“Every time I see an ambulance go by, I stop and say a prayer because odds are, I know the person riding inside,” says Adam Jones, rancher near St. Francis, Kansas.
It’s a sentiment many in Rural America share, where neighbors may not be just around the corner, but the bond of community is thick. His family ranch, Crooked Creek Angus, is one of 40 stories included in the new coffee table book Sheltering Generations — The American Barn.
The book features stories of beef producers in more than 20 different states, cataloging ranch life, rural community and the role of barns in our landscape.
Produced by Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB), each family featured in the book has one thing in common: they all have the brand logo painted on their barns. In 2018, in a throwback to “old school” marketing, the brand painted 40 barns to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
At each painting throughout the campaign, something special occurred. The small-town community grew. Ranchers, packers, food bloggers, government dignitaries, meat salespeople and local community members gathered to “watch paint dry” and eat great beef. Sitting around a plate of beef, these diverse people shared stories of how the barns were built, the life lived under their roofs and the cattle cared for in their shelter.
Each held their own special tale — worthy of sharing, worthy of preserving.
There’s the rancher-turned-restauranteur in North Dakota who used to drive three hours one way to source consistent quality beef for his small-town steakhouse. The couple who started with a dream, but no heat or water the first winter in their farmhouse in Minnesota and now support nine families from their herd. An old dairy barn in Pennsylvania became a classroom. A chance meeting at a gas station in South Carolina led to the barn where their children married and their cattle are sold each year.
Each story unique, all inspiring in their own right.
Chris and Sharee Sankey, Council Grove, Kan., with some of the haul from their family’s long career in the Angus cattle and show business.
Captivating images and short, entertaining stories fill the pages of the book, but in the spirit of community that inspired it, the funds from sales support farmers and ranchers. The entire purchase price of each book will benefit the newly launched Certified Angus Beef Rural Relief Fund, helping cattlemen recover from natural disasters.
“We’ve all heard some weather event referenced as the drought/flood/blizzard/fire of our generation too many times already,” says John Stika, president of the brand. “As a member of the beef community, when our farmers and ranchers are hurting, our brand is committed to providing help.”
The book is dual purpose: a way to share the stories of everyday ranch life and to help provide relief when those who produce it need aid.
“The next extreme weather event may not be tomorrow,” says Stika. “But this spring when the headlines told of cattle being washed away in Nebraska, our phones began to ring. It’s not the first time we’ve seen the pain caused by these events and each time those in cattle country, our partners and consumers look for ways to help. This fund allows us to channel that community spirit the next time someone calls.”
In the sunny days ahead, the book will connect beef consumers to the story of where each bite begins.
Sheltering Generations — The American Barn is on sale now at shop.certifiedangusbeef.com for $19.95. Books will be available for purchase at the brand’s Culinary Center in Wooster, Ohio, and should arrive at homes in time for Christmas.