“Are we farmers, Dad, or ranchers?”

my son once asked of me. 

I studied for a moment, 

tried to answer carefully.

“Well, son, I guess that labels 

are kinda hard to stick. 

I’ll explain some things a little, 

then let you make your pick.

We live in farmin’ country, 

but grow mostly hay and grass. 

Our product, son, is cattle, 

so as farmers, we won’t pass.

We don’t have late model tractors

with air conditioned cabs. 

We don’t do much cash croppin’, 

except for little dabs.

Our harvest time is anytime 

we sell a set of cattle. 

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And, while farmers ride a tractor, son, 

we’re sittin’ in the saddle.

But, to disavow we’re farmers 

is kinda hard to say. 

We raise a little wheat to graze, 

and we grow alfalfa hay.

Our rancher friends, just over east, 

think we’re tillers of the soil. 

But, the farmers think we’re cowboys 

who can’t even change our oil.

Blood and snot and cow manure 

don’t bother me the least. 

But, it seems I’m near allergic 

to motor oil and grease.

I couldn’t even dream, son, 

of plantin’ corn straight down a row, 

but I think I kinda specialize 

in helpin’ pastures grow.

I mostly like to work with things 

that breathe and breed and run. 

But, some folks like to harvest grain.

That’s the difference, son. 

The farmer and the rancher 

both put food upon the table. 

Sometimes, they tend to overlap. 

That’s why they’re hard to label.

Runnin’ cows is just my preference, 

and I guess the biggest factor 

is that I cast a better shadow 

from a horse than from a tractor.

Editor’s note: Joe Kreger writes from his home in Tonkawa, Oklahoma. His CDs are available from the Journal by calling 1-800-954-5263. For personal appearance information, call 1-816-550-6549.