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On the ranch, On the road
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Good stories, part II

“She’s a farm girl,” I overheard him tell his wife, Susan, on the phone. “You can tell by her boots. We’ll get along just fine.”

Sitting shotgun in his truck, Rick Gurley was right. He’d tipped his hat when we exchanged pleasantries, barely made it across the cattle guard to his place near Huntsville when I knew.

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On owned and leased land, Rick’s now retired from the United States Postal Service and manages his cow herd full time.

Perhaps it’s due to his self-deprecating honesty, evident from comments like: “If you could have done it wrong, I did it,” the Arkansas cowman says of moving cattle soon after AI breeding that first year and working them just before, “but I didn’t know.”

His candidness is refreshing. At 54, he’s more concerned with sharing, hopeful that a reader will learn, than he is with saving face.

“I was 50 and everybody just assumes you know,” he says. “You’ve got to ask questions and not give up on the calves because it may not be their fault.”

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Rick favored telling me about the cattle over taking pictures with them. So we embraced the rain and I snuck in a few shots.

Maybe it was because as much as he wanted me to see his Angus cows with calves by their sides, strong and growing, he wanted me to meet his folks.

“They’re the salt of the earth people right there,” he says. In their kitchen they tell about years past, ancestors who drove early Angus cattle across state lines. We hug and say goodbye.

Or rather it was due to a melody – Look At You Girl by Chris Ledoux.

“Suze,” Rick says through the phone to his wife, “call me back real quick so Laura can hear your ringtone.” And you mean everything to me – the chorus buzzes as his cell phone rings and he smiles.

“It’s just one of those storybook deals,” he says of their love story. “I married way up. My mother just out-prayed hers.”

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Married for 30 years, Rick and Susan have two grown children, Nicole [pictured] and Heath. Both play an active role in the family operation.

For Susan, life as a mailman/cattleman’s wife meant plenty of change from her military upbringing.

“She was used to a schedule and there’s not much of one in the cow business, aside from AI,” Rick says. “My days were long.”

Susan embraced it, never timid she nurtured calves in the bathtub and raised kids to love cattle the same.

“The biggest thing is life has a way of changing,” Susan says. Now she’s shotgun and I’m riding in the back next to their daughter, Nicole, checking calves.

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Their oldest, Nicole, lives within a few hour’s drive. Her dad’s right hand while he was limited after back surgery, she knows the cows as well as anybody.

“I was working more and the kids filled that role. Now that the kids are here less, I’m here more. So it’s gone full circle, but it’s an awesome way to raise kids. So many life lessons.”

Stories I take with me as I head south and hope to be able to share with you.

Thanks for allowing me to tell your story,

Laura

PS – To learn how Rick got started with Angus cattle, check out Friday’s post. Be sure to catch the August Angus Journal for the rest of the Gurley story.

blackinklaura Visit Website
Born and raised in the Sunshine State, I grew up surrounded by more livestock than people on my family’s working cattle ranch. A willingness to address a crowd and an eagerness to ask questions led to my passion for spreading the word of agriculture. A lover of words, cattle and those who produce them, I couldn't ask for a better job. A Gator grad, blessed by years of learning and Tebow football, I’m a firm believer that people should be honest, lyrics should be moving and tea should be sweet. I love music, my family, my God, and of course writing for CAB.
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