Ranch Diaries: Building human connections from a remote ranch

Passing on knowledge is crucial to our way of life.


Ranch Diaries is an hcn.org series highlighting the experiences of Laura Jean Schneider, who gives us a peek into daily life during the first year of Triangle P Cattle Company, a new LLC in southcentral New Mexico. Installments are every other Tuesday.

With the solitude Sam and I love comes the challenge of making meaningful connections with characters other than the four-legged kind. Last night, six inches of fresh snow on Fence Canyon Road forced me to remember that accessibility — to town, to other people — is once again reaching a somewhat unpredictable point. While being a little snowbound doesn’t make me panic, I’m glad for the larger network of people Sam and I have when the snow starts to fly. Even if support and encouragement isn’t face-to-face, it counts.

  • Ag people talk ranching.

    Photo by Elaine Patarini
  • Chicken networking.

    Laura Jean Schneider
  • Christmas caramels are underway.

    Laura Jean Schneider
  • Making time and place for family to visit is important too.

    Laura Jean Schneider
  • One of the perks of branding, a local way of ranch networking.

    Laura Jean Schneider
  • Sam and his nephew, Owen, who's come out to help for the past two summers.

    Laura Jean Schneider
  • This year's wreath, complete with solar lights!

    Laura Jean Schneider

One thing living remotely has taught us is to use all the tools at our disposal. While Sam prefers keeping in touch by phone, I’ve used Twitter to make new connections. I recently discovered @agchat: once a week, farmers and ranchers from all over the country — over 61,000 followers — tweet about Ag issues every Tuesday, tagging their thoughts with #AgChat. I’ve bumped into dairy farmers, wool producers, horse trainers, entrepreneurial coaches, and future interns. Come to think of it, I was initially contacted about writing Ranch Diaries through my Twitter account. I also post updates on a personal blog, and find Instagram a fun way to share bits of news and images from our life with a greater audience.

We’ve attended several Quivira Coalition Conferences in Albuquerque over the years, and this year we wanted to make sure we attended their Career Connection. It’s free and open to the public, and we felt it would be a great place to meet folks with the interests and qualifications we were looking for. A young couple from Alberta, whom I’d connected with via Twitter about Ranch Diaries, came up to us and we talked about the logistics of making a small ranch work. A Fulbright scholar who studied grazing management in Central Asia discovered she and Sam had gone to the same college and studied Russian with some of the same professors. We met a young ranching family of four from eastern New Mexico eager to start taking more ownership in their work. Lingering over a late dinner table packed elbow-to-elbow with people we’d met over the years through our own experiences, it was wonderful to be surrounded by people invested in progressive ranching.

Having a circle of familiar names and potential resources seems like a good idea. But when Sam and I gave some thought to what we want next year to look like, we decided to try to add meaning and value to our work by bringing in more people to join us. We both agree that passing on knowledge is crucial to our way of life. We’ve been lucky to learn from some great teachers, and I’m happy to announce we might be taking a few interns for the 2016 season so they can experience the way we work.

Now that winter is closing in, it’s helpful to think back on the connections we have made around here thus far  and we’re  looking forward to new possibilities in the year to come. 

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