I wake up every morning trying to be of service. It starts simply enough. I stay in bed an extra half hour so that our cat will go outside with my husband to join him in his work out. If I get up, she starts following me around, and he doesn’t have that special time with her. Sounds silly, but sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference.
While I’m waiting to get out of bed, I check what’s happening at On Pasture on my iPad. I see what you’re reading that day, and I surf a few websites searching for information that will be valuable to you. Then I’m up and at ’em. I kiss my husband goodbye, I check for the neighborhood stray cat, and feed him if he shows up, and then head to my computer. I work there most of the day, writing articles, searching for potential articles, and coordinating with Rachel on authors, sponsors, advertising, and comments from readers. I have a spreadsheet with all the past and future articles that helps me track where we are and what we need. If it’s a Monday, I work on the content for the email that goes out to all the folks that have asked to be on that list so that they know what the Tuesday morning articles are. (Want to be on that list? Sign up below!)
On Pasture is a small outfit. It’s just Rachel and me with the support of a whole variety of other authors. That means I’ve written about 650 of the 1,114 articles we’ve published, and edited most of the rest. I do it because it’s my way of being of service to my community. I’ve been polishing my writing and translating skills in a variety of jobs for the last 30 years, and now I’m using all that to help you be more sustainable and profitable.
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t trying to be of service. One of my first near misses with being reprimanded at work was when I was trying to be of service by helping get grant funding for a crosswalk light to be installed at the elementary school in Kodiak, Alaska. I worked at the Police Department at the time, and the City Manager almost cited me for using the city copier to make flyers reminding my fellow employees to send letters of support. He said it was “unorthodox” but effective, since we got the funding, the light was installed, and kids were safer going to school.
Since 1989, I’ve done one big service project about every 5 years. First I was one of two head volunteers creating Kokopelli’s Trail, a 150 mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah. Grand Junction was in an economic downturn, and the trail was a way to bring more tourism to the region. Now, it’s a pretty big name in the mountain biking community. Next it was the Unaweep/Tabeguache Scenic and History Byway, inviting visitors to small towns that needed more revenue. The Storm King Fourteen Memorial Trail picked me. I was the public information officer on duty when a fire in Glenwood Springs blew up and killed 14 firefighters. I spent the following year working with the community and the families as the lead for building a memorial trail and the person doing all the interpretive signing. My experience with that turned into a 7-year project on the best practices for building firebreaks with goats to ensure safe zones for firefighters trying to protect homes from wildland fires. As I worked on that project, I learned a lot about how animals choose what to eat, which provided the foundation for my work to create a method for teaching cows to eat weeds. I figured farmers and ranchers needed an alternative to expensive weed control, and grazing weeds is cheap and easy. It hasn’t been a very lucrative project for me, but I think that it’s starting to catch on and make a real difference in people’s lives.
Somewhere in there I fit in several years of running a semester-long course for 6th graders to teach them about how to be safe in the outdoors, complete with a 2 night camping trip with all 50 kids. It was inspired by the death of a young boy who got lost in the woods. And there was also “Tehabi,” a summer internship program to assist students interested in working for natural resource management agencies.
It’s not like I’m some Mother Teresa, because I’m definitely not. Generally I do what I do because I see a need, or a problem, and I have a skill or a novel solution that I think will make things better for others. It’s usually fun for me. I like trying out new things, solving problems and stretching and building skills.
For each project I usually have an idea of how I will make some kind of income so that I can survive while doing good. A lot of the projects above were done while I was working at the Bureau of Land Management, so I had a salary. Teaching cows to eat weeds has provided support from grants, and projects, and now from presentations, books and DVDs. But On Pasture? Well, making a living doing online publishing is hard. We’re working in a niche where readers don’t really need a lot of products or services, so advertising revenues are low. Then, we’re all used to getting everything for free on the Internet, and so support doesn’t really pour in, even during fund drives. For the last 3 years I’ve made about $3,000 per year.
Rachel and I are still working on how to improve that figure for each of us. But one thing I know for sure, I HATE asking for money. Our twice-a-year fund drives are really freaking painful. But I have to do something if I want On Pasture to continue. So this painful thing? I guess it’s part of being of service.
So that’s who I am and what I do in the equation that makes up On Pasture. I just thought you might like to know who and what you’re supporting when you send in your dollars. And if you have questions, suggestions and things you need me to write about, let me know. Every little bit helps!