Personal Stories of America at Work

Category Archives: Agriculture

How a Rancher’s Persistence Built a Bit of Paradise in the Shadow of Yellowstone

Montana Rancher Alvin Pierce shares a bit of his working life as the real horses whisperer

“A lot of horse training is about training the owner.”

Growing up with cattle and horses

I don’t believe there’s any particular talent to training horses. The main requirement is desire and determination. You have to be willing to work with them every day for thirty to sixty days, even when it’s thirty or forty below. It’s kind of like working with a child. If you let them do anything they want, they’ll be spoiled. If you work with them daily and set limits, they won’t be spoiled.

I knew from a young age that I wanted to have a ranch and work with animals. My grandfather had a cattle ranch north of Chico about five miles from where I am now in Paradise Valley. I grew up nearby and spent summers on the ranch. In his spare time, my dad trained horses, and that’s how I got my start with horse training. I started training my family’s horses in my early teens and loved it.

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molly | June 14, 2011 | Agriculture, Small business | 2

A New Crop of Farmer

Organic farmer David Retsky stays down to earth and harvests success despite setbacks

"Half of farming is just getting out of bed in the morning."

“With his day-old stubble, warm eyes, and broad smile, it’s no surprise to find David’s face adorning billboards in Whole Foods markets in the San Francisco Bay Area. But David is not just another pretty face, he’s an enterprising independent grower who supplies supermarkets, restaurants, and farmers markets with organic vegetables and specialty herbs from his Petaluma, Calif., farm, County Line Harvest. David’s back-to-the-earth lifestyle is a radical departure from his comfortable upbringing in trendy Beverly Hills. This thirty-eight-year-old single dad is part of a new generation of farmers who are young, hip, and about as far away from the pitchfork-in-hand ‘American Gothic’ stereotype as you can imagine.”

-Chronicler Vicki Larson

Rejecting a surface life

I grew up in Beverly Hills, though my family was not part of the super-wealthy crowd. It wasn’t a place that offered many role models of people working their way up a career ladder, or people who seemed to feel really good about their endeavors. I felt a general lack substance and purpose there, no sense of being connected to something bigger. It was a surface life.

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laura | November 30, 2010 | Agriculture, Entrepreneurs, Small business | 2

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