Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Amanda Radke - Agvocate and Cattle Rancher

Today we are proud to feature Amanda Radke from South Dakota. Amanda is an active voice for agriculture - writing for several beef industry publications.

Howdy from my family ranch located near Mitchell, SD. My husband, Tyler, and I, live in the corner of Davison County. We are the only house in the section (No neighbors! Although my parents live on the next section just a half-mile away); we are the last house on the electrical pole, so when the electricity goes out, it stays out for awhile; we are 20 miles from the closest internet tower, which means I have bad service, making it difficult as I blog from home; and, when it snows, we are the last house to get plowed out. We’ve spent 11 days snowed in with no electricity -- talk about living like Laura Ingalls Wilder!

I’m a fifth generation cattle rancher -- the third to live and work on our ranch. My family raises purebred Limousin cattle. NOLZ Limousin offers bulls and females for sale by private treaty. We also raise corn, sedan grass and hay -- both round and squares. One of the first investments my husband and I made in our first year of marriage was a square baler; Tyler drives, and I ride the rack. Thousands of “idiot cubes” later, we still enjoy working together (although sometimes I wish it was him on the rack, not me!) We both have off-farm jobs for cash-flow purposes. Tyler works at Lynch Livestock as a hog buyer, and I’m a freelance writer for several beef industry publications. You can read my blog at

Shortly after we got married, we purchased our dream place, which bumps right up to my parents’ pasture and has beautiful, well-maintained cattle facilities and the perfect pasture for our replacement heifers. This was a huge purchase to make at age 23, so we have buckled down in our spending and have focused on paying off that debt and saving for cattle down the road. But, we know what our goals are, so it doesn’t seem like much of a sacrifice. We are doing this together, and we love it.

We both have deep roots in the cattle business and want to be able to continue this tradition to the next generation. We are very passionate about the land and quality livestock, and it’s something we sit around the dinner table -- eating homegrown beef and my garden-fresh vegetables and fruits -- discussing.

A typical day for me: Wake up and do chores, tinker around the garden, take a walk or run around the section with our dog Allie, and head to the house and settle down with my laptop tackling deadlines and submitting my blogs, columns and articles as required by my editors. I take breaks or adjust my writing schedule as needed with cattle chores outside. On days I know we will be busy weaning, working cattle or baling hay, I write late into the evenings or have long all-day sessions in preparation to be outside all day. I have a smartphone, too, which enables me to work on the go. I take great pride in cooking healthy meals for my family, and I make an effort to get Tyler and I to sit down and eat together in the evenings. This is no small task, as we are usually busy outside working. Tyler gets home from work around 3, and that’s when his second job starts -- taking care of cattle, fixing things (he is our resident mechanic) and doing other chores as needed. My dad had three daughters, so he welcomes a son with open arms. It’s great to see them work together.

Our days end on our back deck. Tyler and I love to watch the sun go down on our pasture. Cattle graze on the rolling hills. It’s a beautiful sight that can reduce me to tears. I just feel so incredibly blessed to live where I do and work at a job that I love. The peace and serenity country living offers us is truly rare in today’s society, and we wouldn’t trade it for all the gold in the world.

I have traveled all over the country as a speaker at many agriculture conferences, and in my travels, I meet many consumers who don’t necessarily understand what we do. I’ve been called a murderer. I’ve been likened to Hitler, killing steers just as the Nazis killed the Jews. I have been called heartless. I have been accused of not caring about the animals. Not only are these statements hurtful, but they are so off-based. Cattle are my life. It’s hard to make a buck in the beef business; in fact, many years we are in the red. I wish consumers understood the blood, sweat and tears that goes into this business and know that we aren’t in it out of greed (trust me, there are easier ways to make a dollar); we are in it because we truly love the land, the animals and this way of life.

In 2011, I published a children’s book, “Levi’s Lost Calf,” which helps tell the beef production story to young people. I welcome the opportunity to visit schools and libraries to read my book and visit with kids about who we are in animal agriculture.

I’m a country girl. Plain and simple. But, I love connecting with urban folks in my travels. Although sometimes I feel like we are world’s apart -- we have a lot in common, too. We can talk fashion, food (I love SUSHI!), families, working out, college, goals for the future, etc. It’s in these commonalities where we can make connections and bridge the gap between rural and urban America. As a writer, that’s what I try to do. As a rancher, I know it’s what we need to do. And, as a consumer myself, it’s what I hope to hear from other farmers and ranchers as I go grocery shopping.

Thanks Amanda for sharing your story and for all that you do!! Be sure to follow her on the Beef Magazine Blog!

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