From The Mat to The Ranch

I am a yoga instructor who follows and teaches Sri Sri Yoga, an authentic Indian yoga similar to Hatha or Ashtanga yoga. The journey yoga has taken me on has been transformational physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I’m a better Christian than I ever have been in that I seek to be Christ-like in all that I do. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint. I falter constantly, yet I find that yoga provides me the moments of stillness and a calm mind to forgive myself for being human. I find myself able to thank God each day for the beauty I see around me while accepting the parts of life that aren’t so beautiful.

Because of yoga, my mental strength has increased. I can get more things done during my day with a clearer mind. I am able to make decisions for my life as a result of having better focus. Yes, some of those decisions aren’t always the best, like eating many Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups Halloween night, but I’m able to own my mistakes and balance them out instead of not even being aware that I just ate 5 peanut butter cups within a minute. Oh, it’s easy to do! Trust me.

Physically, I continue to strengthen through yoga. I don’t get as tired during the normal workday as I used to, and I am physically more fit. There are still many challenges I’d like to conquer through yoga, but I feel better and sleep better.

Taking Pictures of Cows

Yoga plays such an important part of my life that I found it mind-blowing to be offered a job at a cattle ranch an hour from my home. The ranch I work at focuses on breeding genetically superior cattle to sell to other ranches around the country to strengthen other’s herds. Prior to visiting the ranch at my husband’s insistence to take pictures of the beautiful cattle, I didn’t even know that was a thing.

As one would imagine, a lot goes into raising genetically superior cattle. During my visit to the ranch, I came to learn that they had a need for a writer/photographer/web designer. Who knew they needed one? I sure didn’t know that.

I Wanna Be a Rock Star

My morning out with my husband turned into a job offer. A week later, during my first few hours on the job, the CFO asked me what I would like my title to be, so I blurted out “Rock Star.” It was one of those moments where my thoughts flew out of my mouth before I could stop them. Why did I say that? I internally grimaced.

Instead of Rock Star, she gave me the title of marketing director, which I felt very blessed to be given. Honestly, I was sitting in the chair across from her thinking, what just happened here? 

Thank goodness for those yogic breaths to help keep me calm. 

It might sound super important to be in charge of the company’s multiple websites, advertising campaigns, and oh did I mention photography, yet I am one of the least important members on the ranch in creating genetically superior cattle and maintaining an environment for them to thrive in.

I totally understand that I play a very minor role in the ranch and their other businesses which include golf courses, sports clubs, a restaurant. Yep, it’s not just about a bunch of cattle.

Out of My Comfort Zone

Here I find myself completely out of my comfort zone, a creative person, surrounded by accountants, cowboys, and an ex-senator (Did I mention the owner was a US senator?). So, after starting work at a ranch, knowing nothing about cattle, I rolled up my sleeves and began asking, “OK, how can I help?”

My office is actually at the ranch, down a curvy country road in rolling Carolina hills. My desk sits in one of the rooms in one of the several buildings on the ranch. There aren’t any windows from my desk, but the view I see as I drive in is beautiful. As I drive past the open gates of the ranch, the cattle are often lined up on either side of the road, waiting to be fed.

There are baby calves, mama heifers, and really really big bulls who occasionally lock eyes with me as I slowly drive past them with my windows down. Several will moo.

The Good Life

Before I go into my office space, I park my car in the lot, and grab my Nikon and walk the ¼ mile stretch to the front gate, stopping to talk to the bulls, heifers, and babies. It took a few months, but now the bulls will often let me scratch them on their heads. Occasionally, I’ll get to pat their sides.

The cattle are free to roam over the acres upon acres of land. The tree line is purposefully a good distance from the trough where they get their food to facilitate their need for exercise as they like to hang out amongst the trees. A brook runs through the property to help them cool off when the weather’s heat becomes high. They have well-fed water stations and mineral stations that they use while grazing the land in between their feeds.

Overall, the cattle are docile and happy. I say overall because I have seen that bulls can be, well, rather bull-ish, and mama heifers can be very protective of their babies.

I thought I’d spend the next few weeks taking you along with me and showing you what it’s like to work at a cattle ranch, like the time I found myself covered in cow poop, or the time I was charged by a bull, or the time a found myself surrounded by 20 young heifers, literally surrounded… There are cowboys and there are Cow Belle’s. After 6 months of wonderment, I’d like to share with you what it’s like to be a Yoga Instructor/Cow Belle. 

Here are some pictures I’ve taken during my morning and lunchtime walks. Join me next time when I’ll share with you the joys of being a Cow Belle on a ranch down a country road.