Hansens build successful career in carpentry, livestock
Banner — Dale and Carmel Hansen have carpentered and run livestock across eastern and northern Wyoming for decades and are still keeping busy with both enterprises north of Buffalo.
“We originally sold our cows and bought a farm in Torrington that had a house on it. Carmel’s dad said there was nothing in that house a match wouldn’t fix, so we went ahead and matched it. We didn’t know anything about carpentering, but we started by rebuilding that house,” explains Hansen.
“My neighbor up the road had some carpenters out of Scottsbluff. They would get to work about 10 and leave around two. It was a cold and snowy winter and he asked us if we wanted to come up and work on his house. Then we got to farming and working for Jim McClun and he mentioned he was putting in a new house and asked if we wanted to come over and work on that. So we went over to McCluns and built that house for him,” comments Hansen on how his carpentry business got its start.
Dale and Carmel also ran butcher cows while living in Torrington and took advantage of opportunities when they were presented.
“In the 1980s when a lot of farms were going broke we would lease them from the bank for a minimal amount,” says Hansen. “We would buy the water and irrigate them and plant oats. When the weeds got to be about chin high we would go in and either green chop it all or loaf it and feed it to butcher cows. We’d take in a couple hundred head of cows and feed everything.”
In addition to cows, the Hansens also began feeding lambs and killer ewes while in Torrington and later when they moved to Lance Creek.
“While living in Torrington we bought a couple thousand sheep. We would haul them to Laramie in the summer, then winter them in LaGrange on circles of potatoes and whatever other crops they had,” says Hansen.
“Then we leased a ranch in Glenrock and would trail the sheep from there to Medicine Bow. It took a week., and it took the entire first day to gather. The second day we had to cross the main railroad tracks, the Flatriver bridge, the old highway, the old railroad tracks and go under the interstate. It was always a wreck because we were running those old, wild range ewes.
“Then we would stay in a pasture just past the interstate and it was five days to the mountain from there, so it was a seven day deal total. We did that for three or four years. One year it was really dry and that’s when we moved to Lance Creek and leased a place,” says Hansen.
Dale and Carmel worked for Pat Miller for a couple years, then started roofing houses. That led back to carpentering while in Lance Creek. The couple did a variety of jobs for several local ranchers in addition to jobs in Douglas and Casper.
“We moved to Banner seven or eight years ago in November. Since then we have continued both cattle and construction work,” says Hansen. “Now we do more construction and run the cows for fun. It used to be that we ran the cows and did construction to try to pay them off. Now we just run them for fun and have a good time.”
Hansen lists trailing cows to and from the mountain as one activity he enjoys annually.
“We had a fun time this year. It’s like anything, there’s a lot of hard work in it and it’s not easy. But the other thing is, if you do have some other job and can just have fun while you’re going to the mountain, instead of concentrating on getting back to work, it’s more enjoyable,” explains Hansen.
“This year coming off was really bad. We were pushing all day and were almost afoot, but we got most everything thrown into a bunch and that blizzard hit. The next morning we still had some cows coming out of canyons and we were out there in the blizzard sorting them the right direction. Then we didn’t know whether to kick off or stay there, so we kicked on the trail because no one else was, they were just going to stay another 10 days. Well, that wasn’t the best plan. We should have just got in behind them and started off because some went and some stayed and some other peoples’ tore the fence down and got mixed in. It was like a 10-day sort after that, but it was still fun and we had a good time,” says Hansen.
In addition to new construction, Hansen has worked on a variety of historical buildings since moving to Buffalo. He is also helping his daughter with a construction project.
“There was a stud barn that is located at Beckton Corner. It was an old, stone stud barn and was rebuilt into a teacherage before and we rebuilt it again and turned it into a house,” says Hansen of one historic project in northern Wyoming.
Hansen gives a lot of credit to his wife and daughters for their help throughout the years. “That’s one thing about guys on a construction job – they tend to get a little sloppy. If it weren’t for girls that job wouldn’t look quite as good as it does. Carmel helps me a lot and everything she does is absolutely meticulous and perfect. She does an excellent job,” says Hansen.
His two daughters Heather and Carla grew up helping with the family business and made their college money carpentering. “In fact, one year Carmel, Heather, Carla and Shaylee Dockery (Love) painted the entire high school in Lusk. Painted the whole thing. They’ve carpentered a lot,” comments Hansen.
As the Hansens continue building on their past success, they are certain to experience a fun ride filled with humorous stories and hard work.
Heather Hamilton is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org