January 2, 2018

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Ranchlands’ founder Duke Phillips is a third generation cattle rancher who believes in economic diversification, high conservation ethics, and public education as critical to the future of ranching.

Sometimes I think that the only good thing about the phone is hearing from someone out of the blue about something out of the ordinary.  A call that makes you think differently, or rethink things. It happened a few days ago.

A fellow made contact from Charleston, South Carolina.  Cyrus, he said his name was.  He was starting an oyster company.  Texting, he asked if we could talk, that he’d been following Ranchlands for a long time.  Sure thing, I said, call me anytime.

We talked a couple days ago.  He sounded young, enthusiastic, and very appreciative.  He began by saying that he had been working in the conservation world for a long time in marine life, had decided to begin his own business, and wanted to hear Ranchland’s story, thinking we were on the same track.  

While he wanted to start an oyster business with the intention of making a profit, the oyster was just a means of continuing his work with water and marine life.  His real goal was to build something bigger than a business, something that would make a difference in the wellbeing of the sea where he lived and worked.  From his point of view,  Ranchlands seemed to have the same mission.  He wanted to know how we’d gotten started and to the scale we are today.  He wanted to know why we were so successful, what the vision was at the beginning, and how we evolved.

He was excited–I could tell– and passionate about the grand picture he had of the good that he wanted to do about things that he loved.  It was the kind of phone call that I am always waiting for. Here was this stranger from clear across the country who had somehow caught wind of what we are doing and was inspired to call me.  Yea!

While I was listening to him describe what he wanted to do, I thought to myself, I’ve never thought about how cattle and bison and horses were simply instruments that we are using to embrace the land and wildlife that we live and depend on.  I thought about how our society prioritizes  creating livelihoods rather than thinking about work that goes beyond material gain.

Cyrus’ words ring so true. He helped me think in a different way about what we are doing. Yes, he is right.  The horses and cattle are simply a means to realizing our dream of making the grasslands we manage breath and bloom like before we got here.  It reminds me of what our MP ranch manager Nick Baefsky says sometimes when he wants to understand better–“Can you say that in a different way?”  The shifting of the angle of reflection helps us penetrate deeper in our thinking and pinpoint what is important or where more exactly we want to go.

Thank you, Cyrus.  I can’t wait to come see what you are up to and learn something else.

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