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In my opinion the best cover that Wired magazine has ever had was on the December 1999 issue. It depicted a winged woman casting herself off of a cliff. I believe it was meant to signify the excitement and potential of the new millennium, but there seemed to me to be a note of unease and uncertainty about the picture. Excitement tinged with a frightening leap of faith into the unknown. Of course the new millennium was just a calendar ticking over from one year to the next, and the importance of it, had only to do with the human brain liking round numbers. But it is certainly true that our brain likes precipices. Whether it is transitioning from 19 to 20 as the first two numerals of the calendar, or making a change from one way of earning a living to another.

Which bring me to why this magazine cover has been in my thoughts and to the point of this blog post. As most of my regular readers know I have heretofore been a rancher (and am, for the next couple months), but we (my father, wife and I) have come to the conclusion that keeping our herd of cows is no longer the best course for us. Our ranch is still profitable (at least as mush as any small family agriculture operation is), but with my dad's recent and possibly ongoing health problems and the unfeasibility of ever having the resources to hire a replacement, we've come to the conclusion that the best course of action for us is to sell our herd and rent the pasture land. We won't be making as much money, but we're hoping we can squeak by. Our cows are our pets and the thought of giving them up is terribly saddening, but we are taking every effort to ensure that they go to a good home where they will be well cared for (there's actually a neighbor who's expressed interest in buying the herd, and who would treat them humanely).

As uncertain as this path is for us we are also very hopeful. It would enable my dad to finally retire, something not many ranchers ever get to do in this day and age. Also it would enable Ruth and I to concentrate more time and effort on her business. For some time now it has been constrained by the demands of ranching and will now have more potential to grow unfettered. There are also one or two other ideas that we have for a new website and some ways that we may be able to supplement our reduced ranch income with. (More on that at a later date.)

In many ways I feel as though we've become a statistic about "the death of the family farm in America." Although I guess that's true on the one hand, on the other hand, we're doing this now because we don't have to. We don't make as much profit now as ten years ago, and in ten years time I think we would probably be making even less. I personally would rather leave the market now, with a heavy heart, than in ten or twenty years, with a heavy heart and empty pockets. And maybe the growth that whichever neighbor who rents our land gets from it will make their long term prognosis that much better.

The last big problem that I have now, when we sell the cows, what do I tell people I do for a living?

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