I wanted to be a cattle rancher when I was young,
because it was what I knew and I loved it.- Sandra Day O’ConnorI think it’s safe to say, the above quote sums up my dad. Today I’m going to put “project vegan” on hold to introduce you to a pretty awesome man. What do you call an outstanding cattleman who has dedicated his life to the industry, whose accomplishments have been recognized and is inducted into the Kentucky Cattleman’s hall of Fame? Well I call him my dad, Martin Hayden.Well that’s what happened this past weekend. The one and only Martin Hayden was inducted into the Kentucky Cattleman’s hall of fame, and let me tell you what, I couldn’t have been prouder. I may not have any kids yet, but as he walked across the stage, I was like a proud parent on the sidelines of my kid’s championship game watching him score the winning point.I could use this time to tell you all about the great things my dad has accomplished, but instead I want to tell you a little about what it was like growing up with him as a father.Three words could be used to describe my upbringing by my dad, “It was hell!”Well at least that’s what I thought at times growing up. But looking back I can easily see that wasn’t the case. I sure didn’t realize when I was 15 years old that the greatest mentor and teacher I could have ever asked for was right in front of me the whole time.Instead, I ran off to college for 7 years and obtained two degrees that will never compare to the knowledge that I acquired from my dad. If you ask him, dad will tell you that he’s not smart and may even say “son, your ole daddy’s a dummy”. That may just be the funniest comment I’ve ever heard. Last I checked dummies, don’t manage to build two successful businesses from the ground up, while juggling the responsibilities of raising a family and staying active within his community.
Anyway, I digress; I told you I wouldn’t start listing his achievements.
No matter how many degrees I obtain, they’ll never live up to the degree I’m still working on through Hayden Farms, taught by the sharpest professor I know, Martin Hayden. As I’ve grown older, I realize that my upbringing by my dad wasn’t hell, it was just hell because I was a rotten teenager who thought he knew everything, when in fact I didn’t.
All my life I’ve had an individual that was well respected and looked up to by many right at my fingertips and I took that for granted throughout the years. Dad is someone who taught me and all of my brothers and sister the importance of hard work, determination and dedication. He has always said, “son, I don’t care if you’re a ditch digger, but you better be the best damn ditch digger in the tri-state area”.
Growing up I swore I’d never turn into my dad and be like him, “I was my own person” I thought. Well mid-way though my college career, it hit me like a 55 gallon drum full of water, I’m exactly like my dad. The more I thought about it the more it made sense. Hard headed, have something to say about everything and can pretty much talk to a wall. Yup, I’m my fathers son. But you know what? That’s ok. The closer I can come to living up to half the things my dad has accomplished the better off I am.
That’s my dad, one of the newest inductees in the Kentucky Cattleman’s hall of fame. I just hope that one day I’ll be man enough to fill his shoes. Either way I’ll give it a hell of a try.
Congratulations dad, I’m so proud to be your son.