Ranching

The Modern West 5: Wild Horses—A Western Icon In Trouble?

Oct 19, 2015
Dan Hayward

There's no cowboy without his trusty steed, so this month, we explore the role of horses in the Modern West.

Aaron Schrank

Bright neon uniforms speckle a usually empty hay field in the sleepy town of Savery. Two soccer games are in full swing—and almost all of the players are guest workers—like Dante Bruno.

“We’re here to play sports today,” says Bruno, in Spanish. “We are Peruvians. The majority of us here are Peruvians.” 

Bruno, 38, and his teammates wear pink pullovers that read, “Sheehan Ranch.” He’s been working at the ranch--in Baggs, Wyoming—for the past 15 years. Bruno says the work is hard, but not complicated.

“It’s cows,” says Bruno. “Pretty much cows.”

Forecasters say drought and wildfire could ravage much of the Western U.S. this summer. To help farmers and ranchers be prepared, the Obama Administration rolled out several programs last week at a press conference for Western governors. Some initiatives could help Wyoming producers.

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Robert Bonnie said some short term solutions are necessary. One is to reimburse ranchers who lose livestock because of a lack of grass or water.

The Wyoming Beef Council—the industry advocacy group for ranchers—says it has cut its budget and will rethink its marketing efforts.

Wyoming cattle numbers have been decreasing since 2001 because of drought, aging beef producers, shrinking grazing lands, and other factors. The Council’s smaller budget means that an administrative assistant position will be cut, and the council will only have one employee.

Jerome Brown Reads From "Calves In The Mud Room"

Jan 5, 2015
Jerome Brown

When he's not directing TV commercials, trading stocks, taking pictures, or hiking with his dog, Jerome Brown writes. He lives in Teton Valley with his wife and their collie.

Calves In The Mud Room is Brown’s first novella. Kirkus Reviews calls this coming-of-age story "An exciting, elegant debut."

Melodie Edwards

With goats flocking all around him for ear scratches, you could say Terry Hayes is a happy rancher. He’s the owner of the largest goat ranch in Wyoming, Open A Lazy S outside Riverton, and he says in the last few years his business has tripled. He says it’s because more people all the time are embracing the urban homesteader’s lifestyle. They’re raising backyard chickens, canning sauerkraut and knitting scarves. The number of backyard goats has also been on the uptick.

Wikimedia Commons

The Wyoming Farm Bureau is looking to the January legislative session as an entry-point to address issues surrounding trespassing, liability, and transportation.

Melodie Edwards

Last week, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was in Pinedale, taking part in a ceremony to sign up Wyoming ranchers to help protect sage grouse. These conservation agreements are called Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances or CCAA’s. They’re supposed to protect the birds on private lands, but as Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards reports, some wildlife advocates question whether the program really has the teeth to make a difference.

Rebecca Huntington

Chef Eric Bartle and girlfriend, Sara Kundelius, moved in the dead of winter from Portland, Oregon, to Turpin Meadow Ranch. The guest ranch is nestled at the end of the Buffalo Valley Road, on the edge of the Teton Wilderness, one of the most remote places in the Lower 48 states.

The couple loves to forage for locally grown foods and brought with them a supply of homemade jarred and canned delicacies to incorporate into the ranch’s menu. They share stories about that first trip to the ranch and their passion for home and forest-grown food.

The 4th annual Local Fest is moving from Pinedale to Lander this year. The festival is a celebration of Wyoming foods. It starts today with a free film festival at the Lander Public Library and runs through this weekend. 

Steve Doyle is a Riverton farmer who helped organize the event. He says this year’s event will be longer and more intensive than in the past. He says there are lots of success stories around the state.

Nita Engen grew up in Centennial, Wyoming. She is the 5th generation of ranchers to own land in the area, and cherishes the community that raised her as a child. Nita tells a few stories of her childhood on the range.

The city of Jackson will host a sustainable food festival this week--which the city claims is the first of its kind worldwide. FoodSHIFT director Annie Fenn says the festival will showcase regional ranchers and farmers. Area chefs and foodies will offer advice on topics including finding the best sustainable seafood and making your own vinegars. Fenn says the festival will spend one day just on the subject of local meats.

Roger Wollstadt

The Powder River Basin Resource Council's Bill Bensel says without a USDA meat plant in Wyoming local meats can’t get to state schools and stores. However, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture's Derek Grant says that’s not true.

“Our producers can take their livestock to those meat plants and then sell the products in the state of Wyoming to restaurants and school and individuals.”

Bensel says the problem is that there are too few slaughtering plants—only 12 state wide—to make it economically feasible for ranchers to process in-state.

Miles Bryan

When it opened in 1963 Sheridan’s King’s Saddlery was a small shop serving surrounding ranching and horse backing community. In the forty years that followed King’s became an institution. Founder Don King’s distinctive Sheridan style leatherwork is the finest in its class, and enthusiasts come from around the world to see the saddlery and the attached museum.

Melodie Edwards

Earlier this month in a Worland courthouse, a judge signed a final decree that brought to end what’s probably the longest-running lawsuit in Wyoming history. After 37 years, the lawsuit decided who exactly owns the water rights in and around the Wind River Indian Reservation. Those involved in the suit are now looking to the future.

Flickr Creative Commons

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously upheld the Country of Origin Labeling Law.

The law requires that packaged meat and poultry must have a label that clearly states the product’s country of origin. And it must detail how the animal was raised and slaughtered. The law also requires that muscle cuts of meat from animals slaughtered in different countries can’t be mixed in packaging.

A study from the University of Montana shows that when wolves attack cattle, it can cause calves to gain less weight.

Report co-author Derek Kellenberg says his team found that when wolves were simply in the area, there was no change in cattle weight, but that on ranches where there was a kill, the cows weighed less.

Kellenberg says skinnier cows are worth less, so ranchers can lose thousands of dollars.

But he says wolf predation was not the biggest factor affecting weight.

Micah Schweizer

Donna Robeson’s great grandmother came to South Pass in 1868.  She was a converted Mormon from Scotland and married English immigrant Richard Sherlock.  They heard there was going to be a big gold strike, so they came to seek their fortunes in mining.  This dream didn’t quite pan out.  Instead, the family started hotel and ranching businesses to earn a living.  Donna tells historian Susan Layman what she remembers from her childhood, at the ranch and with her aunt and uncle in the hotel.

Stephanie Joyce

Converse County is one of six counties in Wyoming with no land use regulations. When a proposal to develop zoning came up a decade ago, it went nowhere. But as development associated with the oil and gas boom in the Niobrara explodes, the county is struggling with questions of how to make sure it happens responsibly. And as Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, some residents are starting to question the costs of not planning.

Roger Wollstadt

A Wyoming ranch has won a Regional Environmental Stewardship Award from the National Cattleman’s Beef Association for the sixth time in the award’s 22 year history. They will now be considered for the national title.

The Padlock Ranch in Sheridan County was already recognized for their environmental sustainability practices earlier this year by a different award.  

The grazing land of Wyoming is currently filled with young calves out to pasture. Calving season lasts through the spring and early summer in Wyoming and once the calves are born ranchers have to brand them to identify which ranch they belong to. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov attended a branding and found that in the 21st Century, some ranchers are happily keeping up old, social customs during their brandings.

IRINA ZHOROV: Scott Sims’ ranch in the Rock Creek Valley in Southeast Wyoming branded a batch of their calves at the end of June.

Sophie Burden was raised on Remuda Ranch, an historic dude ranch established by her family outside of Wickenburg, Arizona. Sophie married Dom Echeverria, a Basque who proved passionate, loving...and explosive. Their life together took them to the high Andes of Peru, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming, where they ran one of the largest ranching operations in the West.

Pages