Rich Pingetzer family works together
Shoshoni – “My grandpa, and I assume my dad, actually broke this place out of sagebrush in the 1960s. I don’t think anyone outside the family has ever farmed it, which is kind of cool. They leased it from the government until 1973 or 1974, and then bought it. We bought it from my dad in 1984,” explains Rich of how he and his wife Kay came to live in their present location. “I can remember coming here with Grandpa, and this is where I always wanted to be because there were no cows or people out here.”
“Rich and Kay got started on their own and just gradually took over some of it and added to it, and now they have a pretty extensive operation,” comments Rich’s dad George.
Rich adds he likes to think of himself as a farmer. “I don’t like cows, they give me a headache. But my whole life revolves around cows, so I guess it doesn’t really matter if I like them or not.”
Their cowherd is comprised of commercial Black Angus cattle that are summered off the home place and wintered on field residue and hay. At one time Rich traded his brother some registered Red Angus cattle for some registered polled Herefords, then traded again for black cattle.
Rich and Kay have a daughter named Jessica and a son named J.J. Everything on the operation is a family affair, and three hired hands round out the crew.
“We have 15 center pivots, three semis and a backgrounding lot,” says Rich of the operation. They also grow malt barley for two beer companies.
Among Rich’s trucking jobs is hauling for Yellowstone Beans this fall. “As soon as that’s finished we will start into hauling cattle, and that will last through Thanksgiving. Then we will start receiving calves,” explains Rich.
Calves are fed hay grown on the place. Rich notes it was more fun to sell hay rather than feed it, but right now it’s hard to move hay, so roughly half is sold and half is fed to the calves. In addition to hay, Rich feeds beet pulp and a small amount of corn.
“It depends on the year whether we purchase the cattle or background exclusively for other people. We’ve done both, depending on the year and the markets,” explains Rich. Typically cattle are grown to between 750 and 800 pounds, then marketed through Riverton Livestock.
Rich also feeds about 40 head of cattle to fats throughout the year and markets them through Riverton Pack and Wyoming Custom Meat.
“One of the big advantages to our location is it’s a prime cattle wintering area. We get very little moisture and our ground rarely gets muddy. The corrals don’t get sloppy, and that’s a good thing,” notes Rich.
He adds another advantage to his operation’s location is the access they have to an underground, pressurized pipeline. “We don’t have to use pumps on the sprinklers to irrigate. We only need the electricity to keep the sprinkler going in a circle, and that’s a really good deal,” adds Rich.
Disadvantages include a sandy soil that will blow. Rich notes that getting crops started can be a real challenge in the spring. This year the wind killed 90 acres of malt barley and severely damaged another 90 acres.
“One of my favorite things I do is work with the Shoshoni fourth-grade class. We work with them each year to figure out how much they can buy a calf for and make a profit. Then we actually go to the sale barn in Riverton, and Warren Thompson does a great job with them. They get to bid on cattle and buy a calf. Then we feed it out here and sell it and whatever they make in profit they get to decide how to spend on a party,” explains Rich.
He adds the family was also involved in the Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom (WAIC) summer tour this year. “We took the teachers to the sale barn and it worked out very well. They honestly didn’t know about the ag industry,” comments Rich.
Jessica is working on her own herd of registered Angus cattle, and says she looks forward to having a larger cow herd and her own farm someday.
Kay adds that between all the kid’s activities, church activities and farm and ranch work, the whole family stays busy.
Heather Hamilton is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.