Martha Skelley on Recovering from Workaholism in Ranching

If you’ve ever had to rush through evening chores, change your smelly boots, and make it to town in time for a date, this podcast will feel very relevant to you. Martha Skelley, Farm and Livestock Manager at Paicines Ranch sits down to talk about her “fast-tracked” path into agriculture, the general culture of workaholism she has noticed and embodied during her career, and the reality check of wanting more out of life (Ahem… Romance? Hobbies? Kids?) after being laser-focused, and quite successful, in reaching her career goals for the past 12 years.

Find Martha on Instagram.

Music attribution:
Wanderlust by Scott Buckley |

2:47- Martha’s background in ag, Warren Wilson College
4:56- Grew up in Shenandoah family 2 generations removed from agriculture, wasn’t what her parents thought she would be pursuing.
6:07- Wondered how farming worked out West, joining New Agrarian Program at San Juan Ranch while they were in extreme drought
8:50- Working on other farms after San Juan Ranch, came back to work as a foreman, then Alabama, then Paicines Ranch
11:48- Workaholism in agriculture at the expense of hobbies, family, personal life. Do you feel like you’re searching for who you are again now that you have more time off?
15:00- Thought I’d have a family by now. Self-talk has to change that narrative, more delegation, getting out more, making time for enjoying my time.
15:53- Do you value your manager role and the flexibility of not owning the business?
17:40- Advocating for time off, boundaries on a ranch, balancing your work with enjoyment
22:10- Can many employers offer the benefits of time off/good pay?
23:30- How long does it take to reach competency for a ranch management role? Martha talks about her “accelerated role” and the pitfalls of that.
24:42- Take it slow, have a social life, have fun, meet people along the way.
26:30- Getting to the age when amenities, time off, work/life balance matters.
28:04- How to make space and time for relationships and friends
31:15- Finding community in rural places
34:15- Dating, finding friends while ranching
39:55- Is regenerative ranching working for anyone? Is it a viable path with benefits and balance?
47:00- What keeps you inspired? Relationships.
51:00- Privilege in ranching, unjust food system, wants to spend more time feeding people
53:32- Job descriptions! Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition Director Position.

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