Family ranching is the path Mayfield chose
Midwest – Lynn Shepperson Mayfield and her family still ranch the old-fashioned way, trailing cattle often and using horses to get the job done.
The Midwest cow/calf family operation chooses to do it that way to keep costs down, and because it’s good for conditioning their horses.
“One thing we pride ourselves on is doing all of our cow work horseback, with no dogs. We like to trail, and we rope,” says Lynn, adding, “We like to train and work with horses, and that’s our hobby in the summertime.”
Although the horses in training mainly stay with the ranch, she says some of them are sold. “There are quite a few people working on the ranch, so we sell very few and keep them for ourselves.”
Lynn says she always liked having the livestock and horses around as she grew up on the ranch, saying she and her siblings all rode ever since they were old enough that they could. “I liked the independence of growing up on a ranch,” she adds. “Over where my folks are there are rock walls and a rock canyon, and we’d spend hours up there building forts and being wild ranch kids.”
Following school in Midwest, Lynn moved on to the University of Wyoming in Laramie, where she majored in ag business. Lynn says she high school rodeoed along with her brother Les and sisters Amy and Lisa, and when she moved to Laramie she joined the UW rodeo team, competing in goat tying and breakaway roping.
“I really liked college rodeo, and it was a good experience for me. A lot of the people I met then we do business with now,” she says.
After college Lynn says she knew she wanted to eventually return to the ranch, but her father encouraged her, and all his kids, to get out and try something different for a while.
“I came home for a little bit after school, but then went to Texas for four or five months, where I helped a ranch train cutting horses for a futurity in Fort Worth,” she says. “I helped ride and train horses, and I learned a lot, but I also learned that wasn’t what I wanted to do.”
It was then she returned to Midwest to help her parents, as her three younger siblings were spending more time off the ranch in high school and college.
Lynn and her husband Justin Mayfield, from Casper, and their young sons Koll and Jace, six and four years old, now live on a ranch just north of Midwest that was added to the Shepperson ranch in the 1980s. Lynn’s parents Frank and Susie Shepperson live on the ranch’s other headquarters south of Midwest.
“We do everything,” says Lynn of her mom’s and her involvement in operating the ranch. “We both share the bookwork. I do the livestock number side, and she does the business part.”
When not managing the numbers, Lynn says she’s out riding every day, and this fall that routine has included feeding the weaned calves. She says she also does the feeding in the winter, as well as calving heifers.
“My favorite times are calving heifers, branding and shipping. We neighbor with a lot of the community around here, so we get a pretty big crowd to help. It’s a fun time of year because we help each other out,” she says.
Of living and ranching amidst the Salt Creek Oilfield, Lynn comments there are pros and cons. “For some reason the snow is never as deep in the oilfield, and we don’t have to chop ice because of the warm water,” she says of the BLM grazing leases the ranch holds in the winter.
“We have to work with Anadarko on a lot of different issues. We’re in touch with them a lot, because we’re right in the middle of them, and they’re right in the middle of us,” she adds.
Looking to the future, Lynn says the ranch will keep on as usual, and work on its recent expansion. “There are a lot of family members involved, and, like every family ranch, it’s hard for several families to make a living. We want to keep the family ranch in the family and make it a viable place where Koll and Jace and other future grandchildren can stay,” she says, adding that her sons are the fifth generation on the Shepperson ranch.
Christy Hemken is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.