Managing the Little Jennie: Faith Hamlin’s passion for ranching and dedication to agricultural community grows through family ranch
Bondurant – Faith Hamlin’s parents grew up, lived and worked in the city. Though, her father always joked it was his dream to have six boys and a ranch – a thought Faith’s mom deemed as crazy.
“Today, we joke I am the five boys and the ranch, because I have a brother,” Faith shares.
When Faith was just 10 years old, her family moved to Jackson and her father started looking for ranches all over Wyoming.
“In fact, we had been looking at the Little Jennie since 2011,” Faith says, noting her family sold their home in Jackson and purchased the ranch in 2017. “I graduated from college in 2018, and had helped out on the ranch the summer of 2017, but the more time I spent there, the more I thought about how I wished I had grown up on the ranch.”
Faith was contributing her time and efforts in any way she could on the ranch – she was always raising her hand to take a job. When the management of the ranch moved to a different opportunity, her father looked at Faith and another hand, saying, “Well, why don’t you run it?”
“In hindsight, I didn’t think I could do it,” Faith shares of taking over the management of the Little Jennie. “It was the middle of calving season and there was nobody else. Since then, things have calmed down a lot I am not working in a constant panic mode because I have gained a lot more knowledge of the industry.”
Diving into the cattle industry
“I love the cattle industry and think it is the most complex and intricate industry,” she says. “That is what makes it so exciting to me because there is so much that goes into it.”
She continues, “I can’t possibly fathom mastering it all, but it gives me hope that I can piece my way through it. As I look back, even to six months ago, I am amazed and what I have learned.”
Faith takes pride in running Angus/Hereford cross cows in the cow/calf herd at the Little Jennie, and she shares the ranch also purchases yearlings to run in the summer.
“We run on forest allotments all around the ranch during the summer, and keep a majority of the cattle near Bondurant in the winter,” she shares.
The harsh climate of the area plays a role in how Faith markets cattle. She notes, “If cattle can calve here, winter here, go make a living in the mountains and fight off grizzly bears and wolves, basically anywhere they go after leaving the ranch is like a beach vacation to them and they will thrive.”
Throughout the years, Faith has learned to take care of the land in order to have security in keeping the herd at the ranch and appropriately manage grass and hay resources to give back to the land.
“A lot of ranchers say, ‘Don’t say you’re trying to catch up, because there is no such thing as catching up when it comes to ranching,’” Faith shares, noting this has been a hard concept to grasp as she holds such high expectations of herself and the ranch. “I always want to be doing a million more things to make the ranch better, and that task is exhausting and daunting.”
Though, rather than letting this weigh her down, Faith shares, “It gives me energy that there is possibility on this ranch, and I have big goals and dreams that drive me more than exhaust me. I feel like our family motto is ‘Embrace the challenge.’”
“I am learning, and I think my dad is facilitating my learning,” Faith says. “I believe he purposely put me in a really challenging position because it was good for me.”
Learning from the ranching community
Faith shares one of the most rewarding parts of managing the Little Jennie is the connection to the agricultural and ranching communities of Sublette County and Wyoming.
“Something I have learned and really enjoy is how people in the ranching community are so welcoming,” she says. “People who are essentially complete strangers have invited me to their house and ranch to teach me about their operations.”
She shares one of the first families she visited sent Faith her first cattle counter and a care package filled with tons of information and materials.
“I’ve found this over and over again in this community, and it gives me so much energy when I’m down in the weeds of the day-to-day,” Faith says. “It’s just the nature of people who are in ranching.”
“I wish I had grown up in this community,” she shares, noting she is always impressed by youth involved in 4-H and FFA.
Adding to traditional management
In the management of the ranch, Faith shares she wants to mix old school ranching with new management practices.
“I am trying new things, but also working to stick to the tradition of ranching in Bondurant and Sublette County,” she says.
One of those newer practices is implementing brewers’ grains from a local brewery to feed to cattle they are finishing on the ranch, with the goal of implementing the grain’s use into the entire herd.
“I am figuring out how to be creative in storing the grain so we can collect it year-round, but have the ability to mostly feed it during the winter,” Faith explains. “It has been a really big challenge to piece together in the last six months, but hopefully it will come to fruition to help cows regain body condition after weaning.”
“The Little Jennie has a legacy of being a really beautiful place, and I am trying to make it into an excellent cattle operation in a beautiful place because I don’t want the beauty to be the only definition,” Faith shares. “It is so beautiful, and that’s what I think a lot of people outside agriculture think a great ranch is before even seeing a cow. Once I made the switch from running the Little Jennie to operating a great cattle operation at the Little Jennie, that was the big change for me in getting really excited about agriculture and ranching specifically.”
The Little Jennie has a legacy behind the ranch, Faith says, and she and her parents are working hard to preserve the history of the homesteads that make up the ranch.
“Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.