Murdock sees value in ag women
Pinedale – From the rolling hills of Scotland to the mountainous landscape of Pinedale, Murdock Cattle Company co-owner Madeleine Murdock continues to embody the courageous, hardworking and caring nature that is common to women in the agricultural industry.
Murdock’s husband Stan’s family homesteaded at the current ranch site in 1895, making the couple’s son Scott the fourth generation to ranch in Wyoming.
Murdock, however, was born and raised in Scotland, where she worked on a local farm as a young teenager.
“As a very young teenager, I worked on one of the local farms, so I have always enjoyed working outdoors and working with livestock,” says Murdock.
In 1966, she stopped in Wyoming while on her way to Canada with the intention of taking a teaching position for a year.
“I stopped in Wyoming and took a teaching position in Pinedale. I thought that I could certainly survive in a small town for a year and that turned into many, many years,” laughs Murdock.
The Murdock family operates a cow/calf operation on 3,000 acres near Pinedale.
“We raise native hay and Hereford-Angus crosses,” explains Murdock.
As members of the Green River Drift, the ranch runs cattle on U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land.
“We are part of the Green River Drift, which is an organization that runs cattle in common on the U.S. Forest Service and also the BLM,” says Murdock.
Murdock continues to process cattle in the spring and fall and manages the ranch, along with her son Scott and ranch manager Coke Landers and his wife Molly.
“I help with the cattle work in the spring and the fall basically around the chutes. I still discuss much of the ranch operation with my ranch manager and also my son, who is not on the ranch,” she explains.
Scott is a corporate pilot for 21st Century, she explains, but he is still extremely involved in the ranching operation.
“He loves flying. He also loves the ranch. He, Coke and Molly get along extremely well and work together really well. When he’s not home, they all communicate via computer and cell phones,” says Murdock.
Environmental conservation and conservation of agricultural lands is an important priority for Murdock.
“We are so rapidly losing agricultural land. I think it’s important to do what we can to be good stewards of the land, the livestock, the wildlife – we have a lot of wildlife up here in this Green River Valley,” she says.
As many younger generations have moved away from agriculture, Murdock feels privileged to have a young family that is involved at the ranch.
“We’re losing many younger members in agriculture, so I feel very fortunate to have a young family here on the ranch with me. Coke and Molly are in their late 30s. I think giving them and their children an opportunity to be involved in agriculture is important,” says Murdock.
In addition to ranching operations, Murdock finds it extremely important to be involved in local organizations and community events.
“I’m on the executive committee of the local Upper Green River Cattle Association. I’m also a board member of art and theater organizations, namely the Pinedale Community Theater, the Sublette County Artist’s Guild and also Mixed Media,” says Murdock.
As a board member for the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust, Murdock finds it important to work with programs that aid young producers and help maintain agricultural land.
“The Stock Growers Land Trust is involved in developing a program to assist young ranchers to eventually be able to buy a ranch of their own,” she continues. “We’re trying to match up older ranchers with younger ranchers. Older ranchers have the position of being advisors and stewards until the younger people are comfortable and are successful.”
Women’s involvement in agriculture is vital for the continuation of the Western heritage, says Murdock.
“I think women have always been the guardians of family life and customs and even local history,” she continues.
Oftentimes, women are the hearts and souls of agricultural operations, serving an important role in maintaining and managing all aspects of their homes and businesses, she says.
“They are very often anchors for the whole operation in that they are always there in the background. They are an extra hand when needed, and they provide love and support to their husbands and families. They certainly provide a lot of the nourishment for both body and soul,” says Murdock.
Murdock notes that women in the agricultural industry are well educated and prioritize education for their families and all of those they come into contact with.
“I think many women in agriculture are well educated and consider education to be important,” she says.
“They make sure that their own families and young people whom they come into contact with are offered the best education available,” concludes Murdock.
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.