The Unlikely TV Show

A TV production company contacted me last week.

They are looking for a ranch to host 8 celebrities for two weeks so they can film a TV series.

Filming a TV series here at the ranch is highly unlikely, to say the least, but the opportunity made me stop and wonder.

They mentioned that one of the celebrities is vegan. I have no idea who the others might be, but based on the tiny bit I know about reality TV, it wouldn’t surprise me if the production company is setting up situational conflicts, possibly with the goal of making ranchers look bad.

I can tell from a few of the initial questions that these people don’t think the way I think. They asked about my veterinarian, as if every rancher has an in-house vet. No, I try hard to prevent illnesses so I don’t have to call a vet to treat them.

They suggested that having 8 people around for two weeks would help me with a labor shortage.

No, 8 unskilled workers would not help. That constitutes a lengthy babysitting job.

I don’t have TV, but I read about people who ardently support gun control, specific religious practices, treating animals like humans, and free-roaming bison, grizzlies and wolves.

Generally, I don’t pick fights with people who visit my ranch, but I’m proud of what I do for a living and how I manage this land.

How far would I go to defend my way of life?

When would I ever choose to stand alone to verbally battle people who don’t respect my choices?

Am I articulate enough to present the reasons for my choices clearly?

Do I have enough patience to maintain self-control when people make stupid, illogical arguments or throw out misinformation?

Probably not.

But, the mission of this ranch has two goals. One of those goals is to educate people about how and why I raise beef and lamb the way I do.

Education can change minds far more effectively than fists or bombs.

I’m reluctant to pretend to represent other ranchers. I do things differently from my neighbors for good reasons. Their reasons for doing things their way are just as good as mine. That’s the beauty of ranching.

I want to protect my daughter, yet allow her to flourish when she chooses. I can’t control strangers in my home, but they would soon find out the difference between a Rottweiler and a mother like me if they hurt my daughter. The Rottweiler would eventually let go of their leg.

This place is not a dude ranch. Parts of it are messy. Improvements are waiting for me to get to them.

I don’t coddle guests. I get impatient with people who want to take breaks before the work is done. And the work is never done. I don’t really need to advertise my insecurities and failures.

But I think people in the entertainment industry need to feel in their bones the immense responsibility ranchers feel for caring for wide open spaces.

They need to understand that my cows, sheep and horses are partners, not pets and not casual collateral damage. I give them the best life I can until they go on to feed other people.

They need to grasp the role of grass and other plants in our world – how they control water and wind erosion, sequester carbon, and provide a place for wild animals.

Most of all, if I am to maintain my integrity, I need to step out of my comfort zone and stand up for my own truth, even though I’m not perfect.

We all do.

Lisa Schmidt