Eyes toward improvement: Maddock family works to improve land, control invasive species on their farm
Starting their operation five years ago, Duane Maddock and his wife Cindy have tirelessly worked to improve their small alfalfa and beef farm.
“It was kind of run down, overgrazed and needed some attention,” says Maddock about the condition of the farm when they purchased it. “It’s been a productive five years bringing it back to life.”
Maddock was first exposed to agriculture growing up on his family’s ranch. He received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture business and economics from Utah State University.
While he was in college, Maddock’s father became ill, prompting the family to sell the ranch.
“When I was in college, my father became sick with cancer, and we ended up selling everything,” explains Maddock.
He continued to stay involved with agriculture throughout his life, leading him to purchase his operation in Thermopolis.
“I always kept in touch with agriculture, and then I had the opportunity to buy a place here in Thermopolis,” says Maddock.
One of Maddock’s brothers owns land close to his own and is also involved in agriculture.
“We’re kind of hobby farmers, but it’s a lifestyle we enjoy,” he says.
Maddock currently operates 17 irrigated acres, along with 13 acres of native meadows.
“I worked a nine-acre field, so it would irrigate well then seeded it down to alfalfa. I’ll be producing hay on that,” says Maddock.
He recently finished construction on an irrigation system for the remaining eight acres to convert them to grass pasture.
“I’m going to do a cover crop double crop each year with some cool season grasses and then warm season grasses to stimulate the topsoil,” continues Maddock. “Right now, it’s covered in cheatgrass. I get some benefit from that in the spring, but I need more than that.”
Maddock currently runs 14 head of Angus cattle on his land.
“I’ve tried to bring in some good genetics. Black Angus is prevalent here, and we have some good bloodlines in the area,” explains Maddock. “I was just out looking at my calf crop and how even they look. It’s been fun to see.”
Oil and gas
In addition to his involvement in agriculture, Maddock continues to be involved in the oil and gas industry.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a career in the oil and gas industry,” says Maddock.
In a unique situation, Maddock and three of his brothers manage an oilfield service company.
“Myself and three other brothers are involved in an oilfield service company, and we work together to run the company. It’s been a great opportunity to work with them in that industry as well, with the four of us,” he continues. “It’s a unique situation. I don’t know of another family who’s done this.”
Like many involved in the agricultural industry, Maddock highly values his family and their involvement in the operation.
“My kids have learned how to take care of animals and be responsible. We have some of those traditions that family comes first, and we take care of each other – a lot of the things that we see in agriculture life,” explains Maddock.
Duane and Cindy have five children and three grandchildren. Their two youngest are attending high school in Thermopolis and help at the family farm.
The Maddock family has instilled the value of work and craftsmanship into each of their children.
Maddock illustrates with an irrigation project that his children were actively involved with at the farm.
“We put in 1,700 feet of underground pipe as part of the irrigation system, and we had to lay it on grade. More than 1,700 feet on grade took a lot of work on my kids’ part,” says Maddock. “We would get it close and then hand dig. It was hard, but they did it right.”
After five years of work, Maddock is encouraged by the improvements that can be seen in his land.
“Improving the land and making things better than it was before has been really rewarding to me,” comments Maddock.
He notes that the farm was in poor condition when he purchased it.
“When I purchased this place, it was overgrazed. I looked around, and the pastures around me had grass growing tall and lush, while my place was growing nothing but weeds,” says Maddock.
Using resources from the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Maddock was able to improve irrigation and control many of the present weeds.
“I had a serious goathead problem that got brought under control. Cheatgrass is the next weed that I will eliminate as I start to farm the next seven to eight acres,” he says.
Maddock also plans to expand his beef cattle herd in the coming years.
“There are some possibilities of leasing pasture nearby, and I’m hoping to pick up some of those leases and continue to increase the herd size of the cows,” says Maddock.
He also plans to continue improving his facilities for cattle work, such as fences and facilities.
Maddock explains that the area that he lives in is invaded with Russian olive trees.
“I’ve seen some aerial photos of this place in the 50s, and it was some very productive farm ground. When we look at it now, it’s completely invaded with Russian olive trees,” continues Maddock.
As efforts are made to control the trees, Maddock hopes to be involved.
“I would really like to be part of bringing that under control,” he says.
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.