Heart of A Rural Sister: Kacey
I have known Kacey for almost a year and she has been such an encouragement to me as a fellow woman in ag, but also a fellow home business entrepraneur! I'm so grateful that she was willing to share her story with us all!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and your ag operation!
I grew up in Wyoming raising show sheep on a small farm. I went to Texas Tech, then the University of Wyoming where I met my husband! We now live in Craig, Colorado and have a cow calf operation. We raise Chi Angus and commercial sheep. We have two boys ages 12 and 9 and we homeschool. We live next-door to Chad's mom and dad. We are currently in a period of transition, where our roles are changing. I would define my role as supportive. I do as much as I can where I'm needed, and am as flexible as possible, so that I can be involved. During haying, I run the rake. I also do some of the book-work and help take care of our sheep especially during lambing. I respect my in-laws as they are working with us in the transition of the operation, but it's still hard for all of us to adjust to our new roles. They've put so much time, energy and heart into this operation.
What is the most challenging part of ranching? What do you see as the positives for your family in ranching?
The most challenging parts of ag for me are relationships and communication. It's important to be very respectful of each person's roles and feelings and be respectful of all the work each person has put into the operation. Even though my in-laws are working with us to buy them out of the operation, it's still hard for them to turn it over, because they've put so much time and energy into this operation. So we work hard to meld new ideas with the old that still work well. I didn't come from a ranching background, so I try to work at being even more respectful of each person that is involved in the operation.
The biggest positives for our family is that we get to work outdoors, our kids learn responsibility, and my children get to grow up in a multi-generation atmosphere. Our boys learn a hard day’s work and we are able to help cultivate our sons’ unique interests in different parts of the operation. For example, one of my sons is most interested in the animal aspect and the other is more interested in running the equipment. I heard recently that something like 3% of families that begin succession planning actually make it to turning the operation over to the next generation. I want to make sure that my sons are prepared to eventually take over the ranch.
Do you face isolation and loneliness that many women in ag face? How do you deal with that?
Yes, I do face isolation and loneliness at times. When our youngest was a year old I left my job in town to be a stay at home mom. I felt it again when we began homeschooling our boys. We lost some of that connection that happens when kids are in public school. We live about 20 miles away from town and so the opportunity to meet up with friends is a little bit more difficult. Being an entrepreneur helps, because that allows me the opportunity to speak with people and to share something I'm passionate about. I was looking for connection and community when I found The Rural Sisterhood! Since we homeschool and I am mindful of the need to connect, we make sure to engage in a local homeschool co-op where one day a week our kids meet up for school with other homeschool families. During this day, my kids interact with other kids and I have time to relax and spend some time in town.
What struggles do you face as an ag parent and how do you overcome them?
I struggle with guilt. I worry that we are putting too much on our kids. Our lifestyle limits their ability to engage in activities similar to their peers. Because of the time limits that we have and the travel time to engage in extracurricular activities, we decided that our boys could be a part of one sport and 4H. I try not to let the outside pressure to do all the things and let my children do everything get to me. I have been teaching my children that they can't do everything, but what they are doing is important, valuable and contributing to the family.
How do you balance enjoying rural life and keeping the family at the center, but also giving your kiddos a chance to see/experience things outside of ag before they “leave” for college?
Well, we have our kids involved, like I said before, in one sport in 4-H. The homeschool co-op helps them to get out and see things outside of the ranch as well. They have days away with friends and different teachers. They also go to Wyoming to stay with my parents once a year and we travel to visit my side of the family.
How do you integrate your kids into your livelihood and lifestyle?
We try to make sure that we encourage the areas of ag that our boys are interested in. Whether it's working animals or running equipment, they are involved in it with us. We work to balance encouraging our kids to do what they're capable of and pushing them forward to learn more. We also take their individual personalities and needs into account.
What are the unique ways you find to keep your love and attraction alive with your hubby?
We make sure to take time for each other every day and to really talk to each other. We actually started doing something early on in our marriage, where we chose a spiral notebook and we write notes for each other. When one of us writes a note for the other, the writer hides it in a place that only our spouse will find it. Then that person write a note and hide it for the other! It's a great way to share our love and is a simple, fun thing for us to do together. We try to get away to town as a couple frequently, even if it's just for parts or business. I make a point to enjoy the simple getaways that we have even if it's ranch related like going to a bull sale together.
Would you mind sharing with us a time that was the most challenging for you and how you made it through?
My most challenging time was probably our first year of marriage. Before we got married I had spent a while in a career as a livestock coach at the University of Wyoming. I thoroughly loved my profession. After we got married, I moved with my new husband, back to his home, to a new town with a new name, and right onto the ranch with his family. Taking on this new role of a wife was challenging. Before I was married I was very independent and self-reliant and I wasn't sure what my role really was here. At the time I didn't have God in my life and learning to adjust and communicate with my new husband and his family was a huge challenge.
Do you have any daily self-care non-negotiables? (For some this might be reading the Bible daily, others it's getting up a little bit earlier than the rest of the family to have a bit of quiet time, others it might be getting their nails done, journaling, etc.)
I’m not a morning person so evenings, if my husband falls asleep early, and after my kids go to bed, are my time for myself. I study my Bible and enjoy time to myself. In the morning I have my coffee and that's how I get started. When my kids go to the homeschool co-op meet up in town, once a week, that's my time to enjoy coffee at one of the local coffee shops and just have some time to myself. I also love gardening!
Why are those important to you?
Those are really important to me because it's my time to connect with God. When I miss it and everything else goes poorly. Gardening is my happy place. The smell of the dirt, and the connection to how we are like seeds in the hands of a powerful Creator is inspiring to me. I love to grow things on my own and see the progression from the seed to our table. I love having the ability to provide this for my family.
When life is at its busiest do you have a go to recipe or two that you wouldn't mind sharing with us?
Yes! I have a lasagna recipe that is quick, easy and a hit with the family. I'm anxiously awaiting my instant pot! You can find the lasagna recipes here: http://rusticranchwife.com/blog/last-minute-lasagna
What is one piece of wisdom that you would share with another woman in ag?
Be flexible. Schedules are important but don't get yourself locked down into it. It will change.
Knowing what you know now about life and Agriculture what would you tell yourself 10-20 years ago?
It's worth it. Hang in there! Work on those family relationships! Learn to assert yourself in a tasteful manner.
Many women in Ag are looking for ways to bring in extra income and have their own home-based business. Do you have your own home based business?
Yes. Several years ago, through health issues with my son, I became very aware of certain products we were using in our home that were making him sick. I started researching and transitioning to more natural products and learned how to DIY almost everything with basic kitchen ingredients! We were ALL noticing huge improvements in our health.
One day, I decided to take some homemade sugar scrubs to our local farmer's market and they were a huge hit! I expanded to make lip balm and other personal care products, and started teaching others how to do the same; and Natural Wellness Resources, LLC was born.
Eventually, I found a company that aligned with my goals and offers a great product to blend with my business. Now, I teach families how to incorporate natural products and dōTERRA essential oils into their homes. I do natural wellness consultations, and teach my clients how to be more self reliant by using nature in their homes and as medicine. It's such a great way to connect to our roots and simplify life!
As a way to connect with other rural families, I also started blogging about our life on the ranch, as a homeschool mom, gardener and entrepreneur.
Just a bit of home-based business promotion in the tractor!
As a home based business owner what advice would you give for the women in Ag, that are starting their own businesses?
If you are considering a home-based business, research the company, its products and its compensation plan. If you truly are adding a home business of any type as a way to make extra income, you must truly treat it as a business. Otherwise, it's just an expensive hobby that cuts into family time.
How do you find balance between family, your business, etc.?
Definitely, set work hours. My home business operates under a certain time frame that I have set aside as business hours. If I didn't set this, I would find a million other things to do. Of course, flexibility is still a must, because you never know when something on the farm or ranch will take priority.
Last, but not least, what do you believe are the three most important qualities in a Woman in Ag?
Faith in God. He's in control! In a business that is dependent on weather and the markets, without our faith it would be even more challenging.
Love what you do. Love the animals, love the land, and appreciate them both.
Communication. If you're struggling with communication then it probably means that there has been feelings miscommunicated or feelings that haven't been stated.
I hope you enjoyed and were encouraged by Kacey's story as much as I was! Her sweetness, strength, faith and resiliency is admirable!
If you'd like to connect with Kacey, follow the links below:
Rustic Ranch Wife
Kacey is also an active member of The Rural Sisters' Community. You can join us in this supportive and encouraging community here!
If you have enjoyed reading this entry of "The Heart of the Rural Sister", you might also enjoy reading the last interview with Mindy! You can read it here!