Would a secular vocation question be okay up here?


#1

I have a secular (non religious) thread I'd like to post, as there's a spiritual dimension to it (I think) and I can't figure out where else to post it. Family life doesn't seem to quite fit the bill.

Is it okay to post the question up here?


#2

[quote="Yeoman, post:1, topic:212672"]
I have a secular (non religious) thread I'd like to post, as there's a spiritual dimension to it (I think) and I can't figure out where else to post it. Family life doesn't seem to quite fit the bill.

Is it okay to post the question up here?

[/quote]

Yes, that I think that it is all right to ask your question here. Go ahead.


#3

Okay, well here goes.

Almost my entire life, or indeed maybe my entire life, I've had once secular vocation that I've been strongly attracted to. I live in Wyoming, I was born here, my father was from here also, and my grandfather, way back before he died at age 42, had an agricultural enterprise here. All I've really wanted to do, since way back when, is to be a rancher.

When I was graduating high school, for whatever reason, I was more practically minded than I am now. So I went to college in one of the "hard" sciences. As there were no jobs in that when I got out, I went to law school, as I'd never heard of an unemployed lawyer at that time (I've heard of them now).

I've worked as a courtroom lawyer now for 20 years. I took the job I'm at 20 years ago as it was in my hometown, and let me remain connected with the rural world I knew. I guess I'm halfway decent at it, as I have more work now than I can handle. Be that as it may, at least on the defense side of things (and in general) being a lawyer doesn't equate with being rich by a long shot. It does equate with endless stress. I really hate it, and I hate the constant arguing. I also really don't care for a lot of the loose moral thoughts I encounter constantly, particularly in the profession itself.

I married 15 years ago and I do have some cattle, but we run them on my in laws place. I really want to quit this job forever and do nothing but raise cattle. I don't care about money at all, and I really don't care about anything that being a lawyer is associated with. I frankly am so disillusioned with this line of work now that my worst nightmare are: 1) I'll never got out of this; and 2) one of my kids will go into it (which is unlikely, as they know I hate it.

So, here are my questions.

  1. In an area where buying a working ranch now would cost at least $2M, is there anyone with any clever ideas about how to get there?

  2. Is there such a thing as a "secular" calling? I've felt this desire so strongly for so long that I really can't shake it, and it's gotten stronger over the years and not weaker, and I've reached the point where I'm really less realistic about this desire than I was 30 years ago.

  3. What would this strong desire mean in a religious context, if we can even say? It seems odd to me to be so strongly pulled in one direction, to be good at something else that you really despise, and not be able to figure out how to get where it feels you should be going, although recently perhaps I'm getting smarter about how loans might make things possible.


#4

I'll venture a "guess" concerning "secular vocations". Yes, they do exist. Vatican II has recognized both the married state, and the single state as vocations. So, it would seem that your desire to go into ranching full time would fall within either catagory.

As a retired state law enforcement officer, I can understand some of your reservations concerning your current profession. I'm not going to make any suggestions there, or offer any thoughts, as I believe you could receive far better counsel elsewhere.

Buying a ranch? That's way out of my area of expertise or comfort, although I'm one of those Catholics who believes that if Our Lord wants this happen in your life, it will. I'd suggest you approach this situation much in the spirit of prayer.

Don't be afraid to talk to people your trust concerning your thoughts/concerns. Whichever you decide, it's going to be a major move. But then, most vocations are. Good luck, and God's Blessings in your decisions.


#5

[quote="Yeoman, post:3, topic:212672"]
Okay, well here goes.

Almost my entire life, or indeed maybe my entire life, I've had once secular vocation that I've been strongly attracted to. I live in Wyoming, I was born here, my father was from here also, and my grandfather, way back before he died at age 42, had an agricultural enterprise here. All I've really wanted to do, since way back when, is to be a rancher.

When I was graduating high school, for whatever reason, I was more practically minded than I am now. So I went to college in one of the "hard" sciences. As there were no jobs in that when I got out, I went to law school, as I'd never heard of an unemployed lawyer at that time (I've heard of them now).

I've worked as a courtroom lawyer now for 20 years. I took the job I'm at 20 years ago as it was in my hometown, and let me remain connected with the rural world I knew. I guess I'm halfway decent at it, as I have more work now than I can handle. Be that as it may, at least on the defense side of things (and in general) being a lawyer doesn't equate with being rich by a long shot. It does equate with endless stress. I really hate it, and I hate the constant arguing. I also really don't care for a lot of the loose moral thoughts I encounter constantly, particularly in the profession itself.

I married 15 years ago and I do have some cattle, but we run them on my in laws place. I really want to quit this job forever and do nothing but raise cattle. I don't care about money at all, and I really don't care about anything that being a lawyer is associated with. I frankly am so disillusioned with this line of work now that my worst nightmare are: 1) I'll never got out of this; and 2) one of my kids will go into it (which is unlikely, as they know I hate it.

So, here are my questions.

  1. In an area where buying a working ranch now would cost at least $2M, is there anyone with any clever ideas about how to get there?

  2. Is there such a thing as a "secular" calling? I've felt this desire so strongly for so long that I really can't shake it, and it's gotten stronger over the years and not weaker, and I've reached the point where I'm really less realistic about this desire than I was 30 years ago.

  3. What would this strong desire mean in a religious context, if we can even say? It seems odd to me to be so strongly pulled in one direction, to be good at something else that you really despise, and not be able to figure out how to get where it feels you should be going, although recently perhaps I'm getting smarter about how loans might make things possible.

[/quote]

(1) I have a little experience in this...I am currently stable foreman at a small ranch just outside the Dallas-Fortworth Metroplex (metropolitan area). It is a horse boarding facility and vacation home that I also run.

Our ranch is a relatively small property of roughly 10 acres--with ~3 acres of pasture for turnout, a section for outdoor paddocks, and an American-style stable with stalls, shower, and tack area. Lighted riding arena, round pen, hay barn, and workshop included. All-in-all, it stables around 40 horses. We could accommodate more horses, were it not for the fact that a large manor-style house occupies the front half of the property.

My boss--a man of considerable stupidity--was able to purchase this property 'off the court steps' for less than 500k. Keep in mind that this is the entire price, even for the stately home. The previous owner was a horse trainer/instructor who came into a little money, tried to build her dream business/home. Obviously, this did not work out for her.

Although this is a small property, speaking in terms of size, it is more than enough to keep a team of men busy--even when only running at a third of its capacity.

My point is this: even if you aren't able to afford your feudal fief, there are probably innumerable opportunities to get some kind of medium-to-small landholding in America. I'm not sure if you want only to search locally, but I am certain that if you're willing to be flexible with where you search, you'll find your dream property. Just keep your eyes peeled, frequent feed stores (talk to the owners, they'll know who is going out of business/selling land because they'll likely be trying to collect debts from the bankrupted owner), build up your credit (take loans out on car then pay them back, get several credit cards and use them only for gas, &c.), and just stay positive.

(2) + (3) I'm not a trained theologian or anything, but I think that I can say a thing or two about the connection between agriculture and spirituality. Firstly, there's definitely a reason why so many parables and histories in the Christian world are focused on gardens and agriculture: heck, human history begins in a Garden. This is because there is something holy in cultivation: in protecting God's creation, imposing order on it, and helping it prosper. Its truly an organic combination of reason and life. In turn, the farmer becomes a kind of 'guardian' of God's creatures. I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but its true--when once a peacock that I had bought died in my friend's arms because it overheated, I felt truly awful. But at the end of the day, when you see a big golden (or red, as is sometimes the case down here) sun setting over the hills, how can you help but recognize the imprint of God's hand on this masterpiece?

It probably wouldn't be riding roughshod on our theology to say that part of your inclination to the life of the farmer might be God-given.

/end cliched effusions :)


#6

[quote="Yeoman, post:3, topic:212672"]
Okay, well here goes.

[/quote]

I don't mean to insult you, but--to expand on my answer to point (1)--the Vocations section on CAF probably isn't the first place to look. I'm sure you know this, but the county ag extension office is most likely the best place to start your search. You might see a lot of places valued at ~2m, but there has got to be comparable properties for significantly less than that--even if they come with a few dents here and there (e.g., pastures full of clay, really shoddy fence systems, &c.).

Another possible way to get there is real estate.

This may not be immediately apparent, but real estate might be the essential bridge between the profession of law and the profession of agriculture.

I'm not sure what sort of law you're used to practicing (you mentioned courtroom practice), but if there is any way you could possibly use your legal background as leverage to become familiar with the procedures for 'flipping' homes and acquiring properties to do 'rent-to-own' and other tenant programs, then you'd be halfway there to buying the ranch of your dreams.

This is because you could do the real estate stuff as a kind of 'second job' to accumulate labor-UNintensive revenue and build up stellar credit. Which just so happen to be the two most important things necessary to acquiring a large property, like a ranch. It would be a relatively simple matter to have your secretary or paralegal work with you on this, find a reputable GC (maybe a black-sheep cousin or family friend looking for work), and you'd be set. After--of course--doing a period of intense research, during which you'll have to separate all of the bogus Get-Rich-Quick **** from the professionals.

This may not work, depending on exactly how rural your region is, and whether it is one of those that are sliding into the bronze age or one of those that are seeing Walmarts & other megastores pop up everywhere, but it is worthwhile to point this out as one possible route.


#7

You mentioned that you are already running cattle on your in-laws' place. Why not begin where you are, instead of looking for some new big ranch? Your in-laws' must have some land, perhaps your end dream has already begun and you are overlooking where you are right now as a true stepping stone into your dream. God puts things in our paths and sometimes we just keep taking detours to avoid them, considering them as stumbling blocks when they are true opportunities.

As for being called to a vocation at a rancher, that may be correct, however you may be over-reaching and you are already ranching, whether on your in-law's property or your own. Try being where your hands are, appreciating what you have now and asking for God's blessing on your daily work. All things in our lives work for God's good plan. Ask God to show you what His plan for you could be. Turn your life over to God and He will direct your steps.


#8

[quote="Sherry_G, post:7, topic:212672"]
You mentioned that you are already running cattle on your in-laws' place. Why not begin where you are, instead of looking for some new big ranch? Your in-laws' must have some land, perhaps your end dream has already begun and you are overlooking where you are right now as a true stepping stone into your dream. God puts things in our paths and sometimes we just keep taking detours to avoid them, considering them as stumbling blocks when they are true opportunities.

As for being called to a vocation at a rancher, that may be correct, however you may be over-reaching and you are already ranching, whether on your in-law's property or your own. Try being where your hands are, appreciating what you have now and asking for God's blessing on your daily work. All things in our lives work for God's good plan. Ask God to show you what His plan for you could be. Turn your life over to God and He will direct your steps.

[/quote]

Just what every aspiring rancher wants & needs: his mother-in-law looking over his shoulder while he's at work.


#9

[quote="ChristopherJB5, post:8, topic:212672"]
Just what every aspiring rancher wants & needs: his mother-in-law looking over his shoulder while he's at work.

[/quote]

Actually, I love my in laws. They're great really.

Having said that, one thing I've tended to find is that it's very difficult for people not to think of me as a lawyer. To my surprise, I've learned recently that I'm fairly well regarded state wide. It's a bit of a shock, as I've never really identified myself with my "profession".

My in laws have some complicated legal matters that they go to me for. Over a long period of time, they've started to work on trying not to bother me with them on my off hours, which they used to do, and they're well aware I don't want to be a lawyer anymore. Still, the do identify me with my profession and I don't think they have any concept of incorporating us (my family and me) beyond what they currently do. Indeed, they probably can't right now, as their oldest, single, son is ranching on the place too, and there's not enough room for everyone. I can't, in good conscience, do much that would displace my much younger brother in law.

That brother in law wants to expand the operation, which is difficult. I've thought perhaps we could throw in with that somehow, if he's serious (and he is) but I fear that by the time anyone is going to do anything, I'll be looking at walking out my door and applying for social security.


#10

[quote="Yeoman, post:9, topic:212672"]
Actually, I love my in laws. They're great really.

Having said that, one thing I've tended to find is that it's very difficult for people not to think of me as a lawyer. To my surprise, I've learned recently that I'm fairly well regarded state wide. It's a bit of a shock, as I've never really identified myself with my "profession".

My in laws have some complicated legal matters that they go to me for. Over a long period of time, they've started to work on trying not to bother me with them on my off hours, which they used to do, and they're well aware I don't want to be a lawyer anymore. Still, the do identify me with my profession and I don't think they have any concept of incorporating us (my family and me) beyond what they currently do. Indeed, they probably can't right now, as their oldest, single, son is ranching on the place too, and there's not enough room for everyone. I can't, in good conscience, do much that would displace my much younger brother in law.

That brother in law wants to expand the operation, which is difficult. I've thought perhaps we could throw in with that somehow, if he's serious (and he is) but I fear that by the time anyone is going to do anything, I'll be looking at walking out my door and applying for social security.

[/quote]

OK, you are answering your own question and don't even realize it! Being where you are, in an enviable position as you have a probably lucrative career in law which generates more cash than your in-laws are able to come up with. Waiting for "someone" to do "anything" is where you are just stuck, is all. Maybe the "someone" is you! Could be possible that you could make up a plan of action to grow the business and incorporate yourself and family into the new expanded operation. Try working on a roadmap to success for both your dream and your inlaws dream, too. Nothing good comes without prayer and work. Opportunities don't fall out of the sky, they are always with us, we just need to pick up the end of the rope and start pulling. May God bless your efforts.


#11

[quote="Sherry_G, post:10, topic:212672"]
OK, you are answering your own question and don't even realize it! Being where you are, in an enviable position as you have a probably lucrative career in law which generates more cash than your in-laws are able to come up with. Waiting for "someone" to do "anything" is where you are just stuck, is all. Maybe the "someone" is you! Could be possible that you could make up a plan of action to grow the business and incorporate yourself and family into the new expanded operation. Try working on a roadmap to success for both your dream and your inlaws dream, too. Nothing good comes without prayer and work. Opportunities don't fall out of the sky, they are always with us, we just need to pick up the end of the rope and start pulling. May God bless your efforts.

[/quote]

Thank you.

I've read your reply several times, and I'll confess that it seemed sort of like a light switch coming on at first, but then the light cast in the room remains dim.

I guess the part that I'm having a hard time with (and excuse me for being dense) is the "lucrative career" part. It is indeed true that my take home is undoubtedly higher than my in laws. At the same time, however, I'd note that the average take home of lawyers, while not bad by most standards, is nowhere near as high as people imagine.

I note that as it's not the case that I have a large cash reserve, and it's also not the case that I have something I can really sell to generate one. So, if I take the course you are helping point me to (and I appreciate everyone's replied) it sort of suggest that I keep on keeping on with my law practice. I really don't want to do that, as I feel no call to that at all. I'm good at it, but I really dislike it.


#12

[quote="Yeoman, post:3, topic:212672"]
Ok

  1. What would this strong desire mean in a religious context, if we can even say? It seems odd to me to be so strongly pulled in one direction, to be good at something else that you really despise, and not be able to figure out how to get where it feels you should be going, although recently perhaps I'm getting smarter about how loans might make things possible.

[/quote]

I do know what you mean by the spiritual dimension of discerning a career path or change, in fact I think it is essential and part of discerning whether one's vocation is to consecrated or vowed religious life, marriage, or single service. But ranching and corporate law are careers, not vocations in and of themselves.

No advice on the ranching except I live surrounded by ranches that are not economically viable and are being lost to development and even in Texas ranching is seen in many places as an expensive hobby.


#13

I wonder if Br. J.R. hates turtlenecks, too. Let us not forget about those nice-looking ascots!


#14

Wow, I rediscovered this thread I posted nearly two years ago as I'm having a hard time with some things currently, and I find that I'm exactly where I was in regards to this now as I was then.

It's an odd thing to hold a strongly held desire, and not have any way, seemingly, to make it become a reality.


#15

I think you are afraid to let go of what you know and make a huge change into an unknown future. Not surprising, especially considering that you probably make a pretty good living being a lawyer.

BTW, there are probably a lot of ranches up for sale in Texas, but we’ve been in a drought pattern for going on our 3rd year and West Texas is not supposed to have substantial rain this year either, so bear that in mind when you look at properties.


#16

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:15, topic:212672"]
I think you are afraid to let go of what you know and make a huge change into an unknown future.

[/quote]

That's probably absolutely correct. It's hard to shake for some reason.

I had a period of unemployment when I was first out of school, and went back to get my JD. I've sometimes wondered if that downtime impressed me more than it should. But to add to it, any talk of doing anything else seems to scare my family to death, and that seems to have a bit of an impact too.

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:15, topic:212672"]
Not surprising, especially considering that you probably make a pretty good living being a lawyer.

[/quote]

One of the frustrating things about being a lawyer is people believe that. In actuality, there's piles and piles of unemployed lawyers now, and incomes are going down by my observation, at least in what I do. I don't make anywhere near what you think I do.

Most years, in this area, being a lawyer is a five figure job. Most lawyers around here make between $40,000 to $90,000. I generally make right about $90,000. In order to make that amount, you have to bill far, far, far higher, to cover the expenses of doing business. And that doesn't cover the expenses that aren't overhead, as its' one of those odd occupations where you have a fair number of incidental expenses just being in business.

Not that this money is bad, but it isn't the huge amount people think you make. And I'm fairly well paid, a lot are making much less than that around here. In a large metropolitan area in the region the average lawyer pay is $40,000.

So, with two kids, a mortgage, a scared wife. . . .

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:15, topic:212672"]
BTW, there are probably a lot of ranches up for sale in Texas, but we've been in a drought pattern for going on our 3rd year and West Texas is not supposed to have substantial rain this year either, so bear that in mind when you look at properties.

[/quote]

Thank you, I'll keep that in mind.

One thing I really should do is go to my inlaws and just ask them for advice and let them know I want out. They more or less know that, but I'm shy about declaring it. I don't know why. And it's extremely difficult for people to believe that any lawyer (and frankly it's most lawyers) want out. People believe we don't work (the hours are huge), the work is fun (it's awful) and don't grasp that it's just soul crushing. So nobody really believes you want out.

By the same token, we don't dare mention it to most people, as we're afraid what it would do to our work.


#17

[quote="Yeoman, post:1, topic:212672"]
I have a secular (non religious) thread I'd like to post, as there's a spiritual dimension to it (I think) and I can't figure out where else to post it. Family life doesn't seem to quite fit the bill.

Is it okay to post the question up here?

[/quote]

Bloom where you're planted!


#18

[quote="Yeoman, post:16, topic:212672"]
That's probably absolutely correct. It's hard to shake for some reason.

I had a period of unemployment when I was first out of school, and went back to get my JD. I've sometimes wondered if that downtime impressed me more than it should.** But to add to it, any talk of doing anything else seems to scare my family to death, and that seems to have a bit of an impact too.**

One of the frustrating things about being a lawyer is people believe that. In actuality, there's piles and piles of unemployed lawyers now, and incomes are going down by my observation, at least in what I do. I don't make anywhere near what you think I do.

Most years, in this area, being a lawyer is a five figure job. Most lawyers around here make between $40,000 to $90,000. I generally make right about $90,000. In order to make that amount, you have to bill far, far, far higher, to cover the expenses of doing business. And that doesn't cover the expenses that aren't overhead, as its' one of those odd occupations where you have a fair number of incidental expenses just being in business.

Not that this money is bad, but it isn't the huge amount people think you make. And I'm fairly well paid, a lot are making much less than that around here. In a large metropolitan area in the region the average lawyer pay is $40,000.

So, with two kids, a mortgage, a scared wife. . . .

Thank you, I'll keep that in mind.

One thing I really should do is go to my inlaws and just ask them for advice and let them know I want out. They more or less know that, but I'm shy about declaring it. I don't know why. And it's extremely difficult for people to believe that any lawyer (and frankly it's most lawyers) want out. People believe we don't work (the hours are huge), the work is fun (it's awful) and don't grasp that it's just soul crushing. So nobody really believes you want out.

By the same token, we don't dare mention it to most people, as we're afraid what it would do to our work.

[/quote]

Well of course it scares your family. Your wife needs to see a plan. I trust that she knows how soul-crushing your job is? I have to say, if she loves you, she'd pinch pennies until they screamed to see you happy.

My husband, when we met, was working for a major corporation. We were still dating when he left that company and formed his own company. He had to go back to a smaller company when the economy went into decline and his industry was affected. He's hopped around a bit since then, and finally formed his own company again (actually, 4 companies!). What I realized (finally!) is that he just isn't the type to work for a large corporation. He's a solo act, likes to run his own show and do about 95 jobs and be thinking of 126 other things, not be told what to do and how to do it and be hand-holding with a team. It's just who he is. It's not that he can't do it, or is deficient in some way (yes, I used to think of him that way :o ). It's that he is so much happier when he's on his own.

So if your wife realizes that a change really has to happen, that you've already sacrificed a lot of years to a profession you greatly dislike, she'll help you make that change. I do not want to return to paid employment at this stage of my life, but if my husband decided he just couldn't stand what he is doing, I'd do it for his sake. We are a team, and I want him to be happy.

I know there has been a glut of lawyers churned out of law schools over the last 20 years...Saw a billboard the other day, "Call us to sue the guy you used to sue the last guy..." it was like that, I swear...

:rolleyes:


#19

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