Meike brothers selected for Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame
Kaycee – Peto Meike and Don Meike were nominated by Wyoming Livestock Roundup readers and selected by a panel of three to join the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame.
Peto and Don reside on the Meike Ranch south of Kaycee, where their family has lived since 1901. In addition to running cattle and sheep both on the ranch and on the south end of the Bighorn Mountains during the summer months, the brothers have been actively involved in a number of organizations that benefit Wyoming agriculture.
“Our grandfather came here in 1901 and homesteaded. He was one of the big instigators in the irrigation project that goes from here to Kaycee. There are over 5,000 acres under that ditch and he and a couple neighbors could see the future of irrigation in this valley,” explains Peto.
“Our granddad was very active in various things in the county as well. He was a county commissioner at one time and was always involved,” adds Don.
Peto and Don have carried on the tradition of being active in the community. At one time Don served on five state boards at once and has been the Wyoming Wool Growers President and National Wool Growers President. Peto spent 42 years with the Kaycee Conservation District in addition to serving as the county Farm Bureau president.
Between the two of them, Don and Peto have served every position available in the Johnson County Cattlemens, Wool Growers and Farm Bureau in addition to a number of other local and state positions.
“Politically Wyoming is a wonderful place to be from because if you want to know the Governor on a first-name basis, you can. I’ve known the last eight or 10 without trying. In most instances I knew him before he was Governor. In that way Wyoming is a wonderful, unique place.
“My dad was on the first board of the first Conservation District in Kaycee and when he went off the board I went on. I finally retired a year ago and that’s the first time there hasn’t been a Meike on the board since it originated,” notes Peto.
In addition to their deep level of community involvement, Don and Peto continue to run the family ranch. It started with cattle and today runs cattle and sheep.
“We also flood irrigate about 1,200 acres which is another full-time job in itself,” says Peto.
“We summer most of our livestock on the south end of the Bighorn Mountains. We trail the sheep and haul the cattle to the foot and walk them up,” explains Don.
Both brothers live by their long-standing family motto, ‘be a good neighbor,’ and their newest employee was hired three years ago. Most have been with them ‘forever’ if you ask Don and Peto, who can tell you about each family, how their kids do in school, what sports they play and how long they have been on the Meike Ranch.
“Being good neighbors have made Peto and Don a wonderful example for youth and encourages young producers to be involved in agriculture. Their leadership in good stewardship and use of innovative ideas provides a positive image for agriculture in Wyoming. Peto and Don are also both very involved in organizations that keep agriculture moving forward,” says Mike and Connie Lohse in their nomination form.
Both brothers say they have always taken a progressive approach to agriculture. “You have to try new things. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but a lot of the time it does,” notes Don. Peto adds that at times their father would shy away from their ideas, “But he never deterred us. He would let us try,” he says.
For the past year Don and Peto have stayed busy building a senior housing building in Kaycee.
“Our aunt was a rancher here and after her husband died she eventually retired, sold the ranch and moved to Kaycee. She lived there for about 10 years, then felt she was no longer capable of taking complete care of herself so she moved to an independent senior housing building in Buffalo. She found that for the first two years she was considered the new lady,” explains Peto.
“She often asked why couldn’t we have a senior housing apartment in Kaycee so people don’t have to leave their friends and community? She left her estate to the building of such an apartment and we just had the grand opening in early July,” adds Don.
The apartment includes 10 units and much of the funding came from local ranchers. “Probably 90 percent is local ranch money. Her estate took care of the architecture plans and the rest has been raised. Some banks and other individuals also helped but the ranching community really backed this project,” says Peto.
“The Meike’s are supporters of youth activities and organizations. They organize and contribute to the Kaycee Sheepherders rodeo, the Deke Latham memorial rodeo and founded the Kaycee Senior Housing project. All of the things they do and support help maintain a positive image of agriculture,” states the Lohse’s nomination form.
“Mike and Connie Lohse interviewed us and turned in the application. We are very appreciative of what they’ve done. We don’t really like the limelight and don’t work for it – but get it once in a while,” says Don of been selected for the Wyoming agriculture Hall of Fame.
Join the Roundup, Farm Credit Services and Encana, USA for the 2010 Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame Picnic Aug. 18 at 5:30 p.m., where Don and Peto Meike will be inducted, as well as Grant Stumbough of Wheatland. Heather Hamilton is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.