Life is full of decisions. We make hundreds of decisions each day. Most of them are so small, though, that we don't even realize we're deciding. A great many of the rest are mundane decisions, like which flavor creamer to put in your morning coffee. We realize we're deciding, but the impact of the decision is insignificant, so the decision itself is unremarkable. Instead, we tend to remember the life-changing decisions.
But we are the sum of all our choices, big and small. Do you ever stop for a moment and find yourself wondering, how did I end up in this place at this time? And then proceed to backtrack through all of the decisions you made along the way to get to that point in time?
I did a lot of backtracking last week after I found myself standing in cowboy boots in one of the endless pastures of The Pioneer Woman's ranch in Pawhuska, Okla.
It really all started with a decision to attend a meeting. A couple years ago, Glen and I made a point to attend the Land O'Lakes fall meeting for our region. At the meeting's lunch, we were asked to sit with Susan, our cooperative's new director of member relations. It turned out that we have children the same age and we chatted at length about parenting, dairy farming and my blog.
Two days later, Susan was in a meeting with some folks from the marketing department who were looking for a dairy farmer who blogged. Remembering our lunch conversation, Susan said, "I know someone."
A couple weeks later, I got a call from the marketing department. They asked if I would be interested in writing a few posts for the Land O'Lakes blog and participating in their Kitchen Conversations program. The program, they explained, included a couple of events; the other participants were food bloggers, including Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.
This is now my third year of participation in the Land O'Lakes Kitchen Conversations program. Last year, the bloggers visited our farm and Land O'Lakes headquarters. This year, we all traveled to Oklahoma to visit Ree's ranch.
I had never been to Oklahoma and I had never been to ranch country, so I was fascinated by the state's agriculture. Just about everywhere we looked, there were little oil pumps randomly located inside the pastures. The pastures were huge and the six-strand barbed wire fences were pulled so tight you could have strummed them like a guitar. And they had cattle crossings instead of gates.
I had seen pictures of Ree's lodge and ranch before the trip on her blog, but it was really cool to see them in person. We stayed in the guest rooms at the lodge and we got to see the kitchen where she films her television show. We got to meet Charlie and Walter, the dogs she writes her children's books about. We visited the historical building in town that Ree's family is renovating into a mercantile and deli.
Ree also showed us around the ranch - in addition to their cattle, they provide pasture space for wild horses. As we were leaving the last day, we got a brief glimpse of the family working the cattle together.
The landscape in Oklahoma is so open, but not as flat as I had imagined. The lodge is located on the side of a ridge and our picnic in the pasture was situated on the edge of a ridge; up there you could see for what seemed like hundreds of miles.
Everything about the trip was awesome. And as I stood there in the Drummonds' pasture that last evening, all I could think about was how lucky I was to be in this place at this time.
What if Glen and I hadn't attended that fall meeting? What if I hadn't said yes when the Dairy Star asked me to consider writing a blog? What if we had said no when our Land O'Lakes field rep asked us to attend our first cooperative event? What if Glen and I had said no when my dad offered us an opportunity to try dairy farming? What if I had chosen a different college? Would I have met Glen? Would I be dairy farming and blogging? Would I be a Land O'Lakes member-owner?
Ending up in Oklahoma was the result of too many decisions to count. But it's pretty neat to look back down the road my life has taken and look at all the intersections. One decision can change the direction.