Riding across a Texas ranch taught me that to love land is to protect it

Our office manager Ashley Boyd talks about how ranch life taught her that to love and respect the land is to protect it.

Ashley riding the family ranch as a kid.

As a kid of 6 or 7, I went to my uncle’s ranch in West Texas and rode horses for days. Not in circles, mind you, but across the landscape. We camped at night, and spent the days checking watering holes to make sure the cattle had plenty to drink.  

I went back to that ranch often, and each time, I felt quieted, in the moment, and grounded in the land and everything that lived because of it.

Taking a wrong turn

Years later, as a teenager with a fresh driver’s license, I drove alone to the ranch and found myself caught in 18-wheeler byway rather than the quiet road we used to drive on for hours without seeing a car.

When I took the turn toward the ranch house, I saw a wall of white tanks and an array of white pipes rather than the hilly rise to the mountain. I thought I had taken a wrong turn, but no—Big Oil had made its way to the ranch.

Protect what nourishes life

All of us probably remember a place like that—a river, a field, a favorite tree, a vast mountain range that we barely enter but always feel grateful to see, spellbinding plains and deserts, a place that gives us our sense of purpose, our roots, the quietude we need.

Pasta and more pasta!
Ashley making pasta with Vicki last December.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is that kind of place.

The Gwich’in Peoples of Alaska and Canada consider the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge sacred. They call it the place where life begins. The Porcupine caribou herd that the Gwich’in rely on for food, culture and their way of life have thrived because of the haven and refuge those sacred lands provide. Millions and millions of birds, fish, and marine and terrestrial animals rely on that place for their health and survival.  

Long before my ranching family came to this country looking for a home, Indigenous Peoples relied on and cared for these lands. I stand with the Gwich’in now to protect the Arctic Refuge.

We have already lost so many places that nourish life. I hope you will join me in protecting this one