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Photo by Jenn Zeller

Women should empower women

As I sit on an airplane this morning, staring down the wing of a Boeing 757, I'm struck by the thought that someone, at some point, had the idea that we could fly. The Wright brothers, as we all know, did it successfully. And I'm thankful they did.

Their ingenuity gives me hope. I think humans, when left to freely explore their options and imagination, are resilient. And when left to our own devices we typically do good things, not just for ourselves, but for mankind in general, as evidenced by airplanes, for one.

Ranching and farming are also good examples of ingenuity, and the human spirit at work. Yesterday, we set up an automatic feeder for an older horse who can no longer get his nutrients from hay. The company provided some parts for set up, but they didn't work with our facility, so the first words out of my cowboy's mouth were: "This is getting ranch rigged from the start, dear." Frankly, I expected nothing less.

An automatic feeder has a timer and weighs the feed it tosses out at the intervals we set — ingenuity at its finest. And the business is run by a woman.

In ag, as ranching is concerned, I'm fairly certain women don't feel like second-class citizens. In fact, before I ever got to the ranch, I didn't feel like a second-class citizen. I never have. I figured I could do anything I wanted in life.

If anything, ranching has proved that idea to me and has further encouraged me to be even more resilient and use my ingenuity from time to time. Am I thankful to the women that came before me that worked to get us the rights to become citizens, voting privileges, and the right to own land, to name a few? Absolutely. Am I grateful for their sacrifices and fights so that we, as women, can do whatever we choose? Absolutely.

And maybe that is why I have a hard time relating to the women we saw marching the day after our 45th president was inaugurated. Women who ranch or farm are in what most would consider to be a man's world, but we don't feel like that. We feel free to make our own choices, make our own path, be who we want to be, and pursue careers outside of ag, if we choose.

I can't speak for the rest of the women reading this, but I don't appreciate being put down by other women because I don't agree with their ideals — or, more specifically, couldn’t get on board for the march. I’m still not exactly sure what they were marching for, but I’m grateful they’re free to do it.

We don't have to agree to be friends, or even to get along. Frankly, if we'd all take the time to be nice to one another instead of tear down and hurl insults at those who disagree with us, especially women to other women, the world would be a better place.

We, the free, strong, independent and resourceful men and women of America, could use our imagination and ingenuity to find common ground, to work on projects to better the lives of those around us, and work together like we do on ranches and farms across America. We might just come up with something even better than flight.

Editor’s note: Zeller is a South Dakota cattle rancher who raises Angus, Brangus and Quarter Horses with her husband and his family. Contact Zeller at