True to tradition: Baars Ranch looks to the future but stays rooted in tradition
Lusk – Originally homesteaded in 1911, the Baars Ranch has a long history in Niobrara County and deep ties to agriculture advocacy in the area. Chelsea Baars is the fourth generation on the ranch and is proud to keep the tradition of both ranching and advocating for Wyoming agriculture.
Four generations deep
“My great-grandpa Fred originally homesteaded the place in 1911 and staying true to our heritage is something that has always been a goal for us,” says Chelsea. “Fred came from South Dakota in search of water.”
The story is, Fred stopped at every diner in every town between Lusk and South Dakota and asked for a glass of water – if he didn’t like the water, he moved onto the next town. He eventually ended up in Lusk, liked the water and went directly to the land office. Fred built a house, and his wife and kids eventually came to meet him in their covered wagon.
Since then, the Baars family has always been involved in cattle ranching. Chelsea notes there are photos of her great-grandfather with his Hereford cattle in front of a barn on the place.
“My father’s family was very into registered Herefords for a long time and eventually made the switch to Angus cattle,” Chelsea explains. “When my par- ents came back to the ranch in 1994, they decided to switch to Angus cattle as the market had shifted to favor black cattle.”
The Baars are primarily focused on selling yearlings each summer.
“We raise non-registered commercial calves and keep the yearlings to sell the following summer,” she explains. “Our family had been doing black Angus up until about four years ago and we started implementing Hereford bulls in our herd.”
After seeing how hybrid vigor has positively affected some of the neighbor’s cattle, the Baars were looking to add a breed that could help them increase their yearling weight.
“We are really chasing yearling weights due to the nature of our operation,” Chelsea shares. “We had the opportunity to buy some Hereford bulls locally, and it has worked out really well for us. The cattle stay fairly small through the winter, but really blossom in the spring.”
She notes, they calve later than most in the state and begin breeding their heifers in early-April, with their grown cows following a few weeks behind. This is to avoid both grass tetany and harsh winter calving.
After a rough destocking in 2012 following a drought, Chelsea is excited to have the opportunity to be “picky” about some traits again.
“After 2012, we were down to about 50 to 70 cows, and our main focus was to get our herd back to a manageable size,” she notes. “Now that we are at this point, we can be a little pickier and cull some of the cattle that are less sound and docile. We really want cattle that can travel, but are still easy to manage and work with.”
The Baars also have a long history of involvement with the Wyoming Farm Bureau (WyFB). Chelsea has
served as both a county presi- dent and the Wyoming Young Farmers and Ranchers State chair and her father serves as the Southeast District director. Chelsea’s mother and her grandparents have also been deeply involved in WyFB in their respective counties over the years.
Chelsea notes her mother’s grandfather was an avid member of WyFB and instilled a deep passion for promoting and protecting agriculture in Wyoming.
“After watching my parents be so involved over the years it was just natural,” she notes. “Some of my earliest memories were at our county fair Farm Bureau barbecue and my job was to pour lemonade. I guess you could say that was my first taste of serving the agriculture community.”
“I remember going to meetings as a kid and sitting in the back with my toys and books and hearing speakers and my parents being so passionate about agriculture,” Chelsea says. “Down the road, we would then hear back how those speakers actually affected ag policy. These experiences really influenced me to get involved.”
Chelsea is very passionate about advocating for agriculture, but stresses the importance of staying true to her roots.
“I think everyone wants to grow and get bigger, but at the end of the day, I really want to take care of what we have and be a good steward of God’s creations,” Chelsea shares. “This is what matters most to me.”
Callie Hanson is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.