Rebuilding trust by working together
When we began Big Oak Cattle in 2014, we had two ambitious goals.
First, we wanted to build a self-sustaining production system for naturally raised beef that could help feed the families of the Ranch. Today, Big Oak Cattle includes more than 100 pairs of Black Angus cattle and 225 acres of pasture land. The operation provides more than 15,000 pounds of red meat each year to sustain our families, providing substantial annual cost savings.
But that’s not its true mission.
Our children come to us with their ability to trust broken and their confidence worn down. As their belief in hope for a better future grows, we must help rebuild their ability to trust. We must help them discover their capabilities and how to use their gifts in their own lives and in service to others.
That’s why Big Oak Cattle exists.
We’ve learned that few things help a child grow in trust and belief more than working with animals. As our children care for the horses and cattle, their nurturing spirits develop. A cattle operation is also hard work; it teaches responsibility and accountability because the animals depend on you for everything. It requires a great investment of time and energy, and it teaches a strong work ethic. It’s an opportunity for our houseparents and staff to teach lost skills as they complete Ranch chores together including checking gates, repairing fence lines, providing for the animals, and much more.
Our boys and girls have the option to complete an 8-week wrangler program, where they prove they have the responsibility required to care for an animal, as well as the commitment of time and learning that the work demands. The children who achieve Head Wrangler status receive the responsibility and opportunity to raise a calf of their own. They spend time tracking spending on necessities such as hay and daily care, and they learn to watch the cattle market to decide the right time to sell for the most return. After the sale, each child pays the Ranch back according to our costs and then receives the margin to put toward savings, the purchase of a car or another priority that contributes to a successful future.
Big Oak Cattle continues to grow, as does the confidence of the children who participate in it.
What began as an idea proves, yet again, the presence of God that rests on this place.
A Christian Home for Children Needing a Chance
It’s life. It’s all so normal. And yet, life at Big Oak Ranch is also extraordinary.
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