Family tradition: No better way of life than ranching for Zimmerschieds
Carlile – Ranching is a family tradition and way of life for third generation rancher Dan Zimmerschied of the Zimmerschied Ranch in northeastern Wyoming.
“Our family has been ranching over 100 years on this place. The original family came from Edwardsville, Ill., and they had a farm back there,” he explains. “They built the house I live in in 1912, and that was the year my father was born.”
Running the business
Currently, the Zimmerschied Ranch is a long yearling operation, Zimmerschied explains.
“In other words, spring 2017’s calves won’t sell until next fall in 2018,” he says. “The advantage to that is, if we do have a dry year, we can sell them in the spring, and we have the pasture we would have used for them to put our cows on so we don’t sell our cows.”
The yearlings are not usually backgrounded and are primarily grassfed at the time of sale.
“I mostly sell them through a livestock auction barn, but this spring I did sell some of them private treaty,” he explains.
After the passing of his mother, Zimmerschied notes the ranch is in a period of transition.
“I’ll probably only be running 175 to 200 head for a while now until I can build back up a little bit,” he comments. “I’m pretty much switching to all Black Angus with Simmental crossed into them from running Herefords.”
In addition to their yearling operation, Zimmerschied explains the ranch also raises hay for their cattle using dryland field management.
“We do a little farming, but most of the farming we do is to try and grow hay,” he comments.
The ranch grows a mix of alfalfa and grass hay, with the majority of their production being grass hay.
Family and the ranch
Zimmerschied and his wife Mary “DeDe” have been married for 27 years, and he notes she is actively involved in helping care for the ranch.
“She enjoys helping with some of the things around on the ranch and has a big garden she tends to,” says Zimmerschied.
In addition to helping care for the ranch, DeDe also applies her talents to hand crafting, he says.
“DeDe does woodworking, and she builds log furniture, Zimmerschied explains.
DeDe’s two children and the couple’s grandchildren are also involved in the ranching operation.
“The grandkids are getting to an age where they’re pretty good help, and they seem to like it,” he comments.
Zimmerschied continues, “Some of the kids are really good mechanics, which really helps because I’m not as good at that.”
When not working on the ranching operation, Zimmerschied explains he enjoys supporting his grandchildren in their sporting activities, saying, “I really enjoy going to see my grandkids’ football games and hockey games.”
As he looks toward the future, Zimmerschied explains he plans to increase his cowherd size.
Finding reliable help for completing ranch work is another focus for Zimmerschied, he says.
He explains that providing optimal care of the land and livestock at all times is his first priority.
Zimmerschied continues, “My goals are to try to keep ranching if we find someone to help care for our livestock. We have to be fair to them, as their care is our first priority in ranching.”
Way of life
“I’ve never really done anything other than ranching,” explains Zimmerschied as he reflects on his desire to ranch.
Zimmerschied notes the freedom of the ranching lifestyle has always appealed to him.
“In ranching, we set our own hours, and if we have to have a day off, we can take it usually,” he continues. “There’s only certain times of year that we’re really tied up, like calving.”
The connection ranching has with the land and wildlife is another part of the lifestyle that Zimmerschied appreciates.
“Just being outdoors, getting to watch all of the wildlife and such, is something I also enjoy,” he says.
Zimmerschied concludes, “We really enjoy it. There’s no better way of life than this. I’m sure some people wouldn’t get along with the ranch lifestyle, but we’ve found it very rewarding.”
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.