The English language is one of the hardest languages in the world to learn. It has so many confusing rules and then there are exceptions to those rules. Words can sound the same yet mean something very different. The words to, two or too are a prime example. Also, whine and wine have completely different outcomes if you partake of too much of either! Too much of one will have folks thinking you are a crybaby, too much of the other and folks will know you’re a sick crybaby. English words are funny that way. In agriculture we have funny words too and there are exceptions to those funny words.
Farmers and ranchers sound like they are the same things. But they are different as night and day. Farmers are plant people and ranchers are animal people– most of the time. Like I said, there are exceptions to the rules–think pig farmer.
Farmers and ranchers are all involved in production agriculture, but they approach their callings in different ways. Farmers wear mesh caps given to them from the local tractor dealerships. The color of the cap communicates a farmer’s allegiance a brand. Green screams John Deere. Blue yells Ford. Guys wearing golden caps drive CATS, big CATS! Farmers will wear the same hat for all occasions, you know, weddings, graduations, Farm Bureau meetings and harvest celebrations.
Ranchers wear cowboy hats and caps. It depends on the function. Old ranchers will wear only silver belly cowboy hats like to good guys wore in western movies. Young ranchers will wear black cowboy hats sometimes and silver belly hats at other times. It depends if they’re at a bull sale or a team roping. Young ranchers also wear caps. But not like the farmers’ mesh caps. Nope, young ranchers wear the Imperial brand caps they buy from the rope dealers. Cactus Ropes and Classic Ropes have cool caps.
Farmers wear Red Wing lace-up boots, Carhartt jackets and Levi jeans. Ranchers wear Justin Ropers, goose down vests and Wrangler jeans. Farmers don’t iron anything and many ranchers wouldn’t leave the house without heavy starch and a crease in their jeans.
Farmers and ranchers all drive trucks. Farmers have winches, toolboxes and bumper vices on their trucks. Ranchers have headache racks, hitches and dogs on their trucks. Generally speaking a rancher’s truck is cleaner than a farmer’s truck; however, you’ll find both ranchers and farmers who have a dashboard full of parts receipts, cigars, pliers, cupcake wrappers, empty Copenhagen cans and duct tape.
Farmers ride iron horses. Ranchers ride Quarter horses. Farmers get excited about going to farm equipment shows. They like to spend all day talking ‘bout motors, horsepower and gear ratios. Farmers drool over the latest tractors and implements the dealers and manufacturers trot out each year. They’ll crawl up in the cab of a John Deere 9300 four-wheel drive, 360 horsepower tractor with a Powertech, fuel-efficient engine and a “Command View” cab with 62 square feet of tinted glass and think they’ve died and gone to heaven. Farmers will grumble about how farming is too tough right now to buy a new tractor, but next year will be better.
Even though ranchers ride horses, they don’t get excited about going to horse shows. Horse shows are for teenage girls who love horses, live in town, board their horses at their trainers, wear too much make-up and have more silver on their bridles than grandma has in her heirloom silverware set. Ranchers go to ropins’ and rodeos. They love watching Ty Murray ride bulls and remember the times they rode old momma cows in “Little Britches” rodeos down at the Shady Acres Arena. Old ranchers may be missing the thumb that got caught in their dally at Ft. Worth in ‘76, but they’ll still be roping every Thursday evening at the Guthrie Jackpot Arena.
Farmers go to farm equipment auctions. Ranchers go to livestock sale barns. They all spend too much money at any auction they attend– it’s genetic. Farmers will buy stuff just for parts they’ll never need. Or, they’ll buy a whole pallet of cotton picker spindles just to get the trailer hitch that was lying on top of the pile.
Ranchers will spend all day at the local sale barn to see how their neighbor’s calves sold. And, they will complain about the steer buyers being coyotes, how feed is too high and the grass is too short. Ranchers really go to sale barns for Ms. Mabel’s peach cobbler and a cup of coffee. But, they’ll end up paying a dime over market for a load of used- up Corrientes to practice roping with in the sorting corrals.
Farmers are members of the Grange and Farm Bureau. Ranchers are members of the Cattlemen’s Association and the American Quarter Horse Association. Farmers and ranchers go to a bunch of meetings, they enjoy the company of their peers. Sometimes they all meet together. When they do it is usually at the Wagon Wheel Coffee Shop down by the Co-op on Farm to Market road 236.
Even though farmers and ranchers do things different, they do one thing the same and they do it very well. They support kids who want to grow up and be farmers and ranchers. Farmers and ranchers love kids and will do anything to help the local high school agriculture department, the 4-H, the FFA and other farm youth organizations.