Published on Wednesday, July 5, 2017
More than 40 years ago, John and Janell Reid started their life together outside of Ordway, Colorado. They met at Colorado State University, and were ready to join the ranch John’s parents purchased about 20 years prior.
“I think a fascinating part of the whole story is that John's parents made this place without growing up in agriculture.” Janell smiles, sitting at the kitchen table of the home she and her husband moved into as newlyweds. “This was a new place with new people to agriculture. I think that's just a special thing. Maybe that's why we appreciate it so much.”
Love for the land, and the livestock, is hard to describe. “People think a cow is just a cow. You drive past them on the interstate. We know their personalities. We know how they are going to be when they calve and what kind of a mother they are.” Janell explains.
“You know, I can get attached to a corner post if I remember it was an issue or it was a hard deal to get done and what you had to go through to do it. But that's part of what you leave with the land. You just hope you do some of it good enough that it lasts a while. Whether it's that or the way you handle the land or the cattle.” John adds.
Even though there wasn’t a family tradition of farming or ranching, John always knew that’s what he wanted to do. “It was just natural.” He explains. “From the time I was four, I went with my dad doing whatever he was doing. Whether it was horseback or feeding or building fence, whatever. And he was always really good to take me with him.”
By the time John was a freshman in high school, he had started farming. Before that, his dad had only raised cattle. Today, the Reids still raise corn, alfalfa and some hybrid sorghum for hay as livestock feed in addition to cow, calf pairs.
Through the years, their life in agriculture has drawn them closer as a family. It’s not always easy, but the Reids know they’re fortunate to live just down the lane from one another. That was John’s dad, George’s, vision, Janell explains. “I think part of that was just to cement that family cohesiveness.”
Working so closely with his dad for so many years taught John a lot. “I guess the most important lesson is when you have something to do, you're there until you get it done.” John recalls. “It doesn't make any difference whether it's four o'clock in the morning or six o'clock at night. If you aren't done, you stay until you finish.”
Dedication was a lesson George exemplified all his life. “We've always tried to have these cattle where we could look after them when we're calving and when it storms.” John explains. “What that means here is as the cows calve, we move the little ones and their moms to a different pasture. If there's a storm coming, we've got windbreaks that we'll shut those springer cows up in so we know they have to stay there during the storm. All of my life we've tried to improve that and make it better. We’d worked at things like getting water availability in those windbreaks because we’d had lots of times without it and then it becomes an issue if the storm lasts longer than a day. In 2003, we had a storm about the 20th of March. We got around and got everything handled like we wanted to. When we got done, my dad said something to me, he said, 'We've got them all in a pretty good place, don't we?' I assured my dad we did. He went to sleep that night and never woke up.”
Although George has passed, his lessons, and legacy lives on. The Reid’s daughter, Sara, now works in ag business out in California. As part of her education in college, she completed an internship one spring at a large accounting firm. Right in the thick of tax season, it was a very busy time around the office.
“They'd been there a couple of weeks and were kind of wrapping up there one evening. Some of the older accountants were talking with the interns, and one of the older ones turned to one of her co-workers and said, 'We really have got to be careful not to sour these young kids with the way the time deal gets sometimes this time of year.' My daughter turned around and said, 'If you spent your life growing up with my dad, you'd realize this is a picnic.'” John laughs.
Chip, John and Janell’s son, who lives just across the yard, has been taking on more responsibility, and raising is his own family, on the ranch in recent years. Watching his commitment to the ranch’s success makes the couple proud.
John and Janell enjoy being just a short walk away from their grandchildren, the fourth generation of Reids to care for animals on the place. “We have a very, very good relationship with our grandkids. We see them almost every day. They tell us about their day, they talk to us, they show us the pigs or the goats they bought for their 4-H projects.” Janell smiles.
John says, "I'm the luckiest guy in the world. I had a dad that wanted me to become part of the deal. And maybe the most important thing he ever taught me was that we have to make it big enough for both of us. That means you're doing extra things and the hours get longer, all that kind of stuff. Then, I was fortunate enough to have a son that also wanted to be part of it. It has been really hard work, but it's been a lot of fun, too."
Ultimately, that’s what keeps him going. “Why do I farm? I think for the love of my family. Because it's so important to me that if they want to do this, they have the opportunity.”
That’s why John and Janell Reid farm.
Author: Natalina Sents
Categories: Why I Farm, Why I Farm Roadtrip
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, cattle, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Agri-Women, Colorado, John, Janell, ranching, American