It’s A Writer’s Life For Me | How Cattle Are Actually Zombies


The life of a writer is difficult, risky, and full of a bunch of other unpleasantness.

At least, that seems to be the general consensus. I cannot disagree. In the few years since I confirmed the fact that I wanted to be a writer and jumped off the lovely cliff in pursuit of my destination, I will attest to a certain…departure from what most seem to prioritize. There is no financial security, not even a prayer of real income until a ridiculous amount of time, money, and soul is spent writing something that has both a beginning, an end, and plenty of fiddly middle bits. It is all risk, tons of work, and absolutely zero guarantees.

I’m told that this is supposedly a deterrent for many aspiring writers. I found it to be exactly like the way I’ve always preferred to live my life and in some ways, actually easier. Believe it or not, writing is the cheapest and least risky venture I have ever committed myself to.

Ever heard of the cattle business? Well, that’s the business I’ve been in for the last seventeen or so years and even after a short slowdown in college, here I am, back at it again.

For the last three months and for at least two more, maybe three, all of my money and all that the bank would loan me has been walking around on four hooves. My job is simple: keep all the calves alive, watered, and fed. Sounds easy, right? I guess it does. But it never is.

Wheat calves are a lot like zombies in that a most apt moniker for both is “The Walking Dead.” On a good year, nothing dies. On a bad year, maybe 3-5% expire. This year…let’s just say that I’d kill for a 5% death loss average and zombies are looking downright healthy. I’m considering looking into the zombie business next year. I’ve heard that they don’t get BRD, BVD, pneumonia, bloat, sudden death, or any of the other conditions that I’ve been battling fruitlessly for the last few years since November.

In summary, it looks like six months of work, worry, and risking all my money is going to net me a whopping income of not-enough-to-even-count and that’s the best case scenario. Equally probable is that I will have less money in the bank than I started with just a couple of months ago.

Now perhaps it is clear why I look at the life of a writer, eyes open, and still see a really cushy career. I mean, come on, you can write in any weather, words don’t get pneumonia, and I can eat away at my savings over the course of years, not days. How much easier can you make it?

Now, I must go haul hay, feed hay, doctor some zombies—I mean calves, count them, check the water, haul off a dead one, and hope that the fence is up, the calves are in, alive and fat,…and I better stop now or I won’t get it all done before dark.


One thought on “It’s A Writer’s Life For Me | How Cattle Are Actually Zombies

  1. Audra,
    Your living life, taking risks, and always learning. To me, that’s what it’s all about and is probably a part of what makes you a terrific writer.
    So I say “go for it” and remember in the end it’s not the destination so much as the journey.

    But I don’t need to tell you, these things are standard necessities for cattle ranchers:)

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