cows sitting on hay

This South Dakota Rancher Challenges Actor To Work As A Real-Life Rancher For 48 Hours

To say that there’s a disconnect between Hollywood and middle America is a bit of an understatement. The division between the wealthy and the working class seems to widen by the day. For the wealthy elite, there’s not much interest in what goes on in the lives of the ‘little people,’ and oftentimes, the little people return the disinterest. And that seems to be the case for a South Dakota rancher by the name of Bryce Lindskov.

Lindskov is a busy guy. His family and employees calve out 6,000 cows every winter alongside 1,000 first-calf heifers at their ranch on the Cheyenne and Standing Rock Reservations.

“I have a crew of 10 full-time hands that assist the cows in calving and transfer them to sterilized maternity pens as soon as the calves are able to stand and nurse for themselves,” explains Kindskov. “We bed the barn with fresh straw and hay to keep the cows and newborn calves alive and out of the snowdrifts which can reach 30 feet tall during bad winters.”

The work is not easy, Lindskov and his crew put in long days and the weather and terrain is incredibly harsh, but he takes care of his people nonetheless.

“We try and keep our employees as comfortable as possible, whenever possible. They spend a lot of time outdoors checking cows for problems… usually in subzero weather with harsh wind chills as cold as 50 below zero. We always make sure the break room is warm and the fridge stocked with frozen pizzas, pop and even a beer or two for after a long shift that can stretch out for as long as 24 hours at times.”

Lindskov’s ranch isn’t some backwoods, low-tech affair though. The facility has massive flat-screen monitors and a camera system that monitors the pens and ensures the safety of the animals. The heifers are the ones that most commonly have problems.

“Heifers are young cows that have never had calves before”, explains Lindskov, “We figure about 20 percent of the heifers need assistance in giving birth.” “My brothers and our crew, which is like family to us, had one 24 hour stretch a few years back where we birthed 191 calves without one loss. Our herd is our livelihood and has been since 1951. As soon as calving season is over, we start planting crops and harvesting hay to begin the whole process over again.”

Given all this work, Lindskov says he doesn’t really take in all that much media from Hollywood. According to Lindskov, “I don’t really have time to watch a lot of movies, especially ones about cartoon characters or superheroes. I might catch an old western now and again, or occasionally the wife makes me sit through a chick or kid flick but for the most part we keep very busy farming, feeding and caring for cows and newborn calves.”

So you can imagine his surprise when he heard about his industry being called out by Jaoquin Phoenix, an actor he’d never heard of. According to Phoenix, who used his Academy Awards speech to speak out about the dairy industry, cattle ranchers “Steal babies from cows even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable.” Lindskov doesn’t agree with Pheonix’s assessment.

“The only cries we hear around here are baby calves wanting more milk from their mom. They stay by her side when the grass greens up at pasture, then they are weaned in the fall and put in our feeding facility.”

“If we didn’t harvest a portion of the herd, then cattle and all domesticated animals would run wild and overpopulate the planet. They might even eat up all of Joaquin’s broccoli and sprouts and trample his flower garden, don’t reckon he would like that much. I’m not too sure he or PETA has really thought out what would happen to the planet if us ranchers and dairy farmers opened the gates and threw in the towel.”

While clearly Lindskov wasn’t all that amused about Phoenix’s allegations, he did extend an olive branch to the actor.

“Our cow herd is our livelihood and family legacy. If Mr. Phoenix would like to come out here in the real world and try his hand at ranching or even character acting like a rancher, we would gladly pay him for his efforts. He could even stay in the bunkhouse, but we don’t offer any vegan meals here at the Lindskov Ranch. I’m not sure he is cut out for this role” Mr. Lindskov said with a wry smile on his weathered face.

We’ll see if Phoenix takes him up on his offer!

Thomas Nelson
Environmental Advocate
Thomas is an Oregon-based environmental advocate, a lover of the outdoors, and has an at times unhealthy obsession with chickens.