It’s sometimes amazing to think about how life turns out. Sometimes things go exactly the way you picture, and other times, life takes you on a crazy journey that you never saw coming. Both routes describe life for today’s guest.
Danielle Rodgers grew up on Babbitt Ranches and never envisioned leaving. She also never envisioned she would be a business owner, but that is one of many hats she wears. Today, Danielle and her husband, Clay, are raising their four children on the vast Arizona ranch. Danielle also co-owns Cowhorse Gallery, where she sells the artwork of popular cowboy artists Bill Owen and Mikel Donahue. As a ranch wife, mom, homeschool teacher and business owner, Danielle has a lot on her plate. Regardless, Danielle says she is “living the dream.”
In today’s episode, Danielle shares about her life on the Babbitt Ranch, discusses the start of Cowhorse Gallery and talks about how she balances her various roles. I can’t wait for you to hear Danielle’s story.
Episode 10 Transcript
This transcript has been edited for clarity
Jessie: Hey, Trailblazers. It’s Jessie. Welcome to another episode of Trailblazing in Agriculture, a podcast for anyone interested in hearing the stories of the agriculture industry’s pioneers and innovators. Today’s guest is Danielle Rodgers.
Danielle grew up on the Babbitt Ranch. Comprised of more than 700,000 acres, the Babbitt Ranch is the second largest ranch in Arizona. Danielle’s dad and granddad both managed the ranch, so she grew up helping and working on the extensive operation. Today, Danielle’s husband, Clay, is the ranch manager, and together they are raising their four children on the ranch. In addition to being a wife, mom and homeschool teacher, Danielle is co-owner of the Cowhorse Gallery, which features the artwork of cowboy artists Bill Owen and Mikel Donahue.
In today’s episode, Danielle shares about her life on the Babbitt Ranch, discusses the start of Cowhorse Gallery and talks about how she balances her various roles. I can’t wait for you to hear Danielle’s story.
Welcome to the podcast, Danielle. Thanks so much for taking time to visit with me today.
Danielle: Thanks so much for having me.
Jessie: As we get started, Danielle, would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Danielle: I’m 33 years old. I’m the youngest daughter of Vic and Jamie Howell. My dad ran Babbitt Ranches for 30-plus years, so I was born and raised at Babbitts. I got married right out of high school to my husband, Clay, and we’ve been married for 15 years and have four kids.
Jessie: For those unfamiliar with Babbitt Ranch, can you tell us a little bit about the operation?
Danielle: Babbitt Ranch is located in northern Arizona. It’s the second largest cattle ranch in Arizona. It’s about 750,000 acres, so it’s a large cattle ranch. On a normal year, when we’re not in a drought, we run 4,500 cows. We also have a horse prep program and sell colts to the public. The Babbitt Ranch colt sale is always the second Saturday of July.
Jessie: So you just recently hosted the 2021 Colt Sale?
Danielle: Yes. It would have been about two weeks ago that we finished that. It was the first year to do it without my dad.
Jessie: Your dad was really involved with Babbitt Ranches, right?
Danielle: Right. He was the ranch manager for 35 years. My husband has always worked for my dad.
Jessie: How was the colt sale this year? I know it was obviously different without your dad there and with the drought. How did it compare to previous years?
Danielle: It went really good. The colts were very high selling this year; the highest average that we’ve ever had. So the whole sale went great. But yeah, we’re in a drought. That doesn’t really affect the colt sale as much as the cattle side of Babbitts.
Jessie: For the colt sale, do you welcome a lot of people to the ranch from across the country?
Danielle: People come from all over the country. We had probably around 350 people here at the colt sale this year.
Jessie: How long has the colt sale or selling the horses been part of the ranch?
Danielle: My grandpa started doing the colt sale, but it was a little bit different. It was called the “colt branding.” A few people would come out, they would brand the colts and some people had interest in buying Babbitt horses, so they started it where they would put their names in a hat and draw them out. It started like that and then it kind of evolved into a big horse program. We had it for a long time on the other side of the ranch and now it’s over here at headquarters.
Jessie: To hear how it evolved from putting names in a hat and drawing them out, and even for you seeing how the colt sale has evolved, I bet has been kind of a fun experience for you, too.
Danielle: Yeah, it’s super fun. I love having the colt sale. Last year we weren’t able to have it because of COVID-19, and we were bummed, so it was exciting to be able to have it again this year.
Jessie: What happened with the colts last year, Danielle?
Danielle: We sell the colts as babies and then they get turned back out with their with the mares until the next March. Then the people will come and pick them up that next March. Because of COVID-19, we kept them until March, halter broke them and then just private treaty sold them.
Jessie: Do you normally private treaty sell colts on a normal year?
Danielle: We don’t really ever do it that way. We always just sell the colts at the sale. That’s kind of when you can get a Babbitt colt, so it was very different to sell them private treaty, one by one, this year.
Jessie: And I’m sure like all of us are feeling, it was nice to have the sale back for you, just to have that sense of normalcy for you and the operation for sure.
Danielle: Yeah, that was super nice and we just enjoy the colt sale. We’ve done it like that since I was a kid, so to get that kind of taken away, you realize how much you really enjoy it and appreciate doing stuff like that.
Jessie: I want to backtrack just a little bit. You told us a little bit about Babbitt Ranch and that your dad managed it for 34 years, and it sounds like your grandpa managed it before that. What is some of the history? How long has that ranch been around, Danielle, and how did it get started?
Danielle: Five brothers came down from Cincinnati and bought Babbitts and started the ranch, so it’s been in the same family for 135 years. That’s kind of a cool thing. My dad managed it for 30-plus years and my grandpa managed it before him, so it’s kind of been in our family as far as the management side for quite some time.
Jessie: How did your grandpa get connected with that, Danielle?
Danielle: He lived up north and came down here with his wife and family, looking for a job. He saw some signs in Flagstaff and some people told him that he oughta come out and check it out. So he came out here and talked to Frank Banks, who was managing it at the time. He talked to Frank’s wife and she said that they were camped somewhere else and gave him directions how to get up there. She actually gave him a couple shirts to take to Frank because they had been out so long.
My grandpa went up there and asked Frank if he had anything, and Frank told him that he didn’t. So my grandpa left, got back to his car and remembered that he needed to take Frank his shirts. He walked back up there to give him the shirts, and Frank had asked him if he could start some broncs. That’s what my grandpa had done up north, so he told him, “Yeah, that’s what I did up north.” So Frank gave him a job to start broncs, and he did that. After that, he took the Redlands camp. So yeah, that’s how that started.
Jessie: It’s a very large operation. You talked a little bit about that. You’re at headquarters, but how is the ranch set up? Are there different locations?
Danielle: Here at headquarters, there are a few different families that live here. This is where I was raised. Then there are different camps on the ranch. There’s a camp five miles from here, and that’s where Clay was raised as a kid. Then you can go to the west and there’s a camp about 25 minutes from here and another one further out. Then there’s the other side of the ranch, which we call the Cataract. It’s two hours from here, and there’s four different camps on that side of the ranch.
Jessie: When you say camps, can you tell me what that means?
Danielle: A camp is basically your house, your barn and that type of thing. Each camp doesn’t necessarily have a married family there; some of them do and some of them don’t. We have quite a few less people working here right now. Because of the drought, our numbers are down so much.
Jessie: On a normal year, Danielle, how many people does it take to run the operation? How many workers are there running the cows and the horses?
Danielle: On a normal year, there’s probably, I’m just gonna guess eight to 10 different cowboys that work here.
Jessie: And then they’re stationed at all those different camps, right?
Danielle: Yeah. Each cowboy will have his own country that he takes care of. When you have the 750,000 acres, each cowboy will have maybe three to four, maybe even five different pastures that he takes care of. He takes care of the water and the cows and all of that. That’s what Clay did for a long time. We lived on the other side of the ranch on the Espee camp, and he took care of that country. Now he doesn’t really have his own country. He’s more like my dad was. He manages the ranch and then the cowboys take care of the cows in the country.
Jessie: It’s really neat that you and Clay both grew up on the ranch. Growing up on Babbitt Ranch, can you talk a little bit about what that was like Danielle?
Danielle: It was great. There wasn’t a day that I was like, “I wished I lived in town.” Lots of memories get made when you are a kid and you get to work with your dad or work with your granddad, so that’s super cool. To be able to do that, even on the days that I didn’t want to go and Dad would make us go. Because we lived on the ranch, I was able to have experiences that a lot of kids don’t have, and maybe I could say some people dream of having this lifestyle, so it’s such a blessing to be able to have that. I also got to rodeo and ride amazing horses.
Jessie: When you were working on the ranch and helping, what were some of the things that you would do?
Danielle: We worked with the crew guys. We’d get up in the morning, go to breakfast, gather the pasture, trail the cows or brand the calves, wean, sort. I mean, we did all the stuff, just with the guys, which was kind of different. Because, you know, things have changed now to where women go more, but on these big outfits, it isn’t always looked highly upon for the girls to be going and Dad didn’t care. He took all three of us girls, so we got to learn that occupation.
Jessie: I think that’s neat. I grew up in that same way. I tagged along with my dad and my brothers on the farm and doing stuff with our cattle. And the lessons that you get to learn and the memories that you get to make, I wouldn’t change it for anything. And it sounds like it’s very similar for you too.
Danielle: For sure. Yeah, it’s just really an ideal place to live and lifestyle to have.
Jessie: And now you’re getting to raise your kids there, too. How is that? Is that kind of fun and special for you and Clay to do that as well?
Danielle: It’s so cool. I was just thinking about this the other day when Elizabeth came home with some stories and I can relate to her stories because I know the pastures, I know the cows, I know the stuff.
Jessie: I assume then that they get to tag along with their dad?
Danielle: Right. Thomas and Elizabeth, the older two, Thomas is 14 and Elizabeth is 12, during spring work this year, they went every day, just like us kids did. Then Benjamin is 9 and Matthew is 8, they kind of trade it out every other day. Today, they’re with Clay gathering a pasture and moving across the highway. So yeah, they go a lot. Elizabeth enjoys it more than I did. She is a cowgirl. And of course the boys love it. Because I mean, that’s all Thomas wants to do. He would rather just quit school and just start going now. So yeah, it’s great. They go a lot.
Jessie: What is school look like then for the kids? Do you homeschool? How far are you from town? Or what does that look like?
Danielle: Right now, we’re living 45 minutes from town, so it’s really not that bad. A bus comes out here and they could go to school. We choose not to send them to public school. When we lived on the Espee side, we were two hours from town, so I had to home school. Once we came over here, I kind of had thoughts that maybe we would send them to school. But Clay definitely has a strong opinion of homeschooling, so that’s what we do.
The kids get to go during the spring work because we try to have our school year done the end of April. We don’t necessarily take a spring break and fall break and barely even a Christmas break. We just tried to push right through school, get them into April so that they can go all spring. That’s kind of our goal and seems like how it works best for our family.
The fall kind of is tricky, because Thomas wants to go on the fall works, and I kind of want him to do school. So we’re trying a new thing this year where we actually kind of started school this week, just a small amount to try to see if we can kind of get ahead. Then maybe he could go for a couple of weeks during the fall. We haven’t ever done it quite like this until this year, so we’ll see how it works. But just planning homeschool kind of around your lifestyle to where the kids can go and enjoy what they enjoy the most but still be getting their school done.
Jessie: What’s it like being both mom and teacher homeschooling your kids?
Danielle: I’ll be completely honest. That’s kind of hard. I don’t love necessarily homeschooling. I love what you get from homeschooling, but I don’t love being the teacher. I wasn’t a fan of school when I was in high school, so it’s not my dream job. But we like it because, well, we don’t care for the sin of the world getting crammed down our kids’ throats. And we like it because we want to be able to pick our Bible-based curriculum and have that kind of an impact on our kids. We teach a certain curriculum where you are going through the Bible every year, and we really want our kids to know the Bible and so that works really well. But as far as being the mom and teacher, it can be hard.
Jessie: Yeah, I can imagine. I have complete respect for the for moms, like you, who homeschool their kids and have to play both roles. Like you said, it’s kind of nice, because you have some of that control over the things that you get to teach them and to instill in them. And that time together I bet is so nice.
Danielle: My mom homeschooled all three of us girls, so I wasn’t scared of homeschooling. Although I knew it wouldn’t be my favorite job to do. But looking back, you really appreciate Mom taking the time to homeschool us girls; there’s so much we appreciate about it. And I’m really thankful that Clay has the job that makes me able to stay home and homeschool the kids. That might not work for everybody, but it does for us. And I am thankful we can do that.
Jessie: My mom always tells a story, because my brothers always wanted her to homeschool us, and she always said, “I could never homeschool because your dad would come and get you, and he would come get you at 8 o’clock in the morning or 6 o’clock, and I wouldn’t see you till 10 o’clock at night and then have to do to school.” So, I’m sure, like you said, with your kids who love to be out, sometimes you have to balance that and it sounds like you’re working on that too.
Danielle: Yeah, it really is such a balance. Sometimes I just want to be like, “You know, I have a job just in homeschooling. Can everybody just leave me alone so that I can teach school?” Because it gets hard when you have the different parts of life pulling at you and you need to go here and do that, and this person needs this and just trying to be like, “No, this is my job. I have to teach these kids school.” And Clay’s really good about making sure that the kids are getting their school done before he’s expecting them to go work. He really is good at letting me say “No, they can’t help,” if that is what needs to happen.
Jessie: That’s great. Sounds like you guys are a great team.
Danielle: Oh, thanks.
Jessie: You said that Clay also grew up on Babbitt Ranch. What was his family’s connection to the ranch? How long have they been connected, Danielle?
Danielle: His dad worked for my grandpa and then worked for my dad. He was cowboy and had the camp five miles from headquarters, so Clay and I really grew up around each other. Clay’s actually eight years older than me, so he was here when I was born. His brother still works here at a camp. His sister left here a couple years ago. She got married and left, but she cooked for the ranch for a long time. And so their family definitely has a lot of ties to the ranch.
Jessie: Do you live around other families on the ranch, Danielle?
Danielle: Here at headquarters there are three different houses. My mom and dad were living in the one and then he passed away, so my mom still lives there. And then the other house actually has my cousin and his wife living there, which has been such a blessing. Super fun. They have a daughter that’s the same age as Elizabeth, so now Elizabeth isn’t the only girl running around with all the boys.
Jessie: Do you have other family working at the ranch besides your cousin and mom?
Danielle: Right now, Clay’s brother is at one of the camps. Clay’s dad and mom are still here, living in that same camp. Clay’s dad is now the water man, so he hauls a lot of the water and does the pipeline and that side of things. My older sister and her husband ran the Cataract side of things at Redlands camp, and they actually moved last year to New Mexico, so that house is empty. We haven’t even filled that camp that they lived in. So right now, there’s not as much family, but for a long time there was just a lot of family here.
Jessie: That’s really fun for you and for your kids just to have that. That closeness to both sides of your family and to be able to do that and raise your kids that way.
Danielle: Yeah, it’s great. I was telling Clay we’re living the dream having family here living on the ranch though. We love you know doing … Clay loves his job, everything about it. So just being able to raise our four kids like this, it really is a wonderful lifestyle.
Jessie: Was it kind of always the dream for you growing up to remain involved in the ranch?
Danielle: Yeah, it’s kind of funny to think about because I never really thought about ever leaving. I just figured this is kind of where I would be. And then for that, like, as an adult, you realize, “Wow, that could have not worked out well.” So to think how God had that plan of me marrying Clay and us being able to stay here and now him turning into the ranch manager, God had that definitely worked out. It’s a super fun thought to think of all the steps that went into this.
Jessie: It’s kind of fun to think about how God orchestrates all of those things before, you know, we even think about it and have to worry about it. It’s just all in his plan.
Danielle: For sure. And I’m always wanting to get stressed out about the little things in life. And I’m just like, “Oh, good grief. I need to just chill out and let God work his plan out.”
Jessie: Yes. And it always works out better when we do that, doesn’t it?
Danielle: Oh, it does. Yeah, because usually our plans aren’t going to really work out anyways. And they always get changed. So, we might as well just chill out about things.
Jessie: As we talk about plans, Danielle, let’s talk about Cowhorse Gallery, how that happened and what that looked like starting your business and if that was part of the plan, or how it came to be.
Danielle: So, it wasn’t part of the plan at all. We had some good friends, Ron and Sharon Burt, and they sold artwork. They would come to the colt sales, set up their little booth and sell artwork. We just kind of got to know him through that. Ron ended up being the auctioneer at the colt sale for a lot of years, and we got to be friends with them. His wife ended up having a stroke, and he needed to take care of her full time. He was out for the colt sale visiting with my mom at the house and mentioned that he wished he could find somebody who could sell some of the prints on the internet. Mom was like, “Oh, wow, you should talk to Dani. She kind of likes to do that kind of stuff.” So he talked to me about it, and honestly, I was a little bit like, “I don’t know that that’s gonna be for me.” Like, I’ll do it to help Ron out, but Clay really pushed me to just try it. So, Ron sent me out about 30 prints, and I got online and sold the 30 prints. I called him back in a couple of weeks, and I was like, “Okay, well, I got those sold. I’ll send you the money.” And he said, “Okay, well, I’ll send you more.” And I was like, More? I didn’t realize you even had more.” So that’s how it started: he was sending me the prints and I was selling them. But I didn’t really realize in the beginning what this was going to turn out to, it just like fell into my lap. And I realized how much I actually enjoy doing this. I enjoy Bill Owen’s artwork. It’s of my family. It’s of the ranch. Even when it’s not the Babbitt Ranch, it’s, you know, the people we know. And so I enjoy it. I really enjoy Bill Owens’ art. And so that’s how it very first started.
Jessie: How has it transition then, from you getting the prints from Ron and then selling them?
Danielle: Ron still sends me different prints. He has all the lithographs, and so he has stacks of lithographs, some he only has two or three left, some he has 101. So, I have all those and he just sends them to me as I need them. But a year and a half ago, now maybe two years ago, Bill’s late wife Valerie, said that she was kind of ready to retire and not sell Bill’s artwork anymore, so I contacted her and asked her if she would let me take over that side for her too. So, I took over Valerie’s side and we went into business. The three of us – Ron, Valerie and myself – decided we wanted to put a website together, so we built that website, and it was just the three of us for a little while. Then Mikel Donahue had been coming out for a few years and starting to paint Babbitt pictures and we kind of started to get to know him, so I asked him if he would want to come on board with us and that’s how we got the two artists Mikel and Bill, and yeah, that’s how the business started.
Jessie: Can you talk a little bit about Bill Owen and his artwork? You said he painted Babbitt Ranches and, you know, other ranchers that you know, but can you talk a little bit about him and Mikel’s work as well?
Danielle: Bill really was just an amazing artist. But he also was an amazing man. He was very kind. He painted a lot here at Babbitts. He would come up and take pictures and go home and paint different things. But he was also a family friend. For me, I just look at Bill’s artwork and it really is just amazing; the detail and how right he would get his art. When you’re a cowboy, and a painter comes out to take pictures and then they paint something and you’re like that never happened or that’s not what it looks like or different things like that, that gets kind of frustrating. But when they come out, and they can, you know, make a painting look so real and so true and accurate, that makes it really fun. Bill is definitely at the top of my list for Western artists. He was just a good guy and did amazing work. Mikel’s work I just felt like the two really went hand in hand, and that’s why I thought of bringing Mikel onto the website. Mikel’s an up-and-coming artist; he joined the Cowboy Artists of America – CAA – CIA, just like Bill had been a part of; and he has really good detail. I enjoy his paintings. I just thought the two of them really fit.
Jessie: Is all the artwork you sell through Cowhorse Gallery originals? Or what does that look like, Danielle?
Danielle: I actually don’t sell any of their originals. I sell numbered, limited edition lithographs or giclees. Once I started with Ron, I really liked the fact that this artwork was in the price that the working cowboy who was out at a camp could actually afford to hang in his house. And if I was selling originals, you know, you sell to a different caliber of people. So, I don’t sell any originals, just the numbered limited editions, which, I mean, that’s what we all have hanging in our houses, so it’s really for the cowboy people, or the people who enjoy the cowboy lifestyle that we target on our website.
Danielle: The lithograph is how they used to do it. They would print … Say the edition would be 800. They would print 800 lithographs on a piece of paper, all at the same time. The artist has to say how many he wanted out there, and they would print those. Then you have the stack of lithographs, and when you frame them, you put glass over them. And they’ll be numbered, because maybe there’s only 100 of them. And so that’s what the lithographs are. The giclees are different, and that’s how the modern world has changed things. They are still numbered just like the lithographs, but they don’t get printed until somebody buys them. So, when somebody makes an order, I send it to the printer, he prints them out, numbers them for us and then ships them to the customer. And it is not printed on paper, it’s printed on canvas, so you don’t have to put the glass over it. There’s no glare on it. It feels more like you’re hanging on original in your house, because you don’t have that glare. You don’t have the glass. The colors are more vibrant. I love the giclees. I think that they’re, well, they’re just amazing. And yeah, I like hanging those in our house, just because they feel so much like their original.
Jessie: So then obviously, through your business, you’ve probably had the opportunity to sell artwork across the U.S. Do you get to meet any of the people who buy the artwork, Danielle? Or is it mostly just done via email and things like that?
Danielle: I definitely meet some of the people because we set up a trade show at the colt sale and we sell like that. A lot of the people are Arizona ranching people who want to hang whoever they’re close to in their house. And so, our family, friends and you know, in the cowboy culture, everybody knows everybody kind of a thing, so you end up knowing a lot of the people, not everyone, but a lot of the people that we end up selling to.
Jessie: You just mentioned the cowboy culture, and I wanted to circle back to that and what that looks like in the presence of the cowboy on Babbitt Ranches.
Danielle: We have several different cowboys out at the different camps that go and take care of their country. It’s definitely the cowboy culture; it’s different than like being the doctor or the dentist or you know those different things. The cowboy culture is a lifestyle. And so, you live on the ranch, everything revolves around this lifestyle, your job. And then, in that, everybody is friends with everybody because the families live on the ranch. The cowboy culture is definitely different. We’ll have different people come out from church, and they are just always amazed at how different it is. It is just a different lifestyle out here: how we do things and even like the way we talk or raise our kids or, you know, the responsibility that the kids have at a very young age. It’s not necessarily what everybody else is doing right now in this world, but the cowboy culture just continues to live on the way it always has.
Jessie: What do you think it is that keeps that cowboy culture living on, Danielle? Is it like the location of the ranch or the size? What has precipitated the need or the desire for that culture to continue?
Danielle: It’s kind of, I guess, the kids. When you take your kids to work with you like we do and you instill in them all these different values and a love for this lifestyle, then it just continues year after year, or generation after generation. I look at Thomas, and we are completely willing, if he wants to go and do something else with his life and encouraging him to go to college and do different things like that. And he is so strong, he just wants to cowboy. Well, if Clay would have never taken him, he wouldn’t have the same love for this lifestyle as he does, because he’s got to go and do, while learning an occupation at 14 with his dad. I honestly feel we could put him on a camp, and he could handle it at 14. And so, that’s just different than all those other occupations, they aren’t able to take their kids with them and instill in them the love for the lifestyle. And I just think it makes a huge difference. And that’s why it just continues on and on and on.
Jessie: I think about my family’s farming operation. And you know, it was my grandpa and my dad and now my brothers and seeing my nephews out there, like how fun it is for me to see that legacy continue. And I’m sure it’s the same for you just, you know, that sense of getting to see your family continue with something that is near and dear to your heart.
Danielle: Yeah, our heart is definitely here at Babbitts with all of us growing up here and there just being so much history here. I mean, this ranch was kind of like our life. It’s almost like it’s our own. Like we want this ranch to succeed as if it was our very own ranch, even though we aren’t the owners of the ranch.
Jessie: If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, Danielle, what would that be?
Danielle: That is a good, good question. Maybe just to slow down and enjoy each moment instead of thinking I needed to rush through life. I’m a go getter and I just am always on to the next, on to the next, on to the next, instead of slowing down and enjoying the little moments that end up making the biggest memories. So that would be one big thing.
Maybe to learn to have patience young, because then as a mom, it would really come in handy if you would have worked on having patience as a teenager. So that would probably be another.
And really as a younger kid, just to build your relationship with Christ and have your foundation there so that you’re strong, so that when you’re having the kids and it’s getting hard to take time to have your quiet time and read your Bible and do your stuff, you already have that strong foundation. I didn’t do very good with that as a teenager, and I wish I would have been a different type of teenager.
Jessie: Kind of touching on that a little bit, Danielle, obviously you’re a mom and a wife and you have your homeschooling, so you’re a teacher and you’re involved with a business as a business owner and everything that’s going on with the ranch. How do you balance all of the things that you have going on and what does that kind of look like for you?
Danielle: It’s crazy, is what it is right now. Especially now that Clay is taking on the manager position for Babbitts, he is way busier than he was. And I’m trying to run a business and homeschool and be a mom and keep my house clean and stuff like that. And so, we’re extremely busy. And at times, you just need to try to slow down and get your priorities straight. The goal with the business was, I was doing that on the side, because my No. 1 job is to be the wife and mom that I need to be. And so, the business was needing to take, you know, the side, although it does keep me really busy at times. And that’s why, you know, I haven’t added more artists to the website or things like that. It’s because I need to be able to teach my kids school and I need to be able to be the wife when Clay needs help or do different things.
But also, Clay is very helpful with that. He will come in and cook dinner when I’m teaching school, and even when I’m not, if I need to go do stuff with the business or I’ve been busy with the kids all day or whatever that looks like. It’s going about it more as a team of, “I help him, he helps me” type of thing is kind of how our marriage works. And it seems to work well for us.
Jessie: It’s really nice when you have the opportunity to balance each other and to work as a team, like you said, and share each other’s strengths and weaknesses and carry the load when the other one needs some extra help and just to be able to help each other that way. So that’s awesome.
Danielle: Yeah, it’s super nice.
Jessie: One question, Danielle, that I ask all of the guests on the podcast is who a trailblazer has been in your life? Someone who has inspired you and maybe encouraged you along the way and who that person has been. And maybe what made them a trailblazer for you?
Danielle: I would have to say my parents. I’ll start with my mom. My mom was an amazing wife to my dad. She stayed home and raised us girls, and just supported my dad in him running the ranch.
I would say my dad; he had an unbelievable ability to just run a ranch the way he did. He would have several different things going, guys going three or four different ways in one day to get a job done extremely quick. Some people didn’t really care for that, because it’s kind of stressful, everybody’s going a different way. You know, one set of guys might be trailing cows and the other set of guys gathering another pasture so that they can come in, and then the next set is working with the cows so that the other guys can do this. It just is, you know, fast. But when you live on this big of an outfit, you want to get the job done and get it done fast. And he did an amazing job of doing that.
And he had so much wisdom. I mean, we would be in a drought like we were in and he was so calm. He would move and sell cows when he needed to sell cows but keep cows when some people were like, “What the heck are you doing?” And then it would rain? You know? And you’d be like, “Oh, wow, okay, that worked out well.” So, he was an amazing ranch manager, a cattleman, but then a dad and a grandpa at the same time. So yeah, I would say definitely my parents. They set big goals and they did a really amazing job.
Jessie: Well, it definitely sounds like you have incredible parents and like your dad was an amazing man. Even from what I’m hearing about Babbitt Ranch and how big the operation is and what an undertaking that was, the poise and the wisdom that anyone would need, your dad or Clay, to run that. It sounds like you learned a lot of valuable lessons from them.
Danielle: Yeah, it’s kind of neat to have. Clay worked for my dad and grandpa, and so he has a lot of those same abilities that my dad had because, you know, like Dad trained him to how to do this. And so, to sit back and get to watch Clay have so many of the same characteristics as my dad and be married to him. It’s super neat and fun.
Jessie: Is there anything else Danielle, that we haven’t touched on or that that you’d like to talk about?
Danielle: Maybe just to encourage other moms to stay home and be a mom and love their kids. It’s our most important job out there.
Jessie: The time goes by so fast and I’m just realizing that all the time. Like my most important job and the thing that I, you know, enjoy the most, even though some days my patience is pushed a little bit, it’s just being a mom. And, like you said, it’s such an important job. And there’s such value in that, and I really appreciate you sharing that advice, too.
Danielle: Yeah, we’re never gonna look back and think that we spent too much time with our kids. It goes by so fast, and it’s such an important job. So yeah, just encourage other moms to value their job.
Jessie: And I think maybe even to not to undervalue the work that you do at home. I feel sometimes it’s easy to say, “I just stay home.” But you don’t. It’s so much more than that. There’s so much more to being a mom and a stay-at-home mom, than we give ourselves credit for sometimes.
Danielle: Absolutely. I totally agree.
Jessie: Well, Danielle, thank you so much for sharing your heart and for telling us about Babbitt Ranches and Cowhorse Gallery. I really do appreciate you taking time to give us a peek into your life.
Danielle: Thanks so much for having me. I really enjoyed visiting with you.
Jessie: Honestly, I could have visited with Danielle for hours and I hope you enjoyed hearing her story as much as I did. Living on the Babbitt Ranch sounds like such a unique experience, and I’m grateful Danielle gave us a glimpse into her life, including her journey to creating the Cowhorse Gallery. As Danielle said, life rarely goes the way we plan and, oftentimes, it turns out better than we could ever dream.
Thanks again for joining me for today’s episode of Trailblazing in Agriculture. Join us again next time as we
Samantha grew up on a commercial cow-calf operation in Montana and has been involved in the agriculture industry her entire life. She has a bachelor’s degree in animal science with a minor in agricultural business from Colorado State University. Her past work experiences have built her skills in account and project management. Her passion for the agriculture industry drives her to help others in the industry reach their business goals.