Ranching Roots – What is a cowgirl?

By Book Author, Lauren Chase, Montana Family Ranching Project – You can read more stories about Montana ranch women in the Montana Stockgrowers Association’s new digital photo book, “Ladies and Livestock: Life on the Ranch,” which is available for download on the Apple store for $14.99. Be sure to flip through the pages to watch video interviews with some of the ladies and follow MSGA’s social media sites for daily updates about Montana ranchers.

The shadow of a cowgirl

The shadow of a cowgirl

What is a cowgirl? What is a rancher?

These are questions that kept running through my mind while collecting stories of Montana ranching women for the Montana Stockgrowers Association’s digital book, “Ladies and Livestock. I had one idea, which was a woman in a cowgirl hat, hair blowing in the wind as she gallops across an open field to seek out her herd. While that image may have some clout, I have since learned that being a cowgirl and being a rancher is so much more.

Since the days of homesteading, women have had to fill many roles on the ranch…everything thing from cooking and child rearing to fixing fence and roping calves. While all of that work still needs to be done, today’s ranch woman sometimes finds herself elsewhere. Whether it’s for economic reasons, ranch size, insurance purposes, or a passion for a certain type of skill, some ladies take jobs in town.

Heather Malcolm at her desk - Bank of the Rockies - Livingston, Montana.

Heather Malcolm at her desk – Bank of the Rockies – Livingston, Montana.

“As the vice president of agriculture lending, I have the opportunity to work with my fellow farmers and ranchers across Montana. I am blessed to have a flexible schedule so I can help on the ranch as much as needed,” said Heather Malcolm of Livingston, Montana.

Other ladies, like Haylie Shipp, work to help inform ranchers of the latest news in communication jobs. Haylie grew up on a ranch near Glasgow, Mont. and now is a farm broadcaster for Northern Ag Network. Linda Grosskopf’s family ranch is near Billings, Mont., making it convenient for her the edit of the Western Ag Reporter, published from town.

There are women who lobby at the Montana state capitol during the legislature, working on behalf of ranchers…and others who spend their weekdays teaching college students about beef production at Montana State University and their weekends at home on the ranch, like Dr. Rachel Endecott of McAllister, Mont.

“I was really lucky that Rachel could spend a lot of time home this spring helping me because I could have never done it without her,” said Janet Goggins-Endecott, Rachel’s mother and full-time rancher.

These positions off of the ranch are just a fraction of what makes a modern day Montana rancher…and modern day Montana cowgirl.

At MSGA, we appreciate all the work these ladies do to help the ranches run smoothly and to help produce healthy, wholesome, nutritious beef to the world.

Ladies and Livestock coverYou can read more stories about Montana ranch women in the Montana Stockgrowers Association’s new digital photo book, “Ladies and Livestock: Life on the Ranch,” which is available for download on the Apple store for $14.99. Be sure to flip through the pages to watch video interviews with some of the ladies and follow MSGA’s social media sites for daily updates about Montana ranchers.

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