ISO: agricultural psychologist

If I knew then what I know now, I’d pursue a degree in agricultural psychology instead of agricultural business.  Business is a no-brainer compared to trying to figure people out!  Of course, there is no such degree as ag psychology (so far as I know).  But if anybody who matters is listening, I think someone needs to develop just such a program.

In our youthful ignorance, Beau and I assumed managing this ranch would be about lotsa cows and big country.  But when it comes right down to it, managing the humans it takes to keep a ranch of this size running is the real job.  And managing the humans can leave a guy feeling like he ought to have a degree in human resources at the very least — more ideally one in ag psychology.

For Beau there is the day-to-day juggling of the quirky and sometimes obstinate personalities that work here.  Then too, because we work closely with and become friends with most of these folks as the years go by, there are hours spent lending an ear and offering another pep talk to keep the more thoughtful types going.  (Speaking of the more thoughtful types, I’m first in line and Beau’s No. 1 customer if we’re assuming he’s in the ag psychology business.)  Through it all, I am amazed at how positive and resolute Beau is able to remain.  He has surprised even me with his leadership qualities since we started this job three and a half years ago.

In my ag newspaper days I covered a couple articles about the scarcity of mental health professionals in rural America.  The suicide rates in Montana and Wyoming are startling, and professionals blame many factors:  the long winters, the isolated country, the nonstop work that’s required of agriculturalists in this part of the world, the stigma associated with showing weakness in the West, the lack of access to counselors and therapists.  The problem is real, and short of professionals taking a mission-minded interest in the issue and purposely coming to areas of need, I’m not sure what the answer is.

Three cheers, then, for ranch managers like Beau who wear many hats… including “friend,” “counselor,” “encourager,” and yes, “ag psychologist.”



Today’s Weather:  We woke to snow on the ground that soon melted.  High of 43, low of 31, fog and rain this afternoon that turned into great big snowflakes.


Today On The Ranch:  The kids and I hunkered down for schoolwork this morning while Beau made a trip to Billings for parts.  He and I were supposed to ride this afternoon moving cattle to calving pastures, but we delayed that work until tomorrow.  Instead, Beau took Asher with him to turn on water tanks in pastures that will soon be populated with mama cows and babies.


© Tami Blake

3 thoughts on “ISO: agricultural psychologist

  1. And then there are times when we need to look within ourselves, do some deep soul searching, and ask….am I part of the problem??????? Lord, is there something in me that is contributing to these problems? Do I have difficult quirks, pride, control issues that are unrepented of??? Father, how could I be a better leader? How could I be more humble and respectful to those I perhaps feel are beneath me?


  2. And by the way, this is the problem with leadership on many ranches. I’ve had experience with many. Im not one of your workers, thankfully, but I understand the problem from the other side of the fence. People who run their “kingdom” in isolation, not having much experience with the outside world and how it operates, often have a difficult time seeing things objectively. In the real world, HR would be your worst nightmare. You would be forced to operate under much more objective guidelines, and forced to see your own faults. It’s easy to be fooled by your own heart when you have not had to live in a big fish pond and run up against social pressure and other opinions. It isn’t wise to publicly mock those who are the backbone of any establishment. I highly doubt you could run the place on your own, as you seem to think. Look inside…time to get honest and deal with the plank in your own eye, as we all must. You are not exempt.


    1. As well, in my experience, most ranches expect their worker to live in migrant housing, for poverty level wages. Many offer no health insurance. Then they set the expectation on that worker to work 6-7 days a week for said poverty level wages. It has long boggled my senses that ranch managers scratch their heads and seem mystified that they cannot keep people in their employ. No mystery there….I have experienced this countless times, along with many other ranch workers I know.


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