Friday, July 12, 2024
HomeNotes From KathyLife is Short. Where Are You Headed?

Life is Short. Where Are You Headed?

Nobody ever had to tell me life was short. Since the beginning, I’ve been living it like a house on fire getting everything I can out of it before ashes become ashes and dust is dust.

I read book after book as a kid and did all the extra credit possible. I finished college in three years, while holding down two jobs. Parties, drugs, alcohol? No time for that. My money went to trips to the Soviet Union, Canyon Country, and Mexico. After a year off, I headed to graduate school, finishing in a year – because life is short and there are things to do and people to see.

A friend asked me to move to Houston with the promise of scuba diving lessons if I’d come. I become an underwater boat hull cleaner when not at my day job – beta testing the first PC clones during the day and in the evening troubleshooting software for using sound waves to locate rock formations that might hold oil.

Kodiak Harbor, Kodiak, AK

I moved to Kodiak, AK when a friend said, “It’s just like Hawaii without the palm trees” which it was, but with horizontal, wind-driven rain and snow too. I worked for the Kodiak Police Department and I was a dancer and stage hand in Kodiak’s annual production of Cry of the Wild Ram at the outdoor theater. It only rained on us once that August. Still, the show went on.

It was all part of seeing and doing and having as many experiences in as many places as possible. And all the while I was trying to make a difference where ever I was – walk-a-thons for hunger, clean up after floods with Mennonite Disaster Service, lobbying for signatures on a petition to put up a crossing light to protect school kids in Kodiak.

Later, as a volunteer for the Bureau of Land Management, I co-led an effort to build a 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah. Then, when the BLM hired me, I created an outdoor education program to help kids develop skills to be safe in the outdoors and ran “Backyard Briefings” so the local community could enjoy hikes to special places and be a larger part of management decisions. I was the interpreter for the Storm King Memorial Trail, focusing on remembering the fallen and providing lessons to prevent future firefighter deaths. My idea of a cure for the resulting PTSD was 1) preventing future tragedies through research on how to use goats to create firebreaks to protect firefighters and homes, and 2) an internship program to develop the land managers of tomorrow.

Next came inventing a method for teaching cows (and other livestock) to eat weeds. And that led to On Pasture –both were efforts to improve the lives and landscapes of folks raising livestock.

That’s a lot of activity packed into the years, and though it might seem a little directionless at times, there are some over-arching themes: learn, try new things, see new places, and make a difference.

Still, as I review it all, I’d like the next 20 years to be a little more intentional. So, I’m thinking about what I want out of my life and my work, and how I might get there. And, to make it easier, I’m going to participate in Jenn Colby’s upcoming, free, online workshop “Creating a Vision for Your Farm or Ranch.”

It’s never too early or too late to create the life of your dreams. Join me!

Thanks for reading!


Click here for all articles in our series on goal setting and how it has helped graziers improve their lives and operations. We’ve made many of them free because this is so important to your success.

On Pasture’s New Year’s Resolution is to help you develop a business vision and goals that ensure a happy, healthy life, and a grazing operation that gets you there. The first step is creating a vision and goals. In future articles we’ll be looking at grazing planning (with your goals in mind) including how to use a grazing chart to stay on track. Stay tuned!

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Kathy Voth
Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.


  1. Thanks Kathy for always striving to improve the environment and the lives of others. Even the ones that “don’t get it”. GW

  2. It seems to me that you have lived about three or four lifetimes already. I’m so tired reading about all these activities that I’m going to take a nap.

    My dream for the next year is completing our plan to have our farm approved/adopted as a trust, or conservation easement, with the help of biologists. I would like to have the agricultural fields improved as much as possible in connection with lessee.

    We would like this piece of land to maintain its high environmental values while maintaining and achieving the agricultural potention of the fields.

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