Faith is Alive in the Green Hills of California
The lush, green hills where Red Angus cows and calves graze today in the Salinas Valley is a stark contrast to the picture here at the height of the California megadrought. Zero rain fell in January 2014, making it the driest in 135 years of recordkeeping. January is typically California’s wettest month of the year, and about eight inches fell in Salina last month.
“Each day I truly feel blessed that we have gotten moisture,” says Celeste Settrini, a fourth generation rancher who raises cattle with her brother, John. “We’re far from out of the woods in our drought situation, but it’s such a comfort knowing there is water in our ponds and green grass growing. If rains continue to come, then we will be in decent shape for the year ahead.”
There’s nothing like scarcity to make a person appreciate what they have. Two years ago rain was so scarce that Celeste asked friends to join her for a day of reflection, prayer and fasting during a virtual event called “Havesting Faith.” Farmers, ranchers and non-farming friends from across the nation came together to pray for rain in California.
“I truly could not believe the response from the Harvesting Faith event!” says Celeste. “Hundreds upon hundreds of people ‘liked’ our event on Facebook. We all came together to share stories and to pray for relief. I was on radio segments. There were stories written about it – this event was bigger than anything I ever imagined. It made me feel so good that farmers and ranchers from across America came together to pray for relief.”
Prayers were answered shortly thereafter. Celeste remembers being on a walk when dark clouds formed. “It looked really stormy and I thought, ‘Wow. I think God is listening to all of us,” she said. “It rained that day, although not a lot. It gave me the hope needed to realize that, yes, prayers are answered. God will take care of us in His time, so we must remain patient and hopeful.”
Through the “Harvesting Faith” event, people from all walks of life focused on the bigger picture. Many times those of us in agriculture get crossways over different production methods or are worn down by others who don’t farm but want to influence the way we do.
“We are all a part of a very large family of wonderful people,” says Celeste. “I personally believe there are no better people on the planet than farmers and ranchers. We need to reach out and ask for help when we need it, not be afraid to share our thoughts with our off-farm friends, stand up for what we do and celebrate the good of American Agriculture. No matter what method you use to produce food for this growing nation YOU are an important part of that, big or small. Take pride in that and realize that you are a part of the bigger picture.”
Celeste and her brother, John, have worked side-by-side daily since 2013 when a series of life events prompted her to leave a 20-year career as an ag commodities broker. They share day-to-day responsibilities for everything from feeding and working cattle to fixing fence and selecting breeding stock.
“We’re always together. Where one is strong, the other assists and vice versus. As the ‘chatter box’ of the family, I enjoy being involved in cattlemen’s groups and anything pertaining to promoting or preserving our way of life,” says Celeste.
Promoting agriculture and the people engaged in this industry is so much of a passion for Celeste that she started CS Connections. This boutique agency serves clients in the rodeo, stock show and agricultural industries. Services include social media management, website creation, as well as collateral and print ad design.
A typical day for Celeste means waking up at 5 am and firing up her laptop. After answering emails and updating social media for about two hours, she leaves the home ranch and travels about 10 minutes away to the hills where she will either feed or take stock of the cattle.
These days Celeste is riding through the fields, checking on mamas and their babies, She also keeps her eyes open for troughs or fences that must be mended. Around noon, she returns home and settles into her office where she resumes work for CS Connections.
“A series of events led me to start my promotions business and run cattle. This is exactly where I want to be!” says Celeste. “It took a while to get here, so my advice to others is, ‘Don’t ever give up!’ Keep following your bliss.”