Pissing Contests

How much money do you earn a year? How old are you? What is in your 401K? What is your mother’s maiden name? How much is your house worth? What is your social security number? Whoa. Personal questions!

And none of my business, right? How many of you would answer these questions on your social media site? Probably not many of you. Something that I have encountered on twitter is people asking very personal questions about the ranch. When did it become ok to ask someone how much money they have or make? I was taught by my parents and in my agricultural classes that asking a farmer or rancher how many head they run, how many acres they own or how much money they made was off limits. In fact I was taught that it is pretty much never ok to ask that, ranch or no ranch. It’s in the same don’t ask category as say, asking an overweight woman if she is pregnant – just a bad idea.

It’s one thing for an urbanite, who doesn’t understand that asking how many cows you have is basically like asking how much money you have in the bank, to ask. But it often surprises me when other farmers or ranchers who are on social media ask me that personal question. I understand that some ranchers do feel comfortable sharing this type of information, and that is fine. They may have a more diversified operation, where cattle are not the only thing they raise, therefore it’s not such a personal question. Or maybe they have an off the farm job, so their ranch income isn’t their sole income. But for many cattle ranchers, including my family, cattle is all we do. If I say we have 50 head of Mama cows you can pretty much calculate the exact amount of money I made for that year. Same with my land, if I say we have 100 acres and our neighbor just sold his ranch, that is almost like mine, for $100,000, you pretty much know my net worth. That is just not something most people feel comfortable sharing.

When I am asked for this information I say that I do not feel comfortable sharing such private information. I should start asking why people want to know this information in the first place. I don’t ask, nor do I care or want to know, how much money you make, or how big your house is. How many cattle I run or how many acres I own has NOTHING to do with the quality of my product, how I treat my animals or how I care for my land. Inferring that I am “big ag” or a “factory farm” because I don’t share private financial information with you, just makes you look like an un-educated asshole and puts me on the defensive. I have no problem sharing my genetics, vaccination program, the why’s of what I do (hell, come on over and check it out for yourself), but I see no reason why I should share my spreadsheets with anyone other than my banker or the IRS.

I realize that social media creates a disconnect, when you aren’t face to face with someone it is hard to understand their tone, nuances and mannerisms. But there is no excuse for bad manners. If you want to know more about the beef industry, cattle, or my ranch, ask! I love to talk about it, but please, treat me with the same respect as you would like to be treated with.

1 Comment

Filed under Ag, Rants

One Response to Pissing Contests

  1. Frankly, this is actually a fairly informative post. To an “Urbanite” like myself who is new to the whole industry (actually work for a meat processor not a ranch but still have to deal with a lot of the ranches) it’s pretty good stuff to know.

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