a better appreciation for all segments of the beef value chain, from the science behind forage and feed grain production, through to feedlots, packers, retailers and chefs. The experience paired me with a mentor that I’m close with to this day, and she and others continue to encourage me to share ranch stories, including those in this column. The experience also reminded me that when you gather several 18-35 year olds from across Canada with similar interests, a lot of fun can be had. Also, given the spread in ages and demographics, a natural division occurs between those that are excited to stay up all night long and those who are excited to get a full night’s sleep. (As the mom of young twin babies, I totally fell into the latter group).
CYL will be accepting another crop of applications starting on January 1, 2016. If you’re interested or want more information on this mentorship program, visit www.cattlemensyoungleaders.com.
Technically 2011 may have been the Year of the Rabbit. But for me, that year and every year to follow, really is the Year of the Cow.
Happy New Year and all the best in 2016!