A life he was meant for: Garman pursues ag passion on Sundance Ranch
Sundance – Generations upon generations of the ranching communities still hold a true place in the open state, one in particular locating on the outskirts of Sundance.
Wayne Garman, partner of the Rafter H Cattle Ranch, grew up in the ranching business and fulfills the lifestyle every day.
Beginning after high school, Garman began working for his neighbor’s ranch before attending Chadron State College in Chadron, Neb. With a different idea of what he wanted to do in life, Garman took a major in criminal justice and even worked for the Chadron campus police, he says.
However, after experiencing a pick-up wreck in high school and losing his hearing in one ear, Garman believed that such a career path wasn’t meant for him.
“I knew it would be difficult to pursue that program,” Garman says.
After two years in Nebraska and coming home to work on the ranch during his free time, Garman set out to earn a degree in agricultural business from the University of Wyoming. Gaining the knowledge of business gave Garman and his brother Ross the ability to partner together and lease not only their mother’s but also their neighbor’s land.
“We are currently running 300 commercial cows on this leased land,” Garman says.
Though the Garman’s father first started with the Hereford breed when owning Miller Creek Herefords, Rafter H Cattle is predominantly Angus and black baldy based, he says.
With land being hard to come by in terms of purchasing in Crook County, Garman and his brother knew they had to use their leased land to their advantage, running cows and crop rotation.
“We use a crop rotation of hay and grass,” Garman said.
Each year the ranch puts up hay for the winter season, depending on rain to help grow the crop each year. With Wyoming’s climate being dramatic from day-to-day, the ranch tries to use all their resources and other purchases of hay to maintain their herd.
Ranching for the life
Just like anyone would express why they would want to or do stay in the ranching business, Garman believes that he is good at what he does and really enjoys the lifestyle.
“If we do something we like, we never work a day in our lives,” Garman says.
Enjoying such lifestyle, Garman talks about being with the nature around him. One of his favorite parts is riding on horseback during a fall day gathering cows. The scenery and the job he is doing just can’t compare to anything else, Garman says.
Even with the hardships of the unpredictable weather and cattle prices, Garman believes that this is the way of life he was meant for.
Ranching toward the future
As technology reaches strides in agriculture, he states that his ranching techniques are better than ever.
“I now can sit in a tractor, and it does everything itself,” Garman says.
However, a rancher wouldn’t be successful without the help and pride from his wife and family. Dixie, Garman’s wife, is a stay-at-home mother and the rancher’s right hand, helping whenever needed and taking care of the family.
Garman’s daughter, Peggy Sue, is a graduate from Casper College where she competed on the rodeo team. Just like her father, Peggy Sue grew up helping around the ranch and even has a few cows of her own.
“I gave Peggy her first cow when she was one. I wanted to build something for her to use later in life, either for college or such,” Garman says.
Peggy Sue was also active in 4-H with horses and cattle projects.
Garman’s main job might be an active rancher but also participates in other agriculture activities. In 1996, Garman became extremely active in the conservation district, and he now serves as part of the Crook County Natural Resources District and Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts.
There might be better ways to make money, but successful ranching wouldn’t make it without conservation to help, Garman says.
He is also a proud member and zone warden of the local volunteer fire department.
“A lot of people lose sight of the importance that the volunteer fire department plays for the community,” Garman says. “Our responsibility is crucial when living in this environment.”
In year’s past, Garman also became a hunting guide for a local outfitter, but with a ranch to take care of, he closed that chapter to his life and now hunts for fun. When he isn’t ranching or doing other hobbies, Garman is also a ringman on the side for a friend’s auctioneer company.
As Garman and his family look into the future of their ranch and leases, they see themselves continuing with the ranching lifestyle in Sundance. No matter if the legacy of the ranch will be passed to the next generation of Garman and brother Ross’s children or not, the brothers and partners will always be true to their cattlemen roots.
Jessica Middleswarth is an intern for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. She is a student at Oklahoma State University and is from Torrington. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.