“Yellowstone” makes the western way of life look alluring and sexy. But that isn’t necessarily the full picture. Of course, you can’t believe everything you see on TV. Or read on the internet. But the ranching life is a hard one.
Your work is your life. Your life is your work. There’s never a day off, nor do you get an hour of reprieve. The cattle are always calling, the endless miles of fence always need to be fixed, and there’s always a stall that needs to be mucked.
Kevin Costner’s character, John Dutton says it best when imparting wisdom on his offspring. “Ranching’s a terrible business, grandson,” John Dutton starts.
“We can’t control the price of beef or hay, or the diesel it takes to take the cattle to auction or the hay out to the cattle. There’s federal regulations, state regulations, county regulations. There’s people in the city suing us – complaining about the way we raise the food they eat,” he continues.
“What else? Lizards and droughts… And half the herd trying to kill itself in the river and the other half looking for a hole in the fence… So they can stand in the middle of the highway and get hit by a car. Or wander into the forest and get eaten by a grizzly,” Dutton states.
However, one might think with all the hard work, a big paycheck must be waiting like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s true, the cattle business might look lucrative. Again, we might be the first to tell you, that’s not always the case.
So if the Dutton’s don’t cash in big on beef, then how are they able to go on living the lifestyle that’s clearly displayed in “Yellowstone?”
Dutton Money Debate
Fans of the “Yellowstone” series are a bit perplexed on exactly how the Duttons make all their money. There are several references in the show that are made about money. However, they have do have many luxuries, like RAM Trucks that cost upwards of $75,000 each, and of course that helicopter.
This has spawned a debate on where the Duttons money comes from.
“JD [John Dutton] says something like ‘I’m not a rich man’. And at one point Jamie says the ranch has 10 million in cash. So I see what he’s saying, like all their money is tied up in land. And I’m sure it cost a ton to acquire all that land. In another scene they say each cows worth like 1900. It didn’t seem like that much. So I’m not a numbers person, but it just doesn’t seem like Duttons would make enough money in the cattle business to acquire such a tremendous amount of land plus all the property taxes, staff, trucks, chopper! So is there another income stream? Maybe future seasons answer this or maybe I’m bad at cattle business math (very likely),” shares this person in a chat forum.
Perhaps it’s generational money, and some refer to it as “old money.”
“I remember someone saying ‘A Dutton founded the town’ so I would assume a homestead claim to acquire it originally and deep family money was always my guess,” adds this poster.
“Most agricultural assets don’t throw off a lot of cash, ” writes one person, but makes an educated guess on where the money does come from. “Agricultural land is a safe bet given capital gains on the property. Therefore you really only make money when you sell the asset.”
Is It Generational Wealth?
“Generational wealth is the main driver of family scale investments. Investing in more country or off property investments consumes most of your excess cash during good times to buffer the downturns. But eventually someone sells and pulls out all the cash. After that it’s anyone’s guess as to what happens. 9 times out of 10 it has been diluted throughout the family and is gone within a generation,” one user writes.
Maybe Taylor Sheridan will give us more answers in the fourth season. It’s premiering this June. But until then, keep up with all things “Yellowstone” on Outsider.com.