Rural America, I love...

I love your wide open spaces, fresh air, clear skies and friendly, familiar faces.

I love your tall lush grasses swaying in the breeze, on the vast prairie like waves on the high seas.

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I love the freedom felt, when letting my pony run, galloping over rolling hills, chasing the setting sun. Rounding up cattle and searching for a stray, yuccas and cacti the only things in my way.

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I love the site of cattle grazing contently, getting fat off the land. Growing next years calf crop with nutrition provided by hardy forage sprouting from the sand.

I love the excitement that newborn calves hitting the ground bring, happy babies frolicking about the green pasture a sure sign that it’s Spring

I love the camaraderie at branding time. Friends, family and neighbors gather and reunite, breaking the solitude of winter, putting the frigid, long, hard season out of site.

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I love the collaboration of cowhands and ground crew working to get the job done. Blood, sweat, dirt and smoke flying as they race to finish before the setting sun. I love Cowboys and cowgirls - last of a dying breed - making a living out here in the hills, striving to succeed.

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Yes, I love you rural America and so glad to call you home, forever grateful for your grandeur and beauty and freedom to forever roam.

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Elisha Smith is a Media and Outreach Associate at the Center for Rural Affairs. Find her on Twitter @elisharsmith. She thanks her sister-in-law for the photos.