My name is Rosealee Rieman, I’m 20 years old and currently a student at the University of Nevada, Reno as a Agricultural Education major. I'm also a competitor for the Nevada Rifle team. My family ranches in the Carson Valley. The home ranch is about 3 or 4 miles from Gardnerville and the lower ranch is about 3 miles from Minden. We have a cow/calf operation and put up our own hay to feed and sell. The ranches are operated by my mom, dad, uncle, cousins and me. From working cows with family, I have learned no matter how mad you get at each other don't hold a grudge. Usually after you get done working they will act like nothing ever happened. If your cousin gets you with the hot shot don't hot shot him back… it doesn't end well… this also applies to getting hit with sorting flags.
I have been a member of the Western Nevada CattleWomen’s for about 6 years. I am the fifth generation here on the ranch. Ever since I can remember, I have been out working with my dad and grandpa. When I was 3 years old they used to put the truck in first gear and I would stand on the seat and drive while they fed. Then when we needed to stop I would jump down off the seat and push the brake pedal. I also used to take the feed truck when they weren't looking and leave them! My grandpa used to put me on the horses while he fed in the corrals so I wouldn't go anywhere. When we would go up to work on The Pickle Meadows Ranch, my grandpa would sneak me off to go fishing. He could catch fish with a shovel but I never quite mastered that trick. I did, however, get super good at learning how to soak people! When I was about 5 or 6 I did Pee-wee Junior rodeo. I used to make my dad run the barrel and pole bending patterns every time “because I forgot”. I really just thought it was fun to watch my dad do the pattern with my stick horse. I think he knew I was messing with him but he still did the patterns every time.
As I got older, my chores and jobs got bigger and more involved. Now I help with irrigating meadows leading up to haying season. I also rake hay, drive the harrow bed, backhoe, and hay squeeze (I’m really slow but I can do it). When there is cow work to do I help with vaccinating and branding calves and doctoring and moving cows. My dad has taught me how to do some mechanic work. I’ve worked on the swather, big and small balers, harrowbeds, rakes, hay squeeze, tractors, and pick-up trucks.
My favorite thing about ranch life would probably be getting to witness God's creations and working with my dad; from watching a newborn calf take its first breath of air to watching the sunrise paint the mountains, being able to witness all this with my dad makes it even better. The hardest part of ranch life for me is losing calves. I know sometimes it's out of our control but I hate losing calves. I think this is something I struggle with because those calves are our livelihood. At the end of the day no matter how much you check the herd and try to keep them warm and healthy there’s some that can’t be saved and that’s hard.
It's always hard to prepare for complications but we do the best we can. We watch the weather as much as we can and make adjustments as needed, and stock up on parts that commonly break throughout the haying season. But with cows? Ahhh…sometimes you just gotta shake your head and tend to them. How does a 400lb calf wind up stuck in a culvert? How does a rogue heifer get across a river so fast and then disappear up the hill in the dark? Cows just like to do their own thing so you just gotta go with the flow.
A typical day depends on what season we are in. Right now we are starting haying season. This means equipment is getting pulled out of the barns and getting greased. We are burning ditches and irrigating, and starting to get a handle on our invasive weeds. Right now we are wrapping up our branding season. Our first branding was in March. When all the calves are done we put our herd on pasture. When we brand, we use a calf table. I usually push calves or help with the branding iron and holding legs. I can vaccinate but I’m not the biggest fan of needles so that one isn’t my go-to job. When the herd is on pasture we go through and check salt boxes. We also have day riders come in 3 times a month to doctor and ride through cows. My favorite seasons are Feeding Season and Calving Season which are around the same time for us. We calve out in January and February and feed until about the middle of April. These are my favorite seasons because I get to work with the cows a majority of my day. We get to feed cows and horses, and we get to see all the new calves running around.
The craziest thing I have heard of happening on the ranch was my dad getting chased by a beaver. To give a little back story, a few weeks prior to being chased, my mom had sent my dad an article about a man killed in Canada by a beaver that bit his femoral artery. One night, Dad went out around 1am to change water down by the river when he noticed these weird patterns in the field. He followed the pattern up the field when he noticed something weird sitting in the shadows. He started walking up to it thinking it was just an otter. He said before he knew it, the beaver whipped around and started chasing him through the field! All he could think was “This thing’s gonna kill me!” After the beaver dove into the ditch he realized he still had to pull boards…right where that beaver had gone! He was able to get the boards out but pulled each one with cation. When he finally got back around 3am he woke up my mom to tell her all about it. That's probably the craziest thing that's happened on the ranch.
I would say ranch life can be more stressful in certain aspects, compared to city life. We live off of only 2 major paychecks a year and we have to be able to stretch that money out. In Carson Valley, I personally get stressed out by all the people that have moved here. We have a lot of issues with trespassing and have had problems with people messing with calves or blocking gates because they are trying to look at birds or take pictures. Sometimes it feels like we are ranching in L.A. They enjoy being out of the city but complain about the smell, the noise, etc. No matter how stressful it gets or what problems come up I wouldn't trade this lifestyle for anything. I can't imagine growing up in a subdivision. I actually have a really hard time living in Reno for school because of this. There are way too many people so whenever I get the chance to go home, I do.
I think it’s important for ranchers to share their story to help others learn about our profession and why we do what we do. We live in a world that is uneducated about where their food comes or how it’s prepared. This is a major reason on why I decided to become an Ag teacher. I can help share my passion and educate others.
My advice to anyone wanting to pursue the ranching lifestyle, would be to learn as much as you can. There are skills I still don't know and want to learn. In this industry you will never stop learning. Have a good work ethic and don't be afraid to get dirty! They invented soap for a reason! Don't be so serious! Wear that wild outfit, dance at random times, jam out to that song. If the radio doesn't work in the tractor a headband makes a great phone holder. Always have a bright colored water bottle so when it falls off the back of the rakes you can find it before it gets baled up. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Words I live by:
God has a plan and we need to trust his plan. He will never give us a situation we can’t handle.