Friday, January 9, 2015

Agri-Eco Tourism

I've always been a one-percenter. By that I mean I've always been part of a statistically small demographic. I grew up on a cattle ranch, and ranchers and ranch families have, in my lifetime, always been less than one percent of the population. I joined the navy out of high school, in the post-Vietnam, all-volunteer era. During my career the navy represented less than one percent of the population. Within the navy I was a fleet corpsman and aircrewman, again a sub-one percent subset. When I retired and returned to the ranch, the ranching demographic had become even smaller.

My life experiences have been and continue to be vastly different than those of my fellow Americans. Most of my fellows have next to no understanding of what I do. Worse, many have been told that the food I produce for them is poisoned or unsafe or unhealthy, that I'm a destroyer of the land, that I cause much of global warming, that I slaughter the innocent for pay. Most folks don't believe all of the bad stuff, but they hear so much bad stuff, so often, that they wonder, and they have anxieties and concerns.

I've been giving informal tours of the ranch for the last dozen years, part of an effort to fight back against the anti-agriculture narrative. I've found that I can really be of service to my fellow man by showing and telling. I'd like to do more, but I'm a businessman. I have to cash flow and feed myself or I'll be out on my arse.

So the question has been, for the last few years, is there a way to integrate the showing and telling into the business? It's starting to look like the answer is yes.

So just out of curiosity, what would you be willing to pay for a three-hour guided ranch tour? There's a poll gadget over there to the right.

An Americorps team meets the ranch dogs.
They loved the I-80 overpass.
Julie and Elwyn, farmers from Herefordshire.
Summer sunset ranch hike.
Families from Omaha on a ranch ecosystem tour.
Feeding Haji the bottle calf.


  1. Hopefully you get some takers. Few people understand the sheer hard work you ranchers do and how important you are.

  2. Here we have turned the annual cattlemen's field day and farm/city week into the same sort of thing... and if you think it's difficult there come to Cali... It has always amazed me that urban/city folk have little to no concept of where their food comes from, or that if we are not good stewards of our land and livestock... we don't survive. Keep up the Good work fellow 1%er.

  3. Sarge, I think we'll get takers. Having I-80 run through the middle of the ranch can be a pain, but there's a lot of potential customers driving by and an exit and visitor center close by. We'll see how it goes.

    Brighid, great idea -- we have an annual farmers day which we can take more advantage of. I can understand the ignorance of the city folks (I don't know beans about their jobs) but it still surprises me how clueless most of my town friends and neighbors are. And many of those folks are absolutely certain they know it all. Gets me a tad grumpy from time to time...

  4. I wanted to offer support even though I didn't vote. (full disclosure...grew up just down the road in Scottsbluff, and 10 years as a VS AW) Many a summer working in the weeds. Even though I might not pay ;), think its a great idea to educate folks. I do appreciate the blog and wishing good luck.