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AFF Sentinel Vol 20#21-The Circle of Life

Parents' Influence So Important to Our Way of Life

Steve Dittmer | AFF Sentinel

Colorado Springs, CO

Originally sent to subscribers 05/08/23

I had occasion recently to sit and watch our two-year-old granddaughter sleep in her car seat for a while. So sweet and innocent, so trusting and relaxed. Resting from her learning about life and applying her toddler parent psychological training project.

Her little binky every so often would bob and wobble like a bobber being teased by a blue gill on the end of a fishing pole at the pond.

She is the seventh generation of my paternal family’s emigration from Germany in 1867. She is the first generation having never spent part of her life living on a farm or ranch.

My father grew up on the Possum Ridge farm his branch of the family established in 1902. It was a small, three-room house for four people, no electricity, no central heat, no bathroom, no running water, one closet -- they called it the press for a reason -- and a pull-out couch for my Dad and brother until they left home as adults.

Farming was done with a team of mules by daylight. They milked seven or eight cows; sent the cream to town for cash money; fed the milk to hogs and turkeys; sold eggs in town for other income and hoped to have enough sheep saved from marauding dogs to sheer once in a while.

For off farm income, my grandfather started out driving a two-horse school wagon, over the years gradually moving to a school bus by the late ‘50s. That bus cost him a lot of sleep, trying to figure out how he was going to pay for the biggest bill he’d ever had in his life.

My Dad loved the farm life and excelled at hunting and sports. He added to that a flair for science and physics, and worked in research and development at a big corporation for over 40 years. He raised registered Herefords on the side -- no milking for him -- fed-out his steers and heifers and sold the beef in halves and quarters to fellow workers.

Feeding cattle, following them through the butcher and package phase, he never bought in to the short and dumpy trend for cattle in the ‘60s. He said those cattle didn’t cut out right and it wouldn’t pay to raise and feed them. I showed some of our home-bred cattle, the result of my Dad’s A.I. program. I got beat out for grand champion one year by a 775-lb. Angus steer that could have walked under our dining room table.

It took the professors a decade or so to figure out what Dad knew all along. Then the American breeders had to go to Canada or to stubborn breeders up in the hills to find cattle with size and scale.

So, my interest in cattle came naturally from my father’s line. He’s the reason I’ve been involved in some fashion in the cattle and beef business for over 60 years.

He served on the board of the county Soil and Water Conservation in Hamilton County, Ohio for nearly 40 years.

My interest in the cause of agriculture and my foundation education in free market capitalism came from both my father and mother. Dad was the typical taciturn rural farm boy who never talked if he could avoid it.

But at the breakfast table -- after farm chores and before going off to work at the lab -- he would read aloud excerpts from columnists like Mike Royko and other conservative columnists to my Mother. They would discuss the political and economic issues of the day. They spent 72 married years together, a bunch of it educating me. I was raised a limited government, conservative, free market, patriotic citizen from the start.

With Mother’s Day fast approaching and Father’s Day soon to follow, it is a time to reflect on how important one’s mother and father are in setting the tone for life. That is much more the case for ranchers and farmers. They can start kids nearly from birth learning about the way of life and what the beef business is all about. It is essential to continuing the family business and it is critical for the future of our industry.

My father passed over the Great Divide in March, just shy of 99 years old. His influence on me, my brother and sister began a long time ago and will continue for the rest of our lives.

As I sat in the back seat with little Denali, watching her sleeping peacefully and reflecting on the circle of life, I noticed in the rear view mirror, a big American flag waving in the breeze. Our American system, our Constitutional republic was built for liberty first -- and the freedom of association to preserve it. Our system and our parents’ efforts are the key to everything, for us and our future generations.

To those fortunate enough to be blessed, Happy Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Thank you for your efforts and perseverance in shaping the main legacy you leave behind on this earth.

Below, Denali, Chris, Steve and Wayne Dittmer. Bottom, Wayne Dittmer

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