Raised at his family's ranch in Kremmling, Colorado, Caitlyn Taussig watched his mother do all the cooking and housework even while helping to graze her livestock and horses. Today, Taussig, 32, helps manage the ranch with a group of cowgirls, including his mother and sister. They rely only on men on the days when they have to label Angus Cross cattle.
"We almost treated each other differently," Taussig said shortly after a cow kicked a gate that opened its forehead. He got six points and went back to work that afternoon. "There is less ego."
Against immense blue skies and craggy prairies, breeders have found the same independence and adventure that has attracted their male antecedents, but are also creating a new path. Women are leading the trend of sustainable farming and breeding grass-fed cattle in human and ecological ways.
On the west bank of the Missouri River in central-northern South Dakota, Kelsey Ducheneaux, 25, raises a sustainability beef on earth that generations of the nation of Lakota have worked .
"We believe that we can only be sovereigns as a nation as we are in our food systems," he said.
For Native Americans, the concept of women working in the family ranch is not revolutionary, but a return to the natural order. Ducheneaux attended South Dakota State University and planned to work on the 7500 acres (3120 ha) of tribal leased land he had grown up on, but it was only after his grandmother's death that he understood the importance of the role of women on the ranch.
"It was the real rock of the family," he said. "Here are the Lakota families, we are a matriarchal society, we have always been."
Beth Robinette, 31, is the fourth generation owner and manager of the Lazy R Ranch in Cheney, Washington. He directs the New Cowgirl Camp, a five-day course that trains women in animal husbandry, ranch management, financial planning, ecological monitoring and regenerating pasture. Robinette backs into the flashy, country-pop version of the overly feminized cowgirl and calls her program a "rhinestone-free zone".
"Our current generation of land managers is aging out of that role," he said. "You could consider it a disaster, or you could really consider it an opportunity to change the paradigm."
Cory Carman, 39, thought he would spend only one summer working in his family's ranch in Wallowa, Oregon, but he turned his parents' prairie into a local grass-fed beef supplier.
"I had a certain period of feeling a little angry about the challenges of not being taken seriously," said Carman, a Stanford graduate. "The number of times I've entered a meeting and people are like," You do not look like a breeder ".
But the same judgment also proved to be liberating, given that breeders like Carman redefined the work.
"If I do not look like a breeder," he said, "I do not have to behave like I once did, right?"
This review of a role that for so long has lain in the American imaginary of large – and masculine – is not without conflict
. When Amy Eller, 33, assumed for the first time an important role in her family's ranch after her brother had less interest, she clashed with her father on how to treat cattle.
"It's like," Oh, you're wasting your time putting that hay in there. "And I'm thinking, soothes them," he said of a recent conversation with his father.
Today three generations of Eller women work on the ranch. When her young daughter, Wendy, was a child, Eller would have tied the seat of a car to a tractor and brought her to feed the cows.
Maybe it's because women can finally feel the freedom of the American West in a way that men have long romanticized, but Eller said that c & # 39; it was something different, even spiritual, about women working together on earth.
"If the tractor breaks, I'm kind," Oh, I'm grateful that my father is here. "But when it comes to working every day, like feeding the cows, I'd much rather go with my mom, because we can really enjoy ourselves, "he said. "We'll both say," Oh, is not it beautiful here today? "We've noticed how beautiful it is when the sun is shining on the snow."
New York Times