Our story is not that different from other ranchers.
We were both born in the same hospital in Lake County, Oregon – separated by a few years. We run cows. Mary loves cows. Dick is semi-retired from riding long days to gather cattle but still helps whenever someone can use his assistance. While our cattle are physically in various locations, we are the managers of our business.
We are down to one cow dog. We used to have between five and six because most every ranch has the old one that is retired but still family… the semi-old one that still likes to help on easy days… the two that are working age that trade off work days… and the young one that is learning while causing more work than if he weren’t there and the pup that is busy packing movable items on the ranch to the front porch and digging holes everywhere.
We were both raised in the cattle business and always wanted to live the life of a stockman in the Great Basin. Turns out that we did get to do that when we were young, before and after we met. When we were first married Dick had a ranch job and we loved working in Paisley, Oregon, sometimes living in ‘cow camp,’ feeding with a team, packing water to our little cabin, haying in summer and having mostly each other for company.
It was our goal to eventually have our own cattle to support ourselves. The best part of our story, we must say ‘up front’ is that our families endorsed this goal despite the fact they had helped us obtain college degrees. Probably not what they had in mind – we could have made more money doing just about anything else for a living and have much less exposure to injury. We are continually grateful for all they provided to us in example and in education.
Although our forefathers’ existences were physically hard, they loved their lives, the land, their livestock and their families. Our ancestors were made of sacrifice, grit, and determination. We strive to honor them through our commitment to moving forward, continually striving to improve all that we touch. Recognizing our many blessings every day, we highly value our personal connection to the land, the animals and friends.
We have been married for 45 years and have learned how life casts our realities. What we know now is, owning our cattle and living this life we choose are the tools God blessed us with that allowed us to raise three wonderful, caring, confident children in this unique culture of the western cowboy.
This way of the cowboy is a life of self-reliance that nurtures a generous caring for all that one contacts. Long days, in all weather, are expected. Sometimes one is so exhausted, it seems impossible to continue, but we do. We deal with life events that bring much sadness and serious obstacles along the way. These are hard lessons, but each spring brings new life, and the cycle begins anew.
Over the years, we have nurtured many ‘pups,’ trained several ‘young pups,’ while caring for and respecting the ‘old dogs’ that taught us. Now, while not quite the old dog, we are the semi-old dog that still likes to help on easy days.
Whether it is the land, the animals or the personal relationships, the same long-term commitment is part of our character. Our lives are and have been lived for the long term, always planning and looking to advance a positive outcome. We continue to love our cows, horses, dogs, kids, grandkids and friends for they are really what we do for a living and all we ever wanted to do, we just didn’t know it would be this simple!