Cowboys Aren’t All Made Equal

Buy a hat and a pair of boots and call yourself a cowboy.  Isn’t that how it works?

Think again.

We’re currently advertising that we’re hiring a ranch hand.  I couldn’t even say cowboy on the job posting because I’ll get so many applicants who will refuse to do anything but ride a horse if the job position says we’re hiring a cowboy. A lot of these so-called cowboys own a hat and pair of boots and have climbed on a bronc or bull in the rodeo arena and think those things alone qualify them to work on our ranch. I’ll admit that they’re brave (or maybe stupid?), but they’re missing some key qualities to work for us.

When we hire a cowboy or ranch hand, we expect them to be well-rounded, or at least willing to to become well-rounded. Pitch in and help with all of the ranch jobs and don’t think they’re above doing anything. A cowboy on any cow-calf ranch should be able to ride a horse and have some cattle knowledge, but it’s not just the days you’re horseback that count. Many hours are spent pushing cows up an alley to work them, loading cattle onto semi trucks, building and repairing fences and corrals, irrigating pastures and feeding cattle. So many people want to be a ranch manager, but we can’t have five managers and one ranch hand. It needs to be the other way around. My father in law, husband and one of our long-time employees are the managers, and we expect everyone else to work with them, not just want to boss people around.

I talk to people in other labor intensive industries like construction, masonry and even food service and they all have the same complaints. People don’t want to work anymore. I’m not sure the direction that we’re going to take with our employees, but I’ll forever remember the words of one of our employees talking about another one (who quit after 4 weeks), he said, “Everyone wants to be a cowboy, until it’s time to actually be a cowboy.”

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