||Are farmers rich? Is it
easy to make a living off ranching? Or, do you
just like the lifestyle?
No, we are not rich. At least not money wise,
yes, I know that sounds corny but it is the
truth. We don't have money but we have a lot of
things that money can't buy. No, it is not easy
to make a living farming/ranching. It is very
hard work. Yes, we LOVE the lifestyle!
||Why do ranchers feed
Some ranchers do feed corn and some do not.
However, corn is good high energy feed that, at
times, is fairly inexpensive. The high energy
helps animals to grow/mature more
efficiently/quickly and helps to stretch the hay
||Doesnít beef make you
Anything will make you fat if you eat too much
of it. Good lean beef does not make you fat if
eaten as part of a healthy diet.
||Do you keep the
cows/horses inside during the winter?
No, we do not keep the animals inside during the
winter. We provide them with wind protection
which is a necessity here and good high quality
feed and unlimited water. The animals do fine in
the extremes here if provided these things.
||How do you make the
grass into neat squares like that?
We use a machine that compacts the grass into
the squares. It is called a square baler.
||What does an acreage
like this cost?
This is a difficult question because there are
so many variables. But, I will try to answer it
as best I can. First, it depends on where the
acreage is. If it is along a river, it will cost
more than if there is no water. If it is crop
land, it will be more expensive than if it is
native pasture. Is it near a city or more rural?
Supply and demand will play a huge role in the
price also. Is there a neighbor that wants that
of property and how much is he willing to pay?.
So I guess the answer to this question is "it
||Why arenít you an
We are so far away from any where that purchases
organic crops that the transportation costs make
it prohibitive. We do not get paid enough extra
to cover the expenses incurred.
||Isnít it true that
cattle are contributing to global warming most
with the methane they release?
No, I do not believe this is a true statement.
While it is true that cows do produce methane
there are many, many producers of methane gas
and I do not believe cows contribute the most.
First, lets look at the Human-Related Sources of
include Natural Gas and Petroleum Systems,
domesticated livestock, ruminant animals
(cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, and camels),
landfills, coal mining, manure management,
wastewater treatment, rice cultivation, and
composting. Then there are the natural occurring
sources. These include wetlands, oceans, rivers,
and estuaries, geologics, hydrates, wild
animals, wildfires, and termites (yes, termites,
are the second largest natural producer of
methane gas - they produce it to protect their
||Arenít factory farms
the real reason so many animals are abused?
Again, this is not true. There are many more
good factory farms than bad. It really is about
the people that run the farm. Just as there are
good pet owners and there are abusive pet
||How does your farm dog
stay clean and healthy if it lives outside?
Just because she lives outside does not mean she
is not taken care of. She is fed, groomed,
de-wormed and vaccinated just like most dogs
that live inside.
||How old is a steer
before itís ready to go to market?
Again, this question has many variables. It
depends on what you intend to do with the meat.
If it is for veal, it is very young when it goes
to market. If all you want is hamburger, you can
wait until they are 15 years old if you want but
that would be very expensive hamburger. We
prefer a good all around beef, roasts, steaks,
and hamburger, and not too fat so ours are
usually ready to slaughter at around 18 months.
||Could this animal kill
me if it wanted to?
Sure it could. However, most but not all farm
animals have more flight instinct than fight
unless they are cornered.
||Do they sleep standing
up? Is cow tipping a myth?
Cows tend to sleep lying down most of the time.
Horses often sleep standing up but will also lie
down. Yes, I believe cow tipping is a myth. Cows
and horses are almost impossible to sneak up on
even if they are sleeping. They have
extraordinary senses of hearing, sight and
||Are foals are born tame
Foals are born flight animals so their instinct
is to run from things they do not know. They
must be gently taught that humans are not
something to be afraid of but to be trusted as a
||Why is agriculture so
So that the American public will always have a
good supply of healthy food at reasonable
prices. If not subsidized and left only to
supply and demand, the prices of food would sky
||Shouldnít the corn we
grow in the U.S. be used to feed people, not
It is used to feed people. There is more corn
grown than needed to feed the people. Some corn
is a different type than used for people. i.e.
||Why do ranchers give
For the same reason human doctors give
antibiotics to keep humans alive and healthy. It
would be cruel to withhold medical treatment of
a sick animal.
||Why are there so many
hormones in beef?
||Do you think we will
really be eating beef in the future? Itís so
expensive to raise.
We will continue to raise beef as long as the
consumers demand it. If there is no demand,
there will be no beef raised. A question for you
to consider: Some land is not suitable for
anything but grass. What would you like to see
use the grass?
||How often do you need
to feed and water the animals?
The animals must be fed and watered every day,
and sometimes twice a day or more. Newborn
animals eat several times a day, some as often
as every 2 hours if they are orphaned. A newborn
foal will nurse from its mother every 20 to 30
||How do you know when
the hay is ready to be baled?
You know Mark is really good at this. He will
pick up a handful of cut hay and give it two or
three twists. Then he will tell you it is too
wet or too dry. He says "you learn it by doing
it. It just goes by moisture content". I do know
that grass hay can be much drier than alfalfa
because if it is too dry, the leaves will all
fall off the alfalfa and you will have only the
stems left. BUT, too wet and it all molds -
grass or alfalfa.
||What are meals like?
Sorry, ours or the animals?
||What time do you get
This again depends on the time of year. Summer,
during haying we are up at daybreak which is
4:30 or 5:00. Fall, during harvest it is
daylight but daylight is a bit later so 5:30 or
6:00. Winter, Mark is up at 6:00 on the weekdays
as he drives a school bus but I usually sleep
til around 7:00. Spring, with springs work,
calving and foaling, it all depends on when we
go to sleep. Since we check the cows and horses
around the clock some night we don't get to
sleep until morning so it is like having a whole
house full of newborn babies, you grab a little
sleep whenever you can get it.
||What do you like to do
We both like hunting and fishing. I like to
watch movies and read but only seem to have time
for that in the winter. Mark likes Sodoku.
||Are cows really
Some of them are and some of them are not. We
had one milk cow named Mugsy that LOVED
Butterfinger candy bars. She would come up to
you if she heard paper rattling and her tongue
would come out about a foot and wrap around that
candy and it would be gone. I swear she closed
her eyes in sheer enjoyment as she chewed it up.
||How much sunscreen do
you use typically in a summer?
Mark doesn't wear any. He always wears jeans, a
long sleeved shirt, hat, boots and many times,
gloves. Me, on the other hand, I should own
stock in Water Babies! The sun loves me I have
light skin, freckles, green eyes and I FRY!
||How many different jobs
do you perform in a day?
OH BOY! Many! Chores, feeding, watering and
caring for the animals in general also
veterinary care if needed, running equipment,
repairman in general repairing equipment,
fences, wells, etc. Both of us volunteer on the
ambulance, Shellie as an EMT and Mark as a
driver. Both of us volunteer on the fire dept.
Mark drives school bus. Bookkeeper/secretary,
house and yard upkeep, cook, etc. Animal
husbandry, animal midwifery, trainer,
wrangler...the list goes on.
||Why breed the cows (and
horses) so early that they're calving (or
foaling) at a time of year you know the weather
is going to be dangerously cold and
We try to miss the last spring storms by
starting in April. However, Mother Nature still
calls the shots. Sometimes we have an animal
birth early, and sometimes we have storms clear
until May. The market for the beef calves also
dictates a calf of a certain weight by a certain
date in the fall if you want to get the best
price, so that is also a consideration.
||I'd like to know what
winters are like and is there anything special
you do for the livestock?
Our winters are very LONG! We usually feed the
animals hay 6 months of the year. Our actual air
temperatures can be as much as -30į to -40į F
and we are wide open with little to slow the
wind so combine the air temps with the wind and
you get this nasty number called wind chill. It
can and does get to be -60į or more below zero.
Exposed areas of skin can frostbite in as little
as 10 minutes if you are not dressed for it.
Please see question #4 for care of the animals
in the winter.
||Is it difficult to
learn how to give shot's to your livestock?
Where did you go to learn. Could you teach me
Mark learned to give shots by his father and
many rancher learn this way. You can also learn
in Vo-Ag classes or college classes. Shellie
learned by working as a "candy striper" at the
hospital in her teens. She uses many of her EMT
skills on the animals and asks many questions of
her vet. Many vets will show you things if you
ask. Yes, we could teach you. We taught our
kids. If you are willing to listen, you can be
||What predators are
there out there?
There are a few that affect the cattle and
horses. These include coyotes, fox, eagles, an
occasional mountain lion or wolf. (Also, deer!!
- if you ask
Both wild and domestic dogs are an issue. There
are many other that affect the other small farm
animals like chickens and ducks.
||Why doesn't that lake
freeze in the winter?
It does freeze and the rivers freeze over too.
If it is cold enough and the body of water is
not very deep like the dam just behind our
house, it will freeze solid.
||What Native Americans
use to inhabit the area?
I think you are asking what tribes. There were
many and included the Sioux, Gros Ventre,
Assiniboine, Blackfoot, Crow, Cheyenne,
Chippewa, Cree, Salish and Kootenai.
||Can you take us on a
cattle drive? Do you drive cattle anywhere?
Where do you drive them to? Why do you drive
them there? How far is it to where you drive
them? How do you get back?
Cattle drives are really a thing of the past.
However, we do very short drives, moving them
from one pasture to another or from pasture to
home. Since our ranch is small, these are short
distances - 3 miles or less. If we ride a horse
out, we ride it back home.
||Why do you do what you
do? Do you like it? Would you mind adopting an
older son, who is about 60-ish?
We LOVE what we do! Both of us could get other
jobs that pay way more money but we would not
have this lifestyle. We are happy doing what we
do and make enough to live on...most years. We
have decided we have raised enough kids of our
own and others. We are ready to take it a little
||Where do you shop?
There is a very small town 3 miles away. It has
a convenience store/gas station so we can get
eggs and milk 6 days a week during the day.
Otherwise, most of our business is done in a
town about 30 miles away. That is our main
business center for groceries, doctors, parts,
etc. We would like to go only once a month but
something usually needs repair or care more
often than that.
||What happens when you
want ice cream in the middle of the night and
Well, you wait until you make the next trip to
town. How bad do you really need that ice cream
when it is a 60 mile round trip? Even Mark, the
ice cream freak, doesn't make the trip to town
just for ice cream.
||Where is The Gap?
Couldn't tell you.
||Where is Talbots?
What is Talbot's?
||Why do the vegetables
and meat taste so much better than what we buy
in the markets?
We are not sure but we are guessing it is
because they are truly fresh. There are no
preservatives or additives. They taste just the
way the good Lord intended.
||Ugh! Why, when you take
us trail riding, do you have to carry that GUN!?
Well, this may not be a popular answer but it is
our answer. For protection. Protection for
ourselves and our animals. Most wild animals
will try to stay out of your way but
occasionally you will run into an aggressive
wolf or mountain lion. The other part of this
is, we are a long way from any vet. A horse
falls and injures itself, say breaks a leg, it's
obvious with no reasonable hope of recovery. I
do NOT want to sit by and watch a horse suffer
for 2 or 3 hours while we wait for someone else
to come and put that animal out of it's misery.
I have waited for over 4 hours for a vet to come
to treat a horse that was obviously in pain. It
was the most horrible 4 hours I have ever spent
with one of my horses and that horse was not
dying but could not be loaded and taken to a
||Most often folks decide
to buy cattle, horses or both but have no clue
the amount of pasture and/or hay it takes to
maintain either. So, they buy land to raise
livestock and fall short of land, water and the
type of fencing it takes to maintain both. I'm
not sure of that info my self so I would be
interested in that info also.
It is different in all areas. Different land in
different areas can support a certain number of
cows or horses. For instance in our immediate
area, it takes approximately 14 acres of land
for a single cow and 18.5 for a horse. Only 100
miles west of here it would take 2-3 times that.
Some places would be much less. That is for 6
months because that is all you will be able to
graze it. We figure approximately 3 tons of hay
for each cow/horse per winter. Check with your
county extension agent. They can give you
figures for your particular area or the area you
wish to locate to. As for fencing, I am not sure
of the question.
||What are the salt
Every living thing needs salt to live. There is
generally not enough salt in the food that the
cows/horses eat for their requirements to be met
so it must be supplemented.
||What crops do you grow?
We raise oats, barley, Durham, lentils, alfalfa
and grass for hay, along with grass for the
cows/horses to graze.
||Do you grow your own
||How is the oil drilling
effecting your environment?
We have asked for impact reports but, to date,
have not gotten them.
||Have you seen much
change over the years in the weather,
Yes, I was born and raised on this farm. When I
was young the winters were very long, cold and
hard. Then we had many years of easy winters.
Now, the last few years have been difficult
again. All of the eighties were drought years
and the whole country burned up. Many farmers
went under but the last few years have been very
wet. It seems to go in cycles.
||Why can't I wear my
sandals/go barefoot out there?
Horses and cows don't watch where they are
stepping. If they step on your feet, you will
wish you had shoes on. There are cactus, rocks,
snakes, thorns, and bugs. I guess you can go
barefoot if you want to. They are your feet. In
the winter it might be too cold but, again, they
are your feet.
||Why don't you want me
going out in the pasture without you?
We don't know you or how you will treat our
animals. Our animals don't know you either. Do
you understand the concept of a bull or a
stallion belonging to their hormones/instinct?
Or a cow or mare protecting her baby? How do you
react and behave in these situations? It is just
better for everyone concerned if we accompany
you to the pastures.