New Agrarian Voices

Learn about the impressions and experiences of each year's cohort of apprentices in their own words.





Lucy Zignego, APPRENTICE, Western States Ranches

April 2023

Dear Mom,

It’s hard to believe I’ve been here almost 2 months already! Days go slowly but the weeks fly by. When I arrived at Western States Ranches in early March, I was thoroughly overwhelmed. It’s safe to say not much has changed in that regard since then. I’ve become more aware of my surroundings surely, but no less in awe. There are innumerable moving pieces, complex systems everywhere, too many cows to count, extensive (and expensive!) infrastructure, all covering a vast and diverse landscape. I’ve spent not a little of my time here laughing at a past version of myself, and crying for her, for having thought that she was running away to a life where simplicity would be achieved by default, as if God were some sort of vending machine; pop in your hard work and out rolls fulfillment, peace and developed skill, right? Shoot, I was wrong. I’d been confusing management with control; there is a difference and that difference is everything. Arguably, no one can control a mob of heifers, but there is much to admire in someone who has learned to manage them well. Not a day goes by that I don’t have the opportunity to learn to fail gracefully and rise humbly. By the end of my apprenticeship, I hope I’ll have learned to suffer as joyfully as a three-legged dog. How are they so joyful?! I think that maybe they’re more acutely aware of the things that we so often take for granted, like sunshine and fresh air and good water and breathing. There’s another thing for me to strive towards: nurturing awareness, contentment, and gratitude simultaneously. Right now, that feels like a lot, but I’m confident that in the end, managing the complexity (of self, time and land) will achieve the simplicity I yearn for. 

That’s all for now!

Your Lucy 

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