I was in the cow business full time for almost thirty years- still am after a fashion, but only because I cannot imagine a life without stock. There were and still are countless lessons to be gleaned from running cows and raising feed. These lessons can be applied to life in general- and I dare say that a few of these lessons that parallel High Theology.
When you are in the cattle business, it is crucial that your raise cows- and those cows must reproduce in order that you can keep on in the business. One might even say that you are intent upon the fruit of your labor—i.e. your cows have calves, and then there is a calf crop to sell. Round the clock, 365 days a year you are out in all weather: caring for livestock, feeding, checking pasture conditions, fencing, doctoring, repairing machinery, supplying minerals and salt, seeking lost or missing livestock among other tasks. This is due to the fact that your responsibility is the health and well being of the animals under your care. If you have enough of them it becomes a full time occupation (indeed there are times when it is more than full time).
In all of this there is a great amount of faith- will it rain and how much, can they survive this bad storm, will prices get better, will the bank keep on believing I can pay off my loans, will I have enough hay this winter, will they get eaten or stolen? Faith that the natural course of events will continue, and/or improve because an agricultural enterprise is founded on primarily this fact: faith that the sun will rise tomorrow and the moisture will come when you need it most.
To people not involved in agriculture, this type of faith in the system that Our Lord set up seems simplistic and a bit well, hokey. To those of us however, who have been intimately exposed to the mercy of God through His natural world this simple faith is an inescapable fact- we must through faith depend upon Divine nature in order to plan, execute, survive and perhaps even prosper.
Being a rancher involves this faith- yet it also involves works as well. One is not a cowman if one does not produce cattle- through faith and works; a rancher produces fruit, just as the man of Faith is not truly a man of Faith unless he takes this Faith to the level Our Lord demands- producing fruit from it in combination with hard work.
On a ranch, a cow that does not reproduce is not a cow- she is a highly temperamental, expensive lawn ornament. A saddle horse is not a saddle horse if it will not carry a rider- it is a glue pot. A cowboy is not a cowboy if he is not up to the task of demonstrating a particular skill set needed to care for cattle. Lastly, on a ranch, a man of Faith is a drugstore Christian, unless he demonstrates the unique skill set needed to do the work that Christ commanded.